Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leave Me Be!

I am way beyond just being annoyed with the current trend in retailing to extract as much personal data as possible from every victim crossing their thresholds.

It is out of control.  No doubt we all read about the angry father who sued Target for outing his teen daughter's pregnancy.  Did you miss this event? The short version is  Targets data base collated the information that Daughter was no longer buying personal products, was no longer buying anything with perfumes and was buying a new type of vitamin.  Thus the analysis at TargetDataCentral deduced this "guest" was pregnant. Target then  mailed  her  their congratulations along with discount coupons for baby nursery furniture, layette items and diapers. Dad was  initially furious at Target for insulting his daughter and harming her good name. Ultimately this dad was  horrified to learn Target knew what he did not. His teenage, unmarried, high school  attending daughter was pregnant. Target had "outed" her pregnancy.

Do you suppose this now means unmarried teens will forgo taking their prenatal vitamins to keep a secret?

I have had a war on with the loyalty programs for quite some time. I do not believe they are in place to award me savings of any description. I believe they are all about data mining. I avoid them. I often ask the cashiers at the registers to use the counter card so I too can pay the lower price for an item. Some do this without pause. Others take the opposite path.  On these occasions I have the choice to leave without the items selected, pay the greater price and move on or, I can choose to stand my ground and if that means holding up a line and calling a manager then I have to be prepared to be hated by those in line behind me.

When I returned from Fizzing about I made a dedicated trip to the local SmartyPets store to buy 4 cases of canned dog food for my aging Spaniel. His teeth are down to nubs so  crunching kibble is a thing of the past. This sweet, sweet animal still spins joy circles every time  he sees me. With or without the food bowl.  I am always willing to make the journey across town to purchase the food he most enjoys.

I waited my turn to pay.
 There are 8 registers but just one cashier on station. There are several other personnel in the logo shirt  not stocking or inventorying or working in any visible way. What they are not doing is manning a register. It becomes apparent the one cashier is new. Also slow. But very cheerful giving her full attention to each customer and concentrating on the process of  each checkout. When I am the next one up another cashier opens a register and those  behind me flee to that line. I was boxed in and could not possibly have responded when she called out "I can help the next person !".

When it was my turn the cashier asked,
" Do you have your rewards card with you today?"
" No"
" Are you a member?"
" Great! I get extras for signing people up for our program! "
" Sorry, I am not a fan of rewards cards so this is not something I do"
" It only takes a minute"
"No thanks, can you just ring up my order please."
"What is your phone number?"
" Private"
"What? there is no such thing!"
" There is. Can we please proceed with the check out?" I inquired while holding a fistful of twenties.
" Sure thing! What is your e-mail address?"
" Also private. Can we proceed now?"
" Not without your data."
" Uh, not too sure I understand you?"
" Do you want to use a credit card?"
" No."
" Well if we do not have your data from your rewards membership, your phone number, your e-mail or a credit card I can't ring up your sale".
I should have walked away.
Instead I asked the cashier to  either put in a phone number of her choosing or to call her manager.
" Ma'am. This is a new job. I need this job. I am trying to do my job but you are insisting on getting me into trouble. Just give me your phone number so I can keep my job?"
I did almost give her a false phone number. But. If I was going to have a stroke from rising blood pressure
I did not want to go out as a sheeple. I tried one more time.
" Here are my purchases.  Here is my cash. Can we proceed?"
" Your phone number please?"
 I turned; walked over to the  logo shirts and said, " which one of you needs to over ride that register so I can buy this dog food and leave?"   A woman about my age stepped up and said with a grin,
" We actually hope for customers like you when we have trainees!"
" Former customer", I replied.

After this experience I wanted nothing more than to go home.  Maybe I should resign myself to this new attitude of every sort of commerce has a  right to my data. I cannot. It deeply offends me. When exactly did I have to forfeit my rights to privacy in order to shop?

Just across the parking lot is a big box hardware store. I needed to pick up a door knocker for one of my projects. A quick in and out I told myself. No drama. Get the thing, stand in line, pay, leave.   It didn't happen.  I did not want to sign up to have all my current and future purchases captured in their data base.  I did not want a store credit card. I did not want to disburse my phone numbers or e-mail addresses. I did not want to be data mined. A fact which I mentioned to the nice man who was trying his best to recruit my participation.  Nice Man sighed saying, " We all have to  open cards or get program signee quotas to keep our jobs. Are you sure you don't want to enroll?" I declined. I hope Nice Man keeps his job. I hope dog food cashier keeps hers too. If they don't I hope they will sue their former employers for the good of us all.

Driving home I thought this new big retail attitude was going to be the salvation of Mom and Pop stores.
For those of us who do not want to be mined, outed or harassed we will need to take our business elsewhere. A line has been crossed. Once a retailer has authorized a POS system which refuses a sale without  the relinquishing of  personal data  there is no pretense left.
This is a war.
 Privacy has lost some ginormous rounds these past few years. At some point,  we consumers will have to choose. We can no longer just use misdirection for our own protection. The data bases know if the e-mail addresses or phone numbers are bogus. The coming horrors? Hold onto your seats. The newest POS  systems will be using  facial recognition software at the check out station cameras to process our purchases. No data needed.


Anonymous said...

New business: facial recognition masks. Several famous faces available for your selection.

Casus Belli

fishy said...

I agree
there is justification for the maskers,
none for the data miners.

uri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jean said...

Wonder if the day is coming when they refuse to accept cash?

Anonymous said...

Their jobs will be easier when the mark-of-the-beast is stamped on everyone's palm.

But leaving the possibility of Obama's re-election aside, I'm not experiencing this retail data-mining nearly as much as you apparently are.

A simple Trollish NO always does the trick.

You probably look like a nice patient person.

Jenny said...

I go to OffcMax once a week. Every time I'm there they asked if I want a rewards card. Every time, I politely decline. It's always the same cashier. Last time she actually activated the card while I was standing there and I put the entire application in the trash as I walked out the door.

PLEASE just let me go about my day without being fleeced for any more charges/surveys/donation requests/email spamming/telemarketing calls (home and office) and the people who walk into my office selling art/whatever just fell off the back of a truck.

The day someone tells me they can't take cash until I give them any information is the day I offically go off the grid.

Nice post, Fishy.

pam said...

Oh Fishy, this is a fantastic post. I totally love it. Plus I am sure that all the Google ads and FB ads that come my way are much the same mindset. I always say that I never give out my phone number and I usually make up a zip code if needed. But it didn't occur to me that they are keeping my credit card info. Of course they are! Hmmmm. Plus if you use their coupons, I bet that ads fuel to the fire. Oh, so much food for thought, I could explode.

fishy said...

that day is here for some businesses.
Some gas stations will not accept cash for gas purchases.

This is one voracious beast!
I am nice. I even look friendly and approachable. Perhaps this annoys the cashiers when I surprise them with my polite, friendly declines? Clearly I need to attend TrollCamp.

"fleeced" is a great description!
Once the facial recognition POS systems are activated we will no longer be asked for our participation or our data, it will be taken from us.

What terrifies me is the generation coming along who thinks this is great. Those whose "reality" is based on technology access as the norm.
Last week a client purchased an accessory in a furniture store. It was not possible for the store to accept his credit card, ring up the sale and let us be on our way. The software for this store cannot process a sale without the purchaser's address, phone and

I have been to business seminars where this is referred to as
"the capture". I call it something else!

Buzz Kill said...

I had not heard that Target story before. With the stuff I buy for boy scouts, I may be outed as a pedophile. bwahahahaha

I have not experienced the hard-sell tactics that you have. I use frequent shopper cards at a few stores because The Mrs loves her coupons. Most other places where I do not might ask for a zip code. Phone numbers, I tell them they don't need them and that's the end of that.

uri said...

purchase generic preloaded debit cards with cash. Such cards do not require credit info/ personal data. use cards for all transactions to foil attempts to capture personal data.

fishy said...

I love Target! I have not received any annoying mail from them but a few years back their security protocols were breached. Our bank sent a letter saying we would be issued a new debit card and PIN because of this event.
Nothing bad happened.
That I am aware of.

Out!out! damn scout! LOL

yep I have come to this conclusion. We returned to using cash a couple of years ago in our commitment to have no credit card debt and no credit card trail. Now instead of cash, I will use those pre-paid debit cards to still receive the "cash" price for things like fuel.

moi said...

A cashless society is coming soon to a theater near you. No lie. I just listened to an NPR story about the subject:

I'm very, very con about this. S.B. is less so.

I do like the idea of an anonymous, pre-paid credit card in the interim, though.

Aunty Belle said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day Fishy!!

chickory said...

cashless society is coming. I always give 12345678 as my phone number and 1111 as my zip. when they buck i just look at them and say nothing.

the fact that bonuses and getting paid by how many people sign up for rewards cards is a very small indicator of how it will be "im just doing my job" when bonuses are attached to spying on your neighbor and so on.....

I tell the TSA all the time that the Nuremberg defense isnt going to fly

grins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grins said...

I am extremely pleasant to almost all sales people, but if they are persistent, I will call a manager and I will not be pleasant.
I often see "must not have difficulties promoting credit cards" in help wanted ads.
I won't use cards and a lot of people will not accept checks anymore.
It's getting pretty silly.

Anonymous said...


Bad juju. I am still using an ancient Safeway card, 4 residences later, that is tied to my work phone number from at least 15 years ago. (No I don't remember the number.) At some of the other larger grocery stores, other people get credit for my rare purchases there because I have picked up a few of those keychain mini cards that people have dropped. Hehe.

I hate this trend, and even once with Walmart or Target on an Internet sale cancelled it out because they were asking for too much personal info. I even went to ask for a source of a particular Dial product, but they wanted everything but my birthplace before I could ask a question. I became Fictitious Fictitious at, then gave them an earfull about the invasion of privacy. They never sent me a response for some reason.

I live in a very small town, and shop local with people who are my friends for the most part.

I am sure with you!


Anonymous said...

Man that first photo still gives me the creeps.

Haiku Monday theme is up. The EGG. Come play.

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