Has Anyone Noticed...

12 April 2006

...That "Are you a member of our loyalty scheme?" has become the new "Do you want fries with that?" in shops?

You can hardly buy anything these days without the shop assistant trying to sign you up for the store loyalty scheme. Generally, these schemes mean that if you spend a certain amount of dollars at the store, when you reach that amount you'll get a miniscule discount - usually 3 or 5% - off your next purchase.
But the thing is, the stores don't want you to join their loyalty schemes because they have a warm and fuzzy feeling about you being a regular customer; they want to sign you up so that they can track every dollar you spend, and then send you lots of relevant advertising materials, for which they are paid by their suppliers, and encouraging you to spend even more.

I've fallen for this myself. Recently I've bought several DVD box sets, and after the third purchase, I got tired of being given the company loyalty card spiel and decided to sign up; I'd be able to shut them up next time, and hey, at least I'd get something back. So, whilst my purchases were being rung up, I started filling in the application form. It began with the sorts of questions you'd expect - basic details, how many CDs & DVDs do you buy a month, what type of music do you like - but then became ridiculously intrusive, wanting to know my income, occupation and industry, how many people I lived with and what was my relationship to them, and lord knows what else; and I thought, Screw this. It's a store loyalty scheme, not a credit card application.

So I tried to hand the form back to the shop assistant and said "No thanks, I don't want to join this. There are too many questions."
She replied, "But it really only takes a few seconds, and you receive all sorts of great offers."
Me (growing testy): "It's not that. There are too many intrusive personal questions. It's irrelevant and I don't want to join."
Her (growing perky, parroting the company line): "We only collect relevant information. Would you like a copy of our privacy policy?"
Me: "No, thank you".
She still hadn't taken back my form. I made another attempt to give it to her.

Finally she took it and said, "Okay, if you're sure. But there really are great offers for members."
"I'm sure..." Then I realised something. I'd handed over my money some minutes ago, and the transaction seemed to have stalled there. "Can I have my DVDs now?"
With an all but palpable sigh, she handed over the bag and receipt and said "Okay, maybe next time. Have a nice day!"

Listen, lady, if you're reading this - there won't be a next time (oh, and by the way - I didn't have a nice day either). I won't be duped by loyalty scheme offers, into agreeing to have my mailbox filled with advertising. In fact, I'll be taking my considerable business to companies that don't have customer loyalty programs, and show them my loyalty for them not hassling me every time I make a purchase.

Actually, I'll make one exception. Next time I'm asked to sign up to a loyalty program, I'm going to say yes, and list my occupation as "escort", my income as "$120,000+ a year" and when asked about my living arrangements, write "Living with nine guys, I don't know all their names, but one is called Breeze." Let's see what sort of mail I get.


  1. The only loyalty scheme I'll ever subscribe to is the one run by the local cafes. This involves a card that gets stamped until one recieves some sort of free merchandise.

    The only personal information exchanged for this is a first name, and that's because the staff know me anyway.

    (Cafe rule #47 - never frequent a cafe where the staff don't know you by visit five).

  2. Cafe rule of my home town - generally, don't bother.

    Anyway, I've yet to come across a cafe that has lactose-free milk - I'm not drinking that soy stuff.


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