Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stopping the Nonsense

Retailers:  can we please just make life easier and stop all these stupid rewards/loyalty programs?  The ones I'm talking about are the stores that won't give you discounts unless you have one of their rewards or loyalty cards.  Everybody does it, from grocery stores to pet stores, from bookstores to hardware stores, from shoe stores to sandwich shops.  Either you get a discount at the register, or you accumulate points and they mail you a rewards check.  On some cards, you accumulate points toward air miles or get a discount on gasoline.   

I hate these things.  They take up room in my purse.  I have 12 of them in a little plastic pouch that I carry in a pocket of my purse, for easy access. (That's a picture of my rewards cards, above)  Most of these cards are free, but you are asked to give your phone number and other personal info when you sign up.  That way, if you're at the register and forgot your rewards card, you can just tell the cashier your phone number, while everyone else in line hears you giving out your unlisted number.

Why not just mark down the retail items for everyone, and do away with the rewards programs? Why must we add yet one more point of inconvenience to our already busy lives?  Well, one reason why is that retailers can track your purchasing habits with these cards.  The cards help them accumulate demographics--where you live, how often you shop, which brand of soda pop you purchase, how much you spend on each trip, and even how old you are.  According to Wikipedia, these rewards programs "are structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior — behavior which is potentially of benefit to the firm."

I realize demographics help retailers plan their futures, develop targeted marketing programs, and even issue coupons based on your buying habits.  But they're still a nuisance.  They are an invasion of privacy.  They clutter my life.  They annoy the living daylights out of me.


Bruce, Lesley said...

They are a huge pain in the tush, but you're stuck unless you WANT to pay a big percentage more for groceries. I hate it. And I agree, I hate saying my phone number out loud.

News From the Holmestead said...

That's the annoying thing, Lesley. If you refuse to get a rewards card, then you have to pay considerably more for your groceries. I was a conscientious objector for almost a year before I knuckled under and got a card for the two grocery stores where I shop. They make it impossible for you to opt out of these programs on principle. Sherrie Holmes

Bruce, Lesley said...

We're stuck, though. Information is everything now. There's no going back, I believe. Yes, I like getting coupons in the mail tailored to my buying habits, but it sort of freaks me out. But, if I had something to hide I do have the option of not using the cards. It's funny. When I sell things on Craigslist, I'm more worried about giving out my email address & phone number than my street address :0) because I hate telemarketers. It's messed up!

News From the Holmestead said...

You're right, Lesley, there's no going back. Once your private information is out there, it's out there. I have an unlisted number, and I'm on the National Do Not Call list, yet my phone number is plastered all over the place, against my wishes. They get your phone number off your checks. Or they get it off forms you fill out. Or when you order something online, they ask for your phone number. Enter a contest, and they want your phone number. Make a donation, and they want your phone number.

I have taken to faking my phone number nowadays, repeating the area code as the prefix. ~Sherrie Holmes