April 27, 2005

Me Three

It appears to be the official blogosphere Complain About Obtrusive Questions At The Checkout Counter Week. The Vodkapundit has a discussion of what noted shopper James Lileks has to say on the subject, and Kim du Toit (whose professional background is in in Customer Loyalty Marketing; he has the personality for it) has a discussion of what the Geek With A .45 wrote about it. It all centers around Best Buy, and the comment threads contain more complaints aboout them, but they are merely the worst of a bad lot. I encounter such an intense "we exist solely to collect your money for corporate" vibe when browsing there that I have no tales of interacting with their cashiers, but I certainly run into the same issue elsewhere.

Like the dozens of people who have commented in these threads, I do not choose to provide information which is not relevant to the transaction. When grocery stores in Chicago first started asking for Zip codes, I tried responding with the postal code for an industrial suburb of Toronto (no, I no longer remember it), but the cashiers were unable to input it and got all flustered. I then started telling them I don't have one. Most just input something (probably the local one) and the ones who insisted I had to got the paranoid paleocon rant about an unconstitutional Federal District scheme. Since we moved to Milwaukee I simply give the old Chicago one. The Zip code question is purely demographic; if mine identified me as inner city but didn't include downtown I would provide it proudly. Data specific to me as an individual they simply do not need and do not get.

I recently bought a replacement processor fan for the wee wifey's computer from a local white-box chain. The geek at the counter asked me if I had bought from them before. I hit him with a bit of my lack of gruntle over earlier events of the day. "Yes I have, not that it matters. I'm paying cash for something not worth coming back with when it fails." He didn't get it, and asked for my name. "Cash." He understood that enough to go ahead and enter the sale that way. He still insisted on telling me to have a nice day, and got a response somewhat more hostile than my usual "Oh, OK."

Another stupid question I get at the checkout quite often is "Did you find everything you are looking for?" Answers range from "No, thank G-d" to "Once I do I'll never come back." Some actually get it.

One thing which doesn't set me off is the customer loyalty card, as long as it is free. Barnes and Noble want's $25 for theirs, and then gives back ten percent. I simply keep my purchases there under $250 per year so as to come out ahead on the relationship. There are anti-card activists who insist that you don't save money using the regular grocery cards. They are so tied to this notion that my documentation of comparison shopping was rejected as erroneous. They also seem to believe that these cards are part of the same Big Brother operation wherein some clerk is analyzing why we have Mennonite and Christmas cookbooks and a book on the massacre of the Nepalese royal family checked out of the library right now. They are either getting obsolete information (only one Jewel checker had ever seen my 30 year old card before; it isn't even in their training literature) or the information for the people who dropped cards in the parking lot, which doesn't much matter because I really doubt they track that closely.

Posted by triticale at April 27, 2005 08:46 PM
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