Disloyalty Cards

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

When the hell did they start making shopping so difficult? I walked into a bookstore today, picked up the new Terry Pratchett hardcover and headed to the cashier. Turns out my ex-employers have added a new layer of aggravation to  the simple concept of commerce. They now have 2 separate loyalty cards. One you can buy for a steep price which gives you 10% or so off books, the other is free and gets you…a series of vague promises of savings and/or rewards. I don’t know about you but I already have a wallet full of these friggin’ cards. In fact I have a wallet full of the useful ones and a kitchen drawer full of the useless ones. I tried to explain to the “Customer Experience Representative” that I wasn’t going to bother keeping the card in my wallet, I already had enough of them in there.

“But sir, you don’t have to keep the card. We can just give you a sticker and you can add it to a card you already have in your wallet.”

– Ummm…no, I really don’t want to add your sticker to my bank card just to collect points for a new bookmark.

“Well, we can just pull you up in our database. You don’t need the card at all.”

Then why the fuck do you have cards at all? Why were you so desperate to cram one in my hot, sweaty hands a couple of seconds ago? Anyway I suppose I should tell you I was lying earlier, I already have one of your cards in a drawer at home. If it means I will get out of this fucking mall any time in the near future then please feel free to look it up.

“Can’t seem to find it listed here.”

– Suddenly I am less confident in your database.

“Well, we will just add a new account with all your details so that they can look it up next time”

– Suddenly I foresee a future when I get a new one of these fucking cards every time I buy a book.

So why did I bother signing up? Because I knew they would waste time trying to pitch one to me EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME I WENT IN. That is the reason most of us break down and get one, so we don’t have to listen to some over eager store manager explain the virtues of signing up every time we stop in to buy something. Handing over my personal data is literally the price I have to pay to make buying items from that store quick and convenient again. If I know I am going to interact with the company again then odds are good I will break down and sign up for the card at some point, it is just a matter of the right cashier pestering me at the right time.

I remember back when the started with these damn cards, it sounded like a great idea. You fork over some personal information for a reduced cost on items. Mostly it was for grocery stores and they were kind enough to make it worth your while. Now every store, boutique, and barely legal massage parlor has a card like this*. After people ran out of room in their wallets and started leaving the damn cards behind some genius thought up those key fobs. Now a person would need an entire keyring just for those alone.

But what are they doing with all this personal info anyway? The idea was to use it to better market to individuals and track market trends. It isn’t working though. The e-mails I get from the bookstore are just the picks from the CEO of the company and her only philosophy for book choices seems to be “What Would Oprah Read?” I also get weekly e-mails from a grocery store about their deals. Like I am supposed to clear my schedule for the day because they are having a sale on tampons and baby food (just what every bachelor needs kicking around in his pantry). Plus the marketing data collected would probably be more overwhelming than useful. Unless some fairly obvious trends cropped up the purchasers would probably still decided what items to carry in their stores the old fashioned way, whichever company offered the best steak dinners and lap dances.

Maybe it is just me getting nostalgic for a time when serving customers was the point of customer service, when did pestering the shit out of your clients become a good sales strategy?

Rancid J. Monke
* – Kentucky Fried Chicken has a fucking loyalty card! What possible use does the Colonel have for tracking my fried chicken consumption? Is he using it to figure out when to send flowers to my next of kin? When the card stops getting used on a weekly basis does he send a team out to harvest my organs for experimentation or something?

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