Supermarket loyalty cards

The Consumerist » Are You Overdosing On Supermarket Loyalty Cards?

You may have some of these on your key chain.  They serve to give you a the discounts advertised on your grocer’s shelves, but their main purpose is so the retailer can track  your purchases and hopefully influence your future shopping.  That’s why the store can’t just give that discount price to everybody, they’d lose their backhaul of potentially valuable data they deduce from the things you buy.

We seldom use these.   Indeed, I personally avoid our neighborhood stores that require these, because it totally creeps me out when I get a targeted ad suggesting that maybe I’m old enough to try some Depends.  Or maybe my dog needs senior dog food now.  Or maybe we’re interested in off-to-college goods.  I really don’t want to be micro-targeted and data mined in that way.

Personally what we do is, if we happen to run into a loyalty card store for something, ask for a new card and application form each time, use it that one time, then hand it back to the cashier.

Realize, here, that I once won a Cincinnati Reds private box for 4 for a half summer at random.   Then got taxed on it.  Still, I would rather not be data mined.

You may notice that some grocers don’t use loyalty cards at all; they tie you back to your credit card number.  It’s unnerving when a checkout line coupon printer spits out coupons for something I’d typically buy there but haven’t bought lately.

Even those glorious Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons come with some degree of data backhaul.  When you use one, they send you another.  They know full well you save those up for major purchases, and they’re hoping you’ll buy there to save the 20% instead of buying the item, perhaps cheaper, online.  They’re trying their very best to not become another Best Buy, which  is for many people including myself just the retail showroom for Amazon.com (just scan the bar code on that $50 doodad and click Buy It Now on Amazon for $25, that’s how I roll).

How can you preserve your privacy and still get cheap groceries?

1. Shop in one grocery most of the time, one that doesn’t harvest your data. Or —

2. Just live with it.

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