This little rant is a take on a post I did a while back in www.seriouseats.com . It’s in regards to those little cards on your key chain, cards in your wallet or purse that mark us a little sheep in the great flock of grocery stores. We all have them, how many do you have… 3,5,7?! It’s getting crazy with these damned things. I heard a number of sides to this issue after the initial post, and have decided after some thought, that most everybody’s take, (except my own of course) was ridiculous! So having this forum, I decided to pick up my shepperd’s crook, and guide you away from the insane grocery store “cards”….Baaaaaaaaaa……
OK, I’ll admit it, I have one for a grocery store called Food City near where I stay in Knoxville, TN. The only reason is because the other grocery stores are just too darned far away, and on weekdays, I’m just not willing to travel that far when my day is over. The first time I ever went into Food City was not long after I got to Knoxville. I was looking around for something to make for dinner and noticed the prices weren’t bad, the selection was good and the store was clean. So I picked up a few items for dinner and made my way to the check out…”Do you have your Food City Value card with you today?! Came the question….(Cue the eye rolling and long sigh!) There are a few Grocery stores back home that have these, namely Shaw’s and Stop n’ Shop that I don’t frequent because of this… my escape has always been, “oh darn, (tap pockets as if looking for a real card that doesn’t actually exist) I, must have left it at home, in my other pants, on my dresser, in the car, Canis meus id comedit, look lady, just pick an excuse then use your card!” At which point I get the knowing smile and they swipe their card. Problem solved…. But when I did this at Food City, “No problem sir, we’ll just punch in your phone number!” Ah, damn (deer in headlights look) I’m uh….sorry, I actually don’t have one for Food City…..heh heh…(nervous laugh)….More on this in a minute.
PAV, PAV, PAV….What’s the big deal here?! It’s a card, everybody’s doing it, It’ll save you money, It’ll get you a great price on gas, It’ll make you feel younger and cooler than Brad Pitt! Let me tell you something people, putting lipstick on a pig does not a pretty pig make. In theory, all these things are true, except perhaps the feel younger thing, but you know deep down to your bippy that they’re not. Let me get this straight, so when buying a jar of pickles and “my card” saves me thirty cents bringing down the price of the pickles to nearly where they should be is saving me money? Seems to me, if I’m patronizing their store and I don’t have the card, then they are screwing me for thirty plus cents more! I’m sorry “store XYZ”, I thought you wanted me to shop here, I thought you were in this whole grocery business to make money by having people like myself shop here. So because I don’t have your card, that gives you the right to pick my pocket?
Back to Food Shi….I mean Food City… “No problem sir, we can get you a card right now, it’ll only take a second, AND IT’S FREE!” Like a little card wielding robot ninja, out fly the card and a pen to go with it…. “we only need a few things, your name, address, phone number, date of birth” Then it hit me…..”You need to see my I.D. for this” I asked… “Oh gosh, no sir” miss perky spouted….PERFECT…. Name, John Dough Address 123 Abercrombie St. Fitch, NH 00001 Phone 603-555-1212 D.O.B. 12-25-00 Handing it back to her, the only question she had was, “WOW, is that your real zip code?!” Yep….it’s good to be number one! Now really people what is the point?! Lucky for you I have the answer, It’s because the supermarkets depend on folks being good little sheep and providing all your pertinent information so they can track your spending habits, and target their demographic for marketing purposes. I say, it’s none of their damned business. It’s their right to ask, it’s my right to refuse, then I get punished for it.
But Pav, what about the free gas?! … as my friend Brooke says: “The only thing that’s free is cheese in a mousetrap!” Get the point, I’ve already shown the products you’re buying are marked up, and when they come down to where the “savings” are, the price is still a bit higher than what other competitive stores are. Bottom line, you’re not saving anything, because the savings on gas is a wash because you just payed more for groceries and now the gas company has bought your allegiance all because you have to go to their brand to “save” the money. I don’t give out my information lightly… I learned it from my blue collar folks I guess. When stores started asking for zip codes, phone numbers, addresses etc…(remember that?) And out would come my fathers reply “What do you want that for” answer “It’s so we can have you in our system.” my fathers response was always, “I don’t want to be in your system.” The clerk was usually so dumbfounded they would just complete the transaction minus the info…If pushed my father was quick with “I’ll take my business to “store xyz” they like my business enough without having to be in their system. My Cat* would probably tell them “piss up a rope” then go buy his painting supplies elsewhere, but that’s another story entirely.
*My Cat is one of gentlemanly pursuits, and finer things (which is why I find his Ire at the clerk so disturbing). You will hear thoughts on him from time to time….. but for now, we shall mention him no further.
I guess the bottom line is this, I’m not opposed to being asked to have a card by a store for their marketing purposes or what not. But do it honestly. Don’t tell me I’m saving money, getting free gas and helping with world peace. And when I refuse, treat me with the same pricing and respect you’d treat a card carrying customer with. Don’t smile at me while I’m shopping, then on my way out the door hang me upside down by my legs and shake money out of me. There are plenty of Grocery stores out there that don’t do this and manage to stay in business, and when I go there, I get the same pricing as every body else without having to play three card monte at the end. If you’re happy with your cards, good for you, enjoy them in good health….but don’t be surprised if you’re ever in the checkout line and hear someone behind you go BAAAAAAAA! It might just be me!