Friday, March 23, 2007

Personal info at the retail checkout

What do you think when a retail checkout clerk asks for your phone number or zip code? I think Radio Shack asks for phone numbers. Sears also uses phone numbers to track purchase histories.

Paul Phillips likes to refuse to give it to them.
he says
I have a habit of not giving companies my personal information unless there's some reason they should need to know it - which is approximately never. If I'm in your store and paying cash for an item then all you need to know about me is that I didn't fill my wallet out of my laser printer. Lately it seems like everywhere I go they immediately ask me for either my phone number or my zip code. I always politely decline to share that information.

The interesting part is how the clerks tend to respond to that.
Paul describes the reaction ...
I think that once people get accustomed to acting under color of authority (even minor authority as in the employee-customer relationship) they quickly become addicted. Soon they find any deviations from the script to be intolerable slights. There isn't a reason in the world a low-level retail employee should give a damn whether they successfully collect my personal information, but when nine people out of ten automatically answer their questions, they unconsciously come to believe that the tenth guy is only refusing because he's a dick who likes to cause trouble.

I have had the same experiences as Paul. I also usually refuse to give them the requested information and get surly reactions from them. But unlike Paul, who refuses the information because he's doing what's right and fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, I just do it because I'm a dick who likes to cause trouble.


Blogger StB said...

I give the info. I tell them my zip if 90120 and my phone number is 867-5309. Rarely does someone notice.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Dutchmaus said...

People are still wasting time being offended about being asked for info like this?
Phone number, I just say I don't give it out and the clerk often can type in a refusal. (If not, tell them to type in all 9s or something.) Zip code they don't always have that option (customer said no) and have to fill in something; so make one up. If all customers give wrong data, maybe the store will stop trying to collect it that way.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

Try telling them you're homeless and have no phone number or address. Then pay with a credit card.

That always gets a look from them.

10:00 PM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Gary, you are right to refuse their requests, especially when it comes to phone numbers. Nowadays, all a company needs is your phone number to get all of your personal information. So, they use your phone number as an ID to track your spending habits. I'm sure you are like me and don't want that information floating around to be used by some telemarketers or companies or worse. Most people, however, are just cattle and don't realize that giving their phone number actually means something.

7:17 AM  

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