at the grocery store today, i was struck by an idea.
it seems like all the major chains are offering some kid of card for people to carry that gives them discounts on certain items in their stores. most places you go, if you don’t have one of their cards, they’ll just swipe the one they have behind the counter and you save money anyway.
my question was, why don’t they just make the prices that much lower for everybody, and do away with the whole membership cards thing?
the reason they can afford to “give away” money is that the opt-in lists built up from their cardmembers are worth something. they are worth a lot, if they’re sold to the right people – people who want a targeted list of addresses and phone numbers, as well as their shopping habits.
a list like that would be worth a lot to the right people. of course, it means if you’re on the list, you get a lot of telemarketers calling you, and a bunch more junk mail. fun.
today at Kroger, the manager, who was working the register since the place was packed with sunday afternoon milk-and-eggers, pushed me on the membership card angle. normally, i shop at a different store, where they swipe the card the keep on the register when you don’t have one, so i passed. but she was insistent. i brought up the subject of my privacy, and the fact that i already get more junkmail than my share.
she said “you don’t have to put your real address on it. pshh!”
well, dang. you’re the manager, i thought, and you’re telling me to put a fake name and address on my membership card application?
what if everyone did that? why… then their mailing list wouldn’t be worth a damn.
imagine that. imagine if everyone who got a membership card at a major grocery store put down bogus address and phone information when they filled out the application. the telemarketers, unknowingly would still pay through the nose for the lists (the grocery stores would, therefore, still be able to offer the discounts), but the lists would be half garbage.
more garbage in the list means higher operating costs for those trying to use the lists, in weeding out and verifying what is valid and what isn’t. you see what i’m getting at.
…and anything that sticks it to the telemarketers and bulkmailers is a Good Thing in my book.