The biggest scams going in the United States these days are, of course, Obamacare and Medicare D, two racketeering enterprises where health insurance and drug manufacturers first created problems that were then “solved” by the government. But set that aside. I want to focus on a minor racket, that of grocery stores forcing us to carry “loyalty” cards so that we can “save” money when we shop.
Above, if your eyes are good enough, you will see that I purchased a pound of hamburger and a pound of ground lamb, and that in so doing I “saved” $2.00. This is nonsense. I went to the grocery store and “spent” $17.24. I did not save a dime.
It is the job of marketers hired by grocery chains to create the illusion that shopping is an enjoyable experience, and that we avoid high prices by belonging to “loyalty” groups that offer “savings.” On the other side of this coin, it is the job of grocery stores to get as much money as humanly possible out of our pockets with each visit we make, while at the same time creating as little pain as possible.
So they took their regular price structure and added a layer on top of it so that when we shop they can appear to be marking down products, ‘saving” us money. Indeed, if some fool wants to shop without one of their loyalty cards, he will be reamed a new one. It makes sense to carry the card.
Yet another purpose behind the loyalty cards is to create a profile of their shoppers that they can sell to other corporations. Just like a Sherlock Holmes story, each little purchase we make is a clue that marketers use to construct our database, widely shared. No sooner do we buy organic produce than ads for organic produce turn up on our Facebook pages. I kid you not. They are that good.
Here’s how I have tried to avoid the entire scam/racket: I searched the obituaries for a man who died in a nearby town, and used his name and address as my own. I grabbed a real phone number, but an old one not in use (so I could remember it), and waited until the people behind the service counter at the store were busy, and handed in my application for a loyalty card over the shoulder of the person in front of me, as if I was in a big hurry. I did not want them checking my ID. The clerk then handed me my loyalty cards.
They might by this time have gotten around this bit of trickery, so it might be time to find another dead guy. I did get an offer one day at self-checkout for a $5.00 credit if I supplied my real information to them, but I have to think that when we use a credit card, they can match that information to the loyalty card, privacy be damned. It could be a no-win situation for the consumer, even those of us who are on to their game.
But I’ll soon be scanning the obits again.