Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Rose Russell

Grocery discount cards: Let the revolution begin

Boy, people are ticked off about those grocery store cards.

I wrote in a recent column that I'm not happy about grocery stores' plastic credit-card size cards that customers are expected to use to take advantage of sales. I also said I dislike sales clerks asking for my zip code.

Given readers' response, there's a revolution against grocery store cards and nosy clerks afoot.

“Is there any chance of starting a revolt against these cards? They have been a pet peeve of mine since they were issued,” e-mailed a Waterville reader. “Personally I never have the right card in the right store.”

Another woman wrote, “We are sick of the selling and buying going on with our names and telephone numbers.”

Customers irritated about the cards take their business where cards are not issued.

“There are a lot of us out here. I refuse to sell my privacy. Maybe some merchandisers will listen if it is known they are losing business?” a Defiance reader asked.

“We have solved the problem at our home,” wrote a reader who listed stores that don't issue cards. “They not only provide top-notch merchandise, but put a friendly face with your support. And every customer who walks in the door can take advantage of their specials.”

Wow, what a concept.

But people have other ways of coping with what they dislike when something is forced on them.

A gentleman (I knew that by the tone of his e-mail) wrote that when he's asked to produce the card, “I ransack my pockets and then my billfold. By the time the clerk and the people behind me are upset at the delay, I find it. As I leave I make the remark for all to hear that if they would just give everyone the discount and do away with the stupid card, there wouldn't be a problem. Also, if I am in a hurry, I shop at a store that doesn't use that system.”

Indeed, kind sir, indeed.

Another man told me his “plan.”

“Swap (cards) with someone in another part of town or another part of the state. If a lot of people would do this, it would really screw up the stats.”

Talk about mischievous.

Still another man e-mailed that “Stores need to hear when customers are unhappy.”

Of course they do. But will they listen and respond accordingly?

A woman told a local grocer about her dislike of the cards. It only got her “a very long missive instructing me to `use the card. It's only for inventory purposes.'”

Oh yeah? It made no sense to her. Me neither. So customers now help with inventory? Dissatisfied with that response, her contact with another manager wasn't much better.

“He advised me to `just use the card. All you have to do is hand over your keys and that will be that.' ”

That's feeling a customer's pain.

All's well with Big Brother, so don't be surprised if stores remind customers when it's time to replenish the mustard, canned goods, or toothpaste.

Drug stores are asking customers to use cards, too.

“What's next?” another reader asks. “A secret handshake?”

Finally, a local minister put off getting a grocery store's card, eventually obtained one, and is irritated each time she uses it. In her e-mail, she said she was pleased to learn that the cards “irk you as much as they do me!

“I have four cards now on my key ring,” she wrote. “Still hate them.”

Me, too.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

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