Country Living Series

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sorry, but I don't give out personal information

Here's a fascinating post a reader sent me on a website called The Organic Prepper (way cool website, by the way) on the subject of store clerks aggressively asking for personal information despite a cash transaction.


It seems the Organic Prepper went into a store to purchase some boxes (specifically, U-Haul moving boxes) for storage. What follows is the interaction with the clerk:

The gentleman behind the counter tallied it up and as I handed him a $20 bill, he said, “Your name?”

I looked at him, baffled.

He repeated himself, “What’s your name?”

I said, “Why do you ask?”

He said, “I need it to set up your account.”

I replied, “That’s okay, I don’t need an account. I’d just like to purchase these boxes.”

He said, “You have to have an account, that is how our computer system works.”

I said, “Are you telling me that I cannot purchase these boxes unless I give you my name?”

He sighed and stopped just short of rolling his eyes. “I just work here and that is the way we do things, ma’am.”

I told him, “I know it seems like I am being difficult, but I don’t give out personal information. I’m sorry, but I guess I will just have to buy my boxes elsewhere.”

The man behind the counter decided it was okay and he would go ahead and sell me the boxes, despite the limitations of his computer system. So then he asked me, “What is your phone number?”

“Really?” I asked. “Didn’t we just basically go through this? This is beginning to sound like that whole ‘Who’s on First’ riff. I’m not giving you my phone number.”

He couldn’t stop himself, I detected a slight eye-roll this time. I magnanimously let it go because I hoped to leave the store sometime during this particular day.

He proceeded through his nosy computer program and then said, “Now, I really do have to have an answer here – where are you moving to?”

What? Nope. No way.

I said, “None of your business. None of your computer’s business. Are you taking my money or not? Because either way, I am out that door in about 5 seconds. I’m very sorry to be your most difficult customer of the day, but what part of ‘I do not disclose personal information’ is not clear?”

Without another word, he handed me my change, looking incredibly uncomfortable. I left wondering, “When did the U-Haul guy become an agent of the de facto government?”


Please go read the entire post -- it's quite fascinating.

I found this eerily reminiscent of my cash purchases for certain shop supplies (bandsaw blades, sanding belts, etc.) where the clerks continuously attempt to get us to sign up for "rewards cards" despite our refusal.

Data-mining is everywhere.

37 comments:

  1. I had it happen to me at a thrift store last week - Goodwill to be exact. I declined and paid my cash. I was quite surprised to be asked for the information at a thrift store.

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  2. if you are interested in not coming to the attention of anyone it is far better to make up information and give that. the clerk didn't set the protocol, doesn't get paid enough to either care or to defend the requirements of the boss. i personally think it's unreasonable to put the clerk in such a position since (s)he has no choice in the matter. stores use those sort of metrics on a national corporate level to track where supplies are needed for future operating strategy. but even if it is for some nefarious purpose, the clerk didn't create it and is just trying to keep the probably very low paying, dead end job.

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    1. I disagree. A local store opened and wanted everyone's phone numbers in order to check out. We balked, and refused, even though it took a mgr over-ride. Within 2 wks, they no longer asked anyone for a phone number.

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  3. I like to make stuff up just to see what they will take as an answer without batting an eye.

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  4. This doesn't happen to me. There are advantages to being large with a dented-looking head.

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    1. this comment made me laugh the most, yep there certainly are advantages to that.

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  5. My response has always been - I'm not from around here so my information would be of no use. And, I don't go to that store again.
    Radio Shack (are they still in business), Home Goods and a local health food store have been the main culprits.

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  6. A regular conversation at one of the stores I go to:

    Cashier: "Rewards card?"
    Me: "No, thank you."
    Cashier: "We can enter your phone number instead."
    Me: "No, thank you."
    Cashier: "I can swipe may own card for you."
    Me: "No, thank you."

    I'm always asked for my zip code or phone number at some of the stores I go to. I always decline. They tell me it's so that they can pinpoint their ad campaigns and ultimately save me money. Uh huh.

    But asking me my name??? Dream on.

    Just Me

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  7. I finally asked the clerk what they entered if I didn't give them my zip code...she said "I enter my own".
    Does not disclosing information make you a potential "terrorist"?

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  8. I'm not sure I would've come up with it at the time, but when asked "Where are you moving to?", I think my answer would be "These boxes." <(-:<

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    1. Love that! Let's them know what we think of the current economy as well. It's a wonder more of us aren't in boxes. Sheesh!

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  9. Maybe it's my age, but I share the views of the woman who wrote the article. I wouldn't give false info -after all, giving a false name or a phone number that could turn out to be a real person or a real number would be wrong.

    AND the most important thing to me (maybe because I am a teacher) is making sure those young store clerks -or even older ones - understand why I have these objections. After all, most have been raised in or by the Marxist, public schools, and they have no idea what freedom is or what freedoms have been given up in our American culture.

    Last summer we had a person legitimately employed by our state's HHS agency call us repeatedly asking for survey information on our family's health habits, etc. When they left a message on my recorder for the 12th time, I went to the state's employment directory online and found the person and number matched the one on my recorder and called and left a message that she should immediately stop calling our number, that we were not going to answer any survey, and that if she persisted, I would call our phone service provider to complain of harassment.

    A week later, on a SUNDAY afternoon, she called again and caught my husband off guard. He answered the phone and handed it to me. She began her spiel, but with an interesting, insistent, almost authoritarian tone (which struck this "difficult" person the wrong way as well). I told her I did not appreciate her agency continually calling my number, that I had left a message for them not to call again, and I would not be answering any questions.

    The woman seemed outraged that I was not interested in answering "basic health habit" questions that would "benefit all my fellow state citizens"! She asked why not to which I replied (this was sometime after Ed Snowden's NSA leaks and the whole unraveling of the extent of our surveillance state) "I think the government has all the information they need on every family in America." The woman PERSISTED, and I said, "I am hanging up now," and did.

    That was the last I heard of it until my daughter-in-law received the same kinds of calls (multiple) in early May.

    What's up? My husband and son are both state employees, so maybe it simply has to do with surveys of state workers who use state provided health care, although the person who continued to call did not state that at all. Or maybe they are just nosy like some other socialist governments around the world. For instance, several months ago, I read about the government in Australia (or New Zealand) forcing their citizens to answer private health information surveys or fining them.

    A troublesome world even we try really hard to avoid all trouble -like buying boxes or just not answering our phone to persistent bureaucrats and their minions.

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    1. I live in New Zealand. We are not being forced to answer questions or fined. I have not heard of this happening in Austalia. Please check the reliability of sources. We do, however, have good health care for all citizens.

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    2. You're lucky you don't share a border with a third world country.

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    3. Many people in Canada claimed they had "good health care for all citizens," too. We have friends and relatives who live in Canada (all honest, conservative people), and they tell us they do NOT have "good" health care in Canada. Just the opposite!

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  10. I worked for Radio Shack a few years back and we were instructed to be pretty aggressive about gathering data.

    I wasn't as sensitive about it as I now am, but I wouldn't give it and if a customer balked, I backed right down.

    Last I checked, most businesses are in business to transact business and unless your business is monkey business, you've no business in my personal business in a cash business.

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    1. I'm "LOL"ing here.

      Just Me

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  11. lol, there are some very creative answers here, I would kinda like to try minnie mouse sometime to see if they would put it in their computer.

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  12. I once told a clerk: Valerie Jarrett, 202-456-1414 - she didn't even blink an eye. The man in back of me snickered. (I bought chicken feed and a rake.)

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    1. BWAHAHAHA!!! I'm laughing like crazy over this comment!!! So funny.

      Just Me

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  13. ROFL. I *always* give a false name to mess up their intrusive data-mining efforts. The best defense is shopping at places that don't data mine.

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    1. Hey, that's a good idea. I'll give them the name of a nefarious politician......


      Steve Davis
      Anchorage, Alaska

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  14. Oh my goodness the comments are quite hilarious!! But seriously it is our right not to have to give out our information to anybody! If the business persists to be "nosy" then this consumer will find it somewhere else without all the questions. If the gov't wants to find out information about ya they have the avenues without the help of local businesses.
    Love this write....keep em comin!

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  15. It's happening everywhere - Party Store, HH Gregg, - they all seem VERY surprised that I don't want to share my info. I feel like I am turning into my grandma.

    Will try the Valerie Jarrett one next time...that was a scathingly brilliant idea.

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  16. Gosh sorry to be the wet blanket but after 35 years in the insurance industry several of those in fraud investigations, I can't help but equate a need to know things with the ACA. Grocery store cards tell them if you are eating prohibited food, did you buy a saw - we may want to limit your coverage for home accidents - as I said - sorry - you all were much funnier! :)

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  17. it has always bothered me a little bit to be deceptive about this, having read the whole post over on The Organic Prepper, I have to agree with her that being honest is a good thing, not to mention this is a way to hopefully get these poor cashiers to think twice about what they are doing. Just consider how many SS officers swore up and down they were only doing their job!!! Didn't fly then, shouldn't fly now.

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  18. I always seem to get in trouble when these things happen. I tend respond rather quickly with my name: I. P. Freely and I need these boxes because I am moving to college at WhatsamataU.

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  19. Several months ago I received coupons for things I frequently bought from Frys. I was using my parents reward number so they could get the gas discount. They were sent to MY address. The only way they could have gotten that address is to be mining data off the debit card I was using to make purchases. I do not shop at Fry's any more and have let them know why. They promised up and down that they did not use my cards data but without using the card data they wouldn't even have my name.

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    1. You still use a debit card?

      Just Me

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    2. When you don't want to carry a bunch of cash, YES! And now my wife - who works at a grocery store - has to have her paycheck deposited in her bank account. HAS to! Every way you turn they're getting you! --Fred in AZ

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  20. Where ever possible I use the self check out lines at W stores.al-Mart, Home Depot and Kroger

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  21. We have 3 grocery store chains in our town, and all of them require your name, phone number, address, etc., and a purchase card, or you don't get their discounts. I don't care what they claim is the reason for this, it's nothing less than bribery! It shouldn't be allowed. --Fred in AZ

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  22. Just do what I do. Ask the cashier for their phone number, address, etc. That USUALLY works (although I have had a few of them actually answer! )

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  23. I loved this article and the comments are great. I just finished reading a novel by Patrick Ord called "The Curtain" about this very thing. The manipulative techniques used by these data miners will have everyone cutting up their "courtesy" cards, closing their FB and Twitter accounts and stashing large wads of cash in their mattress.
    It was a free Kindle download on Amazon -- if you don't mind Amazon tracking your every move.

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  24. Great point here. The other day, I was asked for my phone number and I did give it, even though my 'gut' told me not to. No more personal info given out when I purchase something. If they want your money, they won't insist on the info. If they insist, walk out the door with the product left on the counter. They'll get the message.

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  25. At our local Verizon store they always ask for your name when you walk in the door. When its your turn to be served, they will call out your full name loudly. The young man right in front of me told the clerk with the clipboard his name, I. P. Freely. Most of us have heard this old joke before but apparently not the young clerk who called it loudly several times. I imagine he never did that again.

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