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.