Loyalty Club Cards Annoying

It's troublesome to have a wallet stuffed full of cards and to rifle through them for the right one at the checkout.

But are they worthwhile? They appear to be. If you don't use your card at the supermarket you will lose out on points that can be used for rewards. A local major chain supermarket has gone one step further and displays 2-priced tags on very many items, regular and card price. You carry and use their card or pay much more. So much for choice? I do have their card and purchase about 2% of my groceries there, choosing to shop almost anywhere else.

Card programs cost retailers money to set up and operate. Where do these costs come from if not from the price of the goods sold to cardholders and others? I see nuisance not bargains, with advantage on the side of the retailers in the collection of purchasing data. There are also concerns about privacy. As customers pass through the checkout personal purchase information is transmitted and recorded.

Loyalty programs are structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behaviour — behaviour which is potentially of benefit to the firm. Other critics see the lower prices and rewards as bribes to manipulate customer loyalty and purchasing decisions, or in the case of infrequent-spenders, a means of subsidising frequent-spenders. Commercial use of the personal data collected as part of the programmes has the potential for abuse. It is highly likely that consumer purchases are tracked and analyzed towards more efficient marketing and advertising (in fact, this can be one of the purposes of the loyalty card.) To some, participating in a loyalty program (even with a fake or anonymous card) funds activities that violate privacy. There has also been concern expressed regarding RFID technology being introduced to loyalty cards. Read more on Loyalty Programs at Wikipedia.

Loyalty card almost leads to wrongful conviction for arson.
The records of a man's purchases compiled by a supermarket loyalty program almost led to his wrongful conviction on arson charges in Washington state। A veteran firefighter was suspected of the crime and his Safeway Club Card revealed a purchase of the store-brand firestarter। He was arrested in October and what would have appeared to be a slam-dunk prosecution had to be abandoned when someone else came forward and took responsibility.
Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Loyalty . . .

Consumer Reports finds not many rewards programs are worth the effort. Their July 2008 issue offers tips to select the right programs and reap the most rewards.

To keep shoppers coming back and spending more, supermarkets, drugstores, warehouse clubs, gas stations, bookstore chains, and many other retailers are pushing points programs.

About 85 percent of U.S. households participate in at least one rewards program. A recent poll of Consumer Reports Money Adviser subscribers found that 41 percent of the newsletter’s subscribers carried three to five such cards, 9 percent had six to nine of them, and 3 percent somehow found room on their key rings or in their wallet for 10 or more.

Katherine Albrecht at CASPIAN asks: Why shouldn't I use a fake card?
It is a selfish solution. It acknowledges that there is a problem, but leaves the problem for the next person to solve -- or more unconscionably, for the next generation to solve. If we were living in a totalitarian regime where open resistance would mean jail or persecution, I could understand pretending to play along. But when the problem could be solved RIGHT NOW if everyone opposed to shopper surveillance would simply speak up, playing along removes you from the ranks of the potential solution.
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