Monday, February 22, 2016

This Crazy World--The 21st Century Examined

So I went to Fry's Foods (aka Kroeger's in the midwest and east). I shop there every week and it's one of my favorite grocers. I needed milk and bread and wanted to check the price of a sale item. I was stopped at the door by a gatekeeper who told me, rather disdainfully, that I had to register first.

"What," I indignantly complained. "Register? I've never had to register before."

"New policy," the gatekeeper shot back. "If you don't register, you can't pay (no that's not a typo).

"Ridiculous," I protested. "I don't even have any items in my cart. Actually, I don't even have a cart because they're all inside."

"All the more reason to register." The gatekeeper extended a hand. "Credit card, please."
As you've probably guessed, this conversation never took place. I made it up as a prank. But just this mornings something similar
did happened  that inspired my snarky little post.

I was searching the internet for information on writing a business plan—something I definitely need—and got directed to the SBA, our nation's small business association. What's the first thing they asked for? You guessed it, my personal information, plus email address and a password. A website for the SBA needs that information?  I didn't know if it had anything to help me. For all I knew they were data mining and selling my personal information as part of a package. That does sound paranoid but it's a doesn't mean they aren't out to get you scenario. It really happens.

Actually, it's happened to me before—the data mining, not selling my info, or at least I hope. Most recently, a cute clothing ad caught my attention and I clicked on the site. Guess what happened? I'm sure you have. We want your personal information. Before I could get into the site to browse. Along the same line are the sites that offer an intriguing product but take a gazillion pages to tell  you the price.

I never give those kind of companies repeat business.

Some, though, you just can't get away from. How about the big firms that require your credit card numbers then keep them on file. Some even give you one-click shopping which gives you the privilege of making mistakes on the fly. Viola, you suddenly have a pasta maker when you wanted a wrench. In this case I really needed that business plan template and in other cases I needed the widget, the cottage cheese, the bestselling book. Whatever. I needed it.

One thing I know. Store loyalty cards notwithstanding, they are not a condition of doing business with brick and mortar stores No sane retailer would ever require a customer to provide personal information before they could walk inside and look at the merchandise.

But if they did, would I fill out the form and whip out my credit card so I could get into Fry's? You bet I would. It's my favorite grocery store.

That's kind of scary, isn't it?

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