Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Privacy Your Rights Online

Supermarket Loyalty Cards Vs National ID Cards 480

john.wingfield writes "The BBC is running a story on a speech David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary, has given on ID cards and supermarket loyalty cards. He criticises the data protection arrangements for the loyalty cards whilst simultaneously (hypocritically?) promoting his own national ID card scheme, which is exempt from the Data Protection Act 1998. See also the UK Information Commissioner's (data protection and freedom of information watchdog) concerns about the ID card scheme."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supermarket Loyalty Cards Vs National ID Cards

Comments Filter:
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:47AM (#10850858) Homepage Journal
    The cards were not a panacea for everything but could help stop terrorists using multiple identities Because everyone KNOWS that terrorists can't fake ID cards! Hell, that's probably why GB is the terrorist haven that it is now, because they don't have a national ID card!

    Geez, I thought that only America had to deal with this kind of insane rationalization. And no, I don't have and never will have a "loyalty" (i.e. "We want to track you") card.
    • Well, I've heard of the UK being referred to as the 51st state of America.
    • Do you have a passport? How about a Social Security Number? A driver's licence? What about a credit card? A bank card?

      All these cards are used to 'track' you in some form or fashion, and are used to allow you access to certain services. A store loyalty card is really no different, except the issuer is not a government, insurance company, credit card company, or a bank. As for a national identification card, its just a different form of passport or drivers licence/birth certificate that is already required
  • by wrinkledshirt ( 228541 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:48AM (#10850864) Homepage
    There once was a man called Blunkett.
    Loyalty Programs? He tried to debunk it.
    But his views on privacy
    Were pure hypocrisy,
    So Britons everywhere said "Man, you flunk it!"
  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:51AM (#10850889) Homepage Journal
    I avoid those grocery store cards. I will go out of my way to find the stores that don't use them. Luckily the little mom&pop store down the street doesn't use them, so that's where I usually go.

    Guess what? While their small size means their selection is limited, the overall prices are about the same as the larger stores that use the nasty little cards.

    Even if the prices were higher, I'd still go there. Everyone in the store knows the location of every item. Can't find something? Ask the next kid in an apron, and they'll take you right to it.

    • False Data (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      I usually fill them out with false data, Tell them that I moved, and the address on my license is out of date.

      tho now they want to mail the things to you.

      • by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:17AM (#10851065)
        Isn't everyone...

        Name: Test User
        Home: 10 main st, Beverly hills 90210
        Phone: (555) 555-1234

      • Re:False Data (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hal2814 ( 725639 )
        I use former Cowboys players. It makes things pretty interesting. Most people don't recognize names like Ed T. Jones, Daniel White, or Craig Morton, but when you throw out a Michael Ditka or Roger Staubach they usualy ask if you are related. One time I was bold and put Thomas Landry as my name for Kroger. Nobody even asked and this was right after Landry died. I do give them my real address. That way I know if one of them breaks any promises on who they will share data with. For example, if I start g
    • I have found a simpler solution. When the clerk asks if I have an ID card I just pat down my pockets and say I forgot it. I then turn to the person in line behind me and say 'Hey, can I use your card?'

      I get the same price as anyone else and I don't have my shopping patterns tracked. The person behind me doesn't mind because to them they are getting 'free points'. Everyone is happy.
    • One of my professors was telling me how he once had grad students that formed a grocery store card-trading ring. They'd all swap cards with each other every week, use it to buy groceries, and then hand it off to somebody else.
    • by taped2thedesk ( 614051 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:40AM (#10851658)
      Try Trader Joe's [], if there's one around you. They don't do cards or store coupons, or even sales - and their prices are generally very reasonable. They have a pretty decent selection, and I could get away with doing all of my shopping there if I wanted to. (There are a few things I can still get much cheaper at Kroger, and a few favorite foods that TJ's doesn't carry.)

      Their service is incredible, they've always got free food for you to sample... and many stores have wine tasting too. They also give their employees benefits and good wages, which is a lot more than I can say for most grocery stores. I've been to a lot of their stores, and employees seem genuinely happy there - which makes my shopping experience that much more enjoyable.

      P.S. - try the peppered cashews...

    • Interestingly enough, the small "mom and pop" locally owned grocer in my town has the card, while the big box store does not. I was only in the local store once. If they need a card they don't need my business.

      Wal-Mart and Home Depot are other big (bigger than either grocer in my town) names that come to mind that don't have the stupid card. Both give good prices without the expense of tracking my data. (quality is a different matter, but I can judge that myself)

  • by howhardcanitbetocrea ( 671190 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:53AM (#10850902)
    If anyone thinks that just by not having a supermarket loyalty card they have more privacy, they are kidding themselves. If someone wants to know that on Friday I buy women's underwear and what size I prefer they are welcome to the long as I get a free iPod
  • Refuseniks Unite! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BandwidthHog ( 257320 ) <inactive.slashdo ...> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:53AM (#10850904) Homepage Journal
    I'll bet slashdot is about the only place where us Supermarket Refuseniks are in the majority. I won't use one (even one with fake info) and I won't buy a single item that requires the card to get the real price.

    When the cashier asks if I have a $NAME_OF_STORE Card, I answer with a strong, cheerful "Nope!" and it's been years since anybody pressed the issue any further. I assume based on their reactions that they get a fair number of customers declining (and probably with varying levels of politeness), yet I don't ever notice another customer not handing over their keychain for verification of eligibility to pay only full retail.

    It's an odd thing... all these millions (are they into the billions yet?) of dollars spent to administer these programs, and I've yet to hear a single believable* justification for it.

    * 'because we want to save you money!' is NOT believable. If that was their goal, they'd lower the prices and be done with it.
    • Amen! The best advice that I can add to this is to just buy the generic brands. Usually, the chains sell their generic brand at the same price (or lower!) than the weekly specials without requiring the evil card. About the only products this can't be applied to is the fresh produce and seafood; for those you should be able to find a non-chain store that can help out.
    • Re:Refuseniks Unite! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PedanticSpellingTrol ( 746300 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:22AM (#10851087)
      The best part is, EVERY TIME I've ever gone to a Bi-Lo store and told them I didn't have a card, they'd just key in the override code (444400000000) and I get all the "discounts" anyway.
    • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpn o - c o .org> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:51AM (#10851234) Homepage
      Look at it like this: They will *buy* your shopping habit data by giving you discounts off their products.

      Honestly, I don't care. They can track whatever they want, link it up to my name or whatever. It's a deal *I* agreed to ( because, mainly, I can't think of how they can use that information in a bad way ),and I get something out of doing nothing, which is pretty sweet.

      However. National ID cards are NOT something I'd agree to, because in order for something like that to be effective, you'd have to mandate their use. And that means we'd be forcing many people, myself include, into using something they didn't agree to.
    • I's an odd thing... all these millions (are they into the billions yet?) of dollars spent to administer these programs, and I've yet to hear a single believable* justification for it.

      The justification is very simple. They track what you buy and offer you coupons for competing products. This way they get money for advertising from both sides, and loyal customers to one product pay more on a consistent basis. It's a win win situation.

  • Now this may sound a little paranoid (I know I'll be modded down just for saying the phrase above), but "worst case scenario" for you. [Tinfoil Hat Mode ON] It's only a matter of a couple of years until RFID-embedded national ID cards are a mandatory item one has to carry both in the UK and the US. The number of readers (both public, private and secret) will multiply at a geometric rate, with databases tracking more and more of our movements. And now that Texas school-children are being tracked under the
    • What scares me is not what is going to happen in the US. At worst, the US will use it solve a few more crimes and nail everyone and their dog for speeding. I am not saying I like it, but I could think of worse things. Like any institution run by humans, the US government has its fits of stupidity and corruption, but for the most part it tries to be benevolent and more or less succeeds (and no, that was not an invitation to start talking about Iraq). The American propensity towards individualism and a me
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:00AM (#10850958)
    as for the supermarket loyalty cards, they give the card, no one says you have to give them your address, they call me Mr Goatse at one store, one clerk figured it out and started laughing at my name. You can easily grab a handful of them, use one for every day of the week.
    • I was given a card and a form to fill out. I threw the form away and started using the card without any problems. Why don't more fo you do this? I mean, you have disposable email accounts right? WHen you register for one-time things you don't put your real name and number, do you? So why should you start doing so at the supermarket?
    • I'm obviously missing something here: in the UK the reward for using the loyalty card is the money-off vouchers they send you in the post every few months. If they don't have your name and address you don't get the vouchers. But I can't believe that you'd actually be carrying and using a loyalty card for no reward whatsoever. So do you get for carrying the card without them being able to contact you?
  • Blank loyalty card (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:02AM (#10850976)
    I recently got one at Kroger.
    "Do you have a Kiroger card?"
    "'s the card and the application" She swiped it, and gave me the blank app, to be filled out later.

    The card works, and I just shredded the application.

    So..just take the blank application, and say "I'll fill it out later".

    • At my local Kroger they just have cards they swipe for everyone without one of his own. I'm not sure on their logic, but everyone does it so it must be some kind of store policy. Maybe those Kroger cards carry rewards like cash back which you can't get unless you have your own.

      Still, it does seem silly to put out this special card that gets you lower prices, and then not require anyone to actually have it.

    • Heh - I did that with a CVS card (CVS is a drug store [] in this case, not the versioning system []). Every time I use it, my receipt reminds me that my information is "incomplete" and tells me to go to their webpage and update the account.

      What works really well is to try and take advantage of a loyalty-card holder sale and act rushed. So they'll give you the card and tell you to give them the application later. Just never hand in the application, and you're all set. :)

      (Of course, in my case, it's not tha

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:23AM (#10851602) Homepage
      So your Kroger card doesn't have your name associated with it. Big deal! You're still the one swiping it every time you buy groceries, so they can still track your buying patterns. For Kroger, the net effect is the same as if you had a "non-blank" card.

      Why is it that everybody thinks the most evil thing about loyalty cards is that they can match your buying habits with your name? You think they really CARE what your name is?
  • by YouHaveSnail ( 202852 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:02AM (#10850977)
    I've been known from time to time to swap grocery store cards with friends, or else to give phony name and address information when obtaining one. The result is that I get discounts without totally giving up privacy, and the supermarket gets reliable data about a real person's short term shopping habits. The one thing the store loses is the ability to correctly map the shopping habits to a particular person. (You must pay with cash, of course, to make that work.)

    I very much doubt that any country that institutes a national ID card system would let citizens swap cards.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:02AM (#10850978)
    Get to checkout, fumble briefly in your pockets, claim you have left your supermarket card at home by accident. Oh, that's fine, they'll say, and usually they'll just punch in a number and give you a discount anyway. Worst case scenario you still get to buy your groceries, you just have to pay a half a pound more. The horror.

    Claim you lost your national ID card. Oh, sorry, you can't get on the plane.

    Go and sign up for a supermarket card, or two or three, with false identity information. Claim you don't have a driver's license, or offer some flimsy piece of cardboard you printed up at home. There will be no negative repercussions for you in any way, at absolute worst one of these cards will get negated.

    Go and sign up for a national ID card, or two or three, with false identity information. You have just committed a crime with a multi-year jail penalty.

    Can you see why I might be more comfortable with the supermarket card than the government ID card?
  • by yorkpaddy ( 830859 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:04AM (#10850984)
    As opposed to national ID cards, loyalty card are optional. Sure you could say national ID cards are optional (you can move out of the country) but it is different. There is a much higher transaction cost in changing countries compared to changing supermarkets.
  • by theonlyholle ( 720311 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:04AM (#10850988) Homepage
    Maybe coming from a country where ID cards (and having them with you) have been mandatory since I've been born has made me blid, but what exactly are people's concerns about them? As far as I remember, my privacy has never been threatened by them - I show it to the police to prove who I am, sometimes also to the post office when I collect a parcel. So they believe I'm actually the person who is registered as the owner of the car I'm driving or the recipient of the parcel I'm trying to collect - thank you, I'd expect them to check that. Having lived in the UK for a few years, I couldn't help but get the impression that the point in this discussion is that "I have the right to hide who I am from anyone" - I just don't see that as a legitimate concern. The government and its agencies are not a privately owned supermarket who doesn't need to know who I am to accept me as a customer...
    • Yeah, because governments never fuck up.
    • I don't get it either. I have said the same thing before in another discussion about national ID cards, but got no satisfactory reply. Best case you are told that the government will abuse it to track your every movement (imagine the amount of data to analyse), or you get some wackos/funnies that cite that "mark of the beast" thing.

      I have had an ID card for about my whole life and I practically never had to show it. If I recall correctly they made a photocopy when I opened a bank account, but that woul

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I have to agree with the parent, as well.

      Arguments I've heard in the UK are "because in France, they have to carry ID cards". I hate to say it, but that is not a valid excuse, even with today's Freedom Fries (not an issue with chips, though :-) ). Another fear is that you'll be made to prove your identity to the police. Under current law, the police can still demand you to identify yourself. How often do they do it? Except for when a crime is alleged to have been committed, never!

      In the US, there is
      • Under the current law in the UK, the police can only require you to identify yourself if arresting you and they can only arrest you if you have committed a crime.

        Tesco don't know what I buy since I pay cash. I also can choose to buy my toothpaste elsewhere. I am not compelled to shop traceably with anyone.

        You don't have to pay for a TV license, only if you want a TV. You don't have to drive, you can walk, take the bus, take a taxi. You can use private health care.

        It is wrong, it does give the state more
    • by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:04AM (#10851294)
      As far as I'm concerned, it's not a privacy issue unless they fuck it up. They can already track you by SSN, state ID, or whatever. It would only really be a privacy issue if they put RFID stuff in your card, and this enabled unintended people to scan the thing and get useful information. That would open the system up to abuse by criminals and stores alike.

      But the real problem with national ID cards is that they have negative security value. They will be trusted more than ID cards and social security numbers, and they will be only one piece of information to forge or steal. The government databases connected with the ID cards will be vulnerable and unreliable, and more so than the SSN databases because of their size (i.e., more chances to create a privacy problem by fucking it up). They'll be a bigger pain in the neck for people who lose them, and the risks of identity theft will be monstrous.

      It would be very difficult to get something on this scale right, and it would be worse than the current system of state IDs, kludgy as that is. On top of that, the project would be horrendously expensive.

      There would also certainly be ways for an insider to ruin someone's life, even more than there are today, by fiddling with these databases.

      If there were national ID cards from the beginning, the system might be better than what we see today (I personally think it would be simpler but probably more vulnerable to abuse). But I think that instituting them now would be a mistake.

      Schneier has a good essay on this here [].
    • by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:09AM (#10851317) Homepage
      Partly it's a hold over from WWII, the last time the UK had cards. As quickly as possible afterwards we got rid of them.

      But mainly it's a lack of trust. This is the government who wanted to open the criminal databases to local councils, and fire services, ambulance services and so on, for no apparently good reason. The proposed scheme a central database of your fingerprints, retina scans and facial pictures. Now why? If the card is simply to prove identity then all you need is this data encoded on the card and a unique card ID. The card ID is checked through a central database to show the card is valid, then the encoded biometrics can be checked locally. There's no need for a government database of fingerprints, but that's what they're pushing for.

      Of course there's the lying about the security of biometrics, and the popularity of the idea. The government got caught out rejecting every single emailed objection, because they were emailed and not written.

      Lets not forget the cost overun of every single large government IT project over the last 20 years as well.

      And finally why the hell should I have to pay for something the government says I must have? If it's a must have, fund it yourself. Why should I pay for the government to take my fingerprints, store them and share them globally on demand? Blunkett said it won't cost the tax payer anything because it's self financing. Nice language, it will cost us to get it and we don't have a choice, but hey, it's not a tax. No siree!

    • While everyone gives you there theoretical analysis of the situation, I'll give you my tiny little practical anecdote of privacy and how it affects me.

      About fifteen years ago my car was broken into. Among other things, they stole three library books. In the confusion I didn't realize this until a few months later on my next trip to the public library. EIGHTY DOLLAR FINE! Well actually, most of that was replacement fee. The fee was outrageous, and at the time I was quite poor so I couldn't pay for it.

      To th
    • If it were only a card... Unfortunately, these cards will most probably come with biometrics, RFIDs and massive databases behind them. A simple means of identification is one thing. But when a cop can swipe the card and see that you've been reading anti-government literature at the library, and that the GPS tracker chip says you were moving at 26 mph, you've got to wonder when we all became criminals.
    • I'm perfectly ok with an ID card. As it is, I usually have my driving licence with me, which has a photo of me, my name, address, signature, and what classes of vehicles I'm allowed to drive (cars, industrial and agricultural plant), and trucks up to 7.5 tonnes).

      The problem with the proposed ID card is that it will be a smart card, with biometric information on it, as well as other information about me. About the only person who *won't* have access to that information is *me*. I'm not entirely happy abo

    • I show it to the police to prove who I am

      What were you doing that required you to prove your identity to the police?

      Having lived in the UK for a few years, I couldn't help but get the impression that the point in this discussion is that "I have the right to hide who I am from anyone"

      I think you've got that the wrong way round. I've lived in the UK all my life, and I think the main objection is not that we have the right to remain anonymous, but that other people do not have the right to demand that w
      • What were you doing that required you to prove your identity to the police?

        I was driving my mom's car and got pulled over because one of the lights had failed, for example.

        That's another part of the problem - why doesn't my government trust me?

        Maybe it's because you could be anyone, not even a citizen of your country - why *should* they trust you? I don't usually trust random strangers coming to my door, in fact if they do, it's quite possible I ask them to identify themselves or go away and leave m
  • Perhaps the Government ID cards will match nicely with the government's 2.5 million video survelliance cameras [].

    Of course, if these sorts of measures really worked, there wouldn't be a lunatic sucessfully breaking into Buckingham palace every six months or so.
  • Your grocery discount card is only safe in the right hands []! Just imagine what they'd do if they found your National ID card.
  • Supermarket cards... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:23AM (#10851095) Homepage Journal
    I reluctantly applied for one a few years ago, since the discounts meant I'd save over $100/year. In reality, I was off by a factor of two, saving close to $200/yr. off of the store's artificially inflated prices.

    There are actually two types of discount cards: the first requires a real name and address and proof of identity. This one affords the user check cashing privileges. Since I do my banking business at an actual bank, I opted for the second, which doesn't require a real identity. Being a properly paranoid Slashbot who doesn't want The Powers That Be to track my aluminum foil purchasing habits (for the hats, you see), I gave my name as John Doe, 1234 Main St., Anytown, USA.

    I'd been using the card for over five years before I realized that the cashier sees your name come up on her terminal when you use the card. About a month ago, the cashier asked me if my name was really "John Doe".

    "Yeah, and it's a real bitch when I check into a hotel," I replied.

    About a year after I got the card, the supermarket (Stop and Shop in Massachusetts) launched a web site that integrated your purchasing data. You'd log in by entering the serial number on the card and get a history of your purchases and discounts, along with "healthy" alternatives (which was pretty brain dead, offering mayonnaise as a "healthy" alternative to mustard).

    The beauty part was that after you logged in you were presented with the option of password protecting your data. However, that meant that anyone who hadn't logged in had their purchase data unprotected (albeit with no identity attached). I tested this by entering numbers at random and viewing the purchase histories of random strangers ("Grape soda and rice cakes? What were you thinking?" "Oooh! KY Warming Jelly! Party on, dude!"). I was tempted to enter passwords for some of these but I didn't.

    The store pulled the web site after a couple of weeks, citing "security concerns".

    Gotta go. I have a craving for grape soda and rice cakes.

  • by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:53AM (#10851244)
    The difference between a supermarket loyalty card and a National ID card is this.

    You can lie about the info on the supermarket loyalty card, by putting a fake phone number, address, whatever, no big deal, and I don't think the supermarket will mind. I think the main purpose of those membership cards is so they know how much stuff someone buys, when, etc., etc., giving them the demographic info so they can better stock stuff and whatnot.

    Right now we have State ID Cards (whether simply identification or drivers' licenses). Even if we did go to National ID Cards, they may not be any different. Let me say this. Under NO circumstances implant those RFID microchips. Cause there's too much fear over the issue of GPS tracking and such. By the way, I think we should just leave it up to the state level. Let us have an United States of American with each state creating their own laws and such, under our federal documents that have worked for us for so long.
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @02:58AM (#10851272) Homepage Journal
    I have a big family, and food is a major monthly bill. If I can save 100-200 dollars a month by using a store card, guess what, I will.

    I'm one of those "Evil" customers, I value shop. I buy on sale, buy the 2 for 1 sales, and never by name brands, unless its in bulk. Costco gives you money back on the excutive account, more than the cost of the account, so its worth it to shop there for bulk items.

    I was in a little discussion about shopping with a co-worker, after a few minutes here is what we he said about shopping and my answers.

    * Shopping all over takes time.
    I shop at 3 stores, Costco for most stuff, Safeway and the local corner market. The corner market always sell milk for 1.99 the local markets dont. Costco has 2 for 3.50, but longer lines, so during the week, the basics are the local stores and the quicky market.

    I found our markets in best prices in prices as Costco, Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Myers tie. This is my local area, in other areas I noticed Albertsons and Fredmyers are cheaper. So it depends on where you live. The area is has lots of Safeway generic product producers, (Dairygold, etc), so icecream is cheaper.

    Safeway comes out ahead with sales alone, but if you use the membershipcard you 10-20% if you shop right. 2 for 1 prices, and discount's are amazing.

    * Brand names over generics
    This is tricky, on sale items most are brand names. But normally, stuff like bagged cereal are much cheaper, and with a club card even less. 2 for 3.50, 16 ounce bags is better than a 24 ounce box for 4 bux. And if they have the 32 ounce bags for 3.99 thats even better.
    Store brands are also very high quality, you buy store meat/milk/wheat/product products, why not store boxed goods?

    I dont see the reason for people to give up 10-20% savings because they wont use a club card, and then complain about privacy then still rent videos at blockbuster, have multiple accounts with other merchants.

    Would you give up 20% of your pay to feel secure, but not be secure? National ID's are like this, its just a false sense of security. The 9-11 terrorists had real ID's. They didnt fake a thing.

    • hmmm... I'm single and I walk to one of a couple of places to buy food daily. I'm sure I pay a bit extra but do so willingly. We don't have those cards where I live & I pay in cash so they don't know who I am or my shopping habits. (well actually they do but only because I've been shagging one of the girls who works in the deli). The video store is a different story mostly because it's totaly automated.

      But hey... to each his own, I'm happy with my gig and it sounds like yours works for you!

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @04:28AM (#10851622)
      If you do some investigating you find that in many cases, the card isn't saving you money, it's just keeping you from getting ripped off. What's the difference you ask?

      Ok well if a store has too much of something in inventory and needs to get rid of it, or if they want to offer a loss leader (an item they sell at a loss to entice you to come in and buy stuff), but only to card members, that's you saving money. They are offering a discount over what the normal price is for an item.

      However if they take an item that they get plenty of sales on, jack the price and then offer the old price as the card member price, then you are just not getting ripped off. They don't need to charge the higher price normally, they just jack it up to make you feel like you are getting a discount.

      Many items fall in this cateogry. Where I often shop, meat is ALWAYS on sale with the discount card. Always. Well look, I know how it goes with meat sales. They do a lot of it, it's fairly predictable, and they prep it fresh in the deli every day. They are not alwys overstocked on meat, and the price is not low enough to be a loss leader.

      That's the problem people have with these. When Albertsons switched to a card, I didn't notice things get cheaper on a whole. Seems like the regular prices just slid up over time and the "discount" prices.

      This is why people hate them. If they really did nothing but offer lower than normal prices, I'd say good for them. However it's usually just a scam to make you feel like you are saving money.
  • by jIyajbe ( 662197 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @03:00AM (#10851279)
    People ask me why I refuse to get one of these grocery store cards. I always first try to explain the privacy implications. That usually falls on deaf ears. However, I find that those ears open up when I tell them, "They aren't handing out those 'discount' cards because they LOSE money off of them." Thoughtful expressions ensue.
    • I think its one of these things which benefits everyone; the store gets statistical data their data analysts can gleefully enjoy while us customers get discounts and special offers.

      For example, I'm a registered customer with my local Dominos pizza store - I'm not about to let my privacy concerns get in the way of cheaper discounts every month.

  • Data Mining (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jIyajbe ( 662197 )
    HEALTH INSURANCE AGENT: "Sorry Mr. Smith, but we see by your grocery store records that you buy lots of ice cream, cheese, and Twinkies. You are too great a risk. We are canceling your health insurance."

    AUTO INSURANCE AGENT: "Sorry Mr. Smith, but we see by your grocery store records that you buy lots of beer and wine. You are too great a risk of being a drunk driver. We are canceling your auto insurance."

    PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: "So, Mr. Smith, according to your grocery store records, you purchased a case of
    • HEALTH INSURANCE AGENT: "Sorry Mr. Smith, but we see by your grocery store records that you buy lots of ice cream, cheese, and Twinkies. You are too great a risk. We are canceling your health insurance."

      Health insurance outside of company-provided insurance requires a physical anyways. You can always claim the twinkies are for homeless people. your physical is going to be much more incrimating.

      AUTO INSURANCE AGENT: "Sorry Mr. Smith, but we see by your grocery store records that you buy lots of beer an
  • at Cal Poly Pomona, we used to use the campus switch board number as the phone number for a card that one of us started. that way whoever you were, you'd just use that to get the discount (because sometimes it was nutty the discouts you get...$14, with your Ralph's card, only $7.99!).

    I can see the guy compiling the stats:
    "Wow, this guy drinks a lot"
  • supermarket cards (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    the big value to the stores are knowing what items are bought together and what the primary items are versus the secondary, ie. what you go to the store for (regular items) vs. what you happen to pick up there (irregular).

    they pool all this information and while it may be interesting for them to have your actual name and address for correlational (sp?) purposes (think property records for example), it's far more valuable for them to know what items are sold together than anything else. (There was a Wal-Ma
    • As far as privacy, honestly, I don't get what the big deal is? Actually now that I think about it, I don't get what the big deal about any of the privacy is really. I understand search/seizure and such fun things, but I don't really understand supermarket check out privacy? Don't use the card. Don't use a credit card. Don't go to the store.

      As long as we are comfortable with the fact that if somebody in the right office wants to pull up our file, they can know EVERYTHING about us on a whim. --This does n

  • My strategy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by leroybrown ( 136516 )
    Whenever I go grocery shopping at Genuardi's or Acme, when I get to the checkout and the clerk asks if I have my super-fantastic discount card, I pat my pockets, give my wallet a cursory once over, and check my key ring, then shrug sheepishly and tell them I must've left it at home. At this point the clerk just runs her own. Granted, I go to the lines with the cutest chicks and say it with a great deal of charm...

  • I mean... (Score:4, Funny)

    by LardBrattish ( 703549 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:12AM (#10851777) Homepage
    He criticises the data protection arrangements for the loyalty cards whilst simultaneously (hypocritically?) promoting his own national ID card scheme, which is exempt from the Data Protection Act 1998.

    I mean, you'd have to be blind not to see that wouldn't you?
  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @05:45AM (#10851895) Homepage Journal
    "it is important that we do not pretend that an entitlement card would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism" - David Blunkett 3 July 2002.

  • Do as I say... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @06:21AM (#10852003) Homepage Journal
    'Blind Man' Blunkett comes from the authoritarian school of do as I say not do as I do. Hence his cards are far better than any (optional) loyalty card. Even if you point out to him that you can get loyalty cards in Holland for buying dope (buy 9 bags, get one free) - which seems a far better use of id cards than Blunkett has in mind, he'll still tell you, "You are wrong, that is illegal, do as I say."

    I would have no objection to using ID cards if the privacy laws in the UK were as strong as in, say, Germany. It would have made the nightmare of opening a UK bank account disappear. As it is, I had to provide proof of a paid utility bill (in my name), which required getting an apartment which required references and (usually) proof of a bank account...

    But with BMB cracking the whip, you can be absolutely certain that national ID cards will be used to track far more than just proof of identity. The UK is the most secretive country in the Western world. Be afraid if this proposal (for which you pay 5 times as much as in Germany, Switzerland etc.) happens. Be very afraid.
  • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @07:57AM (#10852276)
    Last time I checked, Tesco didn't charge me £75 for a Clubcard, Nectar didn't demand I carried their card at all times, WH Smith didn't prosecute me for failing to register for their card, John Lewis wouldn't threaten me for cutting up their card and the police can't pull me over for not producing a Game card.

    Store cards are subject to the Data Protection Act; Blunkettcards will run a coach and horses through the protection - so much so they'll probably have to amend the DPA (and not in our favour).

    Apart from being card-shaped and having my name on them there is nothing in common between the two. Blinky is now trying the soft-sell; after scaring us silly with the threat that unless we have ID cards we'll all be blown up by terrorists; he's now trying the line that they aren't so very different from the cards we have in our wallet. When they are.

    And expect copious repetitions of 'those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.', which as any five-year old can tell you is disproved by 'doesn't that rather depend on who's asking the questions?'

    This is all going to be rammed through Parliament in time for a May General Election (which is only needed so they can get it out of the way before announcing tax increases). The government will call for all parties to come together to fight the menace of [insert suitable scare here].

    Any party who objects to ID cards, or tries to drag it out in committee will be called 'soft on crime'. Which is the last thing they want before an election now that the tabloids and the Home Secretary have made everyone petrified of a largely imaginary crime wave.

    Meanwhile the government will be whipping its own backbenchers and telling them 'don't rock the boat - remember there's a historic third term up for grabs'. They'll get it through the Commons on a massive majority and then bully the Lords into compliance.

    If the Lords object, well last night showed that the government will use the Parliament Act 1949 for pretty much any purpose.

    The only way to stop this madness (apart from hoping the same people who programmed the Child Support Agency computers are doing ID cards) is for people in Labour constituencies to contact their MP and say that their vote is conditional on the MP opposing the ID card legislation.

    Best wishes,

    • (apart from hoping the same people who programmed the Child Support Agency computers are doing ID cards)

      I think the government has proven time and time again that it simply cannot do large computer systems. Or even small computer systems.

      Child support agency: failed.
      Passport agency: failed
      National Health Service: failed
      Firearms register (A pitifully small database in this country!): failed

      Given the history of failure of large and small computer systems commisioned by the government, I have every expect
  • Wow! Free Toaster (Score:3, Insightful)

    by victor_the_cleaner ( 723411 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @10:17AM (#10853152)
    I probably read this on Slashdot, or somewhere else, but it's funny to watch the public get in an uproar over privacy.

    John Q: This is an outrage, I demand my right to privacy!

    Pitch: Sir would you like to win a free toaster?

    John Q: Wow! free toaster, where do I sign up?
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @10:56AM (#10853566)
    As far as privacy, honestly, I don't get what the big deal is. Actually now that I think about it, I don't get what the big deal about any of the privacy is really. I understand search/seizure and such fun things, but I don't really understand supermarket check out privacy? Don't use the card. Don't use a credit card. Don't go to the store.

    As long as we are comfortable with the fact that if somebody in the right office wants to pull up our file, they can know EVERYTHING about us on a whim. --This does not just include what we do and when we do it, but all the clever things which can be learned from that data. --Psyche profiles and all the most likely reactions a person will have to any given stimulus at any given time. --Or if the person is the sort who is likely to resist the control system by using one card among nine different people.

    It's about fear and control. 'They' are scared of losing control, and so always seek more and more. 'They' want people neatly labeled in their individual boxes, doing exactly what they want us to be doing.

    If we never find being labeled or being put in boxes offensive, then we are probably never going to be considered a threat, which should make life easy. --Except it doesn't work that way. Once we have been put in boxes, how do they know we will stay there? What if we wake up one day and decide that we don't like our boxes? This is a fearful thought, which makes the controllers want to apply even more control. The target and memories of what was once normal are always in motion.

    The more a person uses a certain set of thoughts and behavior templates, the more 'burned in' the synaptic pathways become. This is how the brain works, and this is how habits are formed. Fear is habitual, and thus cannot ever be satisfied; when one is pre-disposed to fearing being on the 'wrong' side of the line, then it does not matter how far the line is moved, the line itself remains and there is always a 'wrong' side. This drives the desire for ever increasing amounts of control.

    'Living' for the average human has become increasingly doing only pre-approved things, thinking only pre-approved thoughts, and generally staying within the pre-set boundaries created by our masters. The world isn't the way it is through random chance. --Just because we were born into slavery doesn't make it natural or okay. There is so much more out there! --But ignorance is bliss. Amazingly, most people are content to flush away all their health and youth and energy into stupid jobs, working too many hours a day, calling 'entertainment' the mind-numbing pap which is most film, television and popular distraction.

    --And when management decides it's time for us to lose our jobs and seek out of default and desperation positions with the military (carrying rifles through the desert), most of us think, "Oh well. I guess that's just how it is". We unwittingly participate in hundreds of social engineering stress-tests delivered via media, food, medicines and artificially generated sickness and artificially generated war. --Indeed, much of the misery in our lives has been deliberately fabricated.

    Among those who know, there is a subject which is called, "The Topic of Topics", or "The Predator". There are those who 'eat' human misery, who don't want us to look at the UFO's. --There is such thing as spiritual energy, and like any energy, it can bled off and used to feed other things. But these are not thoughts cattle are supposed to have. So we must stay in our boxes, watch our televisions and not talk too much.

    How much personal debt do people currently have? How often do they get sick? How much do we really think for ourselves? When was the last time anybody was in a satisfying relationship? How much of You is really You and not some behavioral subroutine we saw on 'Friends' or 'Survivor'?

    For control measures and artificial stimuli to be administered, the system also requires numerous methods of monitoring and gatheri

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @01:06PM (#10855314) Journal
    Al this concern over customer loyalty cards, and what do you do? You pay with a credit card! If you value your identity, NEVER use a credit card. Credit cards betray you much more than any loyalty card will. They get your name, etc. They can then tie this in with information from returns or rebates, or warrenty exchanges.

    Rule #1: You can only bitch if you only ever pay cash.
    Rule #2: Use loyalty cards. The stores are out to get you to spend more. Indirectly, they make themselves more helpful to you by tracking consumer trends. This HELPS YOU.
    Rule #3: (If you are so paranoid) Use a fake name and address (but keep it local) Use a made-up address on your street, with a made up name. But keep it in the same zip! They really don't verify the names or addresses. They just want local stats.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead