So busted

I got caught using my Safeway club card at QFC yesterday. While I was checking out on the self-check machine, the supervising checker handed me a new QFC card and said, “Here, take one of these. Next time *you won’t have to use your Safeway card.”*

This got me thinking. You know how manufacturers pay supermarkets for shelf space? I am going to charge the supermarkets for wallet space. This goes out to any supermarket chain in the nation: I will carry your club card in my wallet for the extremely reasonable price of $25/month. Call me.

12 thoughts on “So busted

  1. Andrew Ross

    If you were really determined to Strike Against The Man, you could make a fake QFC card with the Safeway bar code on it…

    Also, not being from Seattle, every time I see “QFC” I think “Quebec Fried Chicken.”

  2. Neil

    Originally it was “Queen’s First Choice” back when Seattle was nicknamed the Queen City.

  3. KnowOne

    Both Safeway & QFC have systems where you can link your phone number to your card. Instead of carrying cards, you just enter your phone # at checkout instead.

  4. Katelyn

    @KnowOne That’s how I roll! I actually use my parents’ phone number and feel rebellious every single time. “HA! You think you can track my purchases? You don’t OWN ME! You don’t KNOW MY PHONE NUMBER!” snap snap

  5. Ross

    There’s a service I’ve read about that can combine the barcodes from all the supermarkets you do business with into a single ubercard to minimize wallet usage.
    ( as it turns out). Been tempted to do it myself, though I would think it would end with you paying for the wallet space in the form of confused explanations to the tellers as they try to work out what this weird not-our-club-card thing you’ve handed them is.

  6. penguin

    I refuse to use customer loyalty cards. I feel it is manipulation. I try to shop at stores that do not use them, like Trader Joe’s. Some stores that use them, will offer a “store card” at the check out if you don’t have a card, so that you can get the card discount. I will never return to a store that doesn’t offer a “store card” at the check out.

  7. Sarah

    I don’t see why anyone would be opposed to club cards at grocery stores. They track your purchases so that they can make sure they stock what their customers are actually buying, and provide you with coupons and discounts that are useful to you. It saves you money, and makes your shopping more convenient. How is it manipulative?

  8. mamster Post author

    I think I have a response which will make no one happy.

    Sarah, if you think about it for a minute, club cards don’t help with inventory management at all. To manage inventory, the store just needs to know what’s going out and at what rate; that’s what PLU codes are for. At best, they might be able to look across stores and see that customers who buy X also tend to buy Y, and if a particular store is stocking X but not Y they should add Y.

    I am not opposed to the store tracking my purchases. What I’m opposed to is their doing it in a way that annoys me by forcing me to carry an extra card or punch in an ID number every time I check out. If they installed an iris scanner or some other way of identifying the customer passively, I would have no objection to that. (Iris might object to being dragged across the scanner, however.)

    Stores that don’t use club cards offer a better checkout experience to customers. It’s as simple as that. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t be opposed to the store mucking up the checkout experience with extra steps. How is that customer service?

  9. Sarah

    I enjoy the discounts and don’t mind punching in my number. I like the fact that different grocery stores I go into stock different items based on their customers preferences.

    Also because it is definitely an optional step, I don’t really think its worth a second thought if you don’t like them. Just don’t use them.

  10. mamster Post author

    Sarah, explain to me how the store can get any information about customers’ preferences (in the aggregate) via the card that they can’t get the old-fashioned way. Unless you mean they maintain a “Sarah’s favorite stuff” section. Which would admittedly be worth it all.

    As for not using the card, that would result in my paying higher prices. That might be a reasonable tradeoff, although “pay extra and we won’t annoy you at the checkout” doesn’t strike me as winning customer service strategy. In practice, it doesn’t work that way, because the cashier will say, “Would you like to use your QFC card?” and if you decline, you’ll be asked if you want to sign up for a QFC card. This is almost as annoying as carrying/using the card.

    There may be a wallet/purse issue here. I am territorial about what gets into my wallet. If I carried a larger purse, I might not care about a couple of club cards. In no way do I mean this as a value judgment about the relative merits of wallets and purses. :)

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