Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Messing with the locals...

So after work tonight I needed to run across the street to Big Grocery Store and grab some essentials for me and the cats. I got my stuff and went to the open register; the guy manning it had been through my store earlier in the evening. "Ha-HA," he said, "you're on my turf now."

The supplies scanned, and I went to swipe my card through the reader. After I did so, it asked "$10.74. Is total OK?"

"No," I blurted, all appropos of nothing.

"What?" said the young cashier.

"It asked me if the total was OK. It's not. $10.74 is just whack for some TP and a bag of cat litter. I'll give you $6.25."

"What that means is..."

"Okay, I can go $6.75."

"No, what it's aski..."

"Alright, $7.15 and not a penny more. That's my final offer; take it or leave it."

"But that's not what it means!"

And this after I'd scanned my Customer Tracking Device. Oh well, once they plug the data into the computer, they'll probably figure out that there is no "Seymour Butts" living at "1122 Boogie Woogie Avenue"...

37 comments:

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Excellent!

Make them think.

If they can't think, they are a cat toy. Have fun with them.

BryanP said...

My favorite grocery weirdness was when Kroger used to put stickers saying "Great meals begin at Kroger!" on everything. Yes, including the TP and the cat litter I bought. Beth and I laughed our collective butts off at that one.

Lergnom said...

I hope the application for the tracker card had space for a phone number. Sing it with me... 8-6-7-5-3-0-niiieeiine!

aughtSix said...

lergnom, I never sign up for the customertracker/discount card, but just enter my phone number. Well, a phone number. It seems someone has always entered (local area code) 867-5309.

The Old Man said...

Did ya one better, Ms Butts. After filling out a bogus sign-up, I found one of the keychain sized cards on the floor of the store. I dropped mine and picked up the stray.
Been usin' it for 'bout 6 years at Big Bird (Giant Eagle)...

Richard said...

I never give my true information to these stores. Not surprisingly there is a website devoted to this. Check out Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

staghounds said...

I'm Mrs. Smart Shopper, 1 Elm St., Anytown.

Sometimes I sign my credit card slips that way, too. Never had a complaint.

Anonymous said...

I use the name Winston Smith living at 123 Main #101. The phone number I give them is the local milliwatt test line. In case you didn't already know, 0 dBm is really loud. Precision dial tone is -13 dBm per tone for a combined volume of -10 dBM.

Bob@thenest said...

Oh, why didn't I think of doing that?????!!!!

Digital Falcon said...

I would have loved to have been able to have heard that conversation first hand.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! Didn't mean be be anonymous with the Winston Smith comment. Sorry about that.

Joe

Anonymous said...

I resisted the "tracker card" for a few years and then signed up with the usual bogus info.

I'd loan it to the person in front of me if they didn't have one and if the cashier didn't have one for them to use.

Then one day as I was digging mine out for someone else to use, the cashier said that she couldn't loan her's as they had just fired an employee of 17 years for loaning his to a customer.

I threw mine away and haven't shopped at Krogers for almost 4 years now.

I figure that if they don't treat thier employees decently, then they won't get my dinero either.

Tokarev

( I think I'm getting old n'grouchy)

Weer'd Beard said...

I still have my Dad's spare card he gave me when I was maybe 17 and could take the car to run errands.

He probably won't mind, he's a liberal. Privacy is only important when people you don't like try to take it away!

Oh and I've also seen that "OK?" as an invetation to haggle, and the clerk was also not amused with me.

I'm not a damn liar, I'm a statistician! said...

Oh well, once they plug the data into the computer, they'll probably figure out that there is no "Seymour Butts" living at "1122 Boogie Woogie Avenue"...

Nah, they don't care. (I'm an analyst, but in industry where, by law, we have to get real names etc.) If I weren't, I'd only ever go through the names to set up a weekly tournament to see who was the most creative.

They have all the fun. :-(

Anonymous said...

Funny, I work for the company you all are railing against (there's only one of us), and I assure you the customer card isn't as nefarious as you're made to believe. CASPIN is a joke and spreads as much misinformation as the anti-gun lobby.

However if you wish to truly remain anonymous, pay cash and cash only. If you pay using a check, credit, or debit card - you're tracked. That number is actually better for our systems as we can cross reference it.

Honestly, my company doesn't care who you are. The John Does and Phil McKrackens don't change what we do. We're looking for shopping habits - if you buy different brands of X and always the cheapest, or brand loyalty, or never buys, etc. It really helps the retailers and manufacturers figure out what is selling and why.

I'm usually a person who uses their real (and full) name when commenting, but for once I'm going to remain anonymous since I've managed to blog for years now and never have had my name associated with where I work - being a gun blogger, I assure you this is a good thing. If Tam wants to know who I am, I'd be more than happy to contact her. Many people don't trust anonymous comments.

But I can assure you, you get the best deals with a card because it helps the store out to know habits.

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

I don't bother with the card. The markets we shop at have store cards strapped to the register for the cashier to use when custmers don't have one.

It's only happened once that a cashier refused to use the store card for us (and wouldn't say why). I told her: "While you are putting this $300 food order back on the store shelves, I'm just going to step over there and speak with the manager for a while.

Last time that ever happened.

The store manager asked why we didn't want a 'loyalty' card. I told him the program makes the store money. If they want my data they'll have to cut me in for some of the cash. He said it enabled them to lower prices. My reply: "Yogurt was three for a buck before the card, and it's three for a buck now. Apparently it didn't lower MY prices at this store when you got the card. Can you show me anything in my cart that got cheaper since you began the loyaly card system? NO? I guess all those savings just stayed with the store then"

That seemed to end the discussion.

I'm not a damn liar, I'm a statistician! said...

My reply: "Yogurt was three for a buck before the card, and it's three for a buck now.

That's a tricky one. If the price would have been $3.15 due to inflation/shipping cost/etc., maintaining your $3 price is a price cut.

Although most stores that I've seen do loyalty cards don't lower the prices on the item. They lower the price on the item if you use the card.

So for your yogurt, you'd see a price of $3.15 w/o the card and $3 w/ the card.

The problem with this is if the cashiers have cards they let the customers use then you get the cost savings without giving anything useful in return by defeating the system. Which suggests that the $3.15 isn't the real price anyway.

Billy Beck said...

Is this post a joke?

I'm only asking because, after reading the comments, I think I'm the only one who got it.

It's not about the CTD. The whole clue is in the first paragraph.

Am I right? Or should I just go paint my cat, now?

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Comment drift. Happens.
Especially to we who have short attention spans....

Statistical person...

The 'three for a buck yogurt' comment I made to the store manager was litterally two days after they started with their card idea. Inflation was really not an issue.... they just went through the store on monday raising prices, and on tuesday told customers they would need a card to get the 'big savings', which meant the same price they paid two days before. If that was inflation, it was kinda weird they stored up so much and punched it out all at once.

Anonymous said...

"Funny, I work for the company you all are railing against (there's only one of us)"

Err, Catalina Marketing, by chance? I did some temp work for them many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Isn't haggling supposed to be the norm in Middle Eastern cultures? So why do I get an ugly look from Haji the Muj when I haggle over the piece of jerky at the local Stop N Rob?

Squeaky Wheel said...

I found a Kroger card in the drawer at a place I worked 7 years ago, and I've been using it ever since. I don't know who it belongs to, but they're contributing to the "deals" on yogurt, string cheese, and V-8 through me. :-)

Tam - that's CLASSIC. I don't have enough gall to try to haggle. I just want to get out of there. That cashier sounds like a dork, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Had a hardware store ask for my phone # on a purchase once.

I didn't argue, just punched in "634-5789." I've no idea who actually owns that number, but they probably hate the song. :-p

comatus said...

To drift yet farther afield: Teh Fred with wife and kids were interviewed on a prominent Australian-owned cable network this eve. Did my ears deceive me?

They met at Kroger's.

Tam said...

Billy Beck,

"The whole clue is in the first paragraph."

Yup.

Billy Beck said...

I've always found some peoples' affinity for haggling very curious, and almost as curious as a taste for "hand-made" goods in an age of mass-production, which generally does it better. (Yes; there are sometimes quality control issues, but that happens with handcrafters as well, which means that the issue is quality control as a principle far more general than production method.)

Haggling is a throwback to market primitivism and a time when goods were strictly limited (and many that we take for granted now simply did not exist) by all kinds of factors that we don't have to deal with anymore. In a modern division-of-labor economy, the market is the haggle. As little as two hundred years ago, there was no way to zip down the street and avail direct or indirect competition, because you were lucky to have, say, a wheelwright in your town at all.

A grocery store is only the most obvious manifestation of these principles, but it's very telling of peoples' economic awareness that they will stand around and beat Tam over the head for her wares while they won't do it in a grocery store.

DirtCrashr said...

I get flying miles using the Safeway card, and added miles using a credit card to buy the food - I have near enough in various accumulations to fly free to Hawaii now...

comatus said...

crash, unlike many folks, you "seem" to have a "shortage" of "quotation marks" in your "writing." Nevertheby, I "hope" you "enjoy" your
"Free"
flight.

DirtCrashr said...

Nothing that free about it, Hawaii is as expensive as where I live already. But it's "my" (there's a few quotation marks ok) Safeway and over the past twenty years I've got to know many of the folks there by name. I'm not afraid of some Corporate Jack Booted Black Helicopter Grocery Thugs - besides there's the Safeway(s) on Maui too so No Escape! "Bwahahaha!"

comatus said...

You done blew it now. You're admitting you shop there because you LIKE it? You feel at home, dig the chicks, know where shit is on the shelves, have a favorite brand of this that or the other thing, know when to expect a sale, and occasionally spend a few cents more rather than drive a mile for two items? Chayzus, the economists are going to kill ya. Better to let them think it's the air miles.

Tam said...

At work the other day I was explaining marketing to a coworker. She was talking about switching brands of cigarettes because a different brand was now cheaper, and, using the same principle, why didn't we lower the price of our petrol?

I pointed at the cat gassing up his 650i at pump 3 and said "Do you think the guy in the $90k Bimmer gives a crap that gas is a penny per gallon cheaper across the kiosk -joint across the street? He comes here because we're nice to him, stock his cigarettes, our store's clean and well-lit, and he likes the color of our signage."

comatus said...

He's not the only one who likes the color of your signage, beautiful.

DirtCrashr said...

Oh gush a little over signage. I buy foodstuffs there because it's close, and the alternative is El Mercardo with airmiles (cellphone airime?) on Mexicana to Guadalajara - no thanks. Now I have to worry about Jackbooted Economists in Black helicopters crashing through the skylight??

comatus said...

"Affinity for haggling"? I had a ball parting with some money just two days ago. The local body artist fixed a couple nicks in my fiberglas, and agreed to barter for a load of stone in his shop parking lot. So I tailgated 3 tons of Ohio Blue #6's, called him out to see, and parodied his usual description of a paint job: "Now this isn't our Presidential driveway--I'd have to strip it and re-sand for that--but I make it a Grade 3, something you can drive on every day." He quickly caught on, and mentioned blending in the hue lines--with a rake. We whipped out our materials bills (yes, his was bigger), pissed and moaned, and when we were both suitably ruined, shook hands and both walked away happy. Anyone who doesn't enjoy that needs to live in a world of wage & price controls. ISTR Galt and d'Anconia quibbling over car rental fees in the Valley.

If you want to trade on the price of fuel, you have to see my cousin, who owns a string of stripper wells and knows how to crack out natural gasoline without heating the batch. He'll deal.

People who cavil at the gas station aren't haggling, they're bitching like Parisian peasants. There's a big difference. You barter and bargain with the entrepreneur, not with the pump jockey. It helps to have something the other party wants, that also has a flexible value. It's the most fun you can have getting along in the world. They don't call it a "business proposition" for nothing.

And I think I'll continue to "gush over the signage" here. Curse me for brand loyalty if you will; I'm proud to be a Tamarite. "Not available in stores," as Billy Mayes puts it.

Billy Beck said...

"I had a ball parting with some money just two days ago. The local body artist fixed a couple nicks in my fiberglas,..."

But you see, this is only reinforcing my point. Haggling begins to make sense as goods and services become more specialized. (e.g. -- gotta wheelwright in your town?) I've managed to beat out a couple of good deals on guitars over the years, and what I said in my remarks was "some peoples' affinity".

I recall -- I'm pretty sure -- posts here remarking on people at the gun counter and trying to scrape off a margin that doesn't exist. You know what? When I walk into a guitar shop, I know exactly what I'm looking at, at all times, and I've seen people being idiots about what they're trying to buy, and shopkeepers rolling their eyes at idiots who're just making noise because they don't know what they're doing.

Okay; so, maybe you won't call that "haggling".

Diamondback said...

I believe the company Anonymous is referring to is EDS. I did some work for them once...

comatus said...

"Haggling." An ugly word perhaps, calling up images of hook-nosed men in turbans, waving their arms, with nasty curved dirks in their sashes...come to think of it, that describes some of my grandfather's associates pretty well.

So you say that a market in specialized goods is, in effect, "primitive" by nature? I'd say that face-to-face representations that invite reconsideration of utility and value realized are the perfect market. Add to that, nobody at Aldi's can tell you what part of Thailand the shrimp were farmed in, or what they use for mushroom soil in India. It's 4.98; you want it or not?

I live in the home of Milburn Wagonworks, Gendron Wheel and Kelsey-Hayes, so the wheelwright thing is a Studebaker joke, right?
(We built a sports car here, 1926-28, with wooden wheels).
As it turns out, the near-Midwest was pretty well supplied with village wheelwrights by the time the cholera died down. After the unpleasantness between the states, Studebaker developed the franchise dealer network, MSRP, POS financing (all before the automobile, of course) and a thing called the Patent Spokeshave. For some reason, small shops couldn't do the keyed hub fitment that kept the spokes from loosening and falling out, so failed to compete on this quality issue. South Bend wheel parts were large shop-made, but hand-fitted, not interchangeable.

Wheelwrighting is a touchy subject with me just now, as I recently suffered from "imperfect market information." I surely do wish I'd dealt directly with a maker.

But you can't think of car-painting or driveway-building as particularly "specialized," can you? Just flexible, in price and quality.

A nearby city's volunteer firemen keep an antique fire engine, that finally needed new wood wheels. They brought in an Amish crew, who did them on site. Those guys are expensive, but they will haggle.