Ken, laden with shopping and pushing Hugh’s buggy towards the exit at Tesco, is greeted by a Tesco employee tasked with signing people up to the Tesco ‘loyalty’ card scheme *
Tesco stooge: Hello, are you interested in a Tesco club card?
Ken thinks: oh heck, I’ve made eye contact. oh well, I guess there’s no option now…
Ken says: No actually. I’m not interested. I don’t have a club card as a matter of principle.
Stooge: Why? Many people like to take advantage of the great benefits and savings to be had by joining our loyalty card scheme.
Ken: The Tesco scheme gives me one percent back in vouchers –less than one cent, actually because you round down. And in exchange for that, you get intimate knowledge of my shopping practices and history, which you then sell to other companies. I don’t think that’s a good deal.
Stooge: Do you think people really care about the personal information?
Ken: They should. Tesco knows what sort of shopper you are. It knows how often you buy alcohol or condoms or cigarettes, whether you buy baby food, whether you’re a meat eater. How much you buy. This shopper profile is valuable information and Tesco sells it on and pays us a pittance.
Stooge: One percent is quite standard.
Ken: Boots is more generous and Hodges Figgis in town has a much more generous scheme.
Ken: Do you mind me asking, how much is Tesco paying you for this?
Stooge: I’m not going to tell you that!
Ken: I’ll give you a big shiny Euro if you tell me…
* ‘loyalty’ is an entirely inappropriate word for the relationship between a supermarket and its customers. Loyalty is a kind of personal relationship. How can you have a personal relationship with a corporation?