No club card

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…

Conversation ends.
* ‘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?


9 thoughts on “No club card

  1. Dot

    Poor stooge. But this illustrates what happens when one (I mean the stooge) gets drawn into an argument, because I bet the stooge doesn’t really think a Tesco loyalty card is the best investment since sperm.

  2. when I go to other shops with “loyalty cards” ( I must admit that we have both cards from both Siansburys’ and Tesco) I make sure the credit card is firmly in the machine before they start the sell and so give the “I’m just here to buy I don’t want money off” vibe.

    The only thing that gets my goat more is people like BT phoning up at silly hours of the evening trying to convince me that 1) one credit card couldn’t possibly be enough for me and that 2) they have one I really want…

  3. laura

    How can you have a personal realtionship (loyalty) to a corporation? I suspect that I have some “brand loyalty” since I hate it when a decision is made to discontinue or alter a product I’ve used on a regular basis. But the “Loyalty” card scheme – makes me think there’s an Hegelian master/slave argument behind all this. Oh dear!

  4. kenanddot

    I almost used ‘slave’ instead of ‘stooge’. I know it’s a bit histrionic to throw a wobbly over privacy matters, but I do think we should be more concerned about it and not sell our personal information so cheaply. I don’t know about Sainsbury’s, but Tesco does actually operate in other businesses like banking and insurance and it won’t take much for Tesco to connect the different arms of its business together and ‘personalise’ their treatment of customers.
    Actually, I’m almost at the point of using cash only with Tesco so they won’t have of my details.

  5. The Anarchist response:
    One could collect up as many loyalty cards as possible and then *only* deploy the card when making odds-and-sods seemingly-random purchases. But not – never ever ever – for regular everyday groceries.
    Besides thus engaging in subtle Situationist direct action/protest, one could thus also treat specific shopping operations as performance art of a Surrealist-Juxtapositionist sort.
    Especially once Hugh starts playing along too…
    (If that’s not too Continentalist…)

  6. If there is concern about a conflict between cash and privacy, it is a simple matter to swap cards with someone else from time to time, or to use one’s card when purchasing items entirely unrelated to one’s own personal consumption. This can produce the most unlikely assortment of money off vouchers in the next clubcard mailing.

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