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After all, it's only groceries ... right?(Vin Suprynowicz:the future of customer tracking)
Las Vegas Review Journal ^ | 6/30/02 | Vin Suprynowicz

Posted on 06/30/2002 9:56:54 AM PDT by LarryLied

Katherine Albrecht has seen the supermarket of the future, and she doesn't like it.

"I've actually held in my hand the prototype next-generation shopping `loyalty' card -- a radio transmission-driven LED (light emitting diodes) shopping card," says the New Hampshire schoolteacher and mother of small children. "There already exist radio frequency devices in shopping carts so they can actually track your movements around the store. They're used in combination with the shoplifting cameras," says Albrecht, founder and head of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (www.nocards.org/).

Well, so what? If the market finds out I buy cat food and therefore sends me a coupon when it has a special on cat food, who gets hurt? Sounds pretty symbiotic to me.

"Right now they're at a two-tier price structure, one price with the card and one without the card," Albrecht explains. "They want to move this up to something called 'consumer-specific pricing' -- you and I will each be charged the maximum amount they've determined you will spend; it's actually kind of smart in a devious way. Already they've figured out they can mark the peanut butter on the shelf $4, mark it down to $2.29 if you have the card, and about 10 percent of the time that jar of peanut butter actually sells at $4 to what they call the `non-price-sensitive customer."

But once these stores have built up the kind of individualized data bases that a couple years of scanning our cards will give them, they're already planning to go much further, Albrecht reports.

At that point, in the not-so-distant future, "As soon as you walk into the store they'll read the chip in your (next-generation) card, while it's still in your purse or wallet. They've developed sensors in the floor; they track you around the store so not only do they know who you are and where you're moving, they know what kind of a shopper you are.

"You, on the other hand, they know you only buy peanut butter every six months, so what if we offer him peanut butter at $1.89?

"The special display on your shopping cart will start flashing when you enter that aisle, telling you there's a $1.89 special on the peanut butter, but that's for you alone; no one else entering that aisle that afternoon may be offered that price. If you buy it, that's the lowest price you'll ever be offered, because they know you'll pay that.

"The next time they'll try $2.29, then $2.59 ... . You'll never get it any lower than what you've paid in the past.

"But I'm what they call a 'price-inflexible shopper' -- they know I have to buy peanut butter every week or else my kids will scream, so they won't offer me any special discount at all ... . "

And even that's just the tip of the iceberg, Albrecht warns. Does anyone think your supermarket won't make its shopping card data available to firms with government grants studying excess obesity and the effectiveness of various programs to manipulate entire populations into improving their nutrition -- starting with special surtaxes on "junk food"?

Government medical and dental programs have already linked to similar shopper monitoring programs in England, she warns. After all, shouldn't someone who follows his doctor's orders and cuts down on salty foods move up in line for that rationed surgery, ahead of someone who ignored his doctor and kept buying junk food?

Some stores are even experimenting with systems that replace the card by simply scanning the customer's registered fingerprint, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer confirms.

Savings? Within a short time after the card programs are introduced, the "special-discount-with-card" price becomes the old, pre-card price, Albrecht says, while the "without-a-card price" can be jacked up to as much as twice the pre-card levels.

At that point, those 10 percent of transactions that proceed without a card-scan are "pure gravy for the store," she reports.

"I used to think that 10 percent was just a number, but increasingly I can put faces with that statistic. ... I got (a) call from a woman who said her son is developmentally disabled, he's retarded. But there's one thing he's able to do for the family: Every week he goes and buys exactly the same groceries. Same brand, everything.

"The first week after they introduced the cards he went in and bought his groceries, but he didn't understand what the card was all about, so when he got home he had spent an extra $8. The 10 percent is the developmentally disabled, the homeless who can't be bothered with a wallet, and it's -- I hate to say it -- the privacy advocates who are so proud of themselves because they won't sign up for the cards ... . "

Here in Las Vegas? Trader Joe's and Wild Oats have no card programs, Albrecht reports. Albertson's, which used to advertise itself as the "no cards, no hassles" store, started testing a card program in Dallas-Fort Worth, and introduced the cards in Northern Nevada last week.

Smith's, a division of Kroger's, is "one of the worst" when it comes to corporate dedication to the new card technology, Albrecht says.

Which leaves Raley's.

"There's a stated policy not to introduce these cards, and it does have to do with privacy issues," explained Raley's spokesperson Carolyn Konrad from her office in Sacramento last week. "At Raley's we really didn't like the way it felt when one person in line got one price and the next person in line got another price."

Albrecht would love to set up a CASPIAN affiliate in Las Vegas; contact her at kma@nocards.org or 603-465-9093.

Me? I used to carry a Smith's "Fresh Values" card. As of this week, I've started driving the extra two miles to Raley's.(


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 06/30/2002 9:56:54 AM PDT by LarryLied
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To: LarryLied
Nope, uh-huh, I'm stickin' to 7-11...
2 posted on 06/30/2002 9:59:56 AM PDT by maxwell
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To: LarryLied
Is this for real, dude? No way is this real. This is scary. If I did this, I'd end up getting charged 50 bucks for a carton of smokes or a twelvepack of Miller.
3 posted on 06/30/2002 10:01:04 AM PDT by maxwell
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To: LarryLied
Luckily, their computers are powered by Microsoft, so they'll never be able to achieve liftoff.
4 posted on 06/30/2002 10:09:56 AM PDT by Uncle Sausage
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To: LarryLied

Most of the stores are collecting terabytes of this data, but it's just sitting there because there's no budget to do anything with it

The kind of stuff described in this article is all very possible, and it's the subject of endless proposals from vendors, but the grocery chains are wary of spending any more money in this area because the previous promises haven't come true.

These 'loyalty card programs' are an advantage for the first mover, but once everybody has it, it's no longer an advantage and it just costs money.


5 posted on 06/30/2002 10:14:15 AM PDT by Nick Danger
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To: LarryLied
Didn't coke try to change the price of coke in vending machines depending on the time of day etc......... didn't this get a bad reaction........ does anyone have any more details on this?
6 posted on 06/30/2002 10:24:07 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple
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To: LarryLied
My 'SpecialValuesExtrayNiftySuperCustomer' is registered in the name of Bill Gates, 666 Beelzebub Place, Nonyadamnbiz, Virgin Islands....

I love giving them my 'demon'graphic information.

7 posted on 06/30/2002 10:50:55 AM PDT by visagoth
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To: Nick Danger
It's what I refer to as "the paradox of the room with a trillion keys". Picture yourself in a concrete vault. There is only one door to get out, and its locked, and you cannot break it down. You're screwed. In a similar fashion, picture yourself in a concrete vault. It's the size of the Superdome inside of there, and you are hip-deep in keys. Only one of them opens the door. I submit that you are just as screwed as you were in the first example.

Too much data can be as useless as no data at all. Worse yet, you'll drive youself mad in the second example, trying out all of the keys you can get your hands on!

8 posted on 06/30/2002 10:56:32 AM PDT by Billy_bob_bob
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To: LarryLied
Camera here, cameras there,
cameras everywhere,
on the corners, in the mall,
as our freedoms fall,
attached to traffic lights,
losing our privacy rights
Give it up for security,
just don't include me
9 posted on 06/30/2002 11:22:22 AM PDT by poet
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To: LarryLied
"Well, comrade, we see that you're making $60K per year. Price of peanut butter for you - $10!"
10 posted on 06/30/2002 11:34:36 AM PDT by NatureGirl
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To: LarryLied
Yesterday I got Albertsons card (kicking and screaming)and got 44% off my receipt. Just looked at previous receipts from Albertsons (pre discount card) and have averaged 18%. Gonna keep track and see what happens. Fortunately computers work both ways. LOL
11 posted on 06/30/2002 11:39:14 AM PDT by Lokibob
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To: Lokibob
In the L.A. area, I shop at more than one Ralphs, and more than one Vons, with discount cards at both. I alternate between them out of convenience and proximity. What a scheme like this assumes is that one constantly uses the same store, or at least the same chain. Those who vary where they shop make this useless.

And if any such chain starts individual monitoring, their discount will be torched SO fast ...

It doesn't surprise me that this has been linked, in "Great" Britain, to following the dictates of the socialist health system. In Birmingham, England, they're registering knife purchases now.

12 posted on 06/30/2002 12:44:45 PM PDT by Greybird
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To: Nick Danger
We have the special cards for one of our grocery stores here in a rural area. I don't understand what all the fuss is about, though. You don't show ID to get the card. You could give them a fake name and address, and still get the card. Their prices are high and the card just brings them down to a realistic level. They have no more clue who I am than the man in the moon.

Carolyn

13 posted on 06/30/2002 12:49:42 PM PDT by CDHart
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To: LarryLied
Freedom isn't always free. Simply refuse the card, pay cash and pay the extra money. Eventually some smart capitalist will start a grocery chain that markets "Every Day Low Prices for Everybody!"

Hmmmm. I wonder if I could . . .

14 posted on 06/30/2002 1:02:52 PM PDT by 1stMarylandRegiment
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To: LarryLied
Reminds me of the movie Minority Report. They could track where you were at by instant optical scans and they would switch on personalized commercials beamed into your eyes as you walked through malls and other places. Constant spamming, not only unbelievably obnoxious, but also used by the government to control, track and oppress the citizenry.
15 posted on 06/30/2002 1:10:58 PM PDT by Brett66
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To: LarryLied
Freedom isn't free.

Just pay cash and punt the card.

Eventually some enterprising capitalist will offer "Every Day Low Prices . . . for Everybody!!"

Hmmmmm.

16 posted on 06/30/2002 1:12:38 PM PDT by 1stMarylandRegiment
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To: LarryLied
Ask for the application on the way in.

Peel off the bar card tags.

Fill in with a fictitious name or don't fill it in at all. Just throw it out.

Don't give your address. Don't give your phone number. Don't give your e-mail. Don't give your freep name.

When you check out, pay cash. No check, no credit card, no bar coded coupon mailed specifically to your address.

If you want to be really hostile, ask for a fresh application each time you enter the store and throw it away, cards and all, when you leave.

17 posted on 06/30/2002 1:39:03 PM PDT by c-five
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To: CDHart
The first time you paid by check or credit card, they had your ID. Sorry. See reply #17.
18 posted on 06/30/2002 1:48:01 PM PDT by c-five
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To: Lokibob
I refuse to get cards....the local ACME here asks for my drivers license # (WHAT BUSINESS OF THEM IS IT??) in order for me to get the discount. And it isnt really a discount. They just mark everything else up. How I get by is I use a copy of a friends card. Shes being tracked, not me!
19 posted on 06/30/2002 2:02:09 PM PDT by College Repub
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To: c-five
They ask for freep names now? Geez...
20 posted on 06/30/2002 2:03:18 PM PDT by College Repub
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To: Greybird
Those who vary where they shop make this useless.

They know about people like you and have taken action. Every other month, Winn Dixie awars points for every dollar spent (the regular sales are on too). Spend $200 and get 10% off on a one time shopping trip. $300=15%, $400=20%.

I used to buy meals everyday or every other day. Now my freezer has enough for two weeks in it.

How could I pass up pot roast for 99 cents a pound and 2 half gallons of Breyers Ice Cream for $4?

21 posted on 06/30/2002 2:34:31 PM PDT by LarryLied
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To: LarryLied
bttt
22 posted on 06/30/2002 2:37:24 PM PDT by Don Myers
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To: LarryLied
umm if they buy all this high tech equipment, how are they gonna offer anything within reason? The more junk they buy, the more they will have to raise prices. It will never work.
23 posted on 06/30/2002 4:14:53 PM PDT by goodieD
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To: LarryLied
I would think, depending on how the individual pricing is done, that a lawsuit with respect to discriminitory business practices could be pursued.
24 posted on 06/30/2002 4:32:11 PM PDT by Tench_Coxe
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To: CDHart
If you've ever paid for your groceries with a check or credit card, they sure do know who you are--even if you use fake information on your car.
25 posted on 06/30/2002 4:40:44 PM PDT by basil
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To: LarryLied; maxwell
"Right now they're at a two-tier price structure, one price with the card and one without the card," Albrecht explains. "They want to move this up to something called 'consumer-specific pricing' -- you and I will each be charged the maximum amount they've determined you will spend;

The future is here today in online transactions. Amazon.com has already been found to be doing this.

26 posted on 06/30/2002 7:47:49 PM PDT by weegee
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To: maxwell
If I did this, I'd end up getting charged 50 bucks for a carton of smokes or a twelvepack of Miller.

A beer at the Astrofield now costs $6. That's higher than at a stripjoint or even a high fallutin' bar.

Just think if that little card could relay those purchase prices back to the home base!

$72 for a case of beer!

Maybe it could also note that you tipped a dollar; you didn't feel that you had paid enough for your beer!

27 posted on 06/30/2002 7:55:12 PM PDT by weegee
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To: LarryLied
Katherine was a guest on the John Carlson show - KVI. While he originally gave her short shrift (he didn't see the "problem") she was intelligent and provacative. I have stopped shopping at my neighborhood QFC because of their move to force shoppers to use cards. Even Safeway prints coupons for those who don't want cards, but QFC says, use this card or pay 5x the $. I feel sorry for the employees, who were among the friendliest. Now they are made to enfore this garbage.
28 posted on 06/30/2002 8:04:59 PM PDT by Libertina
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To: Brett66
...and they would switch on personalized commercials beamed into your eyes as you walked through malls and other places. Constant spamming, not only unbelievably obnoxious, but also used by the government to control, track and oppress the citizenry.

Something akin to this has already been pitched by those promoting digital broadcasts. Different advertising could be transmitted to your neighborhood depending on the demographics or even within your house.

Politicians would "love" it because they could always hold "your position" on the issues.

29 posted on 06/30/2002 8:12:49 PM PDT by weegee
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To: Libertina
Here in Houston, the "discount" cards reduce the prices on many items to the walkup retail price at other stores.

I avoid Randalls because of their price gouging.

I question if "max pricing" could ever be implemented. There is typically a posted or stickered price on groceries. Walk up customers are still going to want to know how much something costs and they may not buy much at the "max price". Selling merchandise to someone for higher than the posted price can cause problems.

There have already been lawsuits because the register price doesn't match a posted price (the registers don't always have the correct data and the shelves aren't always correct). To bill the customer this way is considered a deceptive trade practice.

30 posted on 06/30/2002 8:20:26 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Thanks for the information. Are you associated with the business?
31 posted on 06/30/2002 8:24:54 PM PDT by LarryLied
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To: CDHart
Totally !!! And never show your ID. I think that this might be in violation of some sort of law or privacy..NEVER ever give up the info, just shop somewhere else. If they say you have to have a card, check the grocery ads. And shop at other stores. If you don't play the game, they can't win !!!
32 posted on 06/30/2002 8:32:01 PM PDT by MissL
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To: LarryLied
Thanks for the information. Are you associated with the business?

I think that I got all of these incidents (digital tv, amazon.com's pricing, and maybe even the issue of cash register pricing) from Wired online. I've fallen out of the habit of checking their daily articles.

33 posted on 06/30/2002 8:50:42 PM PDT by weegee
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To: PeterPrinciple
Didn't coke try to change the price of coke in vending machines depending on the time of day etc

I don't know if it's actually been attempted, but in his book, Business at the Speed of Thought, Bill Gates indicated that soft drink machines could be rigged to do quite a few things, including sending an order in when they got down to a certain level and raising or lowering the prices depending on the temperature. It's been a while since I read his book, but I believe he did mention individual pricing structure depending on what people are willing to pay. It's already done on cars and houses, as well as the loans for each of these, and most large appliances have a built in fudge factor. I got Best Buy to knock $200 off of a stove. It's just that on small ticket items it really hasn't made any sense to dicker over the price.

Would also mention that it's rampant in wholesale. That's one of the big reasons Walmart can sell stuff for less than a small businessman can buy it for.

34 posted on 06/30/2002 9:16:23 PM PDT by Richard Kimball
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To: weegee
Well all I can say is that the way in which QFC implemented their "Advantage Card" (yeah, right) program resulted in a protest in front of one of their stores. It's a STUPID way to treat long-time customers.
Some not-too-bright person suggested that people merely give false names and telephone numbers (in fact some QFC store managers TELL their customers to do so.) OF course WHATEVER your name is, it will be paired with your REAL credit/debit card info etc.
35 posted on 06/30/2002 9:36:27 PM PDT by Libertina
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To: LarryLied
Its none of their business what I buy. As for Raleys, some of its products are actually the same as you pay a fortune for in health food stores. Their Porter Ham is like ham used to taste and its not loaded with nitrates....the Sunnyvale Turkey is free range and moist when cooked. My friend works in a gormet deli and Sunnyvale is the same they sell for $7.95 a lb. Their eggs are also free range; I buy them everytime they're on sale. Superior!
36 posted on 06/30/2002 10:26:02 PM PDT by brat
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To: NatureGirl
"Well, comrade, we see that you're making $60K per year. Price of peanut butter for you - $10!"

Yeah no sh!t. I am disconbobsterlated. I think I'll start growing my own beef. And tobacco. And hops. I reckon that's about all I need... Bwahaha...

37 posted on 07/01/2002 7:20:40 AM PDT by maxwell
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To: c-five
"The first time you paid by check or credit card, they had your ID. Sorry. See reply #17."

Well, DUH! Of course you have to use cash for it to work.

Carolyn

38 posted on 07/01/2002 10:20:08 AM PDT by CDHart
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