There’s a department store in my neighbourhood which I’ll call Zippy. Every time I approach the check-out counter, the cashier and I greet each other, then the conversation goes something like this:
Me: (nicely) “Just want you to know upfront that I don’t have a Zippy card, I don’t want a Zippy card, and I don’t believe in department store cards so please don’t offer me one.”
Cashier: “Did you know that by purchasing a Zippy card you can get 10% off today?”
Me: “Yes, but I don’t want one. Thank you though.”
Cashier: “Do you have an air miles card?”
Me: "No. I don’t use automated loyalty cards."
Cashier: “Are you sure you don’t want to sign up today? There are lots of benefits.”
Me: “I tried to tell you I didn’t want one and I know it’s your job to try to sell me one...”
Cashier: “Actually we’re not on commission when we sell Zippy cards.”
Me (still being nice-ish): “Then why do I have this conversation so frequently? What do you suggest I say upfront to avoid wasting everyone’s time? I genuinely want to know.”
Cashier: “We’re actually trying to help our customers by giving them bigger savings. We’re doing them a favour.”
Me: “But I don’t believe in department store cards. I don’t want you to have my information, and I don’t like the massive interest rates."
Cashier: (quietly): “You have to understand that our employees have to ask you even when you tell them not to. There’s a customer form which queries whether the customer was asked to sign up for a Zippy card. If they weren’t, the employees hear about it.”
Me: “I feel bad for the employees. But why are you asking your customers to do employees a favour? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I’ve been coming here less frequently just to avoid this conversation. I don’t want to feel guilty with every shopping experience.”
Cashier: Swipes my debit card a little sharply and doesn’t respond.
Well, I tried. We the shoppers need our own vendor management system so we can figure out how much our attention and shopping habits are worth. And companies should seriously consider and adapt to the needs of their customers rather than forcing customers to adapt to them.