Whenever I go to many stores today the first question out of the clerk’s mouth, is do you have a loyalty or discount card? Supposedly, these cards give you great savings. The big question is do they really save you any money and how do they affect your privacy.
A study by a NBC 10 Consumer Alert team was recently conducted to see if loyalty or discount cards really saved you money. They compared the prices of six different supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, three had discount cards and three did not. They purchased mostly brand name products from each store. The results of the tests found that the non-discount card stores were cheaper by $22.14.
The stores use these cards to track what you purchase and collect data on you. Many privacy rights groups are warning that these types of programs are an invasion of privacy. The true purpose of them is to track your spending and buying habits
How much of a Footprint do your loyalty or discount cards leave?
These cards let the stores track and keep records of everything that you purchase. These records have already been subpoenaed and used in court cases to show the records of purchases made by individuals.
The question you have to ask yourself is do you really want local big box store to know what foods you buy and in what quantities? They will know all about you from what birth control method you use to what over the counter medicines you buy.
Data brokers often have access to these files and can collect a huge amount of detailed information about you. This could include what illnesses you may have, to what vehicles you own and how much food or other preps you buy. I am sure that at some point the government will gain access to these files, if they haven’t already. They can use these to make an inventory of much of what you have.
There was a case that made the news recently where a family started receiving adds from Target for baby items. Because these were addressed to his high school age daughter, the father approached Target and wanted to know why they were sending the ads to her. The manager apologized to him. However, after talking to his daughter it came out that she was pregnant and Target had figured it out from loyalty or discount cards. Here a link to the articles by Forbes.
For a tiny little bit of possible saving you are giving away a lot of your personal information when you get a loyalty or discount card.