Something really refreshing happened to me when I was in Spokane over Christmas. I paid a visit to Albertson’s, a western supermarket chain that I grew up going to. I picked up a few items and headed to the checkout line. After the cashier scanned my items and the total price appeared on the monitor I locked eyes with the teenager and asked him the question that would drop my total price by ten dollars.
“Can I give you my phone number?”
“No sir,” the courteous young worker said, “We don’t have a loyalty program anymore. Everyone receives the ‘preferred’ prices now.”
Hallelujah! With that said he hit a key and my grocery tab dropped like a rock. I didn’t have to hand over a key card, I didn’t have to type in a on a key pad, and I didn’t have to recite my mom and dad’s landline telephone number that they have not used in ten years. The sale price that was noted on the aisles was no longer a price that only “preferred” or “valued” or “loyal” shoppers with a ridiculous barcode on a piece of plastic could use. It was a price that applied to all customers, a price that wouldn’t waste time at the cash register because of an unnecessary swipe, a trivial spitting out of ten digits, or the major delay of signing up for a program.
I really wish other supermarket chains would follow suit. I think it is time to put to rest these stupid programs where you need a store card to cash in on the discounted/sale prices. If the item is on sale, just let it be on sale for everyone. Supermarkets holding on to these loyalty programs do nothing but waste time. Instead of just honoring the discount for everyone, an additional step must be taken no matter if it is asking someone for a phone number or having someone type something/scan something into a machine. It is complete asinine.
But let me take one step back because I think I am being too hard on just supermarkets. Pharmacies and discount stores have them as well. It doesn’t matter what store I stop at on my way home from work, each one (except for Wal-Mart) will ask if I am a “club member.” Lowe’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Food Lion, Bi-Lo, etc. all pull this card (pun intended) on me. It gets so irritating because I am not a “VIP” shopper at any of them. Because of this, I pull the same dumb, time draining stunt at each one:
Cashier: Are you a ________ member?
Me: No I am not, can I become one please?
Cashier Response #1: I will just swipe our card for you.
Cashier Response #2: Yes, here is your card (hands me a worthless piece of plastic that I will not use). You must call the number on the back to activate.
I do this because heck yes I am going to get the store discount, usually it is significant. My hope is that I will get the first cashier response and he/she will just swipe the store’s card for me. If I get the second response I still get the savings because they swipe my new card it is just that I have another chunk of material to add to my graveyard.
At my apartment I have all kinds of unactivated cards hanging around. I probably have like six alone just from Food Lion. I see no need to activate these cards because I am not going to keep them in my wallet, I would have way too many of them. What, just activate the card and use your phone number at these stores? Sorry, the activation process is usually wackadoodle.
It is time to do away with these loyalty clubs. In this day of advanced technology, high tech cameras, social media, and credit/debit cards, we don’t need these types of programs to track the buying habits of customers. Let’s save time while including everyone. Don’t Blink.