“And your zip code please?”
“Can I get your email to complete the transaction?”
“And would you like to save an extra 5% today by signing up…”
“No…GAAAAWWWW, can I just give you my money and go home!?”
I don’t ever say the last one…out loud. But at the checkout line, I’m usually thinking it and feeling just like this screen shot of David Tennant from Doctor Who.
Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to complete a simple transaction anymore? Why can’t I just pay and leave with my stuff? Why does Party City want my zip code? My email I get…they just want me for their mailing list…but my zip code? And what’s up with asking for my phone number? Toys R Us does that ALL…THE…TIME.
Am I just being too sensitive? Maybe I’m turning into a cranky old curmudgeon. “Hey kids, get off my lawn.”
Turns out, stores can learn quite a bit by the extra piece of information that you volunteer at the checkout line. I’ll admit — my initial motivation for not giving this information was just to get out the door faster, but now that I’ve read about it, I’m not going to be giving personal information at all anymore.
Why Stores Want Your Personal Information
When stores ask for your ZIP code, they can easily match this with your name (from your credit or debit card) and then use this information to get your address. According to this Forbes article, a company called Harte-Hanks has a service they’ve aptly named GeoCapture which will give a retailer a customer’s address if they are provided with just a name and a ZIP code. Boom — you’re on a mailing list and all you’ve provided was a ZIP code.
A phone number can get the retailer even more information. If you think about it, that makes sense since a phone number is a unique identifier. According to ABC News, a phone number can get the retailer personal information like addresses, interests, hobbies, and even the number of children in the home. Have you ever filled out a survey online where they ask for your phone number at the end? This is where you may have voluntarily given a marketing company personal information about you that ended up being sold at a later date.
Now, to be fair, many stores will ask for your phone number so that they can look up your receipt later on when you want to return an item. This comes in handy if you’ve lost your receipt. But, I have decided to just keep my phone number to myself and take that risk.
I have made a small little commitment to not unnecessarily add any complications to my life, no matter how tempting. This makes it easy to say no to any and all offers at the checkout line — even the ones that will save me money. I won’t sign up for any more rewards cards, loyalty cards, or anything else like that. It is adding complication to my life, and to me, that is not worth a couple of extra dollars.
I prefer to just pay for my stuff and go.
What about you? Do you give out your ZIP code at the checkout? How about your phone number? Do you feel obligated at the checkout to give them this information?
Author Bio: Kim Fourman is a licensed CPA, working at Loggins, Kern & McCombs, CPAs. Her kids love Toys R Us merchandise.