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10 Reasons Not to Use a Fake
Even if you
think you've found a way to "beat the system," you can't keep shopping at
A lot of disgruntled shoppers believe they have found a way around
the surveillance schemes at their local supermarkets. Some buy only non-card
items, or segregate their purchases into two separate orders (one paid in cash
and one with the card), while others fill out shopper card applications under
false names and use these "anonymous" cards to get the discounts. But I am
opposed to these tactics.
On the surface, they seem like fine ideas. In fact, I used to
carry around a wallet full of "fake name" grocery discount cards myself. But no
longer. When I began to focus on solving the supermarket registration
and monitoring problem, rather than just surviving it, the flaws in these
strategies became apparent. If you are still patronizing your local
Surveillance market and think you're "beating the system," let me try to gently
dissuade you with the following:
Q: Why shouldn't I use a fake card?
- It is a selfish solution. It acknowledges that there is a
problem, but leaves the problem for the next person to solve -- or more
unconscionably, for the next generation to solve. If we were living in a
totalitarian regime where open resistance would mean jail or persecution, I
could understand pretending to play along. But when the problem could be solved
RIGHT NOW if everyone opposed to shopper surveillance would simply speak up,
playing along removes you from the ranks of the potential solution.
- In fact, it adds you to the problem. When cornered on these
programs, supermarkets executives point to their many "satisfied customers" as
proof that people love these programs. If you smile and hand over a card each
time youre asked to, whether its fake or not, you simply go on
their books as one more happy shopper. If you shop there without a card you
will still count as a satisfied shopper. If you segregate your shopping into
two orders they will count you as two happy shoppers.
- It feeds the hand that bites you. Do you want to financially
support a company whose policies you find repugnant? Your hard-earned grocery
money will be used to fund even more promotion of the registration and
monitoring agenda. It will pay for lawyers and publicists to fight people like
me. It will pay the salaries of the Catalina Marketing executives who create
and peddle these schemes. Though your shopping behavior may feel like a private
choice that only affects you and your family, shopping is a two-way street.
Money that leaves your wallet winds up in someone elses. Dont fund
- It contributes to the pervasive image in other peoples
minds that "this program must be okay because everybody else is going along
with it." How will the average person know to fight these programs are if they
see you, a person who is well informed and (hopefully) loves liberty, standing
in line with a card in your hand? (See my FAQ response to the question:
"If these programs are really
so awful why are the supermarkets so open about them?" for more on this)
- It makes you complacent. Because you think youve found
"the solution" you no longer feel like you have to fight. This pseudo-solution
only sidesteps the underlying issues, however.
- Some have suggested that filling out multiple card applications
with false information and fake addresses is a good way to "clog their
database." But the truth is that these tactics won't have much impact on Big
Brother's technical infrastructure at all. The stores can simply
cross-reference all application information against an external address
database and toss out the records that don't match. The few lines of code this
requires will not slow them down. However, because application forms, data
entry, cards, and cross-referencing are not cheap, the additional costs you
incur for the market will be billed directly back to you and your fellow
shoppers in the form of higher grocery prices.
- Another downside to applying multiple times: every card issued
represents another "new card customer" that the supermarket executives can use
in their defense. Cant you just hear them now? "Problem? What problem?
Shoppers love these cards! We get thousands of new applications each
- Using a fake card is "sneaky" and "underhanded" rather than
courageous and honorable. Back when I used fake cards, I would sometimes get a
strange, gloating sense of satisfaction from cheating and "getting away with
it." That feeling is far from ennobling, however, and left unchecked can begin
to pervade other aspects of your life. Since Ive eliminated the deceit
and taken a stand, I now feel something far more powerful as I drive out of my
way to shop at a "good" store -- Integrity. Being morally consistent and
putting your money where your beliefs are can have pervasive effects on your
life, too -- for good. You become that most rare individual in todays
society -- an honest person who is actually living by the principles they
profess. You stand taller and can look people in the eye. I know that, because
I sleep better at night and I like myself more since I've begun living
in line with my beliefs.
- You may not be able to get a false card. The CASPIAN supermarket
list gives two ratings to card-issuing supermarkets. One X
means that the market does not require identification for a card, two
XXs means you cant get a card without showing a state-issued
photo ID card (or SSN and probably both). Since many people cannot get a
card in a fake name, falsifying information on an application is not a
practical nationwide solution.
- You may actually make things worse. If you were the IT
(Information Technology) director of a supermarket chain that didnt
require ID, wouldnt you be sorely tempted to start requiring ID after the
thousandth fake record had to be thrown out of your database? Also, once
supermarkets are armed with proof of widespread shopper dishonesty, they may
implement even more invasive scrutiny of shoppers -- such as demanding ID in
addition to the discount card to get through the checkout line. I wouldnt
put it past them to start asking for income, address, or banking verification,
too. Lies are more likely to heighten scrutiny than to stop it.
In the final analysis, there is simply no way to "have your cake
and eat it, too." You cant in good conscience keep shopping at
Surveillance Central Market through a creative tactic or deception.
Like a junkie, you may have a hard time giving up your favorite
supermarket, but face it, its just not the store it used to be anymore.
If you dislike data collection schemes enough to consider using a fake card or
using some other trick to avoid participating, it's time to take a more
effective stand. Cut up your fake card, and get moving -- to a different
Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and
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community and national action
© 1999-2005 Katherine Albrecht.
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