Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is the REAL Program Behind Rewards Cards?

Ed Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, says corporations increasingly struggle to make sense of the big data sets they collect on their customers. (quoted from article "Beyond Spam"

So we can agree that corporations are collecting "big data" on you and on me.....all of us, as often as they can.
Yes, they may be having trouble  managing and/or extracting helpful information from that  big data, but that is only a matter of time and acumen.

One of the ways in which corporations collect data on us, their customers, is through the use of "rewards points cards". These "loyalty cards" are swiped
whenever someone buys anything at a certain store, and reports precisely when ( precise dates and times), where and what a human is purchasing. It also records the total bill of that particular transaction....and how it was paid, debit or which credit card.

Why do we use loyalty cards and thus voluntarily give corporations precious private data about our purchasing habits? Because we LOVE free stuff, even if the real value of the points is quite small in real dollars.

It may take someone two years to accumulate enough "loyalty reward points"
in order to purchase even $20 worth of free merchandise, but humans are toting around dozens of rewards point cards, with the mere whisper that they might score some great freebies in the near or unforeseeable future.

Does that mean that I denounce points cards? Nope. But I do want to remind my readers that whenever they are using ANY kind of rewards points cards, that their shopping data is being collected about EVERY SINGLE transaction they swipe that particular points card for.

Corporations spend billions of dollars annually to do market research and here we are giving it to them on a platter for free or voluntarily using our rewards points/loyalty cards....(  a free coffee is all it takes for many of us to divulge tons of our most personal shopping habits!)

Collect travel miles? Yes, your transactions are being collected and stored and analysed so that big corporations can figure out how to market more products to us and part us from more of our money. No, they aren't necessarily out to steal from you, but their goal is to accumulate as much of your cash as possible through the sales and marketing of their products.

Am I anti-corporation ? Nope.....far from it. But I just want my fellow consumers to be aware of the information that they are freely giving away to large corporations simply by using/swiping their loyalty/rewards point cards.

On a bit of a side note....paying cash is still more anonymous than using a debit or credit card. But cameras are rolling anyway, recording all transactions on film no matter how we pay for it....and no matter which rewards point cards we may or may not be swiping.

But maybe just maybe, we can limit the amount of free information that we provide to big corporations for free or next to nothing. Maybe we can think before we whip out our fave points card the next time we run to the store.
Maybe we don't care who finds out what our favourite brand of corn chips are, and where we like to buy them, at what price and at what time of the day and with what form or cash/debit/credit we pay for that bag of corn chips. But maybe we do care.....and maybe we don't need to sell our most valuable information quite so cheaply. 

Thinkfully yours,