An issue that has been receiving lots of press coverage here in Western Washington is the decision by supermarket chain QFC (a division of Kroger) to start tying their savings to a "frequent buyers" style card which tracks the holder's purchases. The idea is not new (I had a card from Ralph's in Southern California in the early 1990s) nor is it new to the northwest (Safeway already has a similar card here, as does at least one other local chain). But to judge from the outraged howls here, one would think that they are executing men, raping women, and selling children into slaveryI cannot believe the opposition to this card. It's positively surreal.
I don't like the cards, as a general rule. Von's (a California subsidiary of Safeway) used the purchase history of a customer to fend off a lawsuitone of their customers slipped and fell in the store, and sued them. They discovered that he purchased lots of wine, and managed to convince the jury that he slipped because he was drunk. For that reason, I stopped shopping at Von's, and never got a card from them. But that was my choice, as was my choice to shop at Albertson's, because they didn't have a card. If they introduced a card (as they have done in the Dallas area), I would find another grocer to shop. That is my choice.
However, there is absolutely no requirement that a grocery store offer sale prices without some sort of tracking involved. If they wish to institute a policy, they do so knowing full well that they risk losing customers who feel as I do, that they are invasive. They do not require the cards to shop in the store (like clubs such as Sam's and Costco); they simply tie their sale prices to them. It's a quid pro quoyou agree to let them track your purchases, and they allow you to save money on said purchases. If you choose not to use their card, they don't give you a good deal on the food you buy. Fair enough.
The people here in Washington (particularly in the Seattle area) are acting like a bunch of whiny children over this issue, in general. The newspapers are in the thick of itthere have been news articles, columns, editorials, and a whole slew of letters to the editor, all in a furor over this tempest in a teacup. It's not the end of the world, folks. There are at least two other major chains in the area that don't use the cards, and hundreds of smaller independent grocers that don't use the cards and never will. Get over it.
posted on May 25, 2002 08:33 PM