Valdosta Daily Times

October 7, 2012

Exchanging personal information for a discount

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The latest trend in the retail and restaurant world is requesting personal information from customers in exchange for a discount card that enables customers to get products at lower prices than those who refuse to provide personal information.

While I understand it from a store’s viewpoint in that they want to track their customers, from a customer’s standpoint, I resent having to provide information that isn’t anyone’s business to get the store’s specials on food or other items. To be honest, I am still not convinced it’s legal as it would appear to discriminate against those who either refuse the information or who do not meet certain criteria in order to qualify. I didn’t think you could charge two people two different prices on the same item unless the discount, such as a coupon, was readily available to all without exception.

I’ve long refused to provide my telephone number in stores as I don’t care to have my personal shopping habits tracked and my information sold to others who then solicit business through emails, phone calls or direct mail, and I hardly think I am alone. The current backlash against sites such as Facebook for sharing what many assumed was personal data is becoming more prevalent as Americans in general are tiring of having their privacy invaded. Those who have no issue telling anyone and everyone every single detail of their lives are certainly welcome to do so, but those of us who prefer not to ought to have that right without being penalized by being charged higher prices.

Case in point at a drugstore recently. A female customer in front of me purchased a number of items, including a candy bar. The cashier took her discount card and along with her receipt, she received a number of coupons. The cashier then said loud enough for everyone in line to hear, “Wow, to get that many candy coupons, you must eat candy bars every day!” The embarrassment factor for this woman was akin to what a man must feel when a cashier announces that he is purchasing feminine hygiene products. I can’t imagine her wanting to shop there again, and after being told I couldn’t get the discount on the items I was shopping for that were listed in the store’s sales flyer without providing my phone number and address, I’ve ended my patronage also.

Isn’t it enough that stores get your money? Do they really need to know where I live to give me a discount on milk? Or shoes? Or toothpaste? I’m curious — am I alone in this or are there others who think the same way?

Business Roundup

The new Family Dollar store on North Ashley Street is now open in the former drug store location, and a new Dollar General on Baytree is also open. I understand they may be building yet another one on the north side of town soon as well.

At the Valdosta Mall, the new Crazy 8’s children’s clothing store is now open, and for those who keep asking about the Office Depot at the mall, store employees say they are having a big sale but are definitely not closing.

There is a new Asian grocery store and bakery now open next to Firehouse Subs on North Ashley Street that is getting very favorable comments.

And yes, I wrote it last week, but for those who missed it, the fairly new Mexican restaurant called the Green Iguana on St. Augustine has closed.

We’re about a week or two away from announcing a restaurant that will soon be built in Lake Park, and the foundation for the Egg & I restaurant on North Ashley Street in front of Quizno’s was being prepared this week.

The new Publix on Inner Perimeter has come a long way in a short time, and it seems that the construction is on track for them to open after the first of the year.

The new Drury Inn under construction behind the Olive Garden is looking wonderful on the outside, and the interior work is now underway.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held this week for the new Health Sciences and Business Administration building on VSU’s north campus across from SGMC. The site has been closed off for a couple of weeks and construction is expected to take about a year.

If you haven’t been to the SGMC campus lately, you will be amazed at the amount of construction going on. The view from the top of the new parking garage is incredible, and the patient tower construction is also going really well.

There is a new pizza restaurant in Hahira called the Slice which is opening beside the Napa store.

That’s it for this week but if there’s something I missed, please let me know!

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