Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Why I never use shopping loyalty cards

I don't want my purchases tracked or my shopping habits scrutinised. Photo / File
I don't want my purchases tracked or my shopping habits scrutinised. Photo / File

I've visited my local New World supermarket roughly five times a week for maybe 15 years. By my calculations I've been asked if I have Fly Buys about 3900 times. That's a lot of times. On each occasion I have smiled and replied: "No, just Eftpos, please."

So why don't I have Fly Buys? Lots of reasons. I have an aversion to filling out forms, divulging personal details to commercial entities and carrying cards around in my wallet. Additionally, I'm not interested enough to want to spend the time understanding how loyalty schemes work. There are intricacies that must be grasped if you wish to harness their full potential.

Fly Buys is sometimes discussed on Trade Me message boards. In response to a question about a newly issued loyalty card, one helpful member replied: "You can use it at Mitre10, but you won't get the mitre10 garden club discounts unless you use your actual flybuys card. You will still get the flybuys points tho." This person should go on Mastermind. Their specialist subject could be "The Nuances of Loyalty Card Programmes in New Zealand".

But the main reason I've not been tempted to get a Fly Buys card is that I don't want my purchases tracked or my shopping habits scrutinised. I read 1984 in 1980 and don't relish the prospect of being spied on by some all-knowing entity. The contents of my shopping trolley shall remain private.

Yes, I know. I once confessed to purchasing luxury items at the supermarket. It made some readers cross. They responded: "What a shoddy surreal shopping list. Junk magazines and expensive delicatessen stuff"; "put the hummus back and put mashed banana on your pita bread"; "Tip: next time, buy yeast and celery. You can make your own pita/naan bread and celery chutney for it" and "Next time Shelley stick to the basics - beer, baked beans and toilet paper". Yep. Nope. Won't be doing that again.

After those hints, reprimands and witticisms, it's surely unsurprising my resolve to keep my shopping secret has only solidified. Signing up for a New World Clubcard is not on my bucket list. I don't want to be judged on my purchases, my "total spend" or my "frequency of visits". I don't shop to provide data for a supermarket chain to harvest. I just want to buy my groceries in peace.

The New World checkout operators were never perturbed about my lack of a Fly Buys card. But in October something changed. There was sudden consternation. They advised me that I would now need a Clubcard. I smiled, nodded and failed to mention that I don't do loyalty schemes. I didn't have a Fly Buys card so what would make me want to sign up for an alternative one?

The checkout operator added: "You won't get any discounts." Oh dear. I could handle being asked for my nonexistent Fly Buys card 3900 times but I cannot deal with being advised that I'm paying more for my failure to comply. Hearing this five times a week was going to be annoying.

So I changed my system. Instead of being a frequent shopper and just picking up a few items each visit, I turned into a main weekly shopper. I spend a few minutes figuring out a rough meal plan and buy all the items needed in one hit. I reckon it saves me about two hours a week.

November rolled around and the New World checkout operators were still concerned that I didn't have a Clubcard. (They gave me a form and invited me to apply. You have to love the terminology. One may apply. As if your application might not be accepted. As if it is a privilege to allow your purchases to be tracked and possibly used against you as evidence at a later date. Handy hint: if you're planning a crime spree don't swipe your loyalty card before purchasing knives, rat poison, bleach and disposable gloves.

Upon exploring how to apply for this card online, I discovered that this New World Clubcard must be linked with either a Fly Buys card or an Airpoints membership. That's right: must. It is not an option. The only way to sign up for a Clubcard is via one of these other schemes. So this must enable someone somewhere to analyse your travel history or your wider shopping habits alongside your supermarket purchases. Big Brother much?

For a couple of my recent supermarket shops, the checkout operator has kindly offered to scan the shop card so I get the discounts. On one uncommonly large shop the $5 discount represented 1.4 per cent of the total amount. If my supermarket spend was $300 a week, my paranoia would cost me an estimated $220 of missed discounts annually.

But I've just clawed back about 104 hours of my time each year so it's been a profitable little exercise. And, if the checkout operators keep swiping that store card it's a guaranteed winning formula.

- NZ Herald

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Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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