Have you swiped your Nectar card?

28Apr09

Self-service checkouts at supermarkets. They don’t really work, do they? They just reduce overheads and infuriate customers – except the customers who don’t like interacting with humans and frankly would be better served by having food thrown over the wall so they could scrabble after the bursting packages and scuttle away back into their caves, breathing hard and grunting in triumph. Nutters. But I’m getting away from the point. Which is, obviously, data mining.

‘Would you like a Nectar card?’ No. ‘Why not? They’re really easy to apply for and you save loads.’ That was his first and last attempt to engage me in marketing chitchat, that poor young stripling a couple of years ago. No. First off, they don’t save you loads of money and secondly, there’s NO WAY I’m allowing any more surveillance into my life.

On the day after the government scrapped plans for some Gargantua-database but still wants just about anybody with nylon trousers to be able to read any/all of our communications, I found myself stamping along the street in a rage. My thoughts can be boiled down: screw them. The big, nosy, useless fucksticks. How dare they?

This was simply background anger as I went about my daily, ehm, day. But then I went in to a supermarket to buy some lunch and that stupid Nectar card question brought it bubbling back. Still, you can’t go around in a perpetual boiling temper so I employed the usual tactic of Closer Examination. Typical key questions are: how annoying is this really? Am I being a dick? And then take it from there. Thus, having been hectored by the electrovoice (“Unexpected item in the bagging area! Look, this moron can’t cope with carrier bags!”) I started to wonder how illuminating storecard info is anyway. Which was around the time I started to feel very sick.

A cursory glance at my shopping records could answer any number of questions. Have I got children? (Teen mum bad example/old bird bad example/barren and bitter) Am I still married? (Financial difficulties down the line/emotional instability) What do I feed my family? (Good/bad parent.) Am I sexually active? (Indulging in risk behaviour.)  Single? (Depressive) Drinking too much? (Going to lose my job) Buying too much expensive stuff? (Possibly in debt, given her job). Buying veg and vitamin supplements and painkillers? (Takes health seriously, possible obsessive. Chronic sports injury). Gallons of sunblock? She must be going on holiday, but how can she pay for it, now we know that she’s a single, feckless, diabetic drunkard who feeds her feral children sugared lard?

This is a fun game, working out just how intrusive this info can be (“Ooh, she hasn’t had a period in a while/He bought those crappy chocolates on 14 Feb at 6pm, and now he’s only buying meals for one”). Build your own people. Trash your neighbours. Dob in the baddies to the health police. Of course, I don’t imagine that someone is really poring over individual profiles, but the point is that they could. Nor do I think that storecards can furnish infallible information – or anything like. But they can identify weaknesses, inclinations, quirks, problems, and that is simply none of anybody else’s business.

So, once again please. Have I swiped my Nectar card? No I arsing bastard sodding well haven’t.

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One Response to “Have you swiped your Nectar card?”

  1. 1 sidwadell

    A couple of points: Why can’t you go around in a perpetual boiling temper? No-one told me!; and your language is getting worse. Loved fuckstick though.


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