“Would you like a loyalty card?”
“Does that require a complex process right now, broadcasting all my personal details and signing my life away? I only want a coffee.”
I am tired and going for a train.
“No, no. I’ll just activate your card right now and add your points and when you get home you can go online and enter this website, then register your card, then we’ll send you emails every time we can offer you a free drink. It’s really simple.”
Yeah simple. Even though I am fully internet savvy. This is not simple.
“Do you know I have a wad of loyalty cards in my purse an inch thick? I don’t want emails. I have 5000 unread emails.”
“Why wouldn’t you want an email when you’re getting something free? It’s a free drink.”
“I don’t care. It’s too complicated.”
Really, I think, although I’m not rich, is it really worth it?
“It’s not complicated. Do you have a smartphone? You can get our app, then it’s really easy, you can just click on the app….blah blah blah”
My brain filters out.
“Stop, no thanks I do not want an app.”
“But it’s really easy. You get free drinks…”
In the end I gave up. He wasn’t listening. I took the card home and threw it away. Yes, really wasteful of me. Disgraceful.
I do not want an app for every single shop that I go to. Do you think I want to fill my phone, my emails, my attention, my consciousness, my entire life with shopping shit?
A simple loyalty card, that’s fine. Collect the stamps, then claim your freebie. But your loyalty is not enough. No. They want your soul.
It’s too complicated. Even though I am intelligent, computer literate, even internet addicted, it’s too complicated. They want your email, your ID, your loyalty, your attention, your consumption, your cash, your credit card number, your date of birth, your family, your friends, your habits, your hobbies.
“But it makes life easier!”
No, life was easier in the first place. You made it complicated, so you could hoodwink us into signing up to make it easier, by signing up to be pestered and harassed constantly.
Do you know how many companies send DAILY emails to their subscribers? Clearly they think we are sitting there waiting with baited breath to read the one and only email we get that day. I don’t even talk to my friends everyday. Just because I expressed an interest, dear organisation, who looked perhaps relevant to my life and worthy of further attention, does not mean I want to marry you. If you come on too strong, I will divorce you, nay I will take out an injunction. Do not come within a 1000 yards of my email address. Ever. Again.
That was 2016.
Fast forward to 2018, same company, different branch:
My wad of loyalty cards has grown, such that it takes me five minutes to find the right one at the till in each shop. But I still haven’t registered with these guys, because, well, priorities. And by now both my phone and tablet are too full for any more apps. There is no way a shopping app gets a look in on my devices. All my apps are for my work. Somehow I have acquired a loyalty card for this place, but failed to take the vital next step. I’m not sure what is holding me back from committing to this relationship. I must be a player.
“Have you registered this card? No? Well your points won’t be valid. You need to go online and register this card.”
“Oh yes and then you’ll be sending me emails. Do you know I have 10,000 unread emails?” Yes, it’s 10,000 now. (Ok, I know. I should delete them.)
My daughter interjects, “She’s not exaggerating.”
“Oh I couldn’t be doing with that, I have to deal with things straight away.”
Ok Mr Judge.
“No mate, these are emails I’m not going to read, because I’m not interested.”
He really doesn’t get it. I’ve been self-employed since 2001. I’m a disabled single mum with ADHD. I have a busy life, a pile of never-ending paperwork, endless emails. I have a backlog even of the ones I like to read. The volume of unread information I have saved for later is utterly, overwhelmingly vast. Because I’m a writer. It’s all information that is relevant, interesting, useful or essential. My life is full enough.
“So, are you going to register?”
“Well, ok, if I get round to it.”
“Do you like the design of this card?”
I shrug, “Well it’s ok.”
“Would you prefer one of these designs?”
I begin to panic. I thought he was just looking for feedback. Not another damn range of options. Will I ever get my coffee? Is this the Café California?
“No. I don’t care. It’s going in my purse.”
I’m mystified as to the possible importance of the card design to a blatantly scruffy, middle-aged woman (well, I’m a writer, innit?) who has already declared her complete lack of commitment. I’m not sure how he came to the conclusion it was the design of the card itself that was putting me off. But here we are. I fatefully uttered the magic words, “Please can I have a latte?” We are now hurtling through the portal to the Magical Land of Accessories, where we all love shopping till our arms drop off. Thank the gods I stopped myself from facetiously asking for platypus milk with my daughter’s mocha. Who knows what twisted universe we might have ended up in.
“But look, you could get one to match your smartphone.”
Through gritted teeth, I just manage to keep my tone light, “I’m not remotely bothered. I’m not going to look at it. It’s just functional. To be honest, what’s wrong with just a basic loyalty card and a stamp?”
He reaches over to pick up a different card. Give me strength. I know he means well.
“No, really, this one is fine. Not another piece of plastic. Let’s save the planet.”
I just manage to stop myself gleefully blurting, “That’ll be 38 dollars,” as he finally turns his attention to the till. After all, there’s no need to be rude. Those card designs were pretty fabulous, darling.
©️Janey Colbourne 2018
P.S. Perhaps I should have shown him my smartphone.
“Have you got a card to match this please?”