Wednesday, 8 August 2012

High Street Espionage

'Postcode!' drawls the woman behind the counter.
I recite it.
'Road name?'
I recite it.
'What's the house number there, please?'
I hesitate.

I would be happy to provide my address if I were renewing my car tax disc. I would be happy to provide it if I were drawing up a will, buying a mortgage or stocking the larder online. I do not, however, expect to provide it when I am buying a top from White Stuff. I have to, explains the woman, so that she can check I'm on their database. And I need to be on the database to ensure that I receive regular postcards of new catalogues and special offers so that my single guilty indulgence can be multiplied into a dangerous weekly shopping habit.

Next I visit my bank to pay in a cheque. 'Postcode?' says the woman behind the counter. I recite it. I assume it's a security safeguard. As I turn to go, her face irradiates. 'The screen is telling me that you live in an area that qualifies for a low insurance premium.'

This surprises me since two neighbours' cars have just their windows smashed in. I decline to be excited and her face falls. Then it ignites again. 'The screen is telling me that you qualify for a loan at reduced rates,' she says.

This surprises me too. Banks clearly have learned nothing from the credit crunch. At the next counter a customer's postcode has prompted the same happy tidings and she tells the cashier that a loan might realise her dream of a new kitchen.

I step into Body Shop to buy the glutinous unguents that shore up my face. I am told that if I provide my address and an extra fistful of cash I can acquire a membership card and that, with the stroke of a biro, I can help end child sex trafficking.

Finally I reach Greggs and buy a loaf. I hand over my loose change and the assistant hands over the bread. She has not the slightest interest in my postcode or my commitment to global injustice.

Man, the good Book tells you, cannot exist on bread alone, but after this shopping experience I shall jolly well give it a try.

24 comments:

  1. It's infuriating. My husband, who is somewhat crabby, refuses to comply with any of this and revels in the ensuing scenes.

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    1. I was about to say that I'm too nice for my own good, but I think I'm confusing niceness with cowardice!

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  2. I routinely provide the address of my old house. Which no longer exists. They can send all the junk mail there that they want.

    Irritating to be asked all the time though.

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    1. Brilliant idea! I sometimes give my old (10yrs ago) phone number from a rented apartment. I fugure if I'm ever asked I could say I sometimes get confused and forget.

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    2. Bet the new residents of Babberblog's old house thing fondly as him when the postman calls!

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  3. It's the same in Mamas and Papas - it drives me crazy. Last week they also asked me for my email address and seemed most put out when I declined to provide it.

    My other pet hate is when companies continually send you the same edition of catalogue after catalogue. Boden must have added one too many noughts onto their print run last season as there was literally one dropping through my door every other week. What about the trees? Grrrrrr.

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    1. Aaargh, Boden. Just when I manage to resist and fling the catalogue into the recycling bin another - and another arrives. They know they can wear me down. And the less you buy the more they send!

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  4. How annoying, I really wouldn't be comfortable handing over my personal details to a stranger, in earshot of many others.

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    1. No, it's intrusive. This White Stuff woman barked out her requests without any preliminary and took me unawares.

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  5. So spot on! I am so, eternally, fed up of being asked my post code - it just adds to the other rubbish which gets posted through the door, and then ends up in the recycling! For a moment I thought Greggs were going to ask you your postcode, so happy that you could buy your sandwich in piece! I can't believe that the sandwich shop is the last bastion of personal privacy!

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    1. Just as I'd written this a man rang from the Indian sub continent desiring to know the make of my washing machine. What is this fascination I awaken in strangers?!

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  6. I meant peace, not piece. Tsk.

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  7. I wonder if you refuse to give any information and say, "oh well it's a shame as I really did like this top. Never mind I've seen something similar in M&S." What would happen then?

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    1. I guess they'd cease demanding your life history and hasten to sell it to you.

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  8. I forgot to say re: the bank offers (and cosmetics cos who call offering you half price on things you don't use), implying they are doing you a favour by selling you something you don't want - it's just insulting our intelligence.

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  9. I used to sometimes accidently give a colleagues number out by mistake because I knew it better than mine from phoning it several times a day (we haven't worked together in 5 years and I still know it by heart). I found it REALLY pisses people off when you give their number to these sort of questions. Even if you really didn't mean to

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    1. Yes, I can see why there's been a five-year estrangement!

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  10. Next they'll be asking for your blog address and Twitter handle. You're very good to stand firm. I have to accompany my husband everywhere now, after he fell for the second bank "review" in the space of a month. We already had one loan we didn't need...

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    1. I have five private pensions because, like your husband, I was too easily cajoled by eager banking clerks in my 20s!

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  11. Lol - well at least the computer said yes, in your case! Reason to be cheerful after all!

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  12. Are you looking for a FINANCIAL HELP? Do you need a loan and you want to pay off your bills? If so do contact us via email: gerryscott1987@gmail.com For more details and get funded without any delay. Gerry Scott

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