Tam over at View from the Porch has a post up from Friday about how the authorities in California are tracking grocery store sales to pinpoint out spikes in the sales of falafel in an attempt to ferret out possible hotbeds of ne'er-do-wells in what must be the first-ever dietary-profiling attempt to counteract terrorism. No doubt, al-cruddies will be stocking up on Moon Pies and RC Cola in attempts to thwart that effort.
I've always been annoyed by those "club" cards with stores. Annoyed, at best, and paranoid, at worst. I mean, isn't it creepy that they browbeat you with potential savings into trading your personal information? Yeah, I know that retailers like to track groupings of particular products purchased and record trends, but their computers can tell them that without my personal information, thank you very much. Frankly, I don't even fool with those, since when I'm cooking I'm buying primarily fresh produce and meat, anyhoo, and there's rarely additional savings on that stuff. Still, it's something that's always bugged me. I figure if someday when healthcare is completely rationed, who-knows-how the dietary (for example) purchases of a lifetime at food stores can negatively impact ones candidacy for life-saving surgery or treatments? I mean, yeah, it's nutty to consider, but in a climate in which we are increasingly harangued by a hall-monitor society, it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch to imagine that one day you may be passed over for treatment for heart-disease because of your Twinkie habit, in favor of a granola-munching Metamucil-entoosiast. Consider how many people lie about their alcohol addiction and are on the donor list for liver transplants? I mean, obviously, those folks are getting away with it, but if the doctors had access to purchase information from the local liquor sto', then they might sing another tune.
Well, the falafel thingie reminded me of a favorite prank of mine from Rob Cockerham over at cockeyed.com. (you can spend hours there giggling at his projects, pranks and costumes, btw - you have been warned.)
Anyway, this whole issue about stores tracking personal information and keeping records of purchases apparently bugged Rob Cockerham, too, and so much so that he decided to try a little prank which he called his Clone Army(click for details). This was about 5 years ago.
What Rob did was sign up for and acquire one of those Safeway sales tracking cards. Then he used his hi-tone printer to print out a sheet of identical sticky labels all with the same club card number with the bars for scanning. Then lots of folks who frequent his site sent him their address and he sent them each one of the little barcode thingies. The recipients plastered the clone barcodes over their own Safeway cards so that dozens (or hundreds?) of folks all had the same card membership number recording purchases. Right away on his club card, he'd be having simultaneous purchases in Safeway stores from all over the country.
True, it's no ends-with-a-bang story, but it's still one that had immense appeal, to me. Perhaps we should set up a huge number sharing consortium to addle the stores-that-be? I mean, sure, there are alleged "benefits" to these memberships. However, I've yet to see one, and I've no doubt the dividend they pay is merely an increase in junk mail.
Below is an eye-opening segment from 20/20 which details Rob's prank in which he tears up a credit card offer, tapes it back together and writes another address on it, sends it off to Visa, and then gets a credit card in the mail, no questions asked. Amazing stuff. Clever guy.