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RadioShack Stops Being Nosy 774

jackbang writes "One small but positive step in the gradual erosion of personal privacy and increase of corporate intrusiveness - RadioShack will no longer ask for your name and address when all you want to do is buy some batteries. Now if only they would agree to remove the motion sensor that rings a bell every time someone walks in or out of the store..." Always freaked me out being asked my address just to buy some solder or something.
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RadioShack Stops Being Nosy

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  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <paperfrog AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:57PM (#4753265) Homepage Journal
    ....this will piss the Pentagon off. Just when they were all set to track consumer purchases...
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Boone^ ( 151057 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:59PM (#4753294)
      but no one is using radio shack discrete electronics to make missle guidance systems anymore. They just mod-chip a PS2 and write some new software. I'm sure Best Buy & Wal-mart will still help out Rumsfeld track everyone.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:58PM (#4753860) Homepage Journal
        but no one is using radio shack discrete electronics to make missle guidance systems anymore.

        ...probably because their parts selection has gone in the crapper. What used to take a sizable percentage of floor space is now condensed down to a metal box that takes only a few square feet. Instead of being an electronics geek's hangout, the modern Radio Shack bears more resemblance to Best Buy or Circuit City, only with worse selection, higher prices, and an even more clueless staff. "You've got questions...we've got blank stares."

        Fry's needs to hurry up and finish its Las Vegas store (215 and Las Vegas Blvd., if you're curious). Once it's open, I'll never need to enter a local Radio Shack ever again. :-)

        • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

          by red_dragon ( 1761 )

          "You've got questions...we've got blank stares."

          E.g., the one time I was browsing around the nearest Radio Shack to see if they had Memory Stick cards for my Clié. The guy looked at me, stalled for a second, and said "uhhh... whazzat?"

          The only things the guy really knew about were the ZipZap cars, and then only so much.

        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

          by LinuxInDallas ( 73952 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @08:49PM (#4755503)
          A friend of mine who used to work at a Radio Shack was mentioning this some time ago. According to him, the real money is in selling computers, radios, whatever. The sales people can't really make much on commission when it comes to selling discrete electronic components. Because of that, none of the sales people take any time to try to sell that stuff. There is no money in it, that simple.

          As an EE, it would be nice to have a place in short driving distance where you can get a decent selection of parts but these days mail order (ie digi-key) is really your best bet.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunson ( 91995 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:57PM (#4753267) Homepage
    You could always just tell them, "No". I always did.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I always just told em my name was Elvis Presley and I lived at Graceland in Memphis. Always got plenty of laughs, but they keyed it into their POS terminal anyway.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by IPFreely ( 47576 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:14PM (#4753478) Homepage Journal
      (* wave hand *)

      "You don't need to know my name and address."

      "I don't need to know your name and address."

      "You will sell me this battery."

      "Seven twenty five Please."

      "SEVEN TWENTY FIVE! Are you nuts?"

      "I am nuts."

      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Funny)

        by WasteOfAmmo ( 526018 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:59PM (#4753876) Journal
        I think you are giving to much credit. It would be closer to:

        "What is your name and address please?"

        (* wave hand *)

        "You don't need to know my name and address."

        "I said what is your name and address?"

        (* wave hand *)

        "You don't need to know my name and address!!"

        "Yes I do and stop waving your hand. What do you think you are some kind of Jedi Hobbist! I'm a Sales Droid, mind tricks don't work mindless minions. No name and address then no batteries!"

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:25PM (#4753585) Homepage Journal
      You could always just tell them, "No". I always did.

      So what? Most people are in the habit of doing what they're told. Your average person isn't aware that their information is being sold without their knowledge. Many people would object if they thought about it, but it's easier to reply than to consider the ramifications. If too many people get into this habit we'll move toward a society where it is expected and required. If I can't purchase books and health supplies without being tracked, democracy is going to have some problems.

      All that said, I "Just Say No" myself. I'm always amused at the cashier's response. It usually takes a second for the cashier to realise that I've said "I'd rather not", snapping them out of their automated work mode. You can also tell the places that get alot of flack about it. Best Buy's cashiers are all used to being told No when asking for a zip code. The casher Party USA was completely baffled and had to call over a manager ("What do I punch in?"). Depending on my mood, I'll occasionally make up information. I usually did for Radio Shack since they were so insistant.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by redherring22 ( 579425 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:27PM (#4753597) Homepage
      I can't think of Radio Shack without the obligatory Simpsons quote:
      Homer: We'll search out every place a sick, twisted, solitary misfit might run to!
      Lisa: I'll start with Radio Shack.
    • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:35PM (#4753677) Homepage
      Sure, you can say "no." I always did and they never persisted. But you still get that little burst of adrenaline, some level of mild anger. You and the clerk are mutually annoyed. (Maybe even moreso if the clerk is risking his career advancement if his percentage drops too low).

      The other day, I was in a Radio Shack looking for an audio cable adapter. I couldn't find it. A clerk was genuinely helpful and found it for me. I thanked him. A warm fuzzy for each of us.

      Then he says, "Tell me, do you have a cell phone?" I said simply "yes," and stopped. Awkward pause. He says "May I ask you who your cellular provider is?" I thought for a second or two and made my choice, which was to say "No, you may not." Maybe a little more vehemently than was strictly required to convey the information. He looks surprised and a little annoyed. A cold prickly for each of us.

      Did I win one? No, I didn't, because _I_ felt annoyed. That little burst of adrenaline again.

      Sure, I can be as petty, vain, or childish as the next person. There are times when I enjoy taking part in, say, a mild Usenet flame war. But I only have a limited amount of rudeness at my disposal and I like to save some of it for when I need it, instead of having to fritter it away constantly on Radio Shack salespeople, telemarkers, or people that ask for my social security number...

      Yes, this is good news. Frankly, when I just need a battery, I've gotten into the habit of walking past the Radio Shack to the drugstore three entrances down in the mall, just because I don't feel like spending the energy to face down a salesperson.

      Of course, then I have to tell the drugstore clerk, "No, I don't have an Extra Care card." If it gets to the point where they start saying "why not? they're free, you know," instead of just ringing up the sale, maybe I'll go back to Radio Shack.

      • by NickFusion ( 456530 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:36PM (#4754154) Homepage
        Saying no doesn't have to be an emotionally scarring experience.

        When asked for personal information, I provide a cheerful, "Nope!" and leave it as an exercise for the listener to choose to be upset or not. When you say it really cheerfully and personably, people will either follow the tone of your exclamation and be plesant back to you, or they will be completly baffled.

        Either of these work for me.

        This is best when dealing with telemarketers.

        "Hi, may I speak to [your garbled name here]?"


        Then either hang up, knowing that you have faithfully completed a social transaction, or hang on the line and listen to them scramble for a response that isn't in their pre-canned script.

        Either of these work for me.

      • by Hayzeus ( 596826 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @06:57PM (#4754741) Homepage
        But I only have a limited amount of rudeness at my disposal and I like to save some of it for when I need it, instead of having to fritter it away constantly on Radio Shack salespeople, telemarkers, or people that ask for my social security number...

        You see, there's your problem right there. Rudeness is not like some fixed container of liquid (like, say, a keg of beer) which is exhausted quickly with use. Rather, rudeness is a muscle; use it or it atrophies. Use it frequently, and you'll find you have more available when you need it. I'd suggest the following three-step regimen:

        • Start with a pet. A goldfish is a good for newbies -- if you don't have one get a feeder from the local petstore. Or you can win one at the local carnival or state fair. Start with subtle insults, and graduate to screaming like a drill sergeant. When you feel ready, move up to a small mammal, maybe a cat.
        • Ready for people? Telemarketers are an obvious choice. No need to jump into outright rudeness immediately. You can start out by just being sullen and evasive, and move up to passive-aggressive when you've gained a little confidence.
        • The next step is to go shopping for a car. Once you've spent about 10-minutes or so with the "undercoating guy" you'll really feel ready to get in touch with your inner bastard. Trust me.
        Follow this easy program, and in no time at all you'll find you posesess seemingly unlimited reservoirs of rudeness at your disposal. You'll actually look forward to returning items to Wal Mart. You'll even be able make nasty remarks to elderly ladies with WAY more than 15 items in their damn shopping cart without the slightest hint of discomfort!

        Hope I've helped -- m

    • Misinformation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yet Another Smith ( 42377 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:52PM (#4753824)
      Whenever those types do that (Radio Shack and Microcenter are both bad about that) I've created a whole fictitious alter-ego. A random re-organization of the numbers from one of my old addresses mixed with my grandparents old street name makes for an easy-to-remember address that I can spout out at register-droids.

      Its a good solution because it doesn't require any actual confrontation with the register-droid, but they don't get what ain't their bidness. And since its pre-arranged, I can remember it quicker than just making something up.

      I've now taken it to the next level with a UNICARD (a legacy of Dallas's retarded bible-belt laws that 'membership' in a 'club' is required to be served alcoholic beverages in some parts of the city) registration at that address. I never do it in a case where it would be fraud (like a credit-card company or something like that), but it gives me a little peace of mind that people who unreasonably seek personal info on me don't get it. Maybe a bit passive-aggressive, but it saves the register-droid a little grief and makes me feel better too.
    • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Monoman ( 8745 )
      I prefer to make up names, phone numbers, and zip codes to corrupt the data. If enough people did this then the data would contain little or no useful information.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:58PM (#4753278) Homepage Journal
    You mean that salesclerk wasn't hitting on me?
  • Solder??? (Score:3, Funny)

    by bmf033069 ( 149738 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:58PM (#4753279)
    Spelling errors are legendary around here...but he get's "solder"

    Give me GeekSpelling for $500...
    • by Mr Guy ( 547690 )
      I hate having to do this but it's just getting my goat.

      The joke in small words: /. spelling is famous for being bad.

      Solder is an easy word to get wrong.

      Solder is spelled correctly, while so many other easier words to spell are not.

      It's funny. Smile.

      For those of you that still don't get it, allow me to rephrase:

      "While in the past it has been commented upon that the spelling errors here are frequent and notable, it strikes me as somewhat humorous that a word such as 'solder' was spelled correctly."
  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:58PM (#4753284) Homepage Journal
    I was always ready to give out my address:

    J. Chretien
    24 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, ON
    K1A 0A2

  • If only... (Score:5, Funny)

    by RainMan496 ( 239840 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:59PM (#4753292) Homepage
    ...they'd stop asking for money.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amendment III

    No solder shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

  • this point?

    They already know them all.
  • Cables (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
    Now if they'd only start selling cables for a reasonable price. Can anywone explain to me why a six foot audio costs $10 while the twenty foot cable costs $13. who needs 20 feet of cable for headphone extension anyway? oh yeah, Last time I was there, They didn't sell the 3 foot cables anymore either.
    • "Now if they'd only start selling cables for a reasonable price. Can anywone explain to me why a six foot audio costs $10 while the twenty foot cable costs $13. who needs 20 feet of cable for headphone extension anyway?"

      I actually have two 20 footers in series piping a signal from the output of the amp in the stereo down through the central vaccum tube, above the ceiling panels in the basement and down to my computer. It's ugly, but it works.

  • Thank God (Score:4, Funny)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:00PM (#4753307) Journal
    Now the poor sap named Dick Hertz who lives at 123 Main St will stop getting thousands of Radio Shack catalogs each week in the mail.
  • "Customers tell us the practice of asking them for names and addresses is time consuming and annoying and is not something that endears them to us,"
    Geeze, I've been telling them this since the 1970's. I've shopped elsewhere since the 1980's. I guess now I'll give them another look. Maybe. If I'm desperate.

    So, what does Radio Shack carry these days? Anything worth the bother of going there for a look?

    • So, what does Radio Shack carry these days?

      Blank Stare^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HAnswers.

      • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:13PM (#4753465)
        Me: I'm looking for an RF Modulator so I can plug my DVD player into a TV without AV inputs. (Don't get me started...)

        Shack Sales Clerk: Uhmm... That's like a VCR, right? We've got all our VCRs on that wall right over there.

        Me: Uh, no. It's a signal adapater. (Surely someone who works around electronics every day should understand this, right?) It converts composite audio/video signal output to rf signal for a coaxial cable input.

        Clerk: It's an adapter?

        Me: (Thinking the light has finally turned on) Yes! It's got a coaxial output on one end and RCA style audio-video inputs on the other.

        Clerk: Here ya go! (He hands me a RCA 'Y' splitter.)

        Me: *Sigh*...

        I did manage to get the guy to give me an RF modulator, but only after I retrieved a Radio Shack ad from behind the counter and pointed at it in the ad.
    • I wouldn't try them. I went in to check the other day, they've mainly become a satelite TV dealer. Half the store was recievers stacked in boxes. I prefer buying from the local electronics shop.

      Remember, these are the people who brought you the CAT (remember that screwy thing?). They weren't too bright to begin with, and have yet to show signs of improving. This might be a step in the right direction though...
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:01PM (#4753318)
    For a while, when working with my video capture/playback setup, RS was the only place where I could buy cables and connectors like I needed. This is no longer the case now that Best Buy carries a wider selection of this sort of thing. At the time, however, I would get an ATM withdrawal before going and pay for the cables, adapters, and one time wall-plates with cash.

    "What's your phone number?" I would always be asked.

    "You need to have that for a cash purchase?" I replied.


    Since RS employess get a comission. (Do they still?) They were always quick to try to keep me from leaving. Most of the time I could see that they would type their own or dummy information into the computer when I refused to give them mine.
  • I remember that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by racerx509 ( 204322 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:02PM (#4753323) Homepage
    It was funny, I used to work as a Radio Shack store clerk, and we were REQUIRED to get names. The computer would actually keep a log of how many names were gathered by each employee, and if your percentage of gathered names dropped below 90%, you would get a verbal warning. If they stayed below 90% for a month after the verbal warning, you would be fired.

    Also, I remember when they put up the privacy policy in late 2000. It didn't seem to allay customers fears. Instead, I would tell them to just give me fake information

    • Data has value (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jhines ( 82154 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:28PM (#4753609) Homepage
      I remember a few years ago, when Radio Shack was the talk of the takeovers and such. The customer data base was valued as much as the rest of their assets combined.

    • Think about it. You could have entered hundreds or even thousands of bogus names/addresses, kept your percentage at 100%, and shielded all your customers from being entered into Radio Shack's system.

      People say "if everyone gave fake information like I do, the system would be useless" but you could have actually put a dent in it by controlling the POS terminal.
  • Never required (Score:3, Informative)

    by gvonk ( 107719 ) <slashdot@garre t t v o n k .com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:03PM (#4753333) Homepage
    The reason I had a problem was not because of privacy. The thing about Radio Shack's policy was that they never required it if you were paying cash. If you were using a credit card, they always required it. My problem, thus, was inconvenience. The fact that they have my credit card information means that if they wanted to be unscrupulous with my information, they could call up and find out my address anyway. It's on my credit card billing information.
    No, I was instead pissed because all I wanted was a $9 cable for my $ELECTRONICDEVICE and they made me give them my info every time. Even though they already have it, both from my cc number and from the last time I was there!!!
  • Awwwwww. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Unknown Poltroon ( 31628 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:03PM (#4753334)
    But I had fun introducing myself as Richard Nixon With a phone number of (123)456-7890.
    I had even more fun when they argued with me.

    It's too bad that they started being pains in the asses about this. I really wanted to get their catalog, but I'll be damned if I'll give them a name and address.
  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:03PM (#4753342) Homepage
    It's gone to a higher juristiction now, Nobody likes duplication of effort.
  • by wwwssabbsdotcom ( 604349 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:04PM (#4753349) Homepage they still have the FREE BATTERY of the MONTH club? Gez, I used to work in a RS store while in college and this little kid would come in with a battery card, get a D battery, go home, change into his little league outfit, come in and get another D battery, go home put his cubscout outfit on, and come in....and so on. He'd have like 4 FREE BATTERY cards.

    Smart kid, but shame those old red RS batteries would last about 1/4 of the time a normal batter would. I used to just laugh and go along with it.

  • by PhysicsGenius ( 565228 ) <physics_seeker AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:04PM (#4753354)
    They have all our addresses now.
  • by spoonboy42 ( 146048 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:05PM (#4753358)
    With this news, radioshack has killed my purchasing alter-ego, John Shamus of 200 Arroway Lane. See, I created a whole personality for use in radio shack. Besides a fake name and address, my character John spoke in a funny voice, had an interesting career (limo-bus bathroom attendant), and even had a wife with a kid on the way (which made it easier to justify my purchases of children's toys). He also had about a dozen cuecats.

    Screw it, I'm going to keep going in to Radio Shack as John, anyway. It's not like my life was going that great to begin with...
  • RadioShack has gone through different phases which seemed, to me, to be pretty much directly affected by which President was installed at the moment. In the mid-90's, your rate of success in obtaining the name of a customer, IIRC, was supposed to be in the high 90th percentile. Also, I've had managers that were super anal about the whole thing, some who didn't much care.

    Personally, I'm glad to see this tossed to the curb, but I'm sure it was prompted by the fiscal realization that it was actually making people not buy things there rather than some sort of new respect for privacy. There is a difference between a good decision being reached by moral analyses and otherwise. Some people just aren't comfortable with saying, "no," so rather than being made to feel uncomfortable, they didn't get it or got it elsewhere.

    Or maybe, just maybe, the information obtained by CueCat is giving them far more valuable data?
  • by Tsar ( 536185 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:06PM (#4753370) Homepage Journal
    The name/address question was redundant, since they're now doing retina scans as folks enter the store. The bell actually indicates a database match.

  • It's true (Score:4, Funny)

    by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:06PM (#4753371) Homepage Journal
    It's true! RadioShack stops being nosy. At first I didn't believe it, but a devil ice-skated by selling a Linux that was ready for the desktop and said it was true.
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:07PM (#4753382)
    I made a purchase at Toys R Us one day and gave them my info. I got a call about a week later. They wanted feedback on my shopping experience in exchange for a $5 gift certficate. I spent the time with them, but never got the certificate.

    I don't think they were trying to mislead me, but they blew an opportunity there. I'm happy to share my info as long as they reward me for it, but failing to send me the gift certificate changed my mind about that. Now, when I go there, I decline to give them my info when they ask for it and I explain why.

    Companies like Radio Shack need to realize that they have to reward their customers if they're made to jump through extra hoops.
  • by mikecap ( 145011 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:11PM (#4753441)
    I always used:

    "Raymond D. O'Shack", you can call me Ray!!

    Ha ha
  • by jkastner ( 581372 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:13PM (#4753460) Journal
    I used to work for a Radio Shack dealer store and the pressure to get the addresses was constant because we got money from Radio Shack for each address we provided. When I was taken to task about my low address count one day, my buddy was offered up as an example: HE got over 90%. So I asked him how he did it. His secret? He used to copy random names down from the phonebook when the store was slow!
  • Just say no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ( 114827 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:13PM (#4753463) Homepage
    I haven't given any Radio Shack any information since the late 70s.
    "Can I have your phone number?"

    "No, thank you."
    How tough is that?

    Same goes true for Best Buy wanting your ZIP code.

    "Can I have your ZIP code?"

    About 25% of the time I'll get a surprised "Really?", half the time they don't care, and the other I'm not even asked because the drone doesn't want to ask.
  • harsh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by banky ( 9941 ) <gregg.neurobashing@com> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:19PM (#4753520) Homepage Journal
    Man, this thread is getting harsh. I mean, nearly ever sane retailer has SOME means to let employees know when someone is the store. yeah, the dinger SUCKS, but I'd rather know when someone is coming in.

    The CueCat was a stupid venture, to be sure; but at some point in their lifespan, every retailer does something stupid at some point.

    Yes, Radio Shack has morphed from hobbyist products and radio gear to basically a smaller, less well stocked Best Buy. But can you blame them? While many slashdotters may in fact still need diodes, Joe Average doesn't. The death of the electronics hobbyist almost killed the company. They are trying to stay alive in the face of serious competition while retaining what used to make the Shack a place to buy stuff. If you have a better idea, a way to make the company really stand out, get a job there and tell the boss. They might even listen.

    And no one is really commenting on the fact that a high-profile retailer like the Shack taking a step like this may, in fact, influence others to drop their mailing. I can't buy anything anymore without a request for zip code, or some other deal.

    Also Note: the Shack has one of the most tolerant, liberal intellectual property waivers ever. Unless you invent a new point-of-sale system, and do so on the job (or using work-provided materials), they don't give a crap. I mean, Best Buy would probably try to make you turn over your latest patch to BitchX but the Shack doesn't care.
  • by 0xA ( 71424 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:20PM (#4753539)
    Radio Shack's CEO was on CNBC this morning and he mentioned this in the interview. The Squawk Box guy (can't remeber his name) asked him a pretty good question. (paraphrasing)

    I imagine you have a lot of fake information collected, I never give my correct information when I go to RS.

    The CEO looked kinda stunned at first, like he got belted in the head with a brick, then rather annoyed. He didn't say anything about it but I got the impression he was rather surprised to hear that this was common pratice. Or maybe surprised it was being discussed on TV while a bunch of his investors watched.

    Judging by the comments here me and the Squawk Box guy weren't the only ones doing it. What's next, Radio Shack management discovers that pushing extended warranties on 50 cent batteries is considered somewhat amusing?

  • by Ted_Green ( 205549 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:23PM (#4753564)
    I don't believe all radio shacks do it, but in a number I've been to (Fairfax VA area) the employees (or somthing) is fitted with a microphone and this transmits the conversations into the back stock room.

    It always freaked me out to be looking for LEDs and hear a disembodied voices saying:
    "can I help you?"
    "yes do you sell power adapters?"
    "we sell all sorts of power sir."

  • by MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:23PM (#4753566)
    I myself have been victimized by this. They keep track of what you have bought and returned. If you returned too many things that costs a bit ( The stuff they make commision on ) they will stop selling you anything and have that manager tell you that you can't buy the item. I have had this happen on more than one occasion.

    I can assure you that this is totally commision related. The last time they told me NO they looked up my history and said "You return too much stuff". This is what is so bad about tracking your name is now the salesman can check your name to see if your someone he should waste his time on.
    • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:11PM (#4753976)
      The last time they told me NO they looked up my history and said "You return too much stuff".

      I'm sorry, but I work sales, and I have done for years, so I know from experience that most customers who "return too much stuff" aren't worth retaining as customers. Every time I wait on you, and you return an item, either because you found it cheaper mail-order, or you were really borrowing it and not buying it (this happens more frequently than you would imagine), or you bought the wrong printer cartridge because you were too fucking stupid to check what type of printer you owned before you walked into the store, or you realized that you needed to buy tickets to the football game and after returning that keyboard you have enough cash - every time you do one of those things, you cost the store money.

      I get paid to sell you the item orginally, and to take it back, which is usually a longer process, so there is lost revenue. If you lie to me and tell me that it is broken, which happens all too often, then our technicians in the back waste money verifying that you are a sack of shit and it does indeed work fine, or that you spilled coffee inside it but you paid cash so we don't know who you are. If the packaging is less than pristine, we lose money again because the next customer won't pay full-price for something that is used.

      Other examples: the customers who buy several cables because they don't remember whether they needed a parallel cable, a firewire cable, a USB cable, or a serial cable. But it's okay if we buy them all and return the ones that we don't need, right? I live 5 miles away. Certainly, Sir, Ma'am. Of course, the extra time and paperwork diminish our profits, but the customer is always first.

      Or: Can I return this ream of paper, I've only used half of it? Or: Can I return this CPU, it's only two months out of warranty? Or the customer who buys RAM (which has a life-time warranty) at $29 for X capacity, and, if price rises to $49 for that same capacity, tries to return it it? And if they have paid cash, is often successful? Or: the customer who deliberately damages equipment just so that he can return it? Or: the customer who tries to return products that he knows he didn't buy at our store?

      All of these things have happened to me on numerous occasions, so I entirely understand the need to collect customer information. We aren't selling it to anyone, and if you are so fucking paranoid that you worry about such shit all of the time, please take your business elsewhere.

      Be careful: don't step into the blade of the black helicopter on your way out.

      Footnote: Yes, I know restocking fees would solve many of the problems listed above, but then we would be penalizing the customers who do have legitimate cause to make a return.
      • by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @06:02PM (#4754358)
        Wow, those are some scary stories. It must be tough in retail.

        Still, at least retail outlets themselves are squeaky clean, and would never employ people who are "too fucking stupid" to know the difference between VHS and SVHS VCRs. Or push expensive extended warranties onto people using scare tactics like telling the customer how unreliable the item they've decided to buy is (just after telling them how reliable it is in order to get them to buy it). Or force their staff to describe extended warranty schemes to every customer, even if the customer says they're not interested, on pain of losing their job if they don't. Or routinely misrepresent items that they sell. Or point you towards an item that is not really what you want, but they get better commission on it. Or argue that a software glitch in your STB is not a valid reason to return it, because "everything has bugs in it these days". Or put up "No Refunds" signs which are illegal (in the UK). Or take 12 weeks to service an item under warranty. Or put a hold on your account without telling you because they screwed up and undercharged you by $50, when you have put about $30,000 worth of business their way in the past year. Or sell you a DVD and AV amp together that they know have an incompatibility, and refuse to refund the money for either item. Or refuse to accept a return of a reference book on the grounds that it is factually inaccurate in many important ways.

        You're right - customers are a real problem, damn them.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:24PM (#4753568)
    About 10 years ago I was standing behind a guy who was buying a resistor or something. I'll always remember the ensuing exchange:

    cashier: Name?
    guy: Cash.
    cashier: *First* name?
    guy: CASH! I'm paying with cash!
    cashier: Ok. I'll need to get your name and address. What's your full name?
    guy: GOD DAMN IT You don't need to know my name and address! ...

    ... and so on. He proceeded to rip that clerk a few new ones. The clerk held his ground for several minutes, but he eventually relented and let him pay anonymously. Then the guy walked cussing and swearing out the front door.

    It always made me wonder what kind of marketing genius is willing to piss off some of their customers that badly.

  • by jason99si ( 131298 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:27PM (#4753595)
    I refused to give my name once, and on the receipt, it said "Thank you Dick Dick, for your purchase" (or something like that).

    I noticed before I left, and was sure to thank the Dick helping me.
  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:34PM (#4753671) Homepage
    Follow this example, one of the winners of the 1991 rec.humor.funny comedy awards

    Q&A at Radio Shack []
  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by dlelash ( 235648 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:37PM (#4753694)
    ... now people won't get this joke [] anymore.
  • Oh come on now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGreenLantern ( 537864 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:42PM (#4753747) Homepage Journal
    Now if only they would agree to remove the motion sensor that rings a bell every time someone walks in or out of the store..."

    Yeah, cause there's absolutely no reason whatsoever that an employee at a relatively small, yet cluttered, business might need to know when someone enters an exits the store.

    Nope, they have absolutely no right to know that you've entered their store, even if they might be the only person on duty at the time, and currently helping a customer in the back look for some obscure AV connector. Since, you know, no possible way a two-man team could distract the employee while simultaneously stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise right out the front door.

    Jeez people, I like my right to privacy too, but let's not go off the fucking deep end here.
  • Just Say NO! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xchino ( 591175 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:43PM (#4753751)
    As it has already been said you can just say no anytime your asked for your personal info. But what you may not know ( or may not have thought of) is WHY they ask you in the first place. Ok yeah, tracking statitics and what not, but that's not what I mean. The reason this still goes on in many retail stores is because people don't say no. They figure it's part of the process of purachasing whatever. If people would start refusing to divulge information, companies would be less apt to attempt to get it from you.
  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Monday November 25, 2002 @04:54PM (#4753834) Homepage
    I went to Radio Shack *today* during lunch (about two hours ago.) Spent $10.88 on some LEDs, resistors and alligator clips. Paid for it in cash.

    He asked me for my name, address, zip code.

  • by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:15PM (#4754004) Homepage
    In the UK, Radio Shack traded as "Tandy" and for many years they insisted on asking for the customer's name and address for any purchase, even if paying cash.

    Well, one day (this must have been 1989) I went in and bought something minor and the shop assistant asked for my name and address. Well, I knew darned well what they wanted it for, because I was getting three Tandy catalogues all with different variations of my name and address so I told him "no".

    He said: "But you have to give me your name and address."


    "Because I can't sell you this without it."

    "Rubbish. You just want to put me on your mailing list."

    Well, the argument proceeded and he wouldn't sell me the stuff and frankly REALLY pissed me off big time.

    This was a bad move, because in the UK you're not allowed to collect personal information to store on a computer system without a) making it clear an b) registering that you are going to do so.

    I checked Intertan's (Tandy's parent company) registrations details. It turned out that they hadn't registered properly. BIG mistake number 2.

    So, I complained to the Data Protection Registrar that I believed that Intertan were breaking the law. They tried to contact Intertan. Intertan refused to talk to them. BIG mistake number 3.

    Eventually this escalated and finally Intertan caved in and stopped asking. Well at least for a couple of years. I stopped shopping there in the end. Mind you, so did everyone else and they shut down :)

  • true story (Score:5, Informative)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:22PM (#4754054) Homepage Journal
    --true story. Been shopping at ratshack since..well, since allied electronics I guess. Anyway, I lived for years and years metro atlanta. Sometime shortly after the olympics-and the unfortunate el kaboom occurrence there, I get a personal visit from the fibbers! Now I am a little spooked, this is right after they tried to frame richard jewell. I am an internet freedom issues loudmouth, this is a duh given. This agent comes by when I'm not home but sees my girlfriend and leaves his card for me to call him back up. Of course she's freaked out, who wouldn't be? So, I call him up, shazzam! It's that stoopid radio shack taking your information. Foolish me had previous had given it to them, innocently and before I was as concerned as I am now on this merchant/information issue. Turns out I had-along with thousands of other people-purchased the same/similar battery they allege was used in the olympics blast. LUCKY FOR ME I still had it at home to show him. He came by the next day, I showed hom the batt- a 12 volt drycell I got to use for my tiny 12 volt b/w tv during storms and electrical outtages, so after that was outta the way we spent a little time talking about his job and cases he had worked on etc. I figured what the heck, might as well milk the opportunity a little, was interesting.

    Anyway, I went back to the same store I got it from, talked to the manager, told her I was not amused over this incident. I mean, what if I had milked the batt dry and had tossed it?

    From then on I always refuse this info when asked at ratshacks or wherever, latest was at some car parts store, I tell them it just slap ain't happening, they can enter any name or whatever to make their cash register work, or "no sale".

    This data mining stuff I can see two sides of, but my default is it's too likely to be misused and as such I'm against it now.

    It also happened to me once some fool at a job I worked snagged my soc sec # and used it somehow (probably gave or sold it to someone, I never found out exactly) to get some utilites turned on, like a year later I get this bill for gas service at someplace I never lived at. No amount of arguing would make them drop the bill, and the threat was pay it now or lose gas service at the place I lived. What a crock, I HAD to pay it or lose use of my hotwater heater and stove and furnace, not an option at the time.

    Can of worms, society needs some sort of ID to go about your day to day business, but too many ways it can be misused or stolen. It's totally fubared now, because no solution addresses privacy concerns. Caych 22 "Danged if ya do danged if ya don't" deal there.
  • by linuxelf ( 123067 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:22PM (#4754057) Homepage
    Just say:

    Alan M Ralsky
    6747 Minnow Pond Dr.
    West Bloomfield, MI 48322
  • by aiken_d ( 127097 ) < minus author> on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:25PM (#4754078) Homepage's about expenses and database cleanliness. They finally realized that they were incenting their customers to lie to them, and then they were expending a fair amount of money sending junk mail to nonexistant people. Worse, they didn't even know how many unique customers they had, since people offer the same bogus info twice (some do, and make a point of it, but they're the exception).

    Someone finally wised up and realized that they have a hugely polluted customer database and that, for a mail-order house, that's pretty expensive.

    How they spin it for public consumption is their business, but I'd definitely take it with a grain of salt. That's my take on it, anyways.

  • My trick (Score:3, Funny)

    by ocie ( 6659 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @05:53PM (#4754293) Homepage
    This usually works on the weak-willed. If they don't have a weak will when they start working at RS, a couple of months on the job will give them one:

    Me: I'd like to buy these batteries
    Sales: I need your address
    Me: You don't need my address (wave hand -- this part is very important)
    Sales: I don't need your address
    Me: You serve your master well and will be rewarded.
  • Good.. but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @06:08PM (#4754399)
    I have to wonder... it seems poeple often feel a great reluctance to speak up or question when some information is asked of them they would rather not give.

    Any time I've walked into Radio Shack, they've asked for my name and address, of course. I say "You don't need to know that", politely, and they say "No problem sir" and then continue to ring the order through.

    Even buying a pay-as-you-go Cantel phone from radio shack... not only did radio shack want my name/address, but of course, they want it for the Cantel activation as well. Nevertheless, a polite "Well why do you need that if I have to pay everything up front.". "Well sir, you don't have to give us your name, we can just put it in under John Doe, but that will cause a problem should you forget your PIN or should your phone be stolen and you want it deactivated. In this case, we wouldn't be able to help you."
    Thanks, that made perfect sense, I can accept that. Right on sir, here you go, have a nice day.

    You see... often that's all it takes, is some polite, non-confrontational intelligent questions.

    Supermarker convenience cards? Lie. I'm serious. Just make some crap up and put it on the card. If you want to be really nice at the same time, keep the demographic information the same, but not your name/address/phone number. That way the store gets honest demographics, with no privacy violations. When tehy ask for ID, they usualy want it for cheque caching purposes.. just say you don't want that.

    There is a difference between violations of privacy and straightforward information gathering; complaining about privacy is one thing, but taking a proactive stance towards it is another. If a majority of people refused to give information out at retail stores, fairly soon retail stores would stop asking.

  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @06:18PM (#4754472)
    Being the sort who appreciates some security in my everyday transactions, I actually like it when the Radio Shack people ask for my zip code. (They've never asked me for a name, is that unusual?) The fact that they have some idea of where they sell more batteries is fine by me -- it allows them to build market demographics without a notable loss of my privacy, and I get improved availability of products I like.

    Likewise, I've been very encouraged to see some of those automated gas pumps now requiring that you key in a zip code from the billing statement -- not just possessing a credit card. Since I'm already providing my name and billing information through the credit card, this is not the invasion of privacy that some folks think it is. Yay authentication and authorization!

    On the other hand, it used to be particularly irritating when I wrote a check and a clerk would insist that I provide a home phone number or even two phone numbers instead of some useful authorization info. (They're permitted to ask in my locale, but not allowed to require it.) After a particularly nasty incident at Ikea a few years ago -- when I declined to provide the number an assistant manager looked up my name in the phone directory and wrote the info on my check anyway, accompanied with a lot of foolish and insulting comments -- I decided to print TeleCheck's local phone number on the checks as a home phone. It doesn't stop the bad practice, but at least it protects my privacy a bit without wasting my time. (And it never comes up as a bad number :)

    Most frustrating of all (recently) was an encounter with a certain large bank. To make a long story short, they informed me that electronic funds transfers can be executed by any merchant with my bank routing and account numbers. When I pointed out that the numbers are identification and not authorization, they replied (paraphrased) "Posession of the number IS authorization. If you didn't give them authorization, they wouldn't have the number." Can you believe a major bank thinks that possession of your authentication data is equal to authorization? AAUUUGGGHHH!!! When I pressed further and pointed out that the account & routing data is on every check that anyone writes, I was informed that they (the bank) know it's awful, but that's what the US Federal Reserve rules require. Double-AAUUUGGGHHH!!!

    IMHO it's disappointing when the local Chevron station provides better financial transaction security than the bank managing my 401K.

  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @06:49PM (#4754680)
    Starting 20 years ago, whenever RS asked for my name & address, I politely remarked "You don't need that". It doesn't take long before the catalogs stop coming.

    I also quit using my grocery cards when I found out that the stores use them to track your purchases for marketing purposes. Just last week I went through the checkout and the clerk asked if I had a card and I told her that I don't use the cards anymore. When she asked "Don't like saving money?" I shot back "No, but I value my privacy". End of conversation.

    I am buying more things with cash now. When you buy with a credit card at Sears, they got your name & address and poof, more catalogs in the mail. Pay with cash and you're stealth, baby.

    Blame the marketing monkeys at the DMA for this mess, they drove us into it.

  • by thelovebus ( 264467 ) on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @01:04AM (#4756707)
    The only people who ever saw your name and address after giving it to the radio shack sales clerk were radio shack people. Radio Shack never sold, shared or gave away the names and adresses of its customers, all the data was kept within the company for the monthly flyer mailings.

    And for people who are offended by the idea of needing the name and address for warranty stuff, well, you shouldn't be. Warranties on most items (other than things like wireless phones or computers) are NOT tracked by serial number, contrary to popular belief. The serial number of that 900 mhz cordless bargin bin phone you just bought is not on the bar code of the box, and therefore it's not entered into the computer when the clerk scans in the UPC.

    I work at a radioshack, and I hated asking for names and addresses as much as customers hated giving it out, but it never ceased to amaze me just how many people thought that the shack was in cahoots with the FBI, despite signs on the front of the cash register which say "WE DONT GIVE YOUR INFO TO ANYONE AT ALL."

    Anyway, no one ever seemed to mind the whole name and address thing when they wanted to get a refund on those little items like karaoke machines they happened to buy on a friday and bring back on a monday (it's like a free rental service!), but forgot their receipt. Now if someone wants a refund on something but they've forgotten their receipt, they're screwed.
  • by ColGraff ( 454761 ) <maron1.mindspring@com> on Tuesday November 26, 2002 @01:48AM (#4756848) Homepage Journal
    All you had to do was say "No". I dunno about you guys, but the local Radio Shack people just let it go after that. It's not like you *had* to give your information.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal