Buyer, Beware!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be taken advantage of. Especially by a local merchant.

I like to pay cash whenever possible, which means I’m not obligated to give the merchant any information about myself whatsoever, not even my zip code. I’m not a jerk about it or anything. When I hand over a $20 bill and the clerk says, “Zip code, please,” I don’t fly off the handle or try to prove how legal-wise I am. I simply say, “I’m sorry, this is a cash transaction.” And that almost always is as far as it goes. Everybody’s happy.

Well, there’s a new twist to this game. It’s a marketing ploy. Merchants absolutely LOVE amassing e-mail addresses of customers so they can quickly and easily send out sale information in the hopes of generating more sales.

This tiny little bit of sleight of hand, which happened to me this past weekend, goes like this:

“That’ll be $15.21, please.”

I hand the clerk a $20.

“$4.79 is your change…”

[Ready? Here it comes.]

“…and if I could just get your e-mail address so I can send you a receipt.”

Notice the clerk did not give me a choice. Did you notice that? He did not ask, “Would you like a receipt now or would you like me to e-mail it to you?” I’d be willing to bet 95% of you would just go ahead and give him your e-mail address.

If you don’t like being manipulated, the proper response (the one that I gave) is, “I’ll just take a printed receipt, thank you.”

You’ve got to be sharper than they are.