Sunday, March 4, 2012

How much information do you need to provide to buy socks?

The other day I stepped into a Payless shoe store to buy some black socks.  I grabbed a package off the rack and walked up to the register.  It cost $6.99 for six pairs, a pretty good buy I think.  As I pulled a twenty out of my pocket the guy behind the counter said "Can I have your zip code?"  No big deal, I know they like to do research on where their customers come from.  Then he said "Phone number?"  I was slightly put off, but again I thought maybe they just want to know what area codes are shopping in the store, so I told him.  Now here's a transcript of the rest of the conversation:

Payless guy: "Name?"
Me: "Um...(long pause) Mark?"
Payless guy: "Last name?"
Me: "Vandeusen (getting irritated, still holding out the twenty dollar bill)."
Payless guy: "Address?"
Me: "Why do you need all of this (while glaring at him like he's lost his mind)?"
Payless guy: "They want to send you coupons.  You can just give me your email address."
Me: "No, I don't want to do any of that (probably now looking like I want to stab him)."

Finally he took my cash and I left.  Here's what I don't get: It's not like I was buying a 72 inch flat screen at Best Buy.  It's freaking PAYLESS.  I don't think anything in the store even costs more than $30.  And don't they have a permanent buy one get one 50% off sale?  Do they really think I want their coupons; in the mail no less?  That's like ten times worse than the Trader Joes Flyer.  And I was paying cash, for one $7 item.  The next time a guy buys a drink from me at the bar, when he holds out his money I'm going to ask him for his name and address.  We'll see how well that goes over.

Recently I wrote a post ripping a Wall Street Journal article entitled "How Waiters Read Your Table" because I thought everything in it was just common sense.  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I am giving humanity too much credit.  Because this Payless guy was clearly not reading me at all.  The whole interaction made me feel a lot like Jonah Hill in The 40 Year Old Virgin:

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