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Consumer rants!

Tonight I’m loaded with consumer-y tips and rants!

A while back Alex was telling me a story about how he got carded at a store to verify he was over 21. He hands over his drivers license which clearly has his age, but they refuse to use it because the license was expired.


So the other night after dinner a friend is carded. He shows them his card, the guy hands it back and says “that’s expired, I can’t use it.” This is is so utterly asinine to me. The date of birth is right on the card! When the drivers license expires, do you suddenly lose 20 years of age? Is there a booming racket in fake identification cards with expired dates? If they’re trained to spot fake ID cards, then they should be able to figure out it was a legtimately produced card. I don’t buy the “it’s no longer a valid document” argument. You don’t exactly need a valid license for driving a car around in a restaurant. Besides, forging a drivers license is usually a felony anyways.

While in Amsterdam, I noticed that almost every mail/post slot had a black sticker that had a red “NEE” or green “JA” on it. Closer inspection revealed they were stickers advertising what kind of mail you wanted to receive or reject. One might say “NEE Géén ongeadresseerd reclamedrukwerk” or “NEE Ook géén irritante kutkinderen met lampionnen” which basically mean “Don’t give me any public fliers” and “Don’t give me any mail that’s not addressed to my address”. BRILLIANT! With the sheer number of people doing it, I assume it works. I would love if we had something like that here in the US. I think I’ll make my own sign to stick on my mail box to see if it actually works. I would LOVE to not have a mailbox stuffed with coupons, sale papers, missing kid fliers, and other saturation Simplified Addressing (“Postal Customer”) cruft.

I feel a measureable amount of smugness each time I walk out of Fry’s with a bag of purchased items and flat out ignore the guy who wants to check my receipt. So far I haven’t been chased down or banned from the store. “Sir, can I see your receipt?” “No, you may not.” This bugs me on principle.

Why are people so willing to consent to searches of their (now) personal, private property without probable cause? Fry’s automatically assume each and every person could be a shoplifter who’s hidden a little extra kit in their bag. All of the expensive small things like DRAM, CPUs is already locked behind the register counter or requires an employee escort to the register. Best Buy and CompUSA are two more places like this. (At Sam’s Club and other “membership stores” you’ve already signed some sort of membership agreement. I don’t have one, but it probably has language that entitles a search as a basis of membership.)

In this case, I don’t agree with a number of things:

  • “Quit taking a power trip on the poor gnome making $7 an hour.” — I’m doing no such thing. I’m always nice when asked. In fact, I’m going out of my way to avoid dealing with them.
  • “I hate life and retail and customers. You make my job harder.” — Good for you, I’m glad you actually have a job. Congratulations on having a job that doesn’t involve thinking or physical labor. Regardless, not my problem. Just as I can shop elsewhere, if you really hate retail and asshole customers, you can work somewhere else.
  • “You’re being an asshole to people in line behind you.’ — Again, I’m going out of my way to avoid dealing with receipt checkers which would hold the line.
  • “The store is doing this to check for dishonest cashiers.” — Not my problem. Watch your cashiers closer.
  • “The store wants to check for overpricing.” — I have never had a receipt checker compare price stickers on items to my receipt. Do they know all the prices in the store by heart? You’ve already given them your money, it is completely against their best interests to make money by paying somebody to “protect you” against a $5 overcharge on a USB memory stick.
  • “You’re just a yuppie asshole, submit to society, citizen!” — You still love me though. I’m sorry your mom is gay.

I suggest others object to the treatment as well. If you have reasonable cause I’ve stolen something, then detain me (that’ll be fun). If you haven’t, quit wasting both of our time and leave me the fuck alone.

Another fun tip of information. Page 29 of the Rules for Visa Merchants – Card Acceptance and Chargeback Management Guidelines:

When should you ask a cardholder for an official government ID?
Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuse to provide ID.

Something tells me this is like flying without presenting identification to a ticket agent or TSA. It’s completely within the realm of possibility to do, but it’s going to be a complete pain in the ass and make people hate you.

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