Our Privacy – and Yet Another Front in the Battle Against Working People

Have you ever found yourself somewhere – say, a doctor’s office or a store – and had someone ask for your email address?

And was the first thought that went through your mind something along the lines of “Hell, no!”

Well, get used to it, because it’s apparently going to be with us for a while.

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains.

For the retail industry, customer emails are currency.

 Get that address, and a company can personalize customers’ future experiences, targeting them for discounts and promotions that could make them more likely to become repeat customers.

 The responsibility to capture those emails often falls to the sales associates working the floor. In fact, collecting emails and signing customers up for loyalty programs is a big part of those jobs now, said Jill Dvorak, senior director of digital retail for the National Retail Foundation.

How big a part of the job?

But workers at Five Below, the Philly-based national discount chain that’s made headlines for thriving in the age of Amazon, say there are consequences when they don’t. They’re told email collection affects how many hours they get each week.

 Tiffany Rogers, a recent Parkway Center City Middle College graduate who worked at the Five Below on Columbus Boulevard for five months, said she was told she had to get emails from 25 percent of the customers she rang up.

 In February, after watching her hours dwindle from more than 20 a week during the holiday season to 10 to 14 after New Year’s, she got scheduled for just four hours two weeks in a row. When she asked her manager about it, he told her it was because she wasn’t getting enough emails.

So what does Five Below have to say about this?

Five Below marketing manager Dana Zuppo said there is no email quota for cashiers, nor are there incentives for workers to collect emails.

 “The email ask at the register,” she said, “is simply to benefit the customer, allowing them to stay in tune with the brand.”

Does anybody buy that nonsense?  And isn’t this lovely? Demanding that people who generally make little more than minimum wage do something that will almost surely incur the wrath of their customers – and something that the people making the demand wouldn’t be caught dead doing themselves?

(And a little acknowledgment, please, for The Curmudgeon not going off over the store mouthpiece’s use of the term “the brand.”)

The Curmudgeon has been asked for his email address by someone who has no business possessing his email address on many occasions.  On a good day, he just politely says no.  On a bad day, he finds himself starting to get obnoxious about it when he realizes that the person to whom he’s about to get obnoxious is just doing his (or her) job.

Next time, maybe he’ll ask to speak to the manager about it.  Then, he can be as obnoxious as he pleases.

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  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On November 16, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I realize that the principle here is important to you, but consider reducing your angst in one of two ways: 1) create an email like “mudgeshops@yahoo.com” and use it consistently when asked and for shopping. That way, you can ignore it when you want to and use it for coupons etc when you want to. 2) make up a fake email every time that expresses your displeasure. For example, one day it can be fivebelowsucks@yahoo.com, next day it might be macysblows@gmail.com, day after could be hateemail@gmail.com. This way, you amuse yourself and the clerk but still get your point across. Happy holiday shopping!

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On November 16, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Actually, I do have an email address I use when I need to share my address for a legitimate reason but don’t want future junk mail to clog my primary email box. It’s a decent system. The latter, however, can be more trouble than it is worth. You may recall that once upon a time, Radio Shack asked for your phone number every time you made a purchase – even if you purchased a $2 pack of batteries. (One of many reasons I long suspected that people steered clear of Radio Shack unless there was no alternative.) A few times I offered 555-1234 and the clerks gave me a lot of lip about it. Still, I like your creative thinking – always problem-solving, that’s you.

      • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On November 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        Ha! Well, you could also give them one other number consistently, like the number for the Elvis Presley museum or something else equally amusing and pleasing.

      • foureyedcurmudgeon  On November 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm

        Like 1-800-588-2300 (Empire Today)!

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On November 16, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Or – Greenwood 7 5312! Dare you to provide that without singing it.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On November 16, 2018 at 10:37 pm

      Ha! Call for action! I was going to offer that one but was afraid it would be a little too obscure. Other than 231-3131 – the old number, pre-9-1-1 number for the Philadelphia police department – it was the first number to come to mind.

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