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April 22, 2013

Is Getting a $7 Discount Worth Giving Up Your Privacy?

Filed under: Internet,Retail,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:29 am

Sears and Kmart run a rewards program called Shop Your Way Rewards, giving you points for purchases. They are now expanding it to other retailers. In a joint marketing promotion with Visa, they are promising to give you $7 in rewards credit, if you register your Visa card. MrConsumer was tempted by the free $7.

Shop Your Way

On the registration page, they ask for your cellphone number. That should always be a warning flag that you may be getting calls or texts on your mobile phone. The little question mark near the mobile phone field, however, doesn’t say that.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Shop Your Way

Whewwww. That’s a relief.

Well, not so fast. Toward the bottom of the enrollment form, there is a bunch of fine print.

*MOUSE PRINT:

I agree that the SYW Link Program may send me SMS messages to my registered mobile phone number confirming each time the program identifies a potentially qualifying SYW Link purchase, as well as additional SMS messages (approximately 8 per month, which may vary) with SYW offers or updates. Msg&Data Rates May Apply.

Your Visa card’s historic (up to past 13 months) and future transaction history (including air travel itinerary information and location of the merchant where you used your card) may be used to deliver you with offers and messages from the SYW Link Program based on your purchase behavior. [color emphasis added]

In plain English, you are authorizing Sears and Visa to send you eight text message ads a month, in addition to texts each time you make a qualifying purchase. Further, you are allowing the companies to review over a year’s worth of your purchases so they can better profile you.

MrConsumer decided that a lousy $7 payment was not a fair trade for getting a bunch of unwanted text message ads about who knows what, and allowing them to see his purchasing habits. While one can later opt-out of the text messages, the invasion of privacy was too high a price to pay.

• • •

10 Comments

  1. The $7 in points would soon be nullified by the invasion of privacy, the annoyance in text messages, and the time it takes to unsubscribe from the program.

    I’d be better off getting points from my primary credit card and avoiding going through Sears (which I already do). At least that way I don’t have to share info with additional companies.

    Comment by Wayne R — April 22, 2013 @ 9:20 am
  2. Does this mean that someone without a cell phone can’t be eligible for the discount? I thought that offers that placed purchase restrictions like this were illegal, and for this, one is required to be a purchaser of cell phone services to receive the $7.00 off.

    I’m not a Luddite, I’m just living on a very limited income and plain can’t afford cell service – and the “advantages” conferred by cell phones aren’t sufficient enough for me to make the sacrifices necessary to subscribe to it.

    Meanwhile, merchants like Sears and web services like Gmail keep pestering me to provide them with a mobile number which I can’t provide since I don’t have one.

    Comment by Nunuv Yerbiznezz — April 22, 2013 @ 9:24 am
  3. This crap truly is getting out of hand.

    Used to be you had to protect your social security number, now your freaking phone number is just as ripe for the picking.

    Comment by Gina — April 22, 2013 @ 10:23 am
  4. Maybe use a google voice number for your cell.

    Then again, they still pull up your purchase history and analyze the crap out of it.

    But, seriously, does it matter? I do not think they keep my info private if I don’t sign up for stuff like this.

    Comment by Gina — April 22, 2013 @ 10:24 am
  5. Yep, Google Voice all the way. For things like this (and store credit cards), I apply for the account, complete my initial purchase, pay the card off and never use it again.

    Comment by Tundey — April 22, 2013 @ 12:16 pm
  6. 7 bucks is not enough, but I do not know how much it would have to be before I sign up for that crap.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — April 22, 2013 @ 2:40 pm
  7. I was going to ask the same question as Nunuv Yerbiznezz. I don’t have a cell phone either (I have absolutely no need for one) and I was wondering how that can be a requirement.

    Comment by Anna — April 22, 2013 @ 7:08 pm
  8. So for those of us who pay 40c per message that 7 dollars will cost you 38.40 per year. And yes I know there are better plans out there. But I just do not use them enough to justify the cost.

    Comment by me — April 23, 2013 @ 4:29 pm
  9. when this promotion stated, it was either email or cell number, with the mouse print of not SELLING your private information….nothing stopped Sears of TRADING your information. as a proven example, i created a online email account that I only gave to SYWR sears purposes. within one month my email box was 200 messages. when i used my SYWR card at sears my so-called points were declined because I did not disclose my cell number capable of receiving text messages. Lesson to learn – IF you want my business, just lower the sticker price

    Comment by tom gauvin — May 2, 2013 @ 8:05 pm
  10. I agree…some of this sounds vaguely illegal, if consumers would get together and challenge it. I just tried to buy an item at Walgreens (buy one, get the second half-off). Walgreen has frequently had this offer for years. NOW I’m told I’m not eligible for the offer w/o a store card.

    There is something so wrong, morally and perhaps legally, with a system that holds the consumer hostage this way in order to get the same price advantage everyone else does.

    I value my privacy, although that ship seems to have sailed years ago. I value even more my resistance to manipulation and control by such commercial entities as these. But we consumers are forced to pay a heavy price for that “privilege.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! And it is past time to get Congress involved.

    Comment by S. A. — May 5, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

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