Photo by Michelle GienowOn January 5, 2001, David Lesher wrote: "I happen to have a new Giant discount card. While they do give you 3 sets of barcode plastic, it occurs to me that the clerk only sees the backside. A laserprinter could easily make barcode that you just paste onto your card... (But that would be naughty, as it would really screw up Giant's tracking of what a vic^H^Hperson buys and where.)"
With that idea and the invaluable help of Dan Bornstein's wonderful Barcode Server program, I created this web page for people to swap their club cards from the privacy of their own homes. Any questions or comments please don't hesitate to e-mail me or check out my page.
This is a demonstration page, and I have no control over or responsibility for what happens to these numbers once they're posted by the owners. Philo has suggested that circumventing the voluntary sale of our privacy might be against our own best interests. A writer from the midwest, who asked to be anonymous, asked me why everyone was giving their real names to Giant in the first place. Jon Spreha pointed out that I'm missing some pretty darn good coupons.
For those of you outside the mid-Atlantic states, Giant is a large supermarket chain in the Baltimore/D.C. area. I do want to add more cards to this system, but I don't know about the card styles or pin numbers of any other regional supermarkets. Send me the name of a supermarket and scan or digital photo of the card and the pin number and I'll set up a system for those kinds of cards too.
I currently have a scanned Safeway card and examples from CVS/Pharmacy and Stop and Shop (thanks to Keli Yeats). Those of you who also own those cards who could mail me with your card numbers I'd appreciate it. I need to have a couple of examples in order to filter out obviously bogus card numbers.
Thanks for the links from Red Rock Eater, Entertainment From The Unemployed, Justin's Journal, CouponNet, Flutterby (direct article link), LinkFarm (direct article link), Dan's Barcode Server, Geeks List, Neural.it, Baltimore City Paper (their October 1, 2003 feature article by Joab Jackson currently archived at the author's website), CIO Insight Magazine, boingboing, Claire Wolfe, and the site that started it all, the Politech list.
I've written a brand new Feedback and Interview Page which includes Andy Cervantes of the Privacy Foundation, Carl Ellison, Dan Bornstein, Declan McCullagh, Derek Hampton, Dominique Ritter of Adbusters, Nancy Werlin, Jim Rosenberg of WAMU radio, David Lesher and an interview I did for Columbus Alive. Check it out here.
Other articles written about grocery cards include Calling All Shoppers on Grocery Store Loyalty Cards by Deborah Pierce of the Seattle Press and Privacy Activism, "She's no blond" and a book by author Nancy Werlin called The Killer's Cousin (also available in paperback), a mystery novel containing a side element about trading grocery cards in a small town.
The privacy-minded may want to check out Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, a group that takes a closer look at club cards and RFID tracking tags. You may also want to read Kathleen Ellis's favorite scare story and Buying Trouble by Erik Baard in the Village Voice.
Safeway customers: You can help this guy become the ultimate shopper. Just e-mail him your address for a pre-printed label to put on your Safeway club card.
Also, this isn't the first time I've been involved in a web-based protest of sorts. Check out the Swatch Protest and Boycott pages on this same server for a fun little thing I did back in 1999. Also on a totally self-serving note, please take a minute to check out my Digital Photography Gallery at vees.net.
Put all of your club cards onto just one card.