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Smart & Final Is Wildly Unbelievable
The latest email, from yesterday, is at the very bottom. A few weeks ago, I pressed to find out how Smart & Final got my home number and made one of those recorded annoyance calls to me. Smart & Final's Director Of Corporate Communications Randall Oliver wrote:

Our calling list was generated from information provided to us by our customers on their SmartAdvantage Card applications. We did not obtain that information through any kind of intrusive search. The service that transmits the voicemail message checks all of the numbers against the National Do Not Call Registry prior to sending the message. We regret that your number was somehow missed in that process.

I wrote:

It is so against my principles and utterly out of habit for me to fill out anything other than "Mrs. Klaus" on one of those intrusive, irritating cards your stores and others use to bribe customers into giving up information in exchange for savings. I absolutely cannot imagine that I put my number on that card. I just never do that. I'd like to see my application to see my number on that card. Otherwise, I'd like to know how you got it off my credit card or by what other method you might have extracted it.

I added, in a subsequent email, that I was on the Do Not Call list. Oliver wrote:

We do not have an application in your name or in the name of "Mrs. Klaus". The only way we can think to identify your application would be to search by your telephone number. I do not know what that number is. Do you want to share it with me?

I wrote back and gave him my number:

Sure, as long as I don't get any machines calling my telephone. It is possible I lapsed and used my own number, but I doubt it.

Next, I got this:

It looks like someone else listed your number on his application as his work telephone . I will ask the individual who oversees our CRM database to delete that. Again, I am very sorry to have disturbed you, and I do hope that you will continue to shop with us in the future.

I wrote back:

Thanks...can I please see that application? I find it really hard to believe that somebody listed my number at random. I mean, really unbelievable. Come on...aren't you getting phone numbers some other way? Credit card data? Using some other kind of data you bought? And I really have a hard time with the idea that you checked this against the Do Not Call list, since I no longer get annoyance calls from businesses, just political organizations, which are still permitted.

Next stop, the California Attorney General! But, let's see if Oliver writes back with a more plausible answer. Just a guess, but this company will think twice before they willynilly tele-abuse people again. My hope: that my response to this will inspire other people who get bothered at home to go on the warpath like this, and to think twice before giving out their personal information to people who may misuse it by making your time their time.

Posted by aalkon at November 3, 2005 8:14 AM

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Generally my advice is very expensive, but here's what you do. You're caught, so now you must develop a plausible paper trail, you do hold the applications, and sequence of events. take a pen aand write in dates and numbers where necessary, always printing, never writing which can be more easily analyzed.
Next you go to the handy neighborhood printers, but not your neighborhood, and make up hundreds of flyers, that say, "RED HEADED goddess will suck ya cock for six bucks-cash-not required-I'll trust ya!" You distribute these, with phone number to bus stations, biker bars, venice and santa monica cafes, anyplace where really seedy lowlifes hang out.
now oliver, get back to something really important, like setting your scanners to overcharge, OK.

Posted by: everybody hates chris at November 3, 2005 7:40 AM

I don't have a problem with the loyalty cards. They occasionally bring significant discounts and I don't really give a rat's ass if Sav-On can calculate my vodka intake. However, I have 2 rules:

1] Like The A.G., I never give true data on the application.

2] When asked by a cashier to present the card, I always ask "Is there a discount for it?" If no discount, no card.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at November 3, 2005 8:18 AM

You should take a hint from drag queens and invent fictitious names for those application. I have a great one for you, Amy. The perfect alias that will bring home just how you feel about these applications. Just call yourself Olga Fahkyaself!

Other great drag names? Ophelia Self, Bertha Vanation, Barb Dwyer, Anita Mandalay. I did suggest one to Miss Greater Fayetteville at Large (which requires its contestants to weigh over 200 lbs.) I got the idea from a road sign. Ample Parking! (She didn't talk to me for two whole weeks after I suggested that.)

Posted by: Patrick at November 3, 2005 8:32 AM

Patrick, I would NEVER provide my real information. I'm always Mrs. Klaus, North Pole, because it's so quick to write. My phone number, should they need any further information, is always 310-555-1212.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 3, 2005 10:26 AM

"...and to think twice before giving out their personal information to people who may misuse it by making your time their time."

WHAT? You posted the picture of your letter from Smart and Final here on your blog - with your address on it!

Posted by: Radwaste at November 3, 2005 3:08 PM

That address is also posted on my Web site. Hint: I don't live in the small metal canister on Pier Avenue where I get my mail.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 3, 2005 4:21 PM

Sure - but it's still your real address!

Posted by: Radwaste at November 4, 2005 8:21 AM

But, anyone is free to send me mail -- which costs me nothing. I get mail from convicts in jail. And plenty of junk mail, which I throw away. No biggie. Anyone can get that address in any one of over 100 newspapers. I seek mail contact, I do not seek to be disturbed at home.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 4, 2005 8:29 AM

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