Man "ist was er isst"

Or to update Feuerbach to the 21st century, you are what you spend, at least when it comes to evaluating your creditworthiness.  The FTC claims that credit card companies are jacking up rates on consumers who use credit cards for marriage counseling or massage parlors.  (But I understand that credit card companies no longer are accepting charges from medical marijuana clinics, which, bummer.)  So far, squinty-eyed meanies at the card issuing banks are relying only on rough impressions based on which merchants you frequent, but a movement is afoot to get a finer-grained picture by analyzing the SKU codes for the individual products you purchase.

I have only a rudimentary sense of privacy in most areas of my life.  I honestly don't care who knows what I buy, and can only be amused by attempts to understand me on that basis.  If anything I suffer from a sense of being unknown, inaccessible.  I'm exactly the kind of customer a merchant should try to charm by offering a product whose choice was intelligently informed by real information about my preferences; I would be far from offended.

I admit to a little curiosity about whether my spending patterns portray me as a potential deadbeat, but I figure that, with a 35-year credit history of actually paying my bills, any other information the card issuer gets is gravy.  They must think I'm the Holy Grail of customers.  When they cut off my credit, we'll know the entire financial industry has melted down.


karrde said...

CC companies rating customers on where they spend their money?

Do various consumer groups think this is a new thing? Or even new-this-decade?

More could be said, but I'm failing to see the shock-value in these statements.

The article is likely wrong on at least one front: it asserts that merchants view customers as anonymous blobs. (The article also says that merchants often keep more data than which is more true?)

I might agree that merchants don't know as much about customers as credit-card issuers do.

But stories like this make me think that merchants can already pierce the anonymity of the customer.

E Hines said...

I'm exactly the kind of customer a merchant should try to charm by offering a product whose choice was intelligently informed by real information about my preferences....

One of the problems I have with this is that I'm afraid my choices will be limited by such advertising--not by stuff actually not being available, but by not being able to find out about them.

My tastes are pretty eclectic. My music preferences, for instance, run the gamut from baroque through disco--even including the odd country piece. My reading runs to science fiction and mysteries. But no advertiser would learn from that that I also get a wild hair up, sometimes for something in quantum physics, or cosmology, or philosophy.

I didn't know that I had an intense interest in constitutional law until a couple of years ago.

All the advertising I get from, though (for instance), centers on the Dion CD I looked into awhile ago, and the battery-powered mower I bought. There's not a bit in there in the way of a serious how-to book for a plumbing repair, or my current interest in How Does X Work?

And I'm one of those who waves off the salesman in a store: I'm looking on my own.

So: leave me the H--- alone; I'll find my own stuff. If I need a salesman, I'm not at all miffed that I have to go find one.

Eric Hines