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What's it worth to me? [Jul. 16th, 2016|10:05 am]
I do most of my grocery shopping at a particular store because they have handheld scanners so that I can scan each item as I take it off the shelf, put in the bag or box and then just use the register to pay as I leave. I was so happy when they put self-checkout in - finally bags packed the way I want them! No conversation, no silently fuming because I told them the code for English peas is 4674, but they don't believe me, so I have to endure watching them scroll through the PLU list. And then watch them ring them up as snow peas.

But the problem with self-checkout is that not everyone's good at it. And it's painful to be behind someone who's using the checkout for the first time. Who has no idea how multi-directional scanners work, no idea that the PLU code is often right there on the sticker, doesn't know that bananas are 4011, red bell peppers 4088, scallions 4068. I mean, okay, as a personal chef I went to the grocery store every single day, so I was pretty damn good at a quick checkout. And, there were plenty of times where I'd just tell the person struggling "hey, why don't you go down there and bag your stuff, I'll scan it for you. No, seriously, it's in my best interest to get you the hell out of my way, happy to do it."

But the handheld scanners? Frabjous Joy! No more having to wait behind people who don't know what they're doing...or decide that now, with eight people in line behind them, that they're going to teach their five year old how to scan groceries.

But the move now is to have us use our phones to scan the items. And to that I say "Expletive you, I will go back to waiting in line for a human to do it for me." I am NOT installing an app on my phone that gives the godforsaken grocery store access to my GPS data. Because now they want to track where I go in there store, where I spend time and what do I get in return? Nothing. The grocery store gets data, saves money by not having to have handhelds, fewer cashiers and I get...a drained battery, a broken phone (seriously, I drop those scanners all of the time...at least they're bulky and will get caught in the cart. You know that I will have an uncanny ability to drop my phone squarely between the wires of the cart directly to the floor) even more smudges, even more wasted time as I realize that my phone has timed out and now I'm holding a package of raw chicken in one hand and have to now do my password before I can scan, and having been in the grocery industry, not a lot of trust that you'll stop accessing my GPS when I leave the store.

Ignoring the possibly injury to my phone and myself (as I frantically try to catch said phone as it's flipping down into the refrigerator case right toward a sludgy pile of spilled milk), you may ask why I'm balking at sharing that data. After all, Google can pretty much access all of my stuff, all of the time, right? I bought right into that. And expletive Zuckerberg's all up in my business as well. But I'm going to say no to Giant, Safeway, Whole Foods, whomever?

Damn skippy! Because Faceborg makes it easy for me to stay in touch with relatives and friends, do event invites, share pictures and "socialize". (And also, to know which of my friends hold some views I find abhorrent, making it easier to avoid those topics at parties and bars.) And Google...Google will find my phone for me. Show me on a map where I left it, make it ring for five minutes so I can find it. By just typing "find my phone" in the search bar. For that alone, I am willing to open up all my data. It's WORTH it.

But Amazon, Yelp, Open Table, yada yada, want me to review the thing? What am I getting? Nothing? Then screw you, I'm not providing content for free. (For the record, if you do reviews for Amazon, you may well be contacted by companies that want you to look at similar products, and you may even qualify for Amazon's program...but I don't want random stuff for free. I want the thing I want for free or less. I serve on a review panel for a clothing company and they send me a $25 thank you coupon every year for answering a couple of surveys. Now that's worth it.)

"Can you answer this question about a product you bought?" Seriously, Amazon, that's consulting and I charge hourly for that. How about you offer to knock a few points off my Prime membership and then I'd be happy to. Until then? Screw you, I just PAID you for the thing, I'm not going to now work for you for free!

That's the thing we all need to keep in mind -- your data, your privacy: they're WORTH something to someone else. They're going to monetize it. So, don't give it away for free - unless you're getting something that makes it worthwhile giving up. Make those expletives work for it!

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