Individualized Coupons Aid Price Discrimination

I'm not a fan of allowing companies to track every purchasing decision I make, but I've sacrificed some of my expectations for privacy in return for convenience. I use my credit card for most purchases, and over the years, credit card issuers could have created a database with my transaction history and could theoretically use that information to predict my future spending habits. In order to receive discounts on groceries, I shop at the supermarket using a loyalty card. Although the card isn't linked to my address or name, preventing the company from identifying me personally, I'm practically giving away valuable personal data.

Years after these grocery store loyalty card programs started appearing, the amount they allow me to save as a percentage of the non-sale prices have decreased. Stores easily use the programs to lure customers into a false sense of good deals. The best prices are still offered to customers who make the effort to find and clip coupons. If I were to adopt the time-consuming obsessive-compulsive disorder commonly known as extreme couponing, I might be able to save much more money - for the compromise of buying brands I don't like or much more than I need.

A friend of mine recently shared a photograph on Facebook her first extreme couponing haul: a ton of detergents and shampoo for under twenty dollars, with a retail price of almost $100. I can't criticize her on the deal, but what would I do with 10 bottles of an expensive brand of shampoo, and where would I store them for the next five years?

So rather than spending my time clipping coupons, trying to find deals on the products I typically buy or accepting brand substitutions, I rely almost completely on scanning my store loyalty card for delivering discounts. This doesn't pay off as much as it did ten years ago, but I get over the disappointment without dwelling.