A Deal for Data
Like countless others, I’ve grown aware of how much personally identifiable information I inadvertently sprinkle around these days. But a recent retail incident left me astounded at how much data some merchants seek to collect.
My husband and I devoted a Saturday to scouring a few furniture stores looking for a new sofa. We tested and examined construction, comfort and cost. We finally agreed on a plush beauty that we found in a store that’s part of a large, mid-Atlantic furniture chain.
“How will you be paying?” the saleswoman asked.
We told her we’d put 25 percent down when ordering, and we’d put the rest on that same credit card upon delivery.
She said “OK,” and went to get some blank order forms. A few minutes later she returned talking about opening an account with the merchant. We asked, “Open an account? What does that entail? We’ll be paying in full upon delivery. Why would we want to open an account?”
She said, “Oh, you’ll want to open a credit account with us. That’s what everyone does. We’ll pull your credit report, and then offer you $300 off the price of your sofa once you’re approved.” Her eyes widened with excitement at the offer she was making to us.
I said, “But we don’t want to open an account with you. We just want to buy a sofa.”
The saleswoman stopped and stared at us, obviously surprised by our reaction. She went to get her manager.
The manager sniffed at us: “Well, if you have trouble with your credit ...”
“We have no trouble with credit.” By now I was getting angry. “But there’s no reason to pull the credit report of someone who is paying you in full. And by the way, now I want the $300 off the sofa that you would’ve given us if we allowed you to snoop into our private lives.”