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Friday, September 27, 2002

Spy Corps, Supermarket Battalion

As the Clintons might have said, "It's the Food and Water Stoopid !"

And all the time you thought it was Oil and Dope.


Albertson's Imposes Cards in San Francisco Bay Area today
September 25, 2002

Dear CASPIAN friends and subscribers:

Albertsons, the nation's second-largest grocery corporation, imposed its
"Preferred Customer" surveillance card on all 183 of its Northern
California stores today. This region includes the heavily populated San
Francisco Bay Area, meaning that millions of shoppers throughout San
Francisco, San Jose, and Silicon Valley will now be forced to participate
in the chain's data collection scheme if they wish to "qualify" for
affordable food.

This is the latest betrayal by Albertsons, which has turned its back on
its longstanding "no cards, no hassles" advertising slogan, leaving
millions of privacy and price-conscious shoppers across the nation stunned
and outraged since the chain began experimenting with cards in November of
last year.

Despite a consumer boycott, a public protest, and extensive negative media
coverage when the "Preferred Customer" card was test-marketed in Dallas,
Albertsons has ignored calls by consumers to disband the program. Most
recently, Albertsons refused to acknowledge a "thank you" event held in
Seattle this summer where local shoppers turned out with hearts and
flowers to thank the chain for its card-free status in the state of

Though Albertsons proudly touted itself for years as the card-free,
hassle-free alternative to the surveillance stores, the chain is now eager
to put those promises in the past. After numerous acquisitions,
executive shakeups, and policy reorganizations, Albertsons has become a
multi-billion dollar mega-corporation with a voracious appetite for
consumers' money but no moral conscience to inspire it to keep its word.

Considering how easily Albertsons abandoned its no-card promise, it is not
surprising that few customers feel confident in Albertsons current
assurances that it will never disclose the data collected through the

In addition, the announcement of today's card rollout was unusually
subdued. There were no front-page splashy headlines on Albertsons'
website, no weeks-in-advance buildup, no fancy send-it-to-everyone press
release, no announcements on the supermarket industry news pages
practically nothing at all.

If a company truly believed that it was offering something wonderful to
the shopping public, is this how you would expect it to behave? Of course
not. After investing millions of dollars in the infrastructure needed to
roll out the cards Albertsons would be shouting "the good news" from the
media rooftops if, as they claim, their customers really were so eager to
get them.

But they aren't.

Recent polls across the nation show that around 60% of customers do NOT
like grocery store cards, so Albertsons is wise to lie low. Their
spokespeople have refused all offers to appear on radio to discuss the
"benefits" of their card program, and they are now anxious to get the card
into shoppers' wallets with as little fanfare and public discussion as

Let's change that by shining a flashlight on the "Preferred Customer" card
and outraged California shoppers will do the rest.

To help out, please contact your local media and tell them that you hate
Albertsons' new card. Write a letter to the editor, call a radio
personality, write an email to your local TV station. Get the word out
and let shoppers know how badly they're being taken advantage of.

In freedom,

Katherine Albrecht
CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

To see if your area has been affected by the new "Preferred Customer"
card, check your zip code at Albertsons website:
[Click on the smarmy blue card]
For one of the few newspaper accounts today mentioning the card rollout,
see this article:

Albertsons starts loyalty card, raising privacy concerns
Janet Adamy, Contra Costa Times, September 25, 2002,
CASPIAN is seeking volunteer leaders in the Bay Area and other affected
regions to start local chapters and to organize against the card. Website
designers and content creators are also needed. Please send email to if you want to roll up your sleeves and fight back!

CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering A
national consumer organization opposing supermarket "loyalty" cards since

Feel free to duplicate and distribute this message to others.

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posted by Vetzine


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