Call this phone number to see if retailers like you

The Wall Street Journal just published this article about whether retailers treat us right based on a “score.”

This “score” is like a credit score. In fact, many in the credit-score business put out this retail shopper score, too.

When we score high, we usually get premium customer service. But when we score low, we might wait on hold more than 45 minutes.

Amazon watches EVERYTHING

Amazon has MASTERED the art of profiling. This is why some people get better service than others. For example, if we return too many products to Amazon, they might cancel our account. On the flip side, more profitable customers get instant gift certificates once the returns are created – I have seen this with my account.

Airlines do it all the time

Clearly, airlines are heavy users of this score. We get night-and-day better service by being a loyal customer like free upgrades and free use of airport lounges. Those always grabbing up the cheapest fares typically get lousy service.

Car sellers secretly profile us

At auto dealerships, a high score can mean access to loaner cars, preferential service slots and special events, says Scot Eisenfelder, chief executive of Affinitiv Inc., which uses lifetime value to create marketing campaigns for dealerships. The scoring helps dealerships weed out costly customers. “This is what you call grinders—people who visit 16 stores to get the absolute lowest price,” he explains.

Mr. Eisenfelder says his firm develops scores by crunching data on things such as previous car purchases, whether a household has a teenager, where else a person has shopped and ZIP Codes, which can be used as a proxy for income. Someone who has a Neiman Marcus credit card is going to be more valuable for a car dealership than someone with a credit card from a discount chain, he says.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to game the system

Trying to figure it all out is hard because some scores have over 5,000 data “signals” per customer. With that said, customers who spend the most typically get the best perks. Those who try to get discounts on everything (and complain the most) are typically treated like dirt.

The phone company conspiracy (revealed)

And get this: phone companies have data-sharing agreements with data-providers that (for a fee) sell our subscriber data. The small print of our wireless service agreement (EULA) gives permission to our phone provider to do this. This means competitive companies are sharing our private data for profiling purposes.

Punchline…

I never sign up for VIP cards. Instead, I find being cool, not complaining too much and avoiding the absolute lowest price almost always gets me the best product and service – often at the lowest price.

Proof: I am typing this at my favorite Starbucks. And I just got my favorite Pecan muffin FREE – I did not even ask for it.