Your click counts

Matt Morgan
Aug 8, 2014


Tapping your mouse or keyboard could help others tap into valuable resources.

Did you know that if you fill out the quick survey on your Taco Bell receipt you are entered into a $500 weekly drawing? Sam's Club has the same deal for a gift card. If you shop at GameStop you are also directed to fill out a survey at the behest of the employee. Input is crucial to companies to the point of rewarding you and/or their employees by gathering it (...or cameras)! Your opinions are "votes" of sorts to help the company better serve you.
It can be both scary and convenient, especially when it comes to automation. With facial recognition software in a restaurant chain you frequent, your "usual" can be offered up without fuss even if you visit a Seattle McDonald's and you live in Atlanta. It's similar to how a Kroger card works when it prints you coupons at checkout. In some cases you can even be "paid" with a coupon to watch a commercial online or in a store!
Beyond assisting the companies learn which items you like more, you can also help your fellow customers make decisions on which products or services to pick up. If you have been to sites like eBay, you can see the feedback that was left about the seller in order to feel more comfortable that you'll receive what you ordered. Looking at Amazon, you can see reviews others left for the product you may want to purchase. Not all are flattering and that is very important to consider! Amazon also will suggest similar products to you based on what you are browsing so that you can find exactly what you want. Those suggestions are also generated in an algorithm based on the shopping patterns of the millions of transactions that have taken place. It is the retail equivalent of Pandora's "music genome project."
While it can seem frustrating to be besieged with surveys and such, know that your participation can net you some rewards and that you'll be helping other shoppers avoid bad products or service providers. Is that toilet worth buying? It does seem like a good deal. Just move into town and looking for a dentist? Best to check around and see who's getting good reviews. It can take a lot for someone to be motivated enough to spend time writing out a paragraph of rage or praise. Look at some of the most popular YouTube content providers or other social media leaders. Their views may be high but look at how many actually Like, Favorite, and/or Subscribe? If you want them to produce more content, be sure to leave them feedback. If you want Taco Bell to keep the quesorito, do the same. Do you remember when Wendy's spicy chicken was a seasonal sandwich? Now it's a regular menu item!
Our world is increasingly becoming more connected whether we like it or not. We must be conscious of that connectivity in order to help each other thrive and survive; to avoid scams and look for deals. Taking a few minutes to leave a comment on a product can go on to help an unknown number of others who come after you!



Convenient? Yes. Savings? Frequently. Being tracked via databases accessible to many, including the government? Every single time.

If it's worth it to you to save 50 cents on a bag of dog food, fine. I'm not willing to trade personal data for trinkets.

ADDED NOTE: Hello? Russian hackers? Something like a BILLION usernames and passwords stolen? Involving at least 450 web sites? And you wonder why I don't use any of these programs! At least by foregoing certain advantages, I'm not risking being at a serious DISadvantage!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Caution is certainly warranted when it comes to anything. Heck, even The Onion lampooned it a bit:

Security Experts Advise Americans To Not Click Anything

I've noticed that many companies are capitalizing on the (either) lack of general security and/or peoples' ignorance by setting up various protection services. It's interesting to see a whole industry rise up to protect one's identity as theft/abuse is so widespread as to necessitate it.


There are a lot of things (obviously) you can do to protect yourself. But the most important one is not to play the game.

I'll never forget some years ago hearing about a grocery chain (in Utah, I believe it was) that used their "preferred shopper" database in tandem with the feds to go after anybody who purchased "too much" cold medication. That was the story that got me started doing research on the risks and deciding for myself the value of such programs.

You might want to check the organization CASPIAN at Katherine Albrecht has been on top of the supermarket (and other store) "preferred shopper" cards from the beginning. Much of the information there is old, but still more than applicable. You can find a comprehensive list of other privacy-related sites with which Albrecht is affiliated on her own website. A direct link to the list is