Much has been written about the evils of discount cards, that wonderful marketing system by which a store compiles a list of what you've purchased in exchange for special sale prices on a few items.

Personally, I don't care much -- if my Safeway can find out a way to use my addiction to portobello mushrooms and nonfat refried beans against me, then it'll already be too late for the rest of us anyhow. And if it's something they shouldn't know about anyhow, I don't swipe the card through, or I just don't buy the coconut cream pie and Edy's Dreamery pints on the same trip that I'm getting the bean sprouts and the multigrain bread.

But the "tailored" direct marketing that stems from these databases can get funny sometimes. I've got a discount card at the Petco as well, and they send coupons on occasion. Normally, it doesn't seem connected to the purchases -- for months on end, one of the coupons would be for dog food, and all we ever buy there is cat litter and 20-pound sacks of Science Diet Feline Maintenance. But last week, we had the choice of the following coupons:

  • Any 1 ounce <brand> dried catnip
  • Any 3 ounce <brand> fresh catnip or cat grass

If the cats needed to toke that badly, they could've just asked us, rather than cracking Petco's marketing computers...

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