This interesting article about data mining shows just how devious they can be. For example, a casino:
The system collects data each time a gambler uses their casino loyalty card – be it for gambling, purchasing food in the restaurant or paying for snacks from their room minibar – to create a pattern of their behaviour.
The system can see, for example, that the last few times Gambler X visited the casino, they stayed for two days and lost between $200 and $300, then promptly left the gaming floor, spent no more money and went home the next day.
”As a casino operator you don’t want that, you want to make people happy and spend more money,” Quinn says.
Enter Tibco’s event processing software. When the system detects the customer is falling into a particular pattern, such as the consistent losing streak that caused them to leave during their last visit, it sends an automatic note to a gaming floor attendant to offer the person a free meal, or ticket to a show.
The idea is to distract the gambler long enough that they’ll come back later and continue to play and lose money, albeit in more palatable amounts.
Ingenious. For the cost of a meal (and installing the computer tracking in the first place) the Casino gets heaps more money. No wonder gamblers get sucked into losing lots of money.
They apparently want this so much that last week they sent me two cards “to the householder” even though I’ve never been a member — and I hear I’m not the only one.
I do have a Woolworths loyalty card, because I more often shop there. It earns me Frequent Flyer points which sometime in the next couple of decades might add up to enough to take a flight somewhere (or more likely will earn me a small discount using Points+Pay… or a thing such as the barbecue I got via the Qantas FF shop a few years ago).
But I happen to know that you don’t earn any points for transactions less than $30, so I deliberately don’t present the card for those, ‘cos really, they don’t need to know too much about my spending patterns.
You can call me paranoid if you wish, but note the comments in this article the other day:
But analysts said that the programs took from customers as much as they “gave back”, in terms of valuable information on their shopping habits. “This is essentially just a new form of marketing,” Citigroup equities analyst Craig Woolford said. “There are two globally perceived benefits – one is retaining your customer, and the other is developing insights into your customers’ shopping behaviours.”
Oh, I also love this quote from someone at Coles:
“Australian customers tell us they want discounts on the products they buy the most,” Coles finance director Tony Buffin told BusinessDay.
Perhaps the smallprint says “Do not use the fuel and the alcohol simultaneously.”
And now for something completely different: anti-pigeon defences.
It’s probably gone mostly unnoticed, but over the past few years, various methods to prevent them roosting have become commonplace.
In the case of Caulfield station, they’ve put in a lot of netting that cordons off parts of the platform roof areas, including the tops of the signs. (I haven’t checked if they’ve fitted the sign above, which is in the subway.)
Since Woolworths introduced gold coin deposits for trolleys at Bentleigh, you almost never see their trolleys abandoned in the streets. The same can’t be said for Coles Bentleigh, who appear to have some trolleys requiring a coin, and some not — I don’t understand the logic of this. On a walk last night, we passed three (non-deposit) Coles trolleys in quick succession on a single block of Jasper Road.
It seems pretty clear that (like the drink container deposits used in some states), coin deposits reduce the problem. I wonder why Coles don’t go ahead and implement it fully, especially in suburbs like Bentleigh where their major competitor already uses it.
The supermarket war of Coles versus Safeway/Woolworths has heated up, with roast chicken.
First, Coles went to $10.
…then Safeway/Woolworths struck back with… $9.88.
These posters were prominently displayed en masse around the Bentleigh Woolworths last night.
“Why pay $10″ “Only $9.88″?
TWELVE CENTS DIFFERENCE?
Or to put it in percentage terms, Woolies are 1.2% cheaper.
And if you pay cash for just the chicken, the price will be rounded up to $9.90, so you’re only saving ten cents.
Did Woolworths design the poster before they knew what their price would be or something? It’s one thing to advertise your product — it’s quite another to highlight that the saving compared to your competition is a measly twelve cents.
If you are tempted by this extra special offer, don’t spend it all at once.
(Sometimes I’ll use this type of thing; sometimes I’d prefer salmon or barramundi fillets on the BBQ, but either way, combine with lemon juice, mayonnaise, spinach leaves, cheese and perhaps a slice of tomato in brown round rolls… there you go, that’s my fish burger recipe. A good quick dinner for work nights.)
At the supermarket, they’ve stacked the fish and the chips in the special together with a big sign pointing you to it.
So, it’s just a matter of grabbing the fish, grabbing the chips, and heading to the checkout to enjoy your savings, right?
Not so fast.
If you try that, keep a watch at the checkout, because the items came up for me with no saving. On querying it, the lady said she wasn’t familiar with the special, but suggested it might be for specific items only.
But, I protested, they’re all piled together, highlighted as one. The “special” display includes about 4-5 fish varieties, all 425 grams as specified in the special. And there are straight chips and crinkle cut, again, all in the special display.
I hadn’t even seen it in the catalogue, but had found it via the display, and had grabbed the straight chips and the Deep Sea Dory original fish.
With the display set up in this way, how is a punter meant to know which specific products need to be combined to get the special price?
Sure, the small sign on the freezer door shows the items to be combined for the special, but it’s far from clear that it’s limited to just those two items, and the context implies it’s not.
Note that both the frozen fish and the frozen chips normally live elsewhere in the frozen food aisle. There’s no reason to be putting the items which are not part of the special into the cabinet with the big “Special” signage.
In my book, the advertising, the programming of the cash registers, and the presentation of these products don’t all match up. Is it carelessness, or deliberate?
And how many people just grab what they think is a special, but don’t notice at the checkout?
I swapped the fish for the one covered by the special and got my $3.55 saving. How many others might notice, but not bother querying it?
As always, it pays to check the small print.
Safeway Woolworths replaced all their trolleys as part of the makeover.
And they all require a deposit — a $1 or $2 coin.
‘Cos while I don’t usually use a trolley, when I do, I’m sick of them having wonky wheels because people have pushed them for miles and dumped them in the street, where they get damaged. I’m sick of finding them in the park, and in my street, and even at the railway station, clogging up the entrance ramp. And I bet they’re expensive to collect and repair, contributing to higher prices.
Hopefully the deposit will reduce the instances of them going missing.
By the way there’s a notice at the entrance which says the supermarket will have its grand re-opening on the 29th. A bit odd if you ask me, given they’ve kept trading while the renovation’s happened.
Maybe they’ll get the local member of parliament to attend. Whoever that is by then.
I’d been wondering how they were going to swap the very-high-up Safeway sign for a Woolworths sign. With a very big crane, that’s how. They did it yesterday.
Many of the other Safeway signs have already disappeared.
I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to get used to calling it Woolworths.