Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm as mad as hell ...

The fact that the state controls the sale of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania is a bad deal, in and of itself. It's a highly annoying inconvenience that, unlike in other states, when I go grocery shopping here, I can't simply pick up a bottle of wine to go with my dinner. I have to make a side trip to the state store, where I have the "privilege" of availing myself of a woefully inadequate selection of wines and spirits, providing I don't get there too early in the morning or too late in the evening. And that's at the "good" store in Washington. The ones on South Main Street and Jefferson Avenue border on worthless. Their selections are pitiful, as are their hours of operation. Of course, with a free-market system, liquor stores, if they wanted to be successful, would stock their shelves and set their hours to be of the most benefit to their customers. The Liquor Control Board has no such incentive. They have no competition. And with some of our lawmakers determined to protect the union jobs at the state stores, and others equally determined to keep "demon rum" in check, I'm afraid this stupid, archaic system will exist long after I'm residing on the wrong side of the grass, so I've tried my best to make do with a bad situation. However, I am no longer going to let them add insult to injury by demanding my zip code every time I make a purchase. You see, the LCB has deemed the state store behind the Washington Mall a "border store," with extended hours and other supposed perks. Hence, they want to know where the store's customers are coming from, and so the clerks ask for your zip code every time you make a purchase. Well, that's not really my concern, and I told that, nicely, to the clerk who waited on me the other day. She noted that the clerks are just as tired of asking for our zip codes as we are of being asked. I understand that. Like the Gestapo in World War II, they're just following orders. But that doesn't mean I have to answer, or give a correct answer. So when I was asked for my zip code the other day, I replied, "56789." The clerk gave me a sour look and punched in something, probably not 56789. That's going to be my personal non-zip-code zip code from here on in, and I urge each of you to make up your own special code for our friends at the LCB.



Blogger Scott Beveridge said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

March 9, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Brant, what is the target of your anger? You raise two points in your post. The first is the state-run liquor store system, and the second target is the requesting of a zip code to buy product.

On the first point, I would agree the state needs to get out of the business of selling liquor. This model is far from free enterprise that proliferates the rest of the retailing marketplace. However, I would also say that the issue is too trivial to be mad about. There are too many other wrong things and injustice matters that warrant being the target of anger. So, perhaps the target of your anger is the second point of zip codes.

On this point, I agree as well -- your zip code is none of their business. The state-run liquor stores use a practice that is used with other retailers as well (e.g. Lowes?). I assume they are attempting to understand the demographic of their buyers. Such information is undoubtedly helpful for marketing efforts, what products to keep in inventory, and other reasons to operate a retail establishment efficiently. However worthy their intentions might be, I don't like the practice at any level.

Having said that, the use of store discount cards (e.g. Giant Eagle Advantage card) provides the retailer with not only where you live, but your buying habits. These practices are far more intrusive than merely a zip code. No, I don't buy anything that I would mind others knowing about, but I often wonder about the "slippery slope" syndrome with these practices. I am sure that I don't understand ways for which the data could be used. Most likely, the information is already being used in ways that I don't even know about.

I am afraid many others know much about us that we don't even know about. Not to politicize the matter, but this stuff is more dangerous than all the talk surrrounding surveilance legislation. Maybe I'm ignorant and naive.

March 10, 2008 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Roger, thanks again for commenting on the blog. Your participation is appreciated. I agree with you that the state-run liquor system is far from the most pressing issue facing our country, but it still hacks me off. As for zip codes, I guess what bothers me is that it's just an annoyance that has no apparent benefit for the customer. At least with the Advantage Cards, Giant Eagle tailors coupons in response to my purchases, and it also allows me to save a little bit on my gasoline purchases, and in that regard, every little bit helps these days.

March 10, 2008 at 11:08 AM  

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