I know this has been going on for a long time, but I generally shop for everything (except food) on-line. So I haven't had to deal with it for several years. I was just at Office Max looking for whiteboard on which I could draw diagrams (figures for my book). I found one I liked and headed to the register to pay for it.

The checkout guy asked "Can I have your zip code?"

What the fuck is with retail establishments asking for my zip code? I know why they want it, but it bugs the hell out of me. How much of their work do they expect me to do?

"No," I said, "you can not have my zip code. Can I have your home address?"

He wasn't happy. But I don't care. He insulted me, so he deserves it.

Posted by jzawodn at October 20, 2002 08:37 PM

Reader Comments
# Dan de Isaacs said:

And *I'm* the asshole? :P

I just tell these people "No, you may not." and be done with it. If I'm feeling saucy, I'll instead ask them why they want it, and take the chance to explain why I don't like to be marketed to.

Kristi really hates shopping with me sometimes.

on October 21, 2002 07:45 AM
# Adam Kalsey said:

I'd rather give bad data than no data for the "marketing surveys," so I tell stores my zip code is 10001. I'm in California and that zip code is in New York, so it's utterly useless information for the marketing databases.

Recently, I've noticed a more disturbing trend. I've been asked for my phone number twice in the last week. When I ask why they want it, I'm told it's just a survey.

on October 21, 2002 09:43 AM
# kasia said:

Asking for a phone number is rampant in the northeast.. most stores do that now.. I just say 'unlisted'.

on October 21, 2002 10:04 AM
# Jim O'Halloran said:

Most annoying are the US web sites which require address information as part of the registration process, but validate the City and Zip code against a list of US places... A major pain for anyone who doesn't actually have a US address... I usually end up using "Beverly Hills 90210" :)

on October 21, 2002 04:28 PM
# netflix said:

Good find here. Just downloaded and will give a go... thanks from a Movabletyper.

on September 11, 2003 09:45 AM
# reinhard said:

it`s just the same in germany ...

on September 15, 2003 01:23 PM
# dvd said:

I'm still buolding my blog, I like yours

on November 7, 2003 06:58 PM
# Templates said:

I like your blog too. Don't give em the zip! ;)

on November 10, 2003 09:18 PM
# loosecannon said:

Toys-R-Us,Radio Shack, Sports Authority Just to list a few who do something like this.Soon they will be keeping a log of your tag number from your car as it enters and/or leaves from parking lot cameras which are already their. What to do!

on February 3, 2005 07:22 AM
# chelsea said:

the only reason stores ask you for your zip code is because they want to see how many people shop from different areas than the stores. with the information, they then distribute sales adds and flyers to those areas so if u live there you can get these fliers too. it really is not a big deal, jsut say your 5 numbers. they cant get any of your information just by your zip code. and please, its dumb to be rude to the cashier. it is not their fault, is the head of the company who is asking us to do it. just politely say no i dont want to give it out and dont make it into a big deal.

on May 15, 2005 11:46 AM
# anonymous said:

Just say 90210. Makes the cashier laugh anyways.

on April 22, 2006 09:53 AM
# loosecannon said:

Chelsey, the zip code is fine.I think that is a good marketing tool for stores to ask.My point in the previous comment by me was that Toys-R-Us,Radio Shack and Sports Authority ask for your phone number.Thats just wrong.Tell these Big companies that zip codes work probably better than personal numbers for marketing anyway.Maybe their policies have changed being that the posting is over a year old. peace

on October 20, 2006 09:27 PM
# Joe said:

Found this using Google, and wow, if I don't have to tell them my ZIP codes guess I won't/ I'm not a big fan of giving away my info anyways

on February 23, 2007 06:57 PM
# Ken said:

I usually give 90210 as the zip (or the stores own zip, depending on my mood).

For phone, I give them 8675309. As long as you don't say each number individually, they never catch that you gave them a bogus number. 8-6-7-53-oh-9. I used to give them a ISP access number so they'd get a nice modem tone if they called it, but this one is much easier to remember.

on May 1, 2007 12:13 PM
# said:

I am so sick of people who shop and can't put themselves in other peoples' shoes - YOU HAVE A JOB, QUIT BADGERING AN INNOCENT PERSON ... AT THEIR JJOOOOBBB!!! ITS NOT THEIR FAULT. THINK PEOPLE.

on May 8, 2007 08:27 PM
# Ken said:

To the annonymous capital using person -
1) Of course you shouldn't be rude, even when someone is rude its usually better to be polite back to them -- although none of us are perfect and if you're rude to us on a bad day you'll probably get treated rude right back.

2) YES, it is the cashiers fault. (And also everyone up the food chain as well) It IS rude to ask people to give up their private information (phone number, etc) for purposes that aren't to their benefit and aren't disclosed. If they were honest and said "May I have your phone number so that our company and people we sell your information to can use it to track your purchase today and telemarket to you with products we think you might buy" - That would be honest, but of course very few people would say yes.

If you are doing your "JJOOOOBB" and that involves being rude to people your options are: (a) quit (b) refuse to be rude and risk being fired, and (c) be rude and accept that some percentage of the people don't agree with #1 above and will be rude back to you.

on May 19, 2007 10:50 PM
# zip code map said:

I would recommend http://www.zipcodesmapped.com/ for any US zip code map.
You can use this to find any US zip code maps. You can search by (City, State OR Zip). they have all the maps showing zip codes and major mile streets in all of the united states. The service is free. Search for five Digit Zip Code and find the Maps for all 50 states. A Free ZIP Code Finder which can do wonders for you.

on January 9, 2008 12:59 AM
# said:

Stores ask you for your zip code for marketing reasons. They also use zip codes to determine where they may want to open a new location. So if you're shopping at a store that's 30 miles away from your home and you give them your zip code, you're helping to bring a store closer to where you live.

on March 25, 2008 07:35 AM
# Bateman said:

"By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself.

Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root.

I don't know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there's no rationalization for what you do, and you are Satan's little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You're the ruiner of all things good.

Seriously, no, this is not a joke. 'There's gonna be a joke coming...' There's no fucking joke coming, you are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it's the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.

-Bill Hicks-

on May 11, 2008 09:57 AM
# jim said:

Many stores request your zip code and then match your name, zip code, and possibly even your credit card number (or a portion of it) to reverse search your home address. It is actually quite effective, and it provides retailers with your household income, value of home, and other information. For a few dollars you can try it out at one of the online services. The retailers use even more sophisticated vendors and software. We believe it is unlawful to do this in California and have litigated a number of cases on behalf of consumers. If they want your address, they should request it directly and in a lawful manner.

Jim Patterson

on February 9, 2009 10:01 PM
# Angela said:

Well one reason they may be asking is because of the sales tax code. The state I live in requires most businesses that collect sales tax (there are a few exceptions)to tax sales tax according to the location of the customer. So say if one town increases its local sales tax that customer will pay more taxes then someone shopping from the next town over. I know about this because I own a small business and have to ask the zip code and town of my customers so that I know what tax rate to tax them. There are several states that do the sales tax code this way.

on May 26, 2009 09:13 AM
# Tiffany C said:

Umm...hello? You do most of your shopping online? You have to give your address (including zip code) when you place an online order, so what do you think they are doing with it in that case? I understand your irritation, but I don't see how this is much different.

on October 7, 2009 04:17 PM
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