Blake’s Advice Column
Is there a polite way to refuse giving store clerks personal information? It seems like every time I shop, the clerks demand email, phone number, and even sometimes my birthdate and SSN, and they get testy when I say I just want to complete my purchase. I find it so intrusive that I’m tempted to leave the items on the counter and walk out. Please advise.
From Little Rock, Arkansas
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There is a countless number of people with the same mindset, that are equally uncomfortable giving personal info to a clerk after making a simple purchase. The only thing I can think of, is for you to make the clerk more uncomfortable than you are. When they ask for your name, give them one that’s bogus. For example, tell them that your name is Iron Man. And when the clerk appears to not believe you, tell them that you don’t appreciate your honesty being questioned, and then storm out of the store with your items, without paying for them. Or, every time they ask you a personal question, you ask them one. If they ask for your phone number, ask them if their parents has always been faithful to each other. If the clerk answers, make the next question even more personal. This might also work. Pretend you are deaf, and answer them in made up hand signs, while repeatedly using the one that suggests that the clerk is crazy. But the best way to stop them in their tracks, is by telling them that you’re in the Mafia, and knowing too much about you can cost them their life. And to enhance the illusion, take a picture of them with your cell phone, and tell them that they will be the subject in a discussion you’ll be having with some of your “business associates” later that day at an Italian restaurant. I hope this helps.