Never underestimate the power of a lie: “I don’t have a phone.”
Like most people on this subreddit, I've been asked many times over when at a retail store to join their loyalty program because I get "free" stuff out of it. Normally I just say, something along the lines of "I'm good" before given them a fake name to write on the coffee and handing over cash for the coffee, and they'd be fine about it. They got their money and they don't know who I really am. Win-win.
So this brings me to yesterday while going to that same coffee shop, which just so happens to have a store front in the University I attend in addition to thousands more across the country I live in.
I'll call the cashier PB for "Persistent Bitch."
I want to set the stage just to know how inconvenient she was, not just for me, but for the full line up of people behind me. It was about five minutes before I had a lecture, just like a lot of the other people behind me. I went up, I knew what I wanted already so that I wouldn't waste their time, my time, and the time of those behind me.
PB asked "Can I get your name?"
I gave back a name. Lets just say for discussion it's Elliot.
"Okay Elliot, that'll be <price of coffee>," assuming that I'm going to pay with card. They had started the transaction of the POS machine. As I mentioned, I knew what I wanted, what size, and as a result, how much I needed for it, so I had the cash in my hand inside of my jumper pocket.
I handed the cash over to PB and she immediately said to me "Oh, you still pay with cash?"
"I do," I replied.
"Why? Don't you have a card that you can use?"
I'll skip some dialogue here, but I gave them a brief run down of I do have a card that I use to withdraw money out of, but that's really it. They inquired about why I live in a "prehistoric times," and I responded with it allows me to control my spending more—a completely valid reason as to why, but not the complete story. I didn't want to come across as a paranoid fuck, so I intentionally stayed away from the privacy benefits of using cash. That was "hurdle number 1."
After that, PB just said "Okay" and took the cash.
Now to relate this story to the actual title of this post and the introductory paragraph: Where PB tries to recruit me into the store's loyalty program.
After I handed the cash over, I was asked to present my loyalty card. When I said that I didn't have one, PB really lived up to the title I gave them before stating "No problem, let's get you signed up." They were serious. They asked me the following: 1. a full name; 2. a valid email address; 3. a real phone number that they can text a verification code. I sure as shit wasn't going to give them any of that—particularly when I had expressed zero interest in signing up to their botnet.
They then went onto the benefits, somethings that I cut short easily for reasons you see shortly.
PB then said "Once you download the <coffee shop's name> app Elliot, you'll get 2 free coffee's on us." Two things stuck out to me in that sentence, 1. the app; and 2. "on us." Nothing is ever truly free. And as they wording goes "If you aren't paying for it, you are the product."
To cut that conversation short so that I can, you know, actually get the coffee that I had spent five minutes trying to get past PB with for the privilege of taking to my lecture, I stated that "I don't have a phone."
PB's eyes shot wide and their mouth dropped to the floor.
After a few seconds, PB just stated "Oh." Shortly there after, PB continued with "How do you live without a phone Elliot?"
To which I replied with "The same way people lived without smartphones 30 years ago." I then exited the queue after spending way too much time mangling with PB just from trying to order a fucking coffee.
That whole story about me not having a phone is a lie. I do own a smartphone, which currently happens to be an iPhone 6, but it just so happens to be in my Mission Darkness 15L faraday tote bag with my laptop 90% of the time while not in use.
Going through that whole interaction really was an eye opener for just how dystopic the future outlook is. I've said this before in comments on this subreddit, but I seriously believe that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. And for me, it's only more reason to practice OPSEC, and it also served as a reminder as to why I spend all the time, money, and energy I do on the tools I use and the services I pay for.