How to say “no” when asked for your contact information by a store clerk

These days, it’s almost impossible to go shopping without giving up your email address. We’re here to help. (Image source.)

These days, it’s almost impossible to go shopping without giving up your phone number or email address. With efforts to eliminate contact during COVID-19, this usually involves having to call them out to the hearing of everyone in the store. We know that it can be difficult to refuse in the polite Canadian climate, so we’re here to help with that.

On June 9, 2020, the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association released their Presentation to the Special Committee to Review The Personal Information Protection Act. One of the points made in this presentation is that between 2018 and 2019, only 38% of Canadians feel that businesses in general respect their privacy rights. [1] When we at Digital Tattoo heard this, we weren’t too surprised. After all, it’s tough to believe that any business respects your privacy when you can’t buy a t-shirt without being hounded for your email address (and then receiving thirteen follow-up emails). 

Of course, the staff of these stores don’t actually care about your email address. They’re made to ask by their managers, who make them ask because of corporate policies. Still, being faced with this question is a great opportunity to have a little fun. With this in mind, we humbly present this list of ways to respond when you are asked for your contact details by staff in a store. 

  1. “What’s an email address?” Insist that you have literally never heard of this term. Ask if you’re being “Punk’d.”
  2. Give the HR email address for the store you’re shopping at. Also, look up the HR email address before approaching the cash register, because you won’t have time in the moment to pull your phone out to find it.
  3. Tell them that you’re a method actor trying out a new character, so would they mind taking your fictional character’s fictional phone number or email address instead? It would just be so good for your process.
  4. Flash a badge and say it’s classified. (Note: for this you will need to DIY some sort of official-looking badge and carry it with you at all times)
  5. Advise them that you’re happy to have your email address added to their email list if they’ll give you theirs, to add to your Flat Earther email blasts.
  6. “Are you looking for a pen pal? Mine just dumped me because I kept sending him pictures of Jeff Goldblum.”
  7. Say “Wouldn’t you like to know?” with a knowing smile. When they confirm that yes, they do want to know,  just repeat, “I bet you would” until they give up.
  8. If they say that taking your contact information will make returns or exchanges easier, tell them you don’t want them to be easy because you believe in living with your mistakes.
  9. “No need! You can just as easily summon me by saying my name three times into a mirror.”
  10. Laugh disbelievingly and say, “I keep forgetting emails existed in 2020. The past sure is wild.” (This one works best if you’re wearing a shiny silver suit, so just to be safe, always wear a shiny silver suit from now on.)

And two real answers, for good measure.

  1. “I am not comfortable with giving out my contact information and would prefer you not ask again.”
  2. “I don’t like saying my email address (or phone number) aloud, where others could hear me say it. It’s really easy to end up with a hacked account that way.”

We’d love to hear what other ideas you have for saying “no” when you’re asked for your contact information? Where do you draw the line at information you’re comfortable sharing and not? Let us know in the comments.

[1] 2018-19 Survey of Canadians on Privacy | Officer of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Written by Samantha Summers

Edited by Eseohe Ojo

Featured Image found on Piqsels, used with CC0 licensing

2 responses to “How to say “no” when asked for your contact information by a store clerk”

  1. Pamela Hines

    I had the same experience buying a (badly needed) purse for myself at Spring in September. I’m really picky about my bags and also on a budget, so I didn’t want to refuse the sale. I was really surprised when the cashier told me that e-mail was MANDATORY, so when I got home I wrote in to their customer service. (I doubt it will make a difference but maybe if enough people complain… who knows).

  2. Anna Jackson

    I have found tremedous info in your article which I need actually. Thanks for publishing this kind of valuable article.

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