Saturday, 5 July 2014

Money for old rope

Every time I get petrol, or buy a sandwich, I get asked for my Nectar card. I vaguely know what that is, but not precisely, and I was wondering.

Yesterday, a lady at a service station pressed a Nectar Points card and leaflet into my hand, so I decided to find out.

First, I set up an email account with AOL, under the name of Mr Nectar Points. I gave my date of birth as 01/01/1911, and made up any other details they wanted.

Then using this email address, I signed up for Nectar Points. Their signup asked me for a street address (I made one up) but for most of the questions I chose "I decline to answer".  And I gave my new AOL address. This means that if I start getting spam to that address from other people, I'll know the source. The other details I gave were the same as for the AOL address.

By the way, when someone asks for your "mother's maiden name" on such a form, don't give it. They don't really want it. What they want, is another password that can be used in case you forget your real password. So you say "I forgot my password", they say "What's your mother's maiden name", You say "Robinson" and they say, "Well, that certainly proves that you are who you say you are, here's your password". You can see why this is a daft idea - if someone finds out your mother's maiden name (which isn't usually  big secret) they can access the things that you used that on. What I do, is I make up a word, and give them that. Then I write it down, the same way I write down the password and other details.

Banks use a similarly useless scheme. They ask me to prove who I am when I phone up, by asking for my account number and sort code. In vain do I point out that this information is on every cheque that I send, and is not a secret that other people cannot penetrate.

The scheme is very like Green Shield Stamps, if you remember that far back. In effect, it's a discount of 1/2p per pound you spend. That gives them a way to track what you buy; they'll discover that I buy a sandwich on a few days per week, and lots of petrol. It'll be interesting to see what emails they send me.

They wanted a phone number - no way!

To spend this discount, I can convert Nectar Points to Ebay Vouvhers, at the rate of £2.50 for 500 points. Since I buy lots of stuff on Ebay, that's probably what I'll do. Or I can just get the amount taken off my next purchase at Tesco.

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