Why do I have to give up my email address in order to get discounts?


This weekend, I went shopping at random stores around the city where I live. For you see, my wife purchased a book of coupons and we decided to use some of them. We flipped through the book looking for ones we might like and found a few to stores we had never been to, nor would ever go to had we not purchased the coupon book.

We went down to a specialty coffee store and browsed around. We found a couple of coffees we might like to try. Good thing we had a discount because they cost roughly double what we normally buy at Trader Joe’s.

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When we went to pay, the staff hadn’t seen the coupons before and then look them up. After confirming it was okay to use their own coupons they informed us we needed to supply an email address.

Normally, both me and my wife decline to provide an email address at any retailer. I don’t want your email notices, I just want the merchandise I can currently trying to acquire. But, this retailer informed us that “we needed to supply an email address in order to use the coupon.” My wife begrudgingly handed it over.

Why should I have to do that? Why do I need to give out an email address at all?

I just got an email from Home Depot today telling me my email address was leaked during their most recent hack this past September. Doing the math in my head, this means that I can expect more spam and probably a bunch of customized phishing attempts (i.e., some phisher impersonating Home Depot telling me that I have to take a particular action in response to the breach) going forward.

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And this irks me about giving up my email address. Not only do I not want to give it out because I don’t want to sign up for advertisements from the retailer, I don’t entirely trust them to keep it secure, either. I feel like handing it over is akin to opening my front door and hoping flies and other insects stay outdoors.

I didn’t think fast enough at the time, but next time I have to hand over an email address maybe I should do one of the following:

  1. Claim I don’t have an email address

  2. Give a fake email address to domain that doesn’t resolve

  3. Give an email address to a known spam trap

  4. Give an email address that says “do_not_email_me_I_am_only_giving_this_because_I_have_to@example.com

This probably wouldn’t solve any problems or change anyone’s behavior, but it would certainly make me feel better.

Comments (5)

  1. Adwait says:

    Or give one that resolves but goes into the black hole. One such domain is mailnator.com, so any emails sent to xxx@mailnator.com will not bounce, neither will you get it 🙂

  2. tzink says:

    Thanks Adwait. I will do that next time.

  3. Vivek says:

    For latest update or information by that you keep in touch need email address.

  4. Gary says:

    Umm - why do you think they are giving you a discount?  For the same reason that supermarket loyalty cards give you money back on gas - it's because of the value of your personal information!  Knowing what you buy, where you buy it and having a way to put more offers in front of you is PRICELESS - it's called profiling and it's big business.  So you're getting the company to pay half the cost of your coffee in return for your marketing information - it's that simple.  If you don't want to give them your email address, pay full price for your coffee!

  5. Wallpapers says:

    I always decline to provide my email address at any retailer because I believe that my email address is personal.

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