I feel inSPYred! Let’s drink!

There was a time when I felt it would probably be a good idea if we let our local liquor store clerk know we were going on vacation; you know: so he wouldn’t worry.

This is what happens when you live in a one-hooch town, where there’s only a single SAQ outlet to buy your wine and booze unless you cross municipal boundaries or state lines. Beer is different. You can buy a case at the dépanneur, then mix it up with a two-four from the grocery store, maybe another dépanneur across town, the gas station, and then start the cycle all over again. In a small town, this is known as “fooling no one.”

Eventually you have to load up your trunk with all those empties and schlep them to the grocery store to get your deposit back, and then the jig is up – the Shamefaced Redemption, if you will.

If you’re a frequent flyer of your town’s one liquor store, on the other hand, there’s no place to hide. The most you can hope is that the clerk on Saturday is different from the one on Wednesday, because, yes, you care about your booze-jockey judging you on your alcohol consumption, and don’t pretend you don’t.

She knows too much. She probably remembers more about what you drank on the weekend than you do. (“It was red, there was French on the bottle. ‘Chateau Choufleur’ or something. And a wheelbarrow filled with sponges? That can’t be right… It went well with grilled meats but not very well with Doritos, believe me.”) The clerk knows your tastes, and she knows that if she keeps Tequila Rose liqueur in stock there will be at least one soon-to-be-sick bastard who’ll take it off her hands.

Thankfully, most SAQ clerks are nothing but discrete. Most. One Saturday afternoon a few years back, as I left the store with four bottles of wine (or maybe it was five, who can remember?), the clerk called out, “If you run out, we close at 5:30.” The audacity! He’s lucky we didn’t complain. Or run out.

It’s one thing for your local clerk to know (and secretly judge) your drinking habits. But last week I learned that the state is now snooping in my liquor cabinet.

inspireQuebec’s SAQ has introduced the snazzy “Inspire” card. On the logo, the second “i” is upside-down, because, obviously, it’s drunk. The Société describes the program as “a new personalized experience that evolves along with your preferences and enhances your discoveries.” I’ll get recipes and recommendations and notices of specials and… aww, who am I kidding? I buy booze, I get points.

I now have a snazzy card in my wallet that I get to whip out with a flourish at the SAQ clerk – we’re best buds! For every $1 purchase, I get five points; 1000 points is worth $1 that I can redeem on SAQ products. In other words, for every $200 I spend, I save a lousy buck. At least with my Subway card I get a free six-inch. But did I mention the card was super snazzy?

What does the SAQ get in return? They get to know all about me, my purchases and preferences and probably whether I went back for seconds at the free sample table.

Already, to earn “150 BONUS POINTS” I filled out my “taste profile” online. I led them to believe that I like all types of wine, except port, because that way madness lies. I told them I preferred vodka, rum, gin, tequila and liqueurs but not creams. Alas, I couldn’t tell them why I didn’t like creams; there was no field where I could write “because of a traumatic curdling incident as a child.” I also said I prefer scotch, brandy and eau-de-vie, even though I had to look up what the heck that was.

I continued lying as I filled out a survey and said that I liked wine oh-so-much, like 10 out of 10, that I was perfectly fine drinking wine alone and that I bought 22 bottles from the SAQ a week, plus multiple purchases at bars and drinks with friends, which is just like drinking alone if you have your cell phone.

What will the state do with this falsified information? It’s all confidential, the SAQ reassures me. Sure. And if the cops pull me over next week for a random breathalyzer test, it will be purely a coincidence.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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35 Responses to I feel inSPYred! Let’s drink!

  1. List of X says:

    If the cops do pull you over, make sure you show them the driver’s license and not this card. Although, you should check whether you get points for a drunk driving arrest, too, because it also involves a survey of what you had been drinking.

  2. Ned's Blog says:

    It’s a one-liquor-horse town here, too, so I try to mix things up and keep the clerk guessing by just buying ice sometimes. I’m sure it’s just a coicidence that she started keeping a bottle of Grey Goose with my name on it in the freezer.

  3. franhunne4u says:

    It could be worse, they could HIDE your favourite drink of choice every time you are seen in town.

  4. markbialczak says:

    We have many liquor stores around my city, but I stick to the one thats cuts a 20 percent discount when I buy my wine by the 10s. Alas, I usually have the bottle kicked by 9:30, and then I’m feeling inspired, Ross. No. Then I’m sleeping on the recliner.

  5. ksbeth says:

    so funny. only one’s ob/gyn knows more.

  6. Ahdad says:

    Me likey wine too (hic)…much.

  7. Paul says:

    Yikes! I despise those benefit cards. We studied them in B-school and they chill me to the bone. For instance when (not “if”) someone – not the company- gets the info it contains not only purchases, but purchase info including time of day. So, if you are buying your wine at 5 pm everyday, thieves will feel free to enter your home and help themselves because they know where you are. Companies will swear up and down that they do not sell info and yet if you read their privacy policy carefully, you will realize that every single one has a clause that says they will from time to time share information with contractors or associated companies. So, for instance, SAQ would not do their own mailers – a typical use of personal info – but would contract that out – giving your info to the printers and designers of the mailers. They in turn have no qualms about using and selling the info and yet SAQ gets to technically keep their promise – even though they may actually get a discount in order for the mailers to get the info. It is a huge game and you can rest assured that the SAQ and others who use these cards, get more benefit from their use than the customers do.

    These things are the devil’s spawn – promising great benefits which they pay for by selling the info. They also permit what is called “basket tracking”. Walmart uses this always and they are insidious in their application of the data. So for instance., say you go to Walmart and buy some sports socks. You wife is with you and she throws some feminine hygiene products into the cart. Walmart knows who you are if you use a debit or credit card or customer benefit card. They then look at every item in your “basket” and compare it to others. If it turns out that most men buy sports socks when their women by personal hygiene products, they will cross merchandise those products by placing them together in displays and by running coupons so that if you buy your socks she gets her purchases discounted. Which may seem like a deal but remember that it means that you can only now get the best price on your socks when your wife participates in the purchasing – a forced relationship driven by data and pricing. Bastards. I think I’ll have a glass of wine. 😀

    • rossmurray1 says:

      We’re all drones, aren’t we.
      I just finished reading Cloud Atlas, which has a science-fiction-y section in which government is now a consumerocracy or something like that. You’re allotted a lot of money each year, the catch being you have to, by law, spend it all. Getting there…

      • Paul says:

        Interesting – I haven’t read that particular book, but I’ve seen the concept. Love that word “consumerocracy” – closer to the truth than we would like to admit. The recent US Supreme Court ruling ( a few years ago) stipulating that businesses are “individuals” and deserve the same rights as a person, is nuts. Anyway, one of my soap box issues. Have a glass of whiskey. |_| 😀

      • Karen says:

        What did you think of the novel?

        In other news, I have a friend who is from Texas (natch) and believes customer loyalty cards are the devil, and he’s only half-joking. I have to roll my eyes. “They just want to sell you more laundry detergent. They’re not trying to repeal the Bill of Rights!” (or whatever he’s afraid of, but insists he’s joking about, but he really is afraid of it).

        The thing about corporations is that their motives are always transparent–they want to sell more widgets. In that way they are much more honest than people, who spend a lot of time and energy concealing their motives. And drinking wine.

        There is no nefarious plot behind Walmart (or Amazon) tracking our purchases: they want to sell more stuff to you. I, for one, am happy to let Walmart know I prefer Always sanitary napkins, if that means I’ll get a coupon. And if Walmart decides to sell that bit of information, I’m not too worried about what will happen it falls into the wrong hands (like, say, Kotex).

        • rossmurray1 says:

          I quite liked Cloud Atlas, even if I’m still trying to figure it all out. Mark of a good book if I’m still thinking about it. If you know it, there are separate strands of stories, each supposedly written in a different time, style, which is an impressive literary feat. While it’s sometimes considered a “difficult” book, it’s not tough reading at all. Kind of like enjoying a beautiful song without understanding the lyrics. That said, I know some people hate it.
          Re our corporate souls: the power rests with us if we know what’s up. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s just ignorance.

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I absolutely loved that book. So did Dawn. I might reread it one day.
        I get the tone of this, that redemption thing, that showing up with the empties. Kind of like tracks on the inside of your arms, but that’s dark I know.
        Here in Germany they’ll have a look inside your recycling bin and talk about it in the town, so we have to be kind of slick about how we disperse the empties. There’s nowhere to run or hide, really. Bye for now.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          I remember when curbside recycling came to Montreal. One of the alternative weeklies went around inspecting the bins of mayors, councillors, etc. If I recall, it was seen as beyond the pale and they stopped doing it. Or they became bored. Who knows.

  8. gavinkeenan says:

    If this was in the states, your consumption info would be sold to your health, auto, home and life insurance companies, resulting in huge premium increases based on your wastrel ways. Stay north of the border, my friend.

  9. Ha! 🙂 Feel inspired to throw that card in the garbage – it isn’t compulsory, is it? – then have some wine. 🙂

    I just moved to the Okanagan. Anyone tracking my drinking might feel inspired to feed me to Okopogo.

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  11. We used to buy our beer at the same liquor store all the time in Milwaukee, and we knew John, one of the cashiers, quite well since…ahem, we drink a fair amount of beer. I still feel bad for not seeing him before we moved to say goodbye. John was a cool cat.

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