Like so many other businesses, the coffee/pastry chain Panera Bread has launched a rewards card program. I was given the card a week or so ago and was told I needed to register it online. When I went to the website there was a form requesting a whole slew of personal info: address, phone numbers, email, etc. I thought about all the other businesses that have collected the same info over the years, who have then sold that data to yet other unknown people, and so on. Taking a bold stand for privacy, I decided not to fill out the registration form. There used to be a little card that they gave you at Panera. It would be stamped each time you bought something there and when you had 10 stamps you got a free pastry. No personal info exchanged. Apparently this kind of system is not good enough anymore. Panera needs my phone number! Today when I went there to buy a coffee and pastry the cashier asked me if I had a rewards card. I said I hadn’t registered it. She told me I could have gotten a free pastry if I had the card. So… should I sell my privacy for a pastry? Maybe I should just pay for the pastry.
I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.View all of mannd's posts.