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Thread: Home Shopping Purchases Monitors

  1. #1

    Default Home Shopping Purchases Monitors

    Did anyone have a shopping purchases monitor in the 90s and maybe even today? We had one around 1990 up to about the mid 2000s. It was basically a bar code scanner that attached to a phone outlet and you scanned the bar code of every purchase you made. If it didn't have a bar code there was a book with hundreds of bar codes to get as close to the item as possible. Once everything was scanned, the scanner would send the information to the company via the telephone line in the middle of the night. In exchange, you got so many points each month and there were various bonuses to get more points, and they could be exchanged for items in a catalogue, kind of how the old Green Shield stamps used to work, only your items would arrive by post. I think we got a video recorder, sewing machine and other things out of it. I remember the company paid for us to have a 2nd telephone point installed for the bar code scanner. I don't know if such companies are still around anymore that use that kind of thing.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Home Shopping Purchases Monitors

    Was it connected to QVC (which I think was the only shopping channel available in Britain in the early 1990s)? I am certain that they were trying to bring the experience of shopping in a shop to the living room sofa - I am certain that the shopping channels that we still have are the closest that have to that these days. It does sound like the Internet in a different form when it comes to online shopping back then.

    The mention of barcodes reminded me of the early 1990s when some VCRs such as Amstrad had a barcode scanner (similar to the ones that checkout operators have in shops) so that you could record programmes - the Daily Mail I think had a page of barcodes so that one could timer record films from Sky Movie channels - there must have been some deal with the paper and the VCR manufacturer. It was the forerunner to Videoplus+ which was a lot more successful and went on for years, mostly because it was a straightforward tapping the relevant number into the handset as if you were making a telephone call. Some comedian made a joke about this and said that he recorded a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk! I didn't have one of those VCRs and my family didn't read the Daily Mail at the time either!
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

  3. #3

    Default Re: Home Shopping Purchases Monitors

    No, nothing to do with QVC. This was a scanner that you used on anything at all that you bought, whether from Tesco, Asda, a newsagent, Currys, Argos etc. I am sure it was to analyze shopping data, and the results were used by various companies. I am sure it was all anonymous, so our shopping habits could not be linked to us. There must have been thousands of them up and down the country to make the data analysis worth while for the companies that used it. Wish I could remember the name of the company that ran it all, but it definitely wasn't anything to do with QVC etc.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Home Shopping Purchases Monitors

    Tesco is a bit like that these days when it comes to the Clubcard - they can monitor people's shopping habits as to what brand of bread people buy, or whether they like the Value or Finest range. I don't mind this at all to a degree - it's great that they realise that I prefer Pepsi and not Coca Cola, and Warburtons bread instead of Hovis. However, I read this book where it mentioned that there was a bit controversy a few years back when this sort of thing extended to what car you drive, how much you earn, whether the area you live in is a high crime area, whether you voted Conservative at the last election, and even whether you were cautioned in 1978 for dropping a Walker's Crisps packet on the pavement, etc, and people thought that it was breaching the Data Protection Act 1998 as a result which to some thought that this was out of bounds to a supermarket - I believe that TV Licensing also does this to a degree when they make sure that households have a licence to watch television. I also believe that this also has connections with the products being advertised on TV, in which ITV and other commercial broadcasters get their revenue. The scanner was a bit like that, I assume? - it gets used to you buying the same item each time and keeps the choice for next time, almost like my Tesco online shop in a way! And we thought that modern technology was on our side.

    That reminded me of the leaflets that used to come inside magazines in the early to mid 1990s, which were questionnaires, asking the public which supermarket they shopped at, which newspaper they read, what brand of tea they drunk and all that. I believe that they would have posted vouchers and coupons which were relevant to the products that you selected in the survey, or perhaps entered you into a competition to win a car or something. It was in the early 1990s when business and market research were fascinated in the consumer, mostly the stereotypical Nescafe drinking housewife or mother with a new baby or something who could do with a year's supply of nappies and baby food if she had a chance to win. I bet that some had sent them back and wrote "mind you own 'something' business" on them!
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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