Stick It to Safeway

June 1st, 2003

Don't Let Safeway Abuse YouStop using your Safeway Club Card. Use mine instead.

Safeway is one of those monstrous inescapable inhuman supermarket chains that saturates a regional market, peddling overpriced Frankenfood and driving smaller local merchants out of business.

One of Safeway’s more deceptive tactics is to raise overall prices while providing slightly lower prices to those consumers who agree to use a “Safeway Club Card.”

Safeway expects you to divulge a home address, a birth date and a bunch of other information in return for a card. If you want to avoid paying the highest prices you’re supposed to present that card every time you shop at Safeway, so the company can monitor and store your whereabouts and your purchase patterns.

In short: Safeway uses deception to extract an ongoing stream of private and personal information from shoppers, while providing nothing but smoke in return. Safeway marketing drones disguise this swindle as a selling point, as a humanitarian service that Safeway provides to the public out of kindness.

Don’t accept this abuse. Jam Safeway’s customer surveillance system.

One way to do this: throw out your card and use mine instead. Safeway doesn’t demand that you slide your card through the scanner; instead you can just enter your Club Card number (which is the same as your telephone number) at checkout. So write down my card number, and the next time you go to Safeway, type it in at checkout: 408-354-0579.

Tell your friends to do the same. That will hopelessly jumble together our purchase data and restore a bit of our privacy. Choke on that, fascist Safeway wonks.

sfway-cares.gifWhat if you don’t live in Safeway’s shadow? Then join forces with your friends; use this strategy to protect your privacy from whatever giant card-wielding supermarket chain dominates your neighborhood.

For more about megacorporate “loyalty card” scams, visit

DISCLAIMER: Safeway occasionally sends piddling discount coupons and the like to cardholders. I’m not doing this as a scheme to get coupons. If I receive more than $5 worth of benefits (coupons that I actually use, or free bottle openers or anything) within six months, I’ll donate that amount of money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you don’t want to use my card number at all, just use your own card with your friends and neighbors.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, someone else is way ahead of me. Rob at not only offers to let you use his Safeway card, he scanned the UPC code from his card and he printed it on stickers. He’ll send a UPC sticker to you so that you can stick it on your own card, effectively making your card a clone of his. NOTE: This isn’t necessary because Safeway will let you just type in your phone number instead of swiping a card. But more power to Rob.

18 Responses to “Stick It to Safeway”

  1. comment number 1 by: Hondo

    All of these places suck. Walmart, BJ’s Wholesale. They’re all driving the small businessman out of business. Then they’ll have Information On All of Us and control all business.

  2. comment number 2 by: Anonymous

    Who says that you need to give real or accurate info to Safeway to get a Club Card?

  3. comment number 3 by:

    Nobody says you need to give real or accurate info for a card. (You’d be foolish to.)

    But you’re overlooking a lot. Regardless of what information you put down, if you’re the only person using the card then you’re giving Safeway an ongoing profile of your whereabouts and your purchases.

    Even if they -don’t- tag the profile with your real name (obtained from one of the credit cards that you use at Safeway), or with images of your face (obtained from in-store cameras), they still have a lot of very personal information about you, information for which they haven’t compensated you. There’s no need to give up this information.


  4. comment number 4 by: Robert Nagle

    Thanks for reminding me about only needing the numbers. I’ll commit your card number to memory. A lot of Houston supermarkets will now start to like you very much. The problem I have with the whole idea is that it they could probably track the same information if we all used pseudonyms instead of giving real contact information.

  5. comment number 5 by: the daily phosdex

    The supermarket I happen to shop at, a Midwestern chain called Hy-Vee, eschews such “loyalty club” schemes in favour of keeping low prices as an article of faith.

    Not to mention their “helpful smile in every aisle.”

  6. comment number 6 by: Mike Krempasky

    Why not come up with a new account with a number that would be easy for everyone to remember?

    Like 212/800/888-723-3929 (last 7 spell safeway)

    For what it’s worth, I already have one at

    703-247-2000, slightly easier to remember.

  7. comment number 7 by: Mike

    The best part: Safeway doesn’t mind.,1294,59589,00.html

  8. comment number 8 by: Robert

    You want to do even better than that?? I participate in, which partners with Safeway and donates money to our local high school when you buy groceries with your club card. I have about six people using my club card phone number right now so we can get a higher percent of our purchases donated. If you want to stick it to Safeway and let them donate even more of your grocery money to a good cause, send me your club card numbers, or use my phone number 707-274-5538.

  9. comment number 9 by: Robert


    Guess I should have given my email with that last posting!! Sorry about that.

  10. comment number 10 by: Brad

    Somebody’s registered (408) 996-1010, which some people will have already memorized.

  11. comment number 11 by: wendy


    Just by using this internet we have given more info to someone than we have to Safeway. Our private info goes EVERYWHERE.

    Sign up for Escrip with any organization that you wish to contribute to – it will do some good for somebody else.

    The info Safeway uses is to help them understand what the hell we want to eat, not to stalk us and steal our credit card numbers.

  12. comment number 12 by: Greenie


    Yeah, sure they just want to know what you eat, but is the world really any better off because Safeway now has better inventory flow managment? No. It just gives them a competitive edge over the next guy. That’s all. It’s not like “loyalty cards” are essential for Safeway to survive. Do I care if Safeway has an edge over the other (little) guy? Again, no.


  13. comment number 13 by: edgar

    i used to wonder more about why they needed all the info, however upon looking in to it, i found out they only really want your name, and your phone number, with the millions of people shopping at safeway, it would be impossible to track any one customer. and furthermore what would be the point. also, canada safeway needs your name so they can do the corney, thank by name promotion, as well as to track refunds. nowadays everybody moves around, and the card name stays under its original owner, BELIEVE ME SAFEWAY, DOES,T CARE ABOUT YOUR INFOMATION, AT LEAST NOT NOW.

  14. comment number 14 by: sean

    Dear Edgar:

    RE: “it would be impossible to track any one customer” — this is simply not true. Tracking one customer, if the customer enters a unique identifier directly into one database each time (s)he makes a purchase, is extremely easy. What would possibly make it difficult or impossible?

    RE: “SAFEWAY, DOES,T CARE ABOUT YOUR INFOMATION” — If Safeway doesn’t “care” about your information, why would they spend millions of dollars on this purchase-tracking system? Why do most of the major corporate grocery-store chains in North America do the same thing? Believe me, this is not a “performance art” piece. They pay big bucks for your information because they care about it. Your information is very valuable to Safeway, they profit from it. Otherwise they wouldn’t gather it.

  15. comment number 15 by: yomp gompers

    my uncle (who works for the ___, says that safeway workers often kidnap little kids and sell their organs to the red chinese bourgeousie. the sick commies, i mean, not the hungry commies. which does bring up the point that chinese folks’ll eat just about anything. they’re a lot like people from louisiana. anyway, safeway keeps a really clean store, i’ll give ’em that. the one near my house has a starbucks in it, now. that’s pretty much check and mate, as far as i’m concerned. have a pretty day!

  16. comment number 16 by: jessie

    i have to contradict the person who said they don’t do anything with your info.

    they do.

    but certian brands all the time, and you’ll get coupons for those exact items.

    probably you don’t think it’s evil, but i hung around too many sociology/psych type majors in college i guess :>

  17. comment number 17 by: Kalica

    I work for safeway. Now I’ve probably made you hate me right away. Anyway, use the cameras to identify you and match you to your card? You’re really freakin’ paranoid. Nobody looks at those discs unless a crime is committed. We don’t have people in a room somewhere pouring over your personal information. You don’t even have to fill out the form completely. You don’t even have to fill it out acurately. Safeway just wants to know what people are more likely to buy in certain areas. And oddly enough, yes, they want to know this because they want to make more money. What sickens me is this drivel seems to take more precedence for you than the fact that the starting wages at Safeway and many other stores is not enough to keep a family alive without working more than one job or cramming numerous people into one bedroom. You worry about ‘putting one over’ on the company so they can’t generate personalized coupons when the people you hand the card to to scan are miserable and just want to sit down for a few minutes. Safeway isn’t a ‘big brother’ coorperation. It’s a business trying to make money. Get your facts and your priorities straight.

  18. comment number 18 by: Amy

    Rob at has discovered this phenomenon and is approaching it in a similar way. You’re not alone!