decluttering, in the Wall Street Journal

talley_sue_nycSeptember 17, 2008

In today's Journal, there's a story on page B6 that has these lines in it:


But the mantra the industry is pushing is "if you don't need it, don't store it"... Mr. Ibrahim thought [it] might be useful down the road, but until then it just meant that he had to store it and keep it secure. "It was giving me a headache," he says. [He] doesn't miss it. "I'm a big believer that if I don't want something today I'm not going to store it," Mr. Ibrahim says. Rather than using it for some unknown . . . project in the future, by next year, he realizes, "I'm more likely to forget that I have it."


The "it" in question? Customers' credit-card numbers. Mr. Ibrahim is Chief Technology Officer Nick Ibrahim of Ruby Tuesday, which has started erasing credit-card data from its systems as soon as the transaction is processed.

That's the new trend in the credit business; credit-card issuers are pressuring businesses to delete the data.

But I thought it was sort of funny, to read Mr. Ibrahim's comments, which sound SO much like what we say here.

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What is Ruby Tuesday, a restaurant?

Actually, if retail companies delete credit card data, it protects them from being responsible for stolen data. So it sounds like a good thing to me.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 7:47PM
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Yes, Ruby Tuesdays is a restaurant chain. A bad one. Businesses shouldn't be allowed to keep credit card numbers without the explicit consent of the cardholder (like when you create a profile at an online store and allow them to store it for quick future orders). The supermarket chain I use had their records stolen this year, resulting in my debit card number being stolen. What a PITA.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:28AM
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It *is* good thing.

I was just struck by (and amused by) that fact that all the stuff he was saying about credit-card data, is like what we say about clutter in our homes.

Interesting to think of that financial data as clutter--takes up resources just storing it, they forget they have it, they've been keeping it "just in case we need it someday for some project."

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 12:42PM
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Why would a restaurant need my credit card number after I have paid for my meal and left? Good thing they're gonna stop keeping track! Now I am starting to wonder about Home Depot and Lowe's ... and all the other stores where I use my credit card.

Speaking of information as clutter, how many of us see an article online, and save it to the hard drive, thinking that we might reference it again in the future? I do exactly that. And I usually never get back to the article. So after a while, I look around on the hard drive for stuff to throw away. As I scan the article one last time, I think, "Why did I bother to save this?" Then I pitch it and never miss it.

The good thing about the internet is that there is always some newer, more up-to-date article out there.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Good point about saving online articles to the hard drive. I never do it for the very reasons you mentioned and do not understand why my friends save everything they trip over online.

If I want to read something later, or use it for reference while working on a project, I open it in a new tab and save it there for a while. Then I get rid of it. Either it has served its usefulness and can be tossed or I didn't need it after all anyway.

I never have to sort out things on my HD.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 2:36PM
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Maryliz, A vendor needs your credit card number for at least a short amount of time. Here's why.

You make a purchase.
If the purchase is for a service (something you can't return): The vendor accepts your card and the vendor has to get paid.
If the card is VISA/MC/AMex etc and the vendor is sophisticated and has good electronic systems, then the vendor electronically transmits your card number and purchase info to their bank which in turn communicates with VISA etc. A credit of the amount of your purchase passes back through the chain and your vendor gets paid. This total process usually happens within a few days. If the vendor swipes your card through the old card reader, they go to the bank in a few days to make a deposit, submit your card number and purchase info and then the process happens under which they get paid by VISA etc.

If the non-returnable purchase is made with a store card, then the vendor sends you a bill up to 30 days later. You send your check or electronic payment in. How does the vendor know to apply your payment unless they have the card number?

Now say your purchase is for goods. The same VISA/store card process happens. But then say you decide to return the item. The vendor won't be able to "cancel" the original purchase or credit your account unless they have the account number. But, yes, they could swipe the card again; however, that wouldn't tie back to the original purchase because a new transaction number would be applied. Larger companies use this for inventory tracking.

In addition, some vendors use customer information (volume of purchases) to determine pricing for that customer...discounts to big customers for example.

The transactions don't end and the use of information doesn't stop when you walk out the door.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 7:42AM
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Thank you for the explanation.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 9:37AM
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"Speaking of information as clutter, how many of us see an article online, and save it to the hard drive, thinking that we might reference it again in the future?"

I have never done that.
I bookmark it, and then I go through my bookmarks ever so often, deleting the one I no longer want.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 1:32PM
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The one thing about bookmarks--those pages can expire, or be removed, and you won't be able to find them again.
The stuff on the web is NOT forever.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 2:44AM
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That's why I tend to save them to the hard drive.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 9:19AM
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