ANDY EDGEWORTH - Store card truths hard to swallow

I WISH to invite you all to play a mercifully short game that involves glancing at my byline picture and making broad generalisations about the kind of stuff I might like to buy.

I’m quite clearly the definition of handsome masculinity so what do you reckon?

If you’re thinking beer, chicken and contemporary fiction you’re in the right ball park. However, technology is now making these kind of assessments with greater accuracy and slightly less coercion.

Soon we will all be subjected to in-store TV screens with a camera that detects your age and gender and then fires adverts at you, supposedly based on your perceived needs, and watches your disgusted reaction as it displays an ad for a trouser press or a recliner chair.

Now, while these will be bombarding us all on petrol station forecourts and self-service checkouts for ever more I imagine, it is not the first time I have come across them.

A few years ago I was doing a spot of travelling and found myself in Hong Kong. Upon boarding the immaculate train from the airport to the city I found that a screen was in front of me on the headrest of the seat in front. After a few seconds of looking at it I was suddenly bombarded with adverts, while my good lady was bombarded with different ones. It turns out this technology is commonplace in wealthy cities in Asia.

However, it may need a bit of tweaking as contained within my half hour journey I was urged to buy some raw fish, a gold stud earring and leather trousers. Perhaps it was trying to tell me something.

And it does not stop here. I do my weekly shop at Sainsbury’s not because I particularly like it (in fact it is massively overpriced for certain things) but being a typical 30-something male it is the nearest supermarket to home.

Now for those of you familiar with this particular chain they run the Nectar card scheme which – upon paying at the checkouts – produces a stream of endless vouchers, all of which are fairly useless and just want you to buy things.

However, what is particularly telling is that said vouchers are supposedly based on your previous purchases and based on your spending habits.

In my head I should be getting Nectar points bonus vouchers for fresh fruit organic herbs and spices and fine wines.

Last Sunday I received the usual 325 vouchers and upon inspection they revealed that all I actually buy is beer (lots of it) junk food, cheesecake and frozen fishfingers.

I trudged off from the checkout while the rest of the shoppers and employees shot me pitying glances. I wept in the car.