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I noticed recently when I'm checking out at the store, the cashier will ask for my email address, so that the store can send me flyers, coupons, and promotions. In other words, junk.

What I've tried:

Avoid interacting with cashiers that I know will ask for my e-mail address. For the times I do get asked, I usually respond with:

No, I don't want to give out my e-mail address.

At that point they attempt to try and convince me by telling me all the benefits of allowing them to have my e-mail address.

In an effort to speed up the conversation, I usually give in, and let them have it.

I'm aware that I can hit unsubscribe when I get these emails, but I don't really know what happens to my e-mail address afterward, is it removed from their database? I don't know.

How can I, in the cleanest, shortest way decline to give out my e-mail address without inviting questions?

I don't want to yell, carry on a long conversation (there are other people in line, after all). Simple and to the point.

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    Hey! This looks a lot like you're asking us for what to say, instead of how to say it, which is off-topic on Interpersonal Skills (see our help center for more information, and an explanation of what this site is about) In order to improve your question, can you at least include what behaviours you usually use to decline these requests, so that answerers won't repeat anything you've already tried? And can you perhaps also explain what you'd consider too impolite and won't do? – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 at 16:32
  • "What should I say" Only makes it more explicit you're looking for a sentence, a script. Those are off-topic here... Also, can you address the second part of my first comment, about what you've tried, how, and how that didn't work? – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 at 19:09
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking 'What should I say', which is off-topic per our help center. It also lacks the necessary information on what was tried and why that did not work. – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 at 20:49
  • The main issue I see with your question as written is that there isn't an example of what you do currently, so we can't suggest how you could improve. That's why it seems like a "phrasing request", because without that information, all we can do is give you different scripts to try. Could you give an example of a time when you tried to decline and they kept trying to convince you? What do you normally say? – Em C Dec 1 at 21:24
  • @Tinkeringbell - Terriably sorry for the rude comment. Just isn't my day today. Let me edit this question. – user27357 Dec 1 at 22:05
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I deal with these by saying

no thankyou

as though they had offered me something. I used to do this for my phone number (also postal code, which a lot of stores used to ask) and I do it now for my email. Once in a while the cashier says something like "I'm sorry?" meaning they don't understand my declining, or they push a little saying "I need your email" and in both cases I simply say

I am not providing my email address.

No reasons, no explanations, nothing to argue with. I have never had more than one "attempt to convince" -- which is usually just a restatement of the request, possibly with a "we can send you specials", but anyway you just keep politely saying

I am not providing my email address.

And that is that.

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    I'd offer the suggestion to state "I don't give out my email address" rather than "I am not..."; the difference here is "I don't..." de-personalizes it a little by framing it as a standing choice. "I am not..." is a little more suggestive of an in-the-moment decision. I'm not contradicting your answer (I think it's spot-on), just offering a suggestion to help the most conflict-averse of readers. – Dancrumb Dec 1 at 16:16
  • As someone who worked as a cashier: sometimes the system or procedures won’t allow you to continue without entering something. As a customer, to make life easier on people who just want to do their job, if I don’t want to give my real info, I just provide a fake/throwaway version. For example, there is a well known chain of coffee shops that require a name to be put on your cup, I have not once given them my real name, just confidently tell them something else. – AsheraH Dec 2 at 13:17
  • I have never been in a physical store that wouldn't sell me a product without the PII the cashiers ask for. I guess no@no.com is always an option, but I don't lie and wouldn't trot one out on a first request based on the (vanishingly slim) chance the cashier will be blocked if I say no. – Kate Gregory Dec 2 at 13:44
  • @KateGregory - I think blocking the cashier is a foolish move that will disrupt the workflow. An option to proceed without providing information should exist. – user27357 Dec 2 at 17:36
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Like with other PII (city / zip code) that stores started to ask1 when cashing out, I quickly found a way out when asked my email. I started with a (true) excuse:

I'm sorry but can't use a professional email, or share it for this.

When the clerck wouldn't pick up the clue ("you won't get my email anyway..."), and ask for a private email, I'd just add (true also):

I have a (junk) mail that I use just for this purpose, and that's all I can do to help you... (and a smile :))

Usually, I easily got away with any further PII asked. The clerck would have done their job, I would have not lied or be rude.


1. Like your name, PII is often required for any warranty on an item. Email is not.

  • It's easy to grab a "junk" email off yahoo or gmail. I find it less of a hassle to just put in this junk email than to explain why I don't want them to have my email. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Dec 3 at 17:27