MasterCard Telling Our Weight to the Airlines?

travel-companiesIt was recently reported that MasterCard filed a patent for  “a system, method, and computer-readable storage medium configured to analyse the physical size of payment accountholders based on payment transactions, and allowing a transportation provider to apply the physical size of payment accountholders to seating.”

They are suggesting that they can guess your size, and the size of all of your family members, based on what you buy, and then report that information to transportation companies.  Their patent application states that this information might be used thusly: “for the comfort of their passengers, transportation providers should avoid seating physically large strangers next to each other”.

Riiiiiiight.  Also, in lieu of drink service, airlines will start handing out bags of magic beans courtesy of MasterCard. I seriously doubt that Mastercard is going to the time and expense of patenting this so they can give it away, so if this goes into effect (and they may not act on it, even if the patent is approved) we can assume that travel companies will be paying them for it, and passing that cost on to us – and by us, I mean fat people.

Let’s get real here. Travel companies decided to start a business that moves people from place to place. Then, despite the fact that people come in many sizes, they built their planes, trains, and buses to only accommodate people up to a certain size.  Now they try to charge people larger than that size up to twice as much for the exact same service (travel from place to place) in ways that are indefensible unless you think “we hate fat people” is a reasonable defense.  And now Mastercard is saying “Hey, let us help you out with that.”

Again, this is a patent that MasterCard has applied for –  they may not be granted the patent, and if they are they might not choose to use it.  But I’m not excited about doing business with a credit card company that is excited about helping transportation companies engage in sizeism.

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Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm  Comments (21)  

21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is infuriating…will they be able to tell who has long legs, wide shoulders, manspread, et al ad nauseum? This is ridiculous

  2. Among all the scary things going on in the world, this may seem less important. But in fact it is an urgent portent of the danger we are in. Not just fatties. Everyone. But fatties first, of course.

  3. I’m just laughing at the idea they’ll be able to predict a person’s size by their shopping habits.

    …Are they talking about “people who buy from *name of plus size shop* probably wear plus size clothes? Because if so, congratulations! You’re narrowing the options for that particular customer down to… what? Anything from a size 14-36? Well congrats. That’s only… slightly more than half the population,

    Or are they talking about “we’re going to assume people who buy foodstuffs X Y and Z are in this size range and people who buy foodstuffs A B and C are in this other size range” because, if so, pfffHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA.

  4. They’re going to track stores where you purchase from, and if they see Lane Bryant, Torrid, Destination XL, etc. They flag you. They’re not sophisticated enough to know what sizes you’re buying (unless stores cooperate). If you buy a lot online, that will be easier for them to do and probably be able to track sizes that way.

    Solution: eff this sh*t up– don’t use a Mastercard at those stores. If you *have* to use a Mastercard, do for non-clothing purchases like car repairs and vet bills.

    Or, just refuse to carry Mastercard… but I know that’s not always possible because you can’t choose what your bank debit card is.

  5. What a bizarre claim to make. Our company’s travel card is MasterCard right now, so I’m kind of stuck with them … but otherwise I’d simply not use one (in the highly unlikely situation that mere purchasing habits are an indicator of anything).

  6. Cash. Cash if you have an easy way to get it before you start shopping. I started using cash when I ready this article:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#3dfc257834c6

    The amount of data-mining possible from CC purchases is astounding to me.

    • *Read, not ready

    • It’s not so easy to use cash online, though, and many people don’t have access to a physical location that sells things they need like, you know, underwear and pants and such.

      • That’s true and unfortunate. Another reason to put pressure on box stores to expand size selection, or include all of their sizes in their store.

        One of the ways that I have dealt with online purchasing in the past is to purchase a prepaid credit card with cash. There’s often a fee, unfortunately, so it’s a decision between privacy and cost. It’s not a perfect solution, the best solution is for CC companies to stop data mining and to stop using that data in harmful ways. In the meantime, this is how I protect myself. I do understand that I have the privilege and the means to use cash or buy prepaid CC. Not everyone has the ability, and that really sucks.

  7. I remember an X-files episode that had a credit card company tracking what people bought in order to filter that information to certain government agencies about who was catching onto things the government was hiding.

    The Lonegunman (my favorite characters in the show) suggested always to carry cash…but you have to rip out the metal tracking strip (clearly visible if you hold it up to light). I can’t believe we are coming to a time where we really have to do that.

    • If you pull out that metal strip in the bills they will read as counterfeit on a bill checker, that’s how those machines check for counterfeit bills. I once had one tell me a bill was counterfeit because it was a $10 bill from 1934 before they started putting those strips in them. I don’t think they are actually tracking strips though, just another way to check for a bill to be real or counterfeit.

  8. Righto. Off to change the type of card I use. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. Uber creepy, the real desire is profit, not personalization. Always is. Cookies on plastic so to speak. More truly magical thinking on big businesses part, but one with specious consequences when taken to the end game…

  10. Ugh, yeah, there’s so much wrong with this idea 😦 FFS, Mastercard.

    The only positive outcome I can possibly imagine is that some thin people would find themselves incorrectly categorized and maybe, maybe come to realize that their assumptions about the body size and habits and all the assumptions that go with those assumptions could actually be wrong—but there must be much better ways to bring that message to a much larger audience (like this blog, for instance!).

    • I have a much darker “bright side,” if you’re cynical and can appreciate the odd bit of schadenfreude: most programs like this (eg, workplace wellness programs) that have been implemented ended up costing the companies *far more money* than they were able to recoup by price-gouging their unwilling fat participants and/or selling our private personal info.

      Of course, then I just get bummed knowing I live in a world that hates fat people so much huge impersonal corporations will go against their nature and lose money on purpose paying an exorbitant oppression tax just to treat me a *little bit shittier* than their other customers.

      • I’m down with that flavor of schadenfreude … and with you on the part about being bummed about living in that world, too.

      • Also, apologies if you get a billion notifications about me liking your comment. I keep hitting “like,” and it keeps greying out. Not sure what’s up with that. But, seriously, I feel this.

  11. I think the worst part was when MasterCard disrespected their own consumer base by claiming this service was needed because dirty lying fat liars couldn’t be trusted to provide necessary information to airlines themselves, because they’d just totally lie about it; therefore, airlines must have MasterCard step in as an “unbiased” third party to warn them which customers are faaaaaat.

    Congratulations, MasterCard, you just proved you don’t qualify as “unbiased” as any rational person defines it.

  12. Besides the fact that Mastercard and the airlines are collectively being asses, there’s another factor. My husband used to do all of his late mother’s online and in-store shopping because she was in poor health and did not take to computers well. So he got two kinds of junk mail: catalogs addressed to him presuming that he wore women’s clothing in large sizes, needed assistive devices, and read a lot of fiction…and ads for anniversary jewelry for his beloved wife, [my mother-in-law’s name]. He can’t have been the only person in the U.S. in this situation.

  13. Do we need some sort of proxy shoppers that will keep people’s private data private?

  14. Welp, time for me to retreat from the internet once again. See you in a month, or so.


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