Dear Prudence

Help! My Partner Is Accusing My Family of Defrauding a Local Business.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. Upset in Aisle 7: Recently my brother-in-law told a “joke” about how the local supermarket chain must think his dead grandmother has an incredible appetite for a 107-year-old because he still uses her discount card (technically he keys in her old phone number) when he goes shopping.

This may seem like a low-key issue, but it really bothers my partner. After high school, she was on her own and worked for this supermarket for years while putting herself through college. This job played a significant role in her growth into the person she is today. She considers many of her former coworkers like de facto family members. So, to this day, she remains fiercely loyal to this chain.

She says it’s considered fraud to use someone else’s discount card because it creates bad data for the supermarket’s marketing purposes, especially if someone else has been assigned that phone number and applied for a card. When she explained this to my brother-in-law, he dismissed her concern as unimportant. My sister also didn’t see why this was a big deal. I think the big deal is it bothers my partner. How hard is it to get your own discount card? It’s a small thing he could do out of concern for a family member. Am I wrong for being so miffed about this?

A: You’re entitled to feel how you feel about this, so I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong to be miffed. But what’s the real scale of the offense here? You see this as an instance of your brother-in-law and sister ignoring your partner’s feelings, which can come across as callous or even cruel. I suspect they see this as little more than a few digits on a spreadsheet somewhere that they will never see. Are we talking, then, about your partner not being heard or about a supermarket not having the information they want? One would presume that a supermarket chain has contingencies in place for dealing with bad data and that the objective of marketing is to get a customer to purchase, which your brother-in-law is already doing. As someone who worked in marketing for years, I definitely get it. It would be great for the company if your BIL gave the chain his own information so they could collect data on him and market directly to his purchases. But to not do so doesn’t directly affect your partner. So to be asked to make a change that will have no bearing on your partner probably seemed odd to your BIL. What you might want to do is to approach your BIL about this again and ask him to make the change as a favor, if your partner is still thinking about it or if it’s going to continue to be a sticking point for you. But I wouldn’t frame it as something your BIL is doing wrong.

Classic Prudie

My sister taught my son an incorrect spelling of a word. She said that it was always spelled that way until recently and that it was only changed because people were too dumb to spell it right.