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I'm often asked in shops variations of this question:

Where are you from? (Which country, zipcode?)

Frankly, it's none of their business, but I feel it's somehow rude to say that so directly.

Typically, shop attendants or some sort of sales representatives ask this for data collection purposes, in various situations. They usually claim they do this to improve their services. Even so, I don't like giving away this bit of private information to somebody I've just met. At the same time, I understand that these people are just doing their jobs, and I don't want to be rude to them.

Is this rude to say? Or is there a better way to make my point without having to explain myself?

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    Is it rude to ask in the first place?
    – bib
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 22:57
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    In the UK Evans cycles do this. I find it annoying too. Seems more an etiquette question than an English one though. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 22:58
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    I suggest you ask them why they are asking you for this information. Then, if you don't consider the reason is valid, you can legitimately refuse with no reason to feel guilty. Otherwise, "I'd rather not say" (as Arradras suggests) is a good answer.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 23:05
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    Another answer that shopkeepers and clerks ought to respect in a society where privacy is under relentless assault is "I'm sorry, but I don't give out that information." The "I'm sorry" indicates that you aren't blaming the clerk for asking, while formulating the refusal as a matter of policy helps you dismiss the request without treating it as unduly intrusive (even if you think that it is). "None of your business" is at best a rather sharp response to the inquiry, though I imagine that clerks who are forced to ask such questions hear it often enough.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 1:08
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    I once answered a similar question on the way to the airport with "Can't tell ya" (Kantellia). My cab drive responded "That's in Idaho, right?" You could do something similar. If they think you are being rude, just tell them it's in Idaho. Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 6:59

4 Answers 4

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It is rude, and even more so if you say the whole sentence and add an adjective like "goddamn" or an "f-word": "It's none of your goddamn business." However, if the shop assistant is filling a form, it would be appropriate to say:

  • "Omit that item, please."
  • "I prefer not to share that information."
  • "Do I really have to answer that?"

If you feel it's just curiosity, you can

  • Smile and turn away.
  • Say you're just browsing.
  • Ignore the question and ask a question about a product.
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You can say "None of your business," but this comes off as rude and hostile. Rather, I'd use something a little more diplomatic like "I'd rather not say."

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It's rude. Better to say 'it's not our policy to release this information' and repeat it if they are insistent.

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Multiple answers and comments have asserted that none of your business is rude, without explanation.

It is rude because it contradicts the other person abruptly.

The business management could require the clerk to obtain such information. So it certainly could be part of their business to know where their customers are from.

Several direct and unambiguous ways to decline the request have already been provided. For a less direct way, one can use mild humor such as

Do I get a discount for providing that?

or

I'll ask the management if we release such information.

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