Shoppers at a store in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Companies have been using a secret scoring system to determine what kind of benefits and treatment a customer receives, based on the potential financial value of that customer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"There's no free lunch. The more profitable you are, the better service you will get."
— Sunil Gupta, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, to the Journal

The details: The customer lifetime value, or CLV, isn't available to the public. But it could determine how long you're kept on hold over the phone or if you get a seat upgrade after calling an airline. According to the Journal, these scores are calculated by taking into account how much money a customer spends, the number of returns that customer makes, and their ZIP code, among other factors. People who are frequent online shoppers, have a cellphone, or have a bank account have "at least one CLV score, more likely several."

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