Bad At Loss Prevention AND Customer Retention

, , , , , , | Working | March 31, 2020

To avoid characterization as you read this, keep in mind that I’m a very fair-skinned, middle-aged Caucasian female. A few years ago, I stopped to buy a few groceries at an “everything under one roof” discount store. As was my usual routine, I took a cart, tossed my reusable bags into the child seat, and took off my jacket and put it in the bottom, under the seat and partially covering my purse.

After getting the groceries I needed, I headed toward the checkouts, saw a rack of clearance jackets, and stopped a moment to look. There was one in my size I liked, and the price was right, so I put that in the cart, also.

During checkout, I reached under my old jacket and took my wallet from my purse, then returned it after paying and dropped the receipt into one of the bags as I pushed my cart away from the registers. I stopped just outside the exit, dug a pair of nail clippers from my purse and the new jacket from the bag the cashier had shoved it into, and started to clip the tags off, intending to put it on.

Then, I heard a loud voice behind me. “Excuse me, ma’am. You need to come with me!” 

I stopped mid-clip and turned to see what was going on.

“You need to come with me!” reiterated a young man wearing a store badge, reaching forward and grabbing the handle of the shopping cart.

Taken by surprise, I stammered, “What? Why!”

“You didn’t pay for that jacket,” he said, pointing to my old one, “and whatever else you have stashed under it. Come with me!” Of course, people stopped to watch, but what could I do? He was taking the cart with my purse and purchases and heading back into the store, so I followed, my protests in vain.

In this store, there’s a room off of the entrance/exit vestibule that’s used by store security and is also a “police substation,” and that’s where he led me, me still carrying the new jacket and nail clippers with him pushing the cart.

He used a key to open the door, pushed the cart in, motioned for me to enter, followed me in, and closed the door behind us. Inside was a large metal cabinet partly filled with electronics with a monitor on top with nothing playing, a small bookcase stacked with books, binders, and assorted papers, and another, locking cabinet with some boxes on top. (It’s interesting what we remember in stressful situations; I couldn’t tell you if there was a window or not.) There was also a long table, several chairs, and an older man — a policeman — sitting on one side doing paperwork.

“Whatcha’ got?” He asked the young man.

“A shoplifter,” he replied.

By that point, I was not only embarrassed but livid as h*** and starting to cry. “I haven’t stolen anything! My receipt’s in that bag!” I pointed. “The jacket in the cart is mine, I wore it into the store, and the only thing under it is my purse!” I half yelled, half blubbered.

“Sit down,” said the young man. “I saw you trying to leave without paying for that coat. I have no idea what all you’ve got hidden under it, but you didn’t pay for any of that, either!” I didn’t sit; I was too mad.

The police officer stood up and walked around the table. “Mind if I have a look?”

“Yes! I mean, no, please do, I didn’t steal anything!” I insisted.

He took the receipt out of the bag, also lifting a few grocery items out and comparing them to the receipt and put them back in the bags. “Is that the jacket on the receipt?” he asked, gesturing toward the one I was by then hugging.

“Yeah, it is.”

He picked up my old ratty jacket, faded, stained, frayed, torn pocket, broken zipper. “Is this the one she didn’t pay for?” he asked the young man, one eyebrow raised.

“Uh, yeah,” the young man answered.

Holding my obviously not new jacket aside, the policeman looked back into the cart. Two bags filled with groceries, two empty bags, and my purse, zipper open, concealing nothing; surprise! 

“I’m so sorry, ma’am. Take a moment to compose yourself, and you’re free to go when you’re ready.” The young man was led to the far end of the table and some pretty intense whispering ensued, the policeman poking at the other’s chest, the young man gesturing wildly in the general direction of me and the door.

I dropped the clippers in my purse, threw the new jacket on top of the bags in the cart, and tried to let myself out, but the door was still locked. The policeman, seeing me jiggling the knob and leaning on the door in frustration, ran to unlock it, telling the young man, “Sit down, we need to talk.”

I never did wear the new jacket and I wouldn’t go back to the store to return it; several months later it was donated to a coat drive. The old one was eventually replaced with a purchase from a different store and discarded. The store is still there and I have been back, but only after a long time and never by myself.

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We’re Nut Going To Do That

, , , , , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(I work at a grocery store bakery. We have a very small selection of nut-free desserts that we get in, and because we have desserts with nuts, we tell customers we can’t guarantee that any of the cakes we make won’t come into contact with nuts. Most customers are understanding about this.)

Customer: “How long in advance do I need to order a cake? And I need one nut-free.”

Me: “You need to order a cake 24 hours in advance, and we cannot guarantee our cakes have not come into contact with nuts.”

Customer: “Can’t you just have a special area for it and one person just for the cake?”

Me: “We still wouldn’t be able to guarantee it.”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “Because we use nuts here and can’t guarantee they won’t come into contact with your cake.”

Customer: “Well, that’s stupid. [Other Grocery Store] does it for me. Aren’t you guys the same company?”

Me: “No, we aren’t. You’re thinking of [Grocery Store Company that bought out Other Grocery Store a few years back].”

Customer: “Whatever. I’ll just go to [Other Grocery Store], then.”

(I think, “Oh, good, you can be their potential lawsuit.”)

Me: “All right. Have a good night.”

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Enough To Make You Hit The Ceiling

, , , , , , | Working | March 31, 2020

I work cleaning and maintaining water tanks and systems for various properties. I was supervising a group of coworkers on site, even though at the time I was the lowest ranking as a Casual.

Monday – Day 1

I had a two-man team cleaning a pair of tanks in a block of flats when one put his foot through the floor of the loft space to the flat below. As the “ranking” worker, it was up to me to get photos, take measurements, and fill out the paperwork for the insurance, etc.

I asked a coworker to get my laptop from my van parked in the flat’s car park. He went and got it and I started to sort out the mess.

Then, I asked my coworker for the van key… and he couldn’t find it. We searched all round and there was no sign of the key. It was getting late, so I called the office to get them to send the spare key and I got a lift home from the other team.

Tuesday – Day 2

Luckily, I had access to another van, which I used to get back to the main van… only to find that the parking permit was missing. Yes, someone had used the missing key to steal the permit and then relocked the van. I called the police, and while waiting for them, I got the call from the office: there was no spare key. And then, the other team I had working told me they’d put their foot through another ceiling.

Wednesday – Day 3

I was told the main van would be picked up and towed to the office, but I needed to be there to arrange the pickup. I was at the van from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm waiting for the pickup. Finally, they arrived, but the low loader couldn’t manoeuvre in the car park, and since I’d put on the handbrake and the steering lock — as you do — there was nothing he could do.

Thursday – Day 4

I was told that they were going to get the AA “Kerbside Key Service” in that Friday to replace the key and get the van back. Great, I thought. I could concentrate on the job, which had now moved to another area… until I got the call that there was an AA member and a towing guy heading to the van to break in, break the steering lock, and move it — damage I’d be liable for.

I drove over and headed this off and explained that the AA was going to get a key sorted the next day.

Friday – Day 5

I got a lift to the van, and bright and early the AA guy arrived. Within 30 minutes, he’d made two brand-new keys and programmed the locking.

Opening the van, we found that the only thing missing was the Parking Permit. All my tools in the back were untouched and they even left a fully filled-up [Restaurant] coffee card.

And yup, my manager blamed me for the whole mess, and I was threatened with the sack at least four times. 

I’m glad to be working elsewhere now.

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The Book Thief

, , , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(While browsing at a bookstore, I am vaguely aware of a man at the other end of the aisle of shelves. A bookstore employee passes the aisle and pauses on my end.)

Employee: “You need to put those books back on the shelf right now.”

(I stare at her, but as she sounds deadly serious, I begin to put the book I am looking at back on the shelf. Then, I notice she is looking past me at the other customer.)

Employee: “Sir, you need to put those books back. This minute.”

(Her voice is IRON. The man pauses and then pulls a paperback out of his shirt and sheepishly sets it back on the shelf.)

Employee: All of them.”

(Two more paperbacks are pulled out of the man’s shirt and reshelved. The man goes past sheepish into anxious, as the employee is glaring murderously at him.)

Man: “I’m really sorry.”

Employee: “Not as sorry as I’m going to be marking those books as damaged returns. Leave the store.”

Man: “But I was going to—”

Employee: “Leave now, and I will not tell my manager that I watched you jam three books under your shirt.”

(The man almost runs toward the exit. The employee watches until he is gone, sighs, and refocuses on me.)

Employee: “Can I help you find anything?”

Me: “Your iron will?”

Employee: “I was a librarian for five years. He’s lucky I didn’t peer over my glasses at him; he would have melted.”

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Heartwarming And Brainmelting

, , , , | Related | March 31, 2020

This happens on my younger brother’s tenth birthday. My parents gather my entire family into the dining room after all of the party guests leave and sit seriously on the table.

Dad: “So, [Younger Brother], you’re ten now, so your mother and I have something important to tell you.”

Younger Brother: “What is it? Am I changing school?”

Mom: “No. You’re not actually our child. You’re adopted.”

Younger Brother & Me: “WHAT?!”

Everyone looks at me.

Me: “Oh, right. Sorry. I genuinely forgot that you were adopted.”

Older Brother: “Come on! You’re the one that wanted us to adopt [Younger Brother]. H***, you’re the one that named him!”

Me: “Like I said, I forgot. It’s been a decade.”

Younger Brother: *Teary-eyed* “So, it’s true, I’m not Mommy and Daddy’s child?”

Me: “Yeah. Sorry, [Younger Brother]. Mommy never gave birth to you, unlike me and [Older Brother]. But that doesn’t mean that she’s still not your mother.”

Everyone in room stares at me again

Older Brother: “[My Name], I’m adopted, as well. Remember?”

Younger Brother: “Yeah, even I know that.”

Me: *Sputtering* “Well, it’s been almost two decades by now!”

Younger Brother: *To me* “Are you adopted, as well?”

Me: “No. This time I’m absolutely certain.”

Mom: *Teasingly* “Yeah… about that…”

Me: *Annoyed tone* “Mommy!”

Mom: *Pouts* “Yeah. You’re mine. And the whole reason why I cannot have any more children. That’s why we adopted your brothers.”

Yeah. That was genuinely my fault. My birth was so traumatic that it rendered my mother infertile. Regardless, I still have two amazing brothers whom I love with all my heart. This wasn’t the first time I’d had to be reminded that my brothers aren’t biological and it wasn’t the last time, either. Regardless, I don’t care and neither do they. We’re family through and through. For now and forever.

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