Can’t Discount This Crime

, , , , | Working | May 10, 2018

(As a college student, I work in the evenings and on weekends for a jewelry company. The parent company itself owns a range of store brands, ranging from less expensive mall stores to a chain of large stores with higher-end stock. I am employed at one of the large stores. Their computer and checkout system is still in an older DOS format, and requires a lot of keying to dig deeper for certain information. One evening, I’m assisting one of our diamond sales associates with a very nice couple of regulars. The wife has seen a diamond necklace on our website she really wants to try on. It is a multi-stone strand with a large center stone, retailing for around $5,000.00. We don’t have it in our store, but the surrounding stores in the tri-state area could send us exchange stock if we need it. We check the computer system.)

Coworker: *after a few minutes of keying in commands* “Okay! It looks like our store in [Location one state away] has the necklace you’re looking for in stock. I can send in a request for it tonight, with a temporary deposit, and it should be here within five business days.”

Husband: “Hmm… I don’t know. What if she doesn’t like it?”

Coworker: “It’s not a problem. Since it would be considered an interstore transfer, you are under no obligation to purchase the necklace. If [Wife] decides she wants something different, we refund the deposit and either send it back to the other store or add it to our stock here.”

Wife: “I’d really like to try it on.”

Husband: “All right, let’s have it requested in.”

Coworker: “Great!”

(He processes the transfer request through the system, takes the customer’s deposit, and says we’ll call as soon as it arrives. Since it is already after 5:00 pm, we know the request won’t be received by the other store’s stock manager until the next morning. When I come in for my shift the following evening, I call to confirm the transfer.)

Me: “Hi, [Stock Manager]! It’s [My Name] from [Store Location]. I wanted to confirm the item transfer request we sent last night.”

Stock Manager: “Hi, [My Name]! Sure, just a moment.” *I hear her tapping keys over the phone* “Hmm… That’s strange.”

Me: “What?”

Stock Manager: “It looks like that necklace was purchased last night.”

Me: “Oh, no! My customer really wanted to try it on.”

Stock Manager: “I’m so sorry… Huh. According to this, it was purchased after our store had closed for the day.”

Me: “So, it was an employee purchase?”

(I am surprised a store employee would spend that much on a necklace, even with employee discount. Our salaries aren’t fantastic, since a large portion comes from commissions.)

Stock Manager: “It looks that way.” *more tapping* “Why does…” *frantic tapping and a long pause* “I tell you what; let me dig around some more and call you back. You only work evenings, right?”

Me: “Yeah, evenings and weekends. But [Coworker] will be here at opening tomorrow.”

Stock Manager: “Okay, I promise I’ll get back to you by tomorrow.”

(We hang up, but I don’t have time to dwell on it because more customers have come into the store. Later that night, after we close, I have some free time while the night supervisor counts the cash drawers. I decide to see if I can find that necklace at another location. The closest store is still the one it was purchased at the night before; however, I soon realize that since it is an employee purchase, I can command the system to pull up that employee number’s entire purchase history. The screen fills up with DOZENS of high-dollar purchases, including earrings, necklaces, rings, and watches. There is nothing under $3000, and the most expensive one I see is a $20,000 luxury brand watch. There is no way this employee can afford all of this stuff, unless they have a secret cash flow and are just working at the store for the heck of it, which seems unlikely. My store’s stock manager also happens to still be there, so I call her over to show her. Her eyes bug out as she starts going through the employee’s purchase records. She tells me to not mention this to any of the other staff members until she speaks with our supervisor and the stock manager of the store in [Other State]. The very next night, I walk into the store and am pulled aside by [Coworker].)

Coworker: “[My Name]! I got a call from [Other Location] today!”

Me: “What happened?”

Coworker: “The employee who bought the necklace we wanted? She was a night supervisor who transferred in recently. Apparently, she was approaching customers in the parking lot who were interested in expensive items but didn’t want to pay the asking price. She’d tell them she could get them the same item for a price just above her own employee rate, and would do the cash transactions with them at other locations!”

Me: “Oh, my God! But there were five years’ worth of transactions there. How’d she get away with it for so long?”

Coworker: “She’d wait until the store was closed to do the transactions, then come back in the next evening and reenter the transactions as if they’d happened on other dates. No one bothered to put in the codes to check.”

Me: “Wow… So, I’m guessing she’s fired?”

Coworker: “Fired, and being taken to court by [Parent Company].”

(As a thank-you, the [Other Location] stock manager worked with my stock manager to get the same necklace transferred over from a farther away location with no additional deposit needed. The store also let us offer it to our regular customers for less than the asking price, since they had to wait two weeks for it to come in. I left that job about six months later, after graduating college, for a job in my field. I always wondered what happened to that supervisor.)

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