Stop! Or We’ll Stare Disapprovingly!

, , , , , , | Working | February 7, 2019

(We’re going through a busy spell at self-check, so my coworker and I manning the area are both running back and forth between customers while trying to keep an eye on all of them to prevent theft. Two men at a register have one item, but it’s from electronics and has an anti-theft tag, which they flag me down to remove. The policy is to remove it after they have asked and you see that it’s scanned. If they ask before they pay, you’re not supposed to argue or make them wait, just remove the tag as long as it’s been scanned. I have to help another customer, but the men have been at the register a while, and since I just finished helping that customer and my coworker is busy with a different customer, I go to check on them. Just as I get there…)

Me: “Is everything–”

Customer #1: *storms off, completely ignoring me*

Customer #2: *sheepishly smiles at me and starts to follow his friend*

(I look down and see their item still sitting on the bagging platform. Before I can do anything:)

Customer #1: *abruptly turns around, snatches the item off the platform, and storms back off*

Me: “Have a nice day?”

(As I say this, I’m glancing towards the register, having found it very odd that they would only purchase one item and then almost forget to take it. Sure enough, there’s a message on the card reader showing that their card was declined a couple times. I rush after them. As a cashier, I’m not allowed to go after customers myself.)

Me: “Security, that really tall guy by the door: theft!”

(Even though we’re a high-crime area, I guess due to violent reactions, security cannot actually detain anybody, nor can they follow them outside. All they can do is ask somebody to stop and see their receipt or turn over an item. The two men are almost to the door, so I am rushing, trying to get the guard to move quickly before they leave and there’s nothing more we can do.)

Security: *slowly scanning* “Those two?”

Me: “Yes, yes, the tall man in the brown jacket with the short man in the gray sweatshirt.”

Security: *finally starts after them, then quietly asks* “Sir? Sir, please?”

Customer #1: *continues walking at brusque pace and pays the guard absolutely no attention, walking right out of the store, his friend right behind him*

Security: *turns back to me and shrugs*

Me: “…”

(I just walk back to self-checkout. I’ve only been working a month or so and have not dealt with blatant theft like that before, so I catch my coworker, who is regularly stationed at self-check, tell her what happened, and ask what to do. She comes over to look at the register they left, which, fortunately, other customers have left alone.)

Coworker: “That’s a hundred-dollar item!”

Me: “I know; it sucks.”

Coworker: “And they just walked off with it… D***.”

(She printed out a receipt of the transaction thus far so she could take it to down to customer service where there’s usually a manager and give it to them to log. I later made sure to confirm with a manager that we couldn’t wait until after a transaction was finished to take off anti-theft tags if asked. I explained why I was asking, and the manager just shrugged and told me, yeah, remove the tag when asked. It just needs to be scanned first. I don’t particularly care because it’s a huge corporate business that pays their employees dirt, but it’s kind of a silly policy, though no more so than our security guards being there just for show.)

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