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When A Thief Is Not A Thief

, , , , | Working | May 2, 2022

I used to work for a large office supplier. Once, at a party, I was commiserating with another attendee who also used to work for the same place. During our swapping of horror stories, he relayed this wild ride to me.

His store had a spate of stolen printers — expensive ones. Hundreds of dollars per printer were apparently just walking out the door, and no one could figure out how. They watched for any break-ins on the camera or for any customers making a suspicious number of trips to the store, but nothing stood out as out of the ordinary.

Finally, they caught a break. One of the cashiers went on maternity leave, and the thefts immediately stopped, only to resume as soon as she returned. So, they had their culprit, but how was she doing it?

Relevant to this story is that this chain offers protection plans for hardware, especially printers. They really want their cashiers to push those protection plans, and they offer incentives for selling them. However, the way this is tracked is by having the customers sign a contract and putting that in the till with your name on it; it’s not actually tracked by the POS system. This is important.

Management started watching this associate closely, and when they saw how she was “stealing” the printers… Well, it turns out she wasn’t stealing at all.

Apparently, she really wanted those incentive payments for the protection plans, and she was pushing them just as hard as management told us to. (Most of us didn’t because, frankly, most customers didn’t want them and got mad when you tried to sell them on it.) The problem was that she got so focused on selling the protection plans that she forgot to actually scan the printers they were attached to. So the customers would purchase the protection plan but walk out with free printers. 

Had this been caught after just a few instances, she just would have been retrained, but by that point, she’d lost the store thousands of dollars in revenue, so she was let go instead.

Honestly, I sort of felt bad for her.

Question of the Week

Tell us about a customer that lied or scammed to get what they wanted.

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