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Wal-Mart hell

Great headline: Wal-Mart thanks employee who foiled shoplifter, then fires her. But read to the end:

The next day, about two hours before her shift was over, Ravenstein says an assistant manager asked to speak with her. He then told her it's against Wal-Mart policy for anyone but a manager or someone in asset protection to try and stop a customer from stealing.

"He said there's really no gray area," Ravenstein says. "It just goes straight to termination."

She was told to turn in her badges and keys.

"I was in shock at first," Ravenstein says. "I didn't think anything like this would happen."

Nor did she know about the policy, Ravenstein says.

"I've never heard of it."

She says she's stopped people for forging payroll checks on more than one occasion.

"They never once said, 'You're not supposed to be doing that.' "

"Stopped people from forging payroll checks"!?!? More than once? Why am I getting the feeling that Wal-Mart doesn't engender a lot of loyalty from their workers?

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nycweboy's picture
Submitted by nycweboy on

There's some detail missing from the story - for one thing, no one from Wal Mart offers their version of events - and I'm unclear as to the urgency of stopping the guy (i.e. was he moving fast enough to escape if she hadn't acted)... but as someone with more than 10 years of retail, I know how we're trained: call Security and report what you see... but do not intervene. It's easy, from an outside perspective, to assume that any asistance is welcome... but there are elements needed, for instance, to make a legal case stick that interference can hurt, and if a store is trying to deal with larger issues - say, a gang of thieves with a coordinated strategy - Loss Prevention may have specific goals in mind about when to intervene and how. As a for instance, in this case the item was saved... but the man got away, and technically, he can't be charged for any kind of stealing (and, I suspect, what might amount to assault wouldn't hold up). That's not, necessarily, the best outcome. I'm not saying firing her was correct - though, again, we don't have all the details that might be relevant to that decision - but in terms of Loss Prevention, I'd have said, call Security, and see what they say before getting involved.

Submitted by lambert on

People forging payroll checks. That's pretty hell-ish! It sounds like the kind of environment where there's every kind of cheap chiseling imaginable going on -- the fish rotting from the head, and all.

nycweboy's picture
Submitted by nycweboy on

... and the ease of getting debit cards, is why many businesses (including my coffee employer) no longer accept checks. Wal-Mart probably has to take checks, because many poor customers lack bank accounts. The risks of fraud in that are huge, and there's a procedure they need cashiers to follow so their check guaranty company will pay. It's all very frustrating. I used to be sympathetic to check writers... then I started working in dept stores. It'll rob you of any innocence about people just lying and stealing whenever they can.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

We buy it for less than 40 cents/ck. Most printing companies don't bother to verify account numbers, either, in my experience. And software to print them can be bought for $20. It really is pretty common. When I worked 3rd shift customer service desk at Meijer, I turned away at least one payroll check a month.

And Walmart is one of the cheapest places to cash your payroll checks. Especially for those on the margins, who can't get bank accounts. Hell, paying $3 a check to have access to your money, is a lot cheaper than paying overdraft and ATM and debit fees.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

But, like nycweboy, I've worked in retail too, and that was one of the first things we were taught, was to NEVER intervene in a shoplifting incident, just report it to LP. (Now, she claims she wasn't taught that, and it being Wal-Mart, I'll buy that they have a crap training program).

And it really is different than preventing the validation of forged checks, which was totally in my job purview as a cashier. As a matter of fact, you got in trouble for allowing forged checks to go by, but were excused if you failed to prevent shoplifting.

Although it seems that the two situations are similiar, it is much easier to recoup stolen inventory(which is insured), than it is to prosecute fraudulent checks(which costs money), which is why they are dealt with differently.