Speaking strictly as someone who has minor kleptomaniac tendencies (although I’ve never, ever shoplifted or actually STOLEN anything actually worth anything – my tastes run to office supplies!), I think Wal-Mart’s “Loss Prevention” and “Asset Protection” strategies are among the worst in the business.
The store I work loses something like $125,000 per month to shrink (theft). Which makes what I found in the bathroom Saturday night not so shocking.
Four empty plastic boxes for memory cards and 1G zip drives were stuffed into the container for toilet seat covers. Sigh.
One of the worst decisions Wal-Mart ever made was taking away the security pedestals from Electronics and making that section accessible from all sides instead of having a single entry and exit point with its own security and “Pay for Electronics Merchandise in Electronics” policy.
Once a CD, DVD or anything else small leaves Electronics, there’s probably a 25% chance it’s going to be stolen. We find stacks of the cases all around the store. Every morning when I open the Service Desk at 7 a.m., I just label a box “SHRINK” and start filling it with the stolen stuff. It’s usually full by 9 a.m. -- if not sooner!
Our store lost both “Loss Protection” associates – the ones who follow shoplifters around – 11 months ago. Neither was ever replaced. The official reason is that Wal-Mart feels that sales associates should be able to adequately prevent theft and in the process IMPROVE customer service by being more aggressive in their interaction with customers.
Uh huh. Yeah. None of our salesgirls speak English. The only thing in the store they can find is the employee lounge, their cell phone and the door on the way home.
The real reason is that it is much cheaper to mark down the stolen merchandise and claim it on insurance than pay the salary for two employees, plus pay the insurance policy in case they injure someone in a takedown – and then the prosecution costs – and paperwork costs – and costs of having a district and regional Loss Prevention supervisor. It’s not about “customer service” – it’s about the money.