Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Back to School shopping & scamming

The scams are getting better - or at least just more inventive and shameless.

I'm trying to sort through the mountain of returns that Sundays normally bring when I come across a rolling backpack - the kind kids take to school now that allegedly wearing an actual backpack is bad for their tiny shoulders.

Some of the backpacks go to Stationary for "Back to School," some go to Furniture as luggage and yet other go to Softlines as "accessories." You can tell by doing an ITEM INQUIRY and scanning the barcode. Except I can't find the barcode because all the tags have been torn off the front.

I open it up to see if there's a scannable tag inside and behold a feast of treasures. Ten DVDs, a box of Pop Secret and candy.

I open the zip pockets and find Kelly Clarkson, High School Musical and some others.


How was this going to go down?
(if they weren't just counting on cashier stupidity, although we are supposed to open EVERY bag, every container, every purse, every shoe box, etc.)
Find a backpack we only have one of - or hide the ones we only have two of. Take all the tags off the backpack. ALL the tags. Look through it REAL good for anything that might be a tag, a SKU number, a barcode, a UPC or anything that might identify it as being from Wal-Mart.

Load it up. We don't have Loss Prevention anymore. And it is not theft until you walk outside the door. Anything else is "shopping." Like movies? Don't forget the popcorn & snacks.

Buy some school supplies. This is very important to establish your cover.

When you check out - tell the cashier "My little boy/girl wanted to bring his backpack to help buy his school supplies!" There's nothing on there to say that backpack came from Wal-Mart. Not anymore. We're not going to call you a liar. Arresting our thieving customers is bad for business.

Roll right out the door. Make sure the kid is rolling the backpack. When the door alarm goes off, the door greeter will check your CART, but not the backpack. Because the alarm goes off all the time anyway.

Kick back and enjoy.

Yes, I know. Any of you working at a decently run Wal-Mart can (and probably will) poke holes in this scam. I'm very happy that you work in a place where your fellow associates do more than hold up the registers or come to work just to take breaks and lunches. My co-workers simply don't care. Our store's shrink this year is projected at $2.7 million dollars. Little scenarios like this happen all the time.


luckycanucky said...

I forget what lame movie release it was, but one of my co-workers found a hockey bag packed with the things that was just left in a cart. The store hadn't even sold any of that particular title yet, it was that unwanted, but here was a duffle full of the damned things. I guess the thieves came to their senses. Higher re-sale value stealing something people want, gang.

Erin Bradley said...

Wait. I don't get the scam. Did someone return a bookbag filled with the stolen goods and just forget to remove them or...?

ExVee said...

No, they grabbed a backpack off the store's inventory, removed all the identifying tags that could become ready evidence that it was stolen, and then filled it with other items from in the store. Since it wound up back at Customer Service, it was apparently abandoned before they tried to go out the door with it. Somebody else found it sitting in a wrong department and took it up to the service desk for sorting and eventual return to its origin department.

And like he says, the idea is that nobody's going to catch that the backpack itself is stolen, or even came from inside the store. At that point, it's all going to depend on if the door greeter feels like going through the ordeal of asking for the child's backpack to be opened. I suspect more often than not that a greeter would just let it go, rather than have to deal with the backlash of basically accusing someone's kid of stealing. That's bad for business too.

Kasia said...

When I worked at CompUSA lo these many years ago, one of our employees ran a similar scam: he bought a laptop bag from the store, then started loading it up every time he was at work. Let's see...he stole a laptop, a ton of memory cards and other peripherals, and I forget what else before he finally got caught.

As far as I can tell, he ultimately got caught because he brought the computer in for service. AT OUR STORE.

Either he was dumb, or incredibly arrogant. Or both.

sugar. said...

Holy cow. Why did your store get rid of LP? I thought every store had the lovely "Asset Protection Coordinators" and associates.