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Old 08-08-06, 09:37 PM   #1
DXchulo
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Is this really normal for retail employers?

Today at work I was called into the office for a conference call with one of my managers and some corporate guy I've never met before. To make a long story short, basically the call was all about accusing me of stealing from the company, most specifically by ringing up returns when nobody is at the register. Now, I don't always have customers fill out the return slip completely (one of those things we're supposed to do but nobody does), which I admitted with no problem. But I've never done a phony return and pocketed the money.

Well, that didn't stop the guy from accusing me, and he said that he had tapes of me at the register doing some sort of crime. He kept on giving me this "Just be honest and tell me now what you've done and things won't be so bad" speech, and he asked me at least 3 times to admit to doing something wrong. I didn't know what to tell the guy, and after the third time he asked me I started getting pissed off and got ****ty with the guy.

Once the whole thing was over my manager came to me and said that they do this sort of thing to everyone and that she doesn't think I'm stealing and he doesn't have any tape of me doing anything. I did see 2 other people go in for a conference call today, so I think they had to go through the same thing. She told me that she's been working in retail for a long time and seen this crap a million times. Is this really a normal thing? Do companies regularly accuse their employees of things as a way to try to scare some dirt out of them? I was so mad that I was ready to quit the job right there, but that wouldn't be much of a worthwhile effort if all companies do this.
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Old 08-08-06, 09:49 PM   #2
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The only retail company I worked for was a bike shop, but in any case thats certainly harassment. I'd check the ohio penal code to find out how permissable it would be to throw down a law suit. You deserve better than to have false accusations leveled at you.

And no, thats not normal. Nobody you should ever work for will treat you like that.
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Old 08-08-06, 09:51 PM   #3
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It's not normal at any retail establishment I've ever worked (3 years in bike shops (2 shops), 1 year in a CD store (3 locations), and 13 years in copy shops (3 companies, 7 locations).

If they really have evidence of you doing something wrong, they won't confront you via phone, they'll do it in person, and will present the evidence to you in such a way that you'll either voluntarily resign, or they'll fire you.
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Old 08-09-06, 02:32 AM   #4
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Is this a national chain retailer? I'd definitely register a protest with
the human resources department...if this company is not your chosen
career path, I'd get the heck out. In the interests of other employees
try to go on record with this outrage. Write a lot of letters and keep
copies.
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Old 08-09-06, 03:33 AM   #5
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Steal something... that will make things even. The bastids!
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Old 08-09-06, 04:02 AM   #6
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I worked for a company that would do that on occasion. Big name drugstore chain. But they would call you in to the main office and pull that stunt. They also did random lie detector tests. Didn't take me long to figure out, that was not a place I wanted to work. Some words of advice, if you are supposed to fill out paperwork...do it. If a policy is in writing...follow it. If a supervisor directs you to do something contrary to written policy ask for clarification. I am a project manager for a national specialty contractor and HR has beat it into our heads that it is illegal to ask someone to do something that is contrary to written company policy and to do everything in writing. Unfortunately a couple of things are going on, someone is stealing from your company and they are fishing. One item is that there is a segement of the population that is going to steal regardless and it makes it hard on the honest people, and corporate profit margins are slim so they are trying to put the squeeze on everbody to track every cent. I don't condone their methods and they are probably illegal. But the thought process seems to be that they will get away with it because people are scared to lose their jobs. If you complain you may well get fired, if that is the case be prepared to fight them. Otherwise they win and will continue to do it.

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Old 08-09-06, 04:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DXchulo
Today at work I was called into the office for a conference call with one of my managers and some corporate guy I've never met before. To make a long story short, basically the call was all about accusing me of stealing from the company, most specifically by ringing up returns when nobody is at the register. Now, I don't always have customers fill out the return slip completely (one of those things we're supposed to do but nobody does), which I admitted with no problem. But I've never done a phony return and pocketed the money.

Well, that didn't stop the guy from accusing me, and he said that he had tapes of me at the register doing some sort of crime. He kept on giving me this "Just be honest and tell me now what you've done and things won't be so bad" speech, and he asked me at least 3 times to admit to doing something wrong. I didn't know what to tell the guy, and after the third time he asked me I started getting pissed off and got ****ty with the guy.

Once the whole thing was over my manager came to me and said that they do this sort of thing to everyone and that she doesn't think I'm stealing and he doesn't have any tape of me doing anything. I did see 2 other people go in for a conference call today, so I think they had to go through the same thing. She told me that she's been working in retail for a long time and seen this crap a million times. Is this really a normal thing? Do companies regularly accuse their employees of things as a way to try to scare some dirt out of them? I was so mad that I was ready to quit the job right there, but that wouldn't be much of a worthwhile effort if all companies do this.
I've never heard of this happening at all. Their was a huge scandal in Toledo about 8 or 10 years ago at the Gap. One of the managers had figured out a return scam that was very successful for a long time. In the end she was caught and forced to pay back all the money. This scam was used as a model by corperate security nation wide.

Where do you work?
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Old 08-09-06, 05:28 AM   #8
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I've never worked in retail, except as bag boy at a supermarket in teen years, but I never seen anything like that and would hope that kind of behavior is not the norm. I think I'd be looking for a new job straight away.
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Old 08-09-06, 05:53 AM   #9
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Fear keeps the worker bees honest and loyal to the queen, must be their mantra.

That's a sh*tty way to do business.

Next time they call you in with the corporate goons, just act like Peter in Office Space, when he lays it out straight for the corporate axe men:

BOB: Y'see, what we're trying to do here, we're just trying to get a feel for how people spend their day. So, if you would, would you just walk us through a typical day for you?

PETER: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late. I use the side door, that way Lumbergh can't see me. Uh, and after that, I just sorta space out for about an hour.

BOB: Space out?

PETER: Yeah. I just stare at my desk but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too. I'd probably, say, in a given week, I probably do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work.



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Old 08-09-06, 05:56 AM   #10
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1) polygraphs are not a court admissable method of detecting criminal intent

2) what they did was bullcrap.

I would ask to see the video immediately, or to drop it. Do not answer any questions at that point, since they now are able to be caught in their false accusations.

Never admit to anything during a shakedown, and ask them to present every ounce of claimed evidence....wait...DEMAND IT. If they cannot present, then they have nothing against you, so there is no point in saying a thing, all you can do in a situation like that is incriminate yourself.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:00 AM   #11
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I spent 20 years working in department stores as a department manager, buyer, and store manager. I have never seen anything like that. I would say to get the heck out of there as quickly as possible. Those people are not to be trusted.
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Old 08-09-06, 06:09 AM   #12
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Demand to see the evidence. If they fail to, or otherwise cannot provide it, take them to court. These tactics are illegal and are viewed as intimidation or harrassment in most states. I would also make sure that you follow writtien policy to the letter. And look for another job. I wish you luck and I sure wouldn't want to work under such circumstances. Hang in there.

Cheers,

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Old 08-09-06, 07:25 AM   #13
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I think that's harrassment too and the fact that he was forcing you to confess only proves that he had nothing on you. If he did, he wouldnt need a confession.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:21 AM   #14
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It most certainly is harrassment.

Unfortunately I've been in a simular situation in a past retail job. It was an office supply store, and one of the employees was doing false returns and pocketing the case (and the items to be sold on ebay). Unfortunately, due to the fact I was the Sunday cash office guy who was supposed to audit the return slips but never properly trained in doing so, they thought I was working with this dude. My manager knew better than that of course, but these Corporate head hunters don't see the rank and file store associate as anything but worthless replacable bodies.

I went in knowing I didn't do anything wrong, and wasn't about to admit to anything under their pressure. I stood my ground, told them how it was, and told them if they had any hard proof I gained a single dollar from the mess then prove it.

In this case it sounds like they have some sort of evidence that there is some internal theift going on at the store, but have no real idea who it is. So they're giving everyone the beat down to see if anyone cracks. Either get out, or at least for the next several months, do everything by the book on every return.
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Old 08-09-06, 08:40 AM   #15
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I'd have just said, "Talk to my lawyer."
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Old 08-09-06, 09:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacey
Steal something... that will make things even. The bastids!
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You don't just steal anything, you steal the car of the suit who did the interogation!
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Old 08-09-06, 10:15 AM   #17
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Unless you'll take my advise and do a lawsuit, before you leave the company, it would be a shame if you didn't fill the guys gas tank with a mixture of urine, paint thinner, water, and sugar.
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Old 08-09-06, 11:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
I worked for a company that would do that on occasion. Big name drugstore chain. But they would call you in to the main office and pull that stunt. They also did random lie detector tests. Didn't take me long to figure out, that was not a place I wanted to work. Some words of advice, if you are supposed to fill out paperwork...do it. If a policy is in writing...follow it. If a supervisor directs you to do something contrary to written policy ask for clarification. I am a project manager for a national specialty contractor and HR has beat it into our heads that it is illegal to ask someone to do something that is contrary to written company policy and to do everything in writing. Unfortunately a couple of things are going on, someone is stealing from your company and they are fishing. One item is that there is a segement of the population that is going to steal regardless and it makes it hard on the honest people, and corporate profit margins are slim so they are trying to put the squeeze on everbody to track every cent. I don't condone their methods and they are probably illegal. But the thought process seems to be that they will get away with it because people are scared to lose their jobs. If you complain you may well get fired, if that is the case be prepared to fight them. Otherwise they win and will continue to do it.

Aaron
+1 here, 100%! They are fishing for the thief!
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Old 08-09-06, 11:19 AM   #19
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It's common for big luxury retail chains. I know for certain that Burberry and Ralph Lauren have security shakedowns, where they keep employees in the office all day, with intermittent interrogation to send a message to any would be thieves.

Orwell was right, except Big Brother is corporate America, and we are paid to look away and let it happen.

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Old 08-09-06, 08:03 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Serendipper
It's common for big luxury retail chains. I know for certain that Burberry and Ralph Lauren have security shakedowns, where they keep employees in the office all day, with intermittent interrogation to send a message to any would be thieves.
Holy crap! Are you serious??? If anyone ever tried that with me I'd tell them that I'll save them the time by asking for a phone and calling the police myself and the chain can turn over their "evidence" for prosecution.

I might consider other means of broadcasting the store's harassment policy also, i.e. go to the media, lay a formal complaint with the proper authorities, threaten a wrongful dismissal suit.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:25 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipper
It's common for big luxury retail chains. I know for certain that Burberry and Ralph Lauren have security shakedowns, where they keep employees in the office all day, with intermittent interrogation to send a message to any would be thieves.

Orwell was right, except Big Brother is corporate America, and we are paid to look away and let it happen.

"Fear is the mind killer"
-Frank Herbert, Dune
I've worked for two years at the Dallas headquarters of a Nameless Merchant, which is also known as a big luxury retail chain. The closest thing to a security shakedown I've witnessed has been the loss prevention guy going through employee bags/purses/briefcases as they leave for the day. Normally they just look into them, this guy was actually rooting around to the bottom of the bag. As I don't carry a bag in or out of the building, I simply walked past him, no questions asked. So maybe it's not as common as you think, or maybe Burberry & Ralph Lauren had reason to interrogate their employees.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:26 PM   #22
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I'm hurt.


Ok, over that.

What they did was crap. My wife is a loss prevention investigator, and she would get her ass kicked all over the place if she pulled that stunt. Heck, if she knows someone stole something, but didn't see it, or can't prove it, she can't do a thing. Was the corporate guy from LP? I doubt he was, as they wouldn't want to be anywhere near that kind of stunt. You have a right to complain to HR, you've been harassed in a big way.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:42 PM   #23
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No, not normal. Complete BS.

Ask around (quietly) if this has happened before. Confront them. If they fire you, call Cochran and go Chewbacca on their ass.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:45 PM   #24
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Through high school and the early part of college, I would work in men's suits during a few summers and 5 straight xmas shopping seasons. In those five years - THREE different loss prevention teams were fired. Once for incompetency (as in, forgetting to lock the doors because they were too busy macking on the salesgirls), the other two times for theft.

No worries - loss prevention people are the definition of small time.
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Old 08-09-06, 09:48 PM   #25
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If I were in your situation, I'd wish I had the nerve to have the following conversation:
Me: 'What was the name of the suit on the phone?'
Boss: "Why?"
Me: "My lawyer wants to know."

But I wouldn't. In retail, the employee has none of the power. No matter how good you are, management will see you as a cog.

But if you get a chance, spit in his coke.
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