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mistakes happen - apologize

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  • mistakes happen - apologize

    About two years ago, I was working LP and one of my coworkers made a bad stop. Not going into the facts, but the stop lasted 30 seconds and the customer showed us that it was her own item she put in her bag. He apologized and reported it to our bosses per policy. He was rettrained and the company contacted the customer and formally apologized.

    We got sued but her for a slew of things. My company said we had a right due to merchant statute and we immediately took the steps to correct the problem. She took it to the highest court in our state. We ended up winning. There was a lot of conversation around us telling her we were sorry. We were told if we didn't do that the outcome would have been different.

    Hey we all mess up, own it and apologize.

  • #2
    If I'm stopping a customer of whom I am unsure concerning whether a crime has actually occurred (such as in the case of unreliable second-hand information, unsure first-hand sighting or potentially faulty alarm gates) I make a point to do it in a quieter spot to avoid embarassing the customer if it's a wrong call (and avoiding embarassment-incurred complaints), to tell the customer that he or she has an option to decline (over here you're not allowed to search customers unless you can justify it as taking back of stolen property or if you detain him/her, so basically in case of something like an alarm gate going off the customer can just refuse and walk away and you don't have the right to do anything unless you have other evidence) and to apologize if I've made a wrong call.

    Spares one a lot of trouble.

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    • #3
      I wrote an article for Security Technology Executive (March 2010) titled, "How litigation shapes retailers' security and loss prevention strategies." Here's an excerpt from that article:

      Every retailer that expects their employees to stop and/or apprehend shoplifters should take note of what Charles Sennewald, CPP, CSC and John Christman, CPP wrote: "The best way to avoid a lawsuit is to keep it from being filed; the best way to encourage a lawsuit is to pretend no wrong occurred and/or try to cover it up." (Shoplifting - Managing the Problem, ASIS 2006).


      In the case Capurato posted about, his company sounds like (without further details) they did the right thing. I've seen where attorneys have advised their retail clients to never apologize for a nonproductive stop. That is totally ridiculous.

      Capurato is correct, merchant statutes do absolve retailers from liability as long as their actions are "reasonable" - the problem is most statutes do not spell out what is reasonable. That's when the lawsuits start to fly.

      I have no knowledge of this case, but it's safe to assume Capurato's company spent about $200,000 to defend themselves.

      Here's a kink to the article I wrote.
      Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
      Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

      Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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      • #4
        We are trained to apologize, ask for customers name and contact number so our boss can call them and immediately make a detailed report.

        People get fired for hiding bad stops and falsifying paperwork. Mistakes happen, just avoid them at all costs and if you make one, own it.

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