Over-Enthusiastic Sales Associates Probably Think You're Stealing

shoppingBefore I realized the amazingly lucrative job of being a nanny during the summer months, I worked at the Gap during the warm-weather school hiatus. For two summer breaks in high school, I folded some awesome tees, ran the register, and if I was lucky, got to dress the windows. (It's actually less creative than it sounds because all you really do is put the corporately designated outfits on the mannequins. At most, you maybe add in an accessory or two, or arrange their fake hands in funny positions, or put women's flats on the man mannequin. Racy stuff.)

Anyway, a woman over at the Gloss just wrote a post called "You Can Shoplift All You Want From Gap" and explained, from a fellow ex-Gap employee's perspective, that theft prevention is really more a theory than it is a practice.

In most respects, it's true. A sales associate cannot stop someone they suspect of stealing. The cost of that employee getting hurt or wrongfully accusing a particularly litigious person is far greater than losing a cardigan. We were given some tips on how to basically annoy the alleged perp until he or she was so irritated that they handed the goods back over, and were told to inform a manager of what we thought was going on.

The Gap I worked out had a big problem with theft, so much so that the Merchandising Manager for the East Coast was assigned to our store to keep an eye on things. I'm boring myself just talking about it, but the point is that women could pester the shit out of anyone with the biggest smile on her face until the supposed thief had no choice but to basically admit something like, "You mean these cargo shorts? Ha ha ha! How did they get stuffed up the back of my jacket?" It was amazing.

So next time you're getting your shop on at your favorite store, and some associates keep hounding you about new colors they have to offer, new stock arrivals, new whatever, beware that you've found yourself in one of two situations: You've either been approached by a teen amped up on Red Bull and hormones, or a teen who's amped up on Red Bull and hormones and is really eager to prevent your theft. Alleged theft, that is.

You'll never look at over-friendly customer service the same. They're watching youuuuu.

What's been your experience, either working or shopping retail?


Photo via justdonque.images/Flickr



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luvsc... luvschocolate

I have worked in retailing for over 21 years starting in high school as a sales associate , then working up to management and lastly in administration including loss prevention. We are all trained on Customer service as our main priority , it is not seen as theft prevention, it is doing our job to make the customer happy and hopefully get a sale out of it.Customer service is the main objective, and yes some shoplifters may get nervous when approached, but to our eyes they are a customer until tney have left that store with concealed merchandise. If doing our job makes 1 shoplifter drop something, fine, ita sa bonus.. But we don not look at customers like they are thieves. They have cameras for that and loss prevention associates that do the suspecting. Sales associates are to provide customer service and that's all.

femal... femaleMIKE

One time at claires, this manager was so into watching me and my friend that they missed the other girls that were shoplifting.  When we was done looking and was getting ready to leave, I went up to the manager and informed her that while she was so intent on watching me, the other 2 girls just got away with stealing.  Im not saying that this was racially motivated but I was in a predominately caucasion neighborhood.  The manager was white and the real theives were white.

nonmember avatar Skyhook

...thats why purses should not be allowed in stores.

nonmember avatar Guest

I work at Old Navy and we are taught to give all customers the same level of customer service. We don't act enthusiastic to prevent theft but to give all of our customers a great shopping experience so they will want to come back and buy more. And like another commenter said above, if it stops someone from stealing something well that's an added bonus, but our main goal is to help the customer find things to buy and to want to buy from us.

Zyva Zyva

I worked at Hot Topic (which was the most intensive job interview.. ever. You have to do three different phone interviews and then two in person interviews.. it was so odd how 'serious' that store was in hiring), and they had 'mug shot' photos in the back that we had to take a look at for people who were caught in the past. If you suspected someone of shoplifting you were to tell your manager about it asap, and then do your best to keep them in the store until security got there. 

Kmakk... Kmakksmom

I can totally believe that.  I've had many an employee look really hard at me in stores and follow me around.  When I worked retail I never did that.

Jess1... Jess10210

If you wanna see theft, work at Burlington coat factory. I had woman throwing carts at us and running when we caught them stealing. Strollers without babies in them being used to hide clothes in. All kinds of insanity everyday. I only lasted 9 months there because I was honestly scared of the women shoplifting there trying to hurt me lol. I felt so bad for the loss prevention workers in that damn store

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