Who does it hurt really?

July 19, 2011 | by D. B. "Libby" Libhart

At a big box home center this week my wife and I picked out base cabinets for our laundry room. We needed two, but there was only one in a box on the large shelf. I was about to ask if there was another cabinet in stock but luckily I found a second one that had been a display model and was marked down 10 percent. Yeah for us.

We loaded the cabinets on one of those large flatbed carts, along with a shopping cart filled with those extraneous items that you need when you move in to a new house, and went to the cash register. The cashier, a pleasant young woman started to ring up our items and saw the price markdown tag on the cabinet. She called for assistance and a manager came to the register promptly with her authorization card around her neck. The cashier used the POS wand to capture the bar code from the manager's card. The manager then walked away and the cashier continued to ring up our merchandise.

So what does this all have to do with restaurant loss prevention you may ask? Well, a couple of things come to mind because of what happened next. As the cashier was ringing up the discounted cabinet for $216, she actually rang $2.16. I brought the error to her attention. She checked the transaction and when she discovered her error, her face reddened and she sheepishly thanked me. As a career loss prevention professional it has been ingrained in me to mitigate and prevent losses to restaurants and retailers. Even, in this case, at my own expense. But it truly wasn't at my own expense. I was prepared to pay the price of the cabinet and was thrilled to receive a legitimate 10 percent discount. Would it have been lighter on my wallet to pay $2.16 for a $216 cabinet? Sure! But ...

So, here's part two in business issues occurring in this transaction - integrity and ethics. To me they are not to be picked and chosen depending on circumstances. As a business owner, would you want to lose profit on a transaction such as this? Personally, would you want the deep discount? I know many who would question my sanity for drawing attention to the error that was clearly in my favor. Retailers and restaurants are bombarded with fraud and theft from internal and external sources, and unexplained shortages in inventory and profit? Do you think a store this big would miss the error on the register? It's their mistake, so it's their problem.

Unfortunately, procedural errors can result in major losses. Most are unexplained, such as this one - a simple inattention to detail that could have been a big loss. Restaurants and retailers lost over $37 billion dollars last year. This retailer was saved a couple of hundred bucks.

I wonder if I can get a discount on the countertop I need to go with the cabinets.

Topics: Loss Prevention , Social Responsibility

D. B. "Libby" Libhart / D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
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