TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Lisa Hancock (
23 Nov 2004 08:04:49 -0800 (Robert Bonomi) wrote

> Doing multiple charges against a card is simply *not* one of them.
> The audit trail catches it at the end-of-shift, or over-night, at
> worst. And the records point directly to the perp.

An audit trail works only if someone actually reads and checks the
audit trail. There have been many crimes of stealing because an
audited wasn't conducted until a long time (sometimes years) after the
transaction, or all the money finally disappeared.

There was a recent case of an armored truck crew stealing from ATM
machines they filled with cash. Apparently no one bothered to check
how much cash was still in the ATM before they refilled it, so the
crews could take that cash without accountability.

For some reason, an awful lot of people today are terrified of simple
income and balance sheet statements. Anyone involved in a business
must read and understand these reports every month and watch for
unusual transactions. From time to time a detailed external audit of
every transaction is necessary. Many businesses -- large and small --
run into big trouble because no one is studying and understanding the
monthly financial reports.

> A cashier, and customer, _in_collusion_, can steal merchandise from
> the store, by the simple expedient of the cashier 'failing to ring'
> the item as it passes to the sacking area.

Stores check for that by using (1) private detectives who come into a
store and monitor employees and (2) CCTV cameras on the register.
Stores that hire a lot of kids have to watch them giving free stuff to
their friends or under-ringing.

Apparently no one cares at all about youngsters selling cigarettes to
their underage friends -- that practice is rampant.

> Stealing money from the till is a real problem. There is a known
> count (counted by _several_ people, including you) in the till when
> you start, every sale is recorded, how much money is given in, and how
> much change is given out, are also recorded.

But is it checked by an independent person? Sometimes yes, sometimes

In business, the issuing and receiving checks, the gross amounts
received and disbursed need to be compared with the invoices and
vouchers by a separate person as well as by outside auditors. People
set up a phony accounts payable account which is actually themselves.
Auditing checks vs. separately prepared vouchers helps prevents that.

> Bringing up the possibility of 'employee theft' early on, putting them
> on the defensive -- was *not* particularly smart. At least, not if
> you wanted their help in getting to the bottom of things.

One regional convenience store chain got into hot water by taking a
very aggressive approach with this. When they suspected an employee
of theft (ie eating a bag of potato chips without paying for it) they
pulled them into a back room and threatened them with severe criminal
charges unless they confessed and pleaded guilty to a minor charge,
which most employees did out of fear regardless if they actually

IIRC, a major national chain used lie-detectors on hiring employees or
on existing employees suspected of theft.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Independence Walmart has some very
young cashiers now and then and there was a problem where the kids
were ringing up beer and cigarettes for their friends, etc. So does
Marvins, but Walmart changed their system where any purchases of
tobacco products have to be taken to *one single register* for
handling. All tobacco products are stored at that one register, and
whatever you ask for, the clerk gets it from the shelf and gives it to
you (after payment). Beer on the other hand, because of its larger,
bulky size can go through any register with your other purchases. I
was in Walmart one day and they had all young kids at the registers.
Some guy came though with his shopping cart full of stuff including a
six-pack of some beer. The kid rings up *everything else* (moving the
beer out the way on the conveyor belt, then he said into the overhead
loudspeaker "twenty one! Register 7" and just stood there. The old
biddy who works in the office there stuck her head out of the door,
and looked over at him, then walked over to his register. *She*
swiped the beer on the glass of the scanner, and put it in the plastic
bags they use for customer merchandise, then turned the register back
over to him, and waddled back to the office. The kid collected all the
money but knew better than to touch or handle or 'be in possession of'
the alcohol personally as Walmart stipulates. I guess the law requires
them to have a person over the age of 21 make those sales. PAT]

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