Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting Even with a Shoplifter-Legally

I got a call from the women’s department because there was a lady who wanted to return an expensive dress without a receipt. This happens sometimes because, when you buy someone a present you’re not going to give them the receipt, are you? In this instance though, the sales associate informed me that the lady told her she’d received the dress a few days before, and it couldn’t be possible because the dresses had arrived on the sales floor of all of our stores that morning.
I told the associate to take the dress, and give the lady a receipt called an “Owned Goods.” That lets us know that the dress belongs to her and that we have it in our possession. She also was told that we had to do some research on the exact price because the original price was much more than the price on the new dresses and we didn’t want to short her.
With a copy of the Owned Goods receipt I then had the customer’s name, address and phone number. Looking at her address, I checked the computer and noted that a branch store less than one mile from her home had six of the dresses in their possession and had sold none. I even knew the sizes of the dresses they should have had on hand. I called the women’s department in that store and after instructing the sales associate there to physically count each dress; she informed me that one was missing. Just so happens it was the same size as the one I had in my possession. Just to be safe I called every store that had the dresses and had a physical count done. All were accounted for except this one.
The next morning the lady called to inquire about the dress and the sales associate transferred the call to me. I informed her that we had a little problem and that she’d have to bring me a receipt to pick up the dress because according to our records the dress had never been sold. She assured me that she’d get the receipt from the person who gave her the dress as a gift.
I thought that would be the end of it but this lady was determined to get us to give her something for this dress. The next time she was in the store, she asked to see me. When I met with her she handed me a receipt for the dress or rather a dress. It had the right stock numbers, class, style and everything, but it didn’t tell me which of our stores it came from or what date. All the important information concerning the location of the store had been torn off the receipt.
I was polite but a little annoyed. I hate when people try to play me as stupid. I told her I would get her dress so she could go get cash for it with the new-found receipt. She was excited. What I really did was call back to all the stores and inquired about who had recently sold this particular dress. A sales associate in the same store the original dress was stolen from remembered the lady and the size of the dress she had just purchased. It’s different from the original dress and I had almost missed that little tidbit on the receipt. Now I was not in a very good mood at all. There was no way I was giving this lady the dress back and on top of that I wasn’t about to give her cash back for the dress she had just bought to fool me. Not a chance.
I went back out and basically informed her that I knew that the original dress had been stolen and from which store. I explained that because of the hefty price of the dress I was forced to file a felony theft report on it. I let it be known that I had intentionally left her name off the report because I thought she’d be smart and let the situation go. However since she was there, I would be happy to let her explain to the local P.D. how she had come in possession of an expensive stolen dress. She wanted no part of this situation now.
I went on to explain that I knew that she had recently purchased the exact same dress from the same store the original came from, and that it really wasn’t wise to try to fool me. In her attempt to defraud the company she had altered the receipt for this dress. Our company policy was that we would not issue a cash return for merchandise if the receipt was altered in any way. I thought with that she was going to cry, because now even if she returns the dress she paid for, the only thing she’ll get in return is a “MO” credit which stands for merchandise only. This means that the credit she receives will only be good to purchase more merchandise at one of our stores. She should have quit while she was ahead