Today I was standing in line at a local home improvement store. There was a (seemingly) nice couple in front of me in line. I chit chatted with them as I was waiting for my turn in line. The nice couple paid and proceeded to leave the store. As they passed through the electronic monitoring gates the alarms started to sound. They kept walking. Out the door they went. The ‘door man’, who’s job it is to stop these people, looked over at my cashier and she says - “they didn't have anything that I was supposed to scan - there was nothing for me to deactivate the tag on!”
I looked at her and said - “Isn’t that the POINT!” and she looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. So I reiterated my point. I told her “if it was in their pocket you would not have had a chance to scan it. And the machine did the job.” Again I got this look of confusion almost like when you talk to a puppy, you know they tilt their head and look like they have no clue you are making any sense at all.
I laughed to myself, paid for my goods, walked out the door, got in my truck and told my wife what had happened. By the time I re-told the story I was laughing hysterically. You see, the company paid for those electronic monitoring systems. The manufacturers/vendors are forced by the big company to put those tags on every thing that comes in the back door. And an employee is paid to monitor the door for when/if the alarm goes off. And it was all justified because it cuts down on shrinkage - the inventory kind, not the cold water kind guys.
But, like so many things in life, the point has been lost on the people who utilize it everyday. You see my cashier has been trained to deactivate all the tags. Her job, as far as she was taught, was to make sure that no tag went off when it went through the door. I am certain, by the scared look on her face, that she gets reprimanded if there is a tag that leaves still active and it trips the alarm. I also know that customers hate being stopped for things they rightfully paid for, and the store’s customer satisfaction rating goes down when it happens, so they train them to prevent this from happening.
It is kind of like standardized testing to graduate from high-school. The idea is to test and see if you learned something before you get your diploma, not to teach you to ‘pass the test’ just so we don’t have to see you next year.
I know there are all kinds of rules and laws governing how a store reacts to such situations. And I am not accusing the couple of stealing anything. It could have been some other device that set off the alarm. It could have been a legitimate mistake, the stuck something in their pocket because their hands were full - kind of mistake. Who knows – who cares? Nobody at the store did, that is for sure! They were too busy covering their ass so they didn’t get in trouble for not deactivating the tag.