Stealing ’em blind

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I talked last year about how little attention the checkouts at Big Box stores pay to what they’re actually ringing up. In the earlier case, the guy paid no attention to the fact that I had two cabinets on a dolly, not one long one, and only charged me for one. I noted at the time that even though this was a small thing, it’s still indicative of issues affecting the economy. How can you possibly succeed when you’re letting free stuff go out the door?

Just last week I witnessed something quite similar – at the same Big Box store. The guy in front of me at the checkout had several pieces of 1-by material on his dolly, a variety of widths neatly stacked. The clerk scanned the barcode on the top board, quickly counted how many boards were there, and multiplied that against the single barcode she’d scanned.

However, it seemed clear to me that the top two boards were narrower than all the other boards underneath, but she hadn’t noticed. Also, when she did it the guy gave me “a look” like he knew he’d just ripped them off.

Now, I could have spoken up but didn’t. It’s not my business to do their business for them and, more importantly, what if I was wrong? It looked to me like the boards underneath were wider and, thus, more expensive, but I was just giving them a casual glance. And what if I had misinterpreted the fleeting “look” he gave me? The last thing I needed was to falsely accuse someone of stealing in a public venue.

Once in the parking lot I passed by the guy as he loaded up his car and, yeah, those boards sure looked like different widths, meaning that he probably saved himself 50 bucks or more. But again, without a closer look I still could have been wrong.

The bottom line here is that checkout staff at these places isn’t properly trained. I don’t expect them to be lumber or woodworking experts, but it should be mandatory that they scan every item of variable size to ensure a proper sale. I said at the top that this was a small deal, and it was. But multiply this by the hundreds and hundreds of Big Box stores out there – all of which have similar issues – and it’s a problem for the entire economy.

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