Cutting hours for Loss Prevention personnel is generally a bad idea.
I used to work in loss prevention for a regional chain of electronics stores. Let’s call it Shit Store. My job was basically to patrol the store in plain clothes and detain someone if I caught them trying to steal. I’ve worked private security before so this was a pretty nice gig.
Shit Store’s corporate policy, for reasons I cannot quite comprehend, mandated a weekly quota of shoplifter apprehensions, which we called “stops.” We needed to have at least 3 stops a week. Usually we had about 10, just shy of 2 per day, and obviously most of the stops involved expensive electronics. We paid our own salaries many times over and saved the company an astronomical amount of money.
Until one week. Saturday rolled around (our schedule weeks ran Sunday-Saturday) and all loss prevention personnel were called into the office. There were four of us. The store manager told us that only two stops had been made for the week, so we had not met our quota. He contacted corporate and they told him to give all loss prevention personnel the entire next week off to save on costs. An extra cashier would be scheduled to stand by the door as a deterrent. (I later learned that other stores were implementing this policy in order to phase out plain clothes LP altogether.)
As you can imagine, a week of no pay did not exactly go over well with us. It was particularly bad timing for me. My rent was due, my dog had some vet bills, and my nephew’s birthday was coming up. I, and all of my co-workers, did everything to fight this. We talked about how we usually met our quota many times over, How we paid our own salaries with all the stops we did, how much money we had saved the company, how laughably ineffective an untrained cashier standing by the door would be… but it all fell on deaf ears. By the end of it the manager was clearly flustered but insisted that we just stay home the next week. “Think of it like a vacation,” he said. We all had paid time off available but of course he said that we couldn’t use it. “It’s about cutting losses for the company,” he said.
Cutting losses, oh dear. If only he knew the shit I was about to pull…
We all went home feeling pissed and wronged. But before I even set foot in my door, I had the vague beginnings of a plan for vengeance.
Now, I had a few friends, or I guess acquaintances, who were a bit shady. They were generally straight-laced, but they themselves had friends who were even shadier. Dealers, addicts, and even a few gang members if the rumors were true. They usually hung out in one of three parks in the city limits, so after blowing off some steam at home, I began to make my rounds.
The conversation with each group followed a pretty set pattern: I would say hi but look a little pissed, they would ask how I was doing, I’d say something like “Not too good I guess, Shit Store just gave the entire loss prevention team the week off to save money! I’m gonna miss out on an entire paycheck!” A few would probe a bit and I would verify that, yes, anyone could walk into the store and take shit without having to worry about an undercover LP watching them.
I knew that my plan was beginning to take hold when someone I hadn’t talked to posted on Facebook asking if it was true that Shit Store had no loss prevention this week. Word gets around fast. All I had to do now was head to the store, grab a 30 pk of beer, and slowly drink the week away while shit went down.
People lost their fucking minds. A shit load of product went missing every day, and not just little things– people were apparently walking out with giant flat screen TVs and refusing to stop for the lowly cashier by the door (that usually wasn’t paying attention anyway). Tablets, laptops, netbooks, and consoles vanished into thin air. Several cell phones from the display case even went missing.
I would not hear about this till later, though. All I know is that on Wednesday, hardly halfway through my unpaid week off, I got a call from work. I let it go to voicemail and couldn’t help but crack a smile when I listened to it. It was the store manager asking me to come in and work a full shift because of “problems they’d been having.” You could almost hear the desperation in his voice. I knew my little scheme had worked. But sadly, I chose not to respond or come in for work that day. Even if I wanted to, I was pretty deep into a 6-pack at the time.
I got another call the following day, which this time I answered. Gee boss, I’m so sorry but I’m actually eight hours away at the beach right now. I thought going out of town would be a good idea since you said to treat this like a vacation. (Actually I was still in my PJ’s, drinking coffee and watching Breaking Bad.)
The following day I did not get a phone call. Shit Store had bused LP personnel in from other stores and had a police officer stand by the door. I’m sure the police department was happy to oblige, I can only imagine how many calls they got from Shit Store over the past week.
When I went back after my week off was up, there were two new policies that were tacked right on to the bulletin board: at least one LP associate must be on the floor from open to close, and the quota was changed from # of stops per week to amount of money saved in a month, a much more flexible and reasonable quota that the four of us would have no problem meeting. Well, three of us actually, one of my fellow LP’s made use of their week off by getting a new job, and good for them.
I never did learn the hard numbers on how much money hemorrhaged out of that store. I do know that it was in the six-figure range.
I thought about getting a new job myself, but it didn’t prove to be necessary. I guess a company that cuts all LP’s for a week must have deeper financial problems, because the whole chain folded two months later. I then got to spend my days drinking beer, watching Netflix, and getting paid unemployment for it. I ended up landing a new job with a private security firm that paid much better.
I ran into my shadier acquaintances showing off their new iPads a few days after this mess. I think I know how they got them.