WSJ Editor Caught After Accidentally Stealing From Kmart

Kmart detained Wall Street Journal editor Laura Landro after she accidentally stole $8 from them by putting a more expensive pair of flipflops in a box with a cheaper price tag.

“Did I seem to him like someone who would cheat the store out of $8 and risk this kind of treatment? Unmoved, he told me that he had seen what I did, and “people like you come in here all the time and do this.””

Not anymore. Though Kmart acted within its rights and according to procedure, Landro, along with the hundreds of dollars she usually spends, has vowed to never enter another Kmart again if she can avoid it.

The Accidental Thief [WSJ via BoingBoing]
(Photo: Kim Salomon)

Comments

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  1. Black Bellamy says:

    Oldest klepto excuse in the book. “What, do I look like a thief? How could you accuse someone like me? This is an outrage.”

  2. toddkravos says:

    how does one accidently put a more expensive pair of flip-flops in a box with a cheaper price tag

  3. backbroken says:

    Who knows what really happened? I’m kind of buying KMart’s side of the story though. Nice use of the bully pulpit though.

  4. HeyThereKiller says:

    Stealing? Really? I would think that working for Murdoch would drive you to drink.

  5. skrom says:

    There is no such thing as someone who looks like a thief. Anyone can be one and what she did was try steal whether intentional or not. She should just take her punishment and pay the fine or whatever she gets. FYI if you ever go to a jail and talk to the inmates youll find out they are all innocent and did nothing to be there. They were all either setup, wrongly accused, dont feel like they did anything wrong because they didnt know they were breaking the law etc…

  6. JayXJ says:

    I’ve worked loss prevention before. You would be surprised how many people that steal BS items have the money to pay for it. On one memorable occasion our badguy was searched by the police after we’d detained him. He had stolen 3 CDs, maybe $30 value. He had $2200 in his pants! WTH???

  7. BStu says:

    @Black Bellamy: Granted. But there is also a point where these stores need to recognize that some of what thieves do can be done as honest mistakes. Heck, that’s WHY the thieves do it, because they want a built-in excuse. If the customer is willing to pay the difference, let them and let it drop. You did your job by catching it and you resolved the situation by collecting the underpayment. You let it go there.

  8. ThatGuyGreg says:

    Target (at least when I worked there) had a checkout policy that you scanned the price tag attached to the shoes, never ever on the box – for this exact reason. Some customers do it on purpose, but so many of the shoes get screwed up on the rack, it’s not worth the time to fix it.

  9. sonichghog says:

    So she spends hundreds there. One has to wonder now, if the hundreds she spends equated to actual thousands in merchandise. Kmart may be better off not having her come there.

    This lady sounds a bit stuck up. Look, its not just the poor that steal.

  10. hypnotik_jello says:

    Meh. She could have picked somewhere less craptacular to steal from. I mean, if you’re gonna go for it, why not go for the gold?

  11. Beerad says:

    Well, it does seem kinda odd that if it was intentional she was only trying to scam $8 worth of better sandals. If you put the Prada in the Crocs box, that’s one thing, but $24.50 shoes in a $16.50 shoe box?

    I’m not saying that criminals don’t do this kind of stuff, or that rich people never steal, but doesn’t that support her version of events a bit? Also, since she and her family spent over $800, that would suggest that she’s interesting in paying for items, not pilfering them.

    Her story’s a bit lame, though: “I had size 9 shoes without a box, and the only size 9 box had kids shoes in it so it must have actually been the box for my shoes. Didn’t bother checking the prices or anything else.” WTH? Also a bit strange that she went to one register and the rest of her family to another.

  12. Falconfire says:

    @toddkravos: easy. You go to buy a pair of flip flops, like the ones you found, look around for the box which you would assume would be in the area of like flip flops (or perhaps even said flip flops where in that box though in this case it’s the former) and then take them up to the front, all the while under the idea that you matched the right box to the right shoes.

    I have seen this happen MANY times, so much so that most stores now put a tag on the shoes AND the box to prevent it from accidentally happening. Many like Target wont even scan the box anymore but the tag on the shoe.

    The joke is, those who DO continue to scan the box just as often charge more for the shoe than its worth than they charge less and its up to the consumer to look and realize what has happened. Of course they dont consider that a criminal act despite it being the exact reverse of what happened here. But in this case, thats a accident.

  13. spinachdip says:

    @Black Bellamy: She means she’s white. And not the kind that lives in a house with wheels.

  14. Myron says:

    There is something I don’t get about the story. How did Kmart know the box contained the wrong shoes? Did the check out person notice? If so, why didn’t the checkout person point out the error, or attempted stealing, right then rather then waiting for the customer to leave the store and then sending security after them?

  15. rworne says:

    For those asking “why didn’t she check the price?” I suggest visiting the shoe aisles at a busy K-Mart once and a while – it usually looks like a bomb went off recently.

    Most items in stores are now unpriced, but I do believe K-Mart and WalMart price the individual shoe boxes.

    So she grabs a pair of flip-flops off the shelf or floor, which are probably unmarked/unpriced and tries to find a box for them.

    Her only fault was (as she stated in the article) not notifying the cashier about the box possibly being wrong.

  16. MystiMel says:

    How much more expensive could the pricier flip flops be if they’re from kmart? Really…

  17. FREAKHEAD says:

    I would think with shrinkage being, what did the article say, $40 billion…BILLION(?!), they would start trying something different like RFID. Something more customer friendly that can track inventory much better.

    Instead, you now ring yourself up, bag your own stuff and get detained by elderly door greeters and over-zealous college kids so they can check your receipt. Perhaps I can start stocking the shelves. At least I know that I won’t be overcharging myself.

    Retailers are losing money but they are attacking the problem incorrectly, obviously, or else shrinkage would go down and consumer happiness would go up. I wish them luck b/c lower shrinkage would mean lower prices on the shelf but again, they need a new approach.

  18. andymadrid1 says:

    When I worked retail on Madison Ave years ago (its like RODEO DRIVE but in NYC), People were trying to steal all the time. If anything, the perps seemed to think the high end environment gave them protection. And when they were politely caught (this is not kmart), they would just as politely produce their platinum amex card and pay for the item(s).

  19. killavanilla says:

    Jeebus -
    I GET that the consumerist is 99% anti-corporation, but COME ON!
    DEFENDING someone who pulled an old scam? Bashing KMART for doing what they should be doing?
    Ugh. This makes me sick.
    Here’s the deal, Consumerist editors….
    This is probably the MOST used scam in the books. Grab the shoe you want, slip it into a box with a cheaper price tag, and try to scam the store.
    She got caught, and instead of utilizing journalistic integrity, you automatically side with the consumer….
    Yeah. An accident. And people with money never steal anything or try and scam anything.
    Unless your name is Winona Rider. Or any host of people we are all aware of. This yoohoo tried to rip off Kmart.
    Intentionally or not, she did something that stores LOOK for. As consumerist readers are fond of reporting, they must witness the theft – which they did.
    Here we have a case of a person who got caught doing exactly what security teams are trained to observe, who then cries foul and proclaims innocence…
    She isn’t.
    And the consumerist should be fair, not just anti-corporation all the time…
    Can you say “Bias”?

  20. Falconfire says:

    @FREAKHEAD: Oh they dont care thats why they dont do something different. If they DID care they would go after their employee’s more since a good 60-70% of shrinkage is the result of your employee’s rather than a customer.

    But the solutions to fixing that they would never want to implement as the studys that show this point out that raising the hourly wage, and giving better in store benefits to its workers reduce that number by a decent percentage.

  21. She should shoplift of ticket switch at either Wally World or Tarbutt, they have store policies not to prosecute if under $25 & $20.

    ==========================

    take a look at Target’s AP Directives at:
    [targetfiling.blogspot.com]

    here is a short summary:
    From: targetfiling.blogspot.com
    =====================================
    C. Five Steps for Apprehension
    Certified AP team members must observe all five steps prior to making a shoplifter apprehension.

    NOTE: If local law enforcement takes independent action and makes an apprehension before all five steps are met, the details must be documented in the CIRS report.

    1. Initiation of Observation – The subject must enter the store/area without possession of Target merchandise.
    2. Selection – The subject must be observed selecting Target merchandise from the display location.
    3. Concealment – The subject must be observed concealing the merchandise, or the AP team member must have NO reasonable doubt based on observations that the merchandise has been concealed by the subject.
    NOTE: If the merchandise is not actually concealed, it must be exposed as the subject exits or attempts to exit the store.
    4. Maintain Observation – The AP team member must maintain sufficient surveillance of the subject in order to know the location of the merchandise and ensure the subject does not discard the merchandise.
    NOTE: A Productive Merchandise Recovery (PMR) shall be attempted if surveillance is broken for any reason, or the AP team member can not maintain sufficient surveillance. (See PMR Directive).
    5. Failure to Pay for Merchandise/Exiting the Store -AP team member(s) must observe the subject attempt to exit the store without paying for the merchandise.
    NOTE: Some jurisdictions allow variances from the exiting requirement to allow apprehensions of concealed merchandise before an individual reaches the building’s exit. In these cases, the requirements must be documented and approved by the Director or Vice President of Assets Protection using the “Variance from Exiting Form” (found on the AP Zone).

    —————–
    D. Restroom / Fitting Room Apprehensions
    AP team members are not allowed to conduct surveillance or make apprehensions in restroom and/or fitting rooms.
    1. AP team members are not allowed to follow subject’s into a restroom or fitting room to conduct surveillance.
    2. AP team members shall not ask another team member to enter a fitting room or restroom to conduct surveillance.
    —————
    B. Searches of Private Residence or Motor Vehicles
    1. AP team members will NOT participate in a search of a private residence or motor vehicle.
    ————–
    1. Fleeing Shoplifter
    a. If a shoplifter attempts to flee after being confronted, do not give chase in any manner (running, driving, etc.).
    b. Store based AP team members shall not use any vehicle to follow or pursue a subject for any reason.
    c. AP team members shall not encourage, condone, suggest or ask another Target team member or anyone else to chase a fleeing shoplifter.
    —————-
    2. AP shall refer for prosecution all individuals apprehended for retail theft when the value of the merchandise is $20.00 or greater and the case meets local prosecution requirements.
    NOTE: If a case meets/exceeds the $20.00 referral guideline, but is NOT referred, the reason for non-referral must be included in the CIRS narrative. (Example: Local jurisdiction limits require merchandise in excess of $75.00 in order for prosecution.)
    3. A team member witness, of the same gender of the suspected shoplifter , must be present in the room at all times during the detention.
    ————–
    A. Photographing Shoplifters
    1. Adult shoplifters – AP shall photograph all adult shoplifters unless prohibited by local statutes or ordinances.
    2. Team Member Shoplifters – AP will not photograph any team member apprehended for shoplifting during working or non-working hours.
    3. Juvenile Shoplifters – AP will not photograph any juveniles apprehended for shoplifting, unless required by local statutes or ordinances.

  22. andymadrid1 says:

    BTW, I read the article this morning on the subway, and I thought she should have said something too. DUH, she found the box with the price on it, in other words – she priced the item herself. She should have made sure it was correct, funny how the MISTAKE favored her wallet. I have a feeling she is white? Most of us with brown skin no better then to try such a stunt being we seem to always be under surveillance while shopping.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    It’s almost impossible to render a judgment on this case. “She said” “He said”.

    Many shoplifters are upper-middle-class white women, so the “do I look like?” challenge is just wrong. Remember Bess Myerson? A former Miss America, in her middle age she ran NYC’s bureau of consumer affairs, and was caught shoplifting petty items – big media scandal. People who are not needy often shoplift for the thrill of beating the system. Sometimes they have impulse-control problems due to mood disorders or personality quirks.

    I’m also sympathetic to the wrong-box situation, though. Those discount stores can be a real mess when it comes to rack displays.

    Give the lady a warning (if she knowingly shoplifted, this will scare the crap out of her and she’s unlikely to repeat) and call it a day.

  24. Falconfire says:

    @killavanilla: look who is biased here. Do you know that this woman did infact steal and intend on stealing? Can you look into her mind or the mind of many others and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they where infact intending to steal.

    That fact is not everyone “switches shoes” intending to steal them. You have little far to look than the rows of shoes in Walmart or Kmart than to see that they are the most unkept isles in the entire store. If they where so concerned about stopping this scam, then they would either

    1) bring back a service rep to the shoe department like they did in the 80’s

    2) tag the SHOE and the not the box and stop using the box as the price like every other store in the US now does.

  25. bostonmike says:

    Neither the store nor the “accidental thief” deserve any sympathy here. The store should know that their shoe section is a disaster and (a) clean it up, and (b) check prices on shoes at the register as a matter of routine. If the shoes don’t have a price on them at all, then how is the customer OR the store supposed to know how much they cost? It’s also idiotic for the store to start throwing around larger accusations at the customer beyond the immediate problem, especially if they’re not going to check the rest of the items she bought or the people she was with. “You deliberately stole this item but we trust you and your family on the other $800 of merchandise?!?” That shows the store is far more interested in driving away certain people they’ve decided they don’t want than in actually reducing their losses to theft.

    And the customer sounds like she got more and more indignant instead of apologetic. She screwed up, picking the wrong box. She screwed up again, not telling the cashier that she put the shoes in the box (and by the way, the shoe section is a complete mess, please page someone to clean it up). Then she screwed up a third time, not reading what she was signing. (And especially when the store is treating you like a criminal, READ WHAT YOU’RE SIGNING!) And finally she uses her position at the WSJ to whine about how she’s such a victim instead of doing something productive like examining the conditions that poorer people are forced to shop in all the time (for example, no item pricing benefits the store because they overcharge far more often than they undercharge).

  26. ancientsociety says:

    Upon RTFA, I think the only thing she left out was:

    “Do you know who I am!?”

    She sounds really conceited and full of herself. And wasn’t there a study recently that showed upper-middle-class, middle-aged white women are the most likely demographic to shoplift?

    @killavanilla: Agreed.

  27. Javert says:

    Random notes:

    From the article, it seems the reason she was caught was that this is a common way to steal so it would be safe to assume that the eye in the sky or a plain clothes saw her do it.

    Why did they not stop her at the counter? Then you cannot collar her. Whomever spotted this would get no credit for an arrest (though she was not arrested, just some sort of fine and notice not to go that store again).

    Why go into different lines if she was innocent? The concept is parrallel processing. If both she and her daughter had carts filled with purchase materials then it would be faster to each go to a different checkout and thus be checked out simultaneously. Faster. Not really indictive of a crime.

    Read the article…it is odd how many of you posted here without reading the article. Thanks for spouting off without knowing the facts.

    Interesting note within the article about ‘merchant’s privilege’ and the store’s right to detain, question and investigate.

    With respect to the comment about the Madison Avenue store, you seem to imply that there is something OK with the attempt to steal so long as the item is paid for after being caught? Am I reading this wrong? I hope so.

    Lastly, please, no one bring up the 4th Amendment because as has been beaten to death, K-Mart is a private entity.

    Read the article. Summation, she made a mistake most likely but the store also was well within their right to do as they did. In all, this seems to be a who cares. An interesting note in the article pointed out that if they truly believed her to be stealing, they would have called the police which they did not do.

  28. killavanilla says:

    @Falconfire:
    I don’t know what she was thinking, but I do know what she did.
    She put a more expensive pair of shoes in a less expensive box. Then, she failed to mention what she had done. she should have.
    But to automatically take her side and imply that KMart did wrong is ridiculous.
    That’s called ‘media bias’.
    “Kmart detained Wall Street Journal editor Laura Landro after she accidentally stole $8 from them by putting a more expensive pair of flipflops in a box with a cheaper price tag. “
    That is a bias statement that implies innocence on the part of the shoplifter.
    A unbiased sentence would say something like:
    “Kmart detained WSJ editor Laura Landro after she allegedly placed a more expensive pair of flip flops in a box with a lower price tag.”
    The word “accidentally” implies that the editors of the consumerist believe it was an accident. By stating it that way, they biased the story against KMart and for Landro based on their assumption that KMart did wrong, not Landro.
    They didn’t say that Landro swapped price tags to save $8, they said she accidentally did it – which as you correctly point out, we don’t know.
    So why are they so eager to side with someone who did the wrong thing?
    That’s called “Bias”. And it is endemic around here. God forbid anyone sides against the one-sided stories and for the corporation being blamed, and every one starts crying about ‘blaming the victim’. The victim in this case was KMart. And here the consumerist blames them for this womans error.
    It may have been an innocent mistake, but KMart didn’t do anything close to wrong.

  29. rjhiggins says:

    If you read the ENTIRE story (how many of you commenters did?) you’ll see that it’s actually a pretty even-handed treatment of both sides of the story. Anyone who has been in the shoe department of a KMart (Walmart, etc.) knows how easily this could happen. On the other hand, she acknowledges that KMart has heard stories like hers a hundred times before.

    The part I like is that, despite her “professional” status and her house in the Hamptons she was treated pretty much like any teenager or person of color from the inner city would be treated. As it should be.

  30. gafpromise says:

    I just wanted to add my voice to everyone who commented about the K-Mart shoe section. I totally agree, a mistake like this would be very easy to make. Shoe sections in the superstores are completely disorganized- tags switched, tags missing, etc. If there isn’t a tag on something I won’t buy it- too much hassle to track down an employee to find the right price, etc etc. Everyone lay off the poor lady!

    OTOH I do know that shoplifting is a huge problem in retail. There are organized shoplifting rings that can do a lot of damage, and I understand why the store would take a hard stand about it.

  31. killavanilla says:

    @gafpromise:
    I guess my problem is that people keep saying it was a ‘mistake’.
    In the original article, she states that she placed the shoes in a box she knew wasn’t correct. Hence, no mistake was made. It was intentional and she was well aware that she did it.
    So if she KNEW she put the shoes in the wrong box, the mistake was not letting the cashier know what she had done.

  32. andymadrid1 says:

    @Javert: In that Madison Ave store, we never chased anyone out the door, nor would I if encouraged to do so by management, not my style or my job. Who knows how much money in lost revenue walked out the door. What I was referring to was when we saw someone try to hide an item on their body, we would simply approach them before they exited the store and ask “would you like me to ring-up that item you stuffed in your purse/coat/suit for you?” Never had someone said no, they would just turn around go to the register and produce their high end card. The employees were searched daily anytime we wanted to exit the store with a bag or jacket so in this case not a lot of internal theft.

  33. jaredgood1 says:

    “Did I seem to him like someone who would cheat the store out of $8 and risk this kind of treatment?” Uhhhh, you’re a white woman. You seem EXACTLY like the type of person who shoplifts. I’m not saying that all white women are shoplifters, but I am saying that most shoplifters are white women (at least those who get caught).

  34. warf0x0r says:

    @toddkravos: Have you seen a KMart or Target Shoe area… better yet go to a walmart one. There are empty boxes everywhere because no one puts the shoes away after trying them on.

  35. killavanilla says:

    @warf0x0r:
    That’s no excuse and you know it.
    If you went to a jewelry store and looked at 3 diamond rings with three boxes, put a more expensive ring in a less expensive rings box, would it be any different?
    Fact: she put the shoes in a box that had a lower price
    fact: she neglected to tell anyone
    The state of cleanliness of the stores shoe aisle is not at issue.

  36. SaraAB87 says:

    Ok first of all, I believe ALL kmart shoes are priced with a tag on the shoe. I used to work at kmart, and I never once scanned the box of a pair of shoes to get the price, in fact most of the time when a customer brought up a pair of shoes we were told to scan only the price tag and throw the box away. Also for every shoe, there is a number on the inside of the shoe that lets you ring up the shoe in case the price tag is missing. If the cashier was suspicious she should have used the number instead of just scanning the box.

    They must have her on camera intentionally switching the box. I am not saying she is in the right, but this is a very easy thing to prevent from happening. Most kmarts here require a price check for EVERY item, even if its a 20 cent difference, so if the shoes didn’t have a tag on them I would think the cashier would have called for a price check, if she didn’t know about the number on the inside of the shoe.

  37. FREAKHEAD says:

    @Falconfire: I couldn’t agree more, it was a point I meant to touch upon.

  38. Falconfire says:

    @killavanilla: Its COMPLETELY a valid excuse.

    You are obviously not a woman, have never dated a woman, or never payed attention to a woman who loves shoes as anyone who lives with or married a woman who is a shoe addict knows that it doesnt matter if its the right box or not if they are buying shoes… THEY MUST HAVE A BOX. Any box. It makes their vast collection of shoes they may wear only once easier to manage.

    Its not the consumers fault that the store cant keep their damn shoe section straight enough so that you can match the right shoe to the right box. But as I said before this is why good stores tag the shoes, and crappy stores like Wallyworld and KMart tag the box.

  39. philbert says:

    People shouldn’t judge so quickly. I once went into a store to purchase a sports bag. I picked one up, unzipped it to check inside and decided to get it. There was no price tag on the bag I had picked up so I reached down and picked up one with a tag and went to the cashier. When I handed it to the cashier she opened the bag and lo and behold there were several items of clothing inside. The cashier looked at me like I had put the items in the bag. I explained I hadn’t bothered to unzip it and check inside. She took the items out and I purchased the bag. All the while she had this glare on her face that told me she was convinced I had put the items in the bag even though I hadn’t

  40. Beerad says:

    @jaredgood1: “most shoplifters are white women”

    Please cite something supporting this claim. I’m not saying it’s untrue, just that I’d like to see some proof for such a blanket generalization.

  41. killavanilla says:

    @Falconfire:
    Um. No. It isn’t an excuse.
    I have dated many women and paid attention to all of them. Some were self-professed ‘shoe whores’.
    But your ‘addiction’ doesn’t excuse this behavior.
    want a box and can’t find one? Fine.
    Then tell the cashier that you just grabbed a box and the shoes inside are different. Or, bring the box seperately from the shoes.
    Or ask for a box after checkout.
    But she didn’t do any of that. She put them in a box marked as less expensive and neglected to tell anyone.
    Meaning, she isn’t excused just because she wanted a box.
    That’s just silly.
    She could have gotten a box and brought it along to the register or asked for one after checkout.
    And I haven’t shopped Kmart for shoes, but Kohls by me is a disaster zone. However, I can ALWAYS find the right box if I look for it.

  42. Hanke says:

    Some of you, it seems, have never shopped at Kmart. Their shoe department, no matter the store, is always a disaster. Shoes without boxes, boxes without shoes, items without price tags, mismatched shoes in the boxes.

    It’s not surprising that something like this happens.

  43. BillyMumphry says:

    Why does anyone think she is rich? An editor at the WSJ? Big deal. Journalist is a journalist. Just because she writes about wealth doesn’t mean she has any.

    Besides everyone knows only coloreds steal.

    kidding but the fact that i feel the need to point that out, despite the white women comment above, is sad.

  44. killavanilla says:

    Last time I checked, you can get shoe boxes (nice ones without logos) at most container stores…
    [www.containerstore.com]
    I’m not buying what some of you are selling.
    Don’t like the condition of the shoe aisle? Don’t buy shoes there. A drop in shoe sales is sure to bring some managerial attention to the department.
    OR ask for a manager and bring them over.
    OR buy yourself some nice shoe boxes so you can feed your shoe addiction cleanly…

  45. Buran says:

    @killavanilla: “She put a more expensive pair of shoes in a less expensive box. Then, she failed to mention what she had done. she should have.”

    Uh … given the mess that the shoe aisle is in most discount stores I’ve ever been in, most of the shoes are either not in boxes or are in the wrong box anyway. YOU try matching them up. The store knows the shoe aisle is a mess. If it wants to blame people for not magically knowing what goes where, it should clean that mess up! If the store obviously doesn’t care, the customers won’t either.

    It was a mistake. There’s no need to skewer this woman over it. The right answer: look up the shoe model # in the computer, find the right price, and if she was charged too little, explain the fuss and ask her for the difference.

    I wouldn’t shop there either if I were treated like that over a simple mistake that lots of other people make too.

  46. Buran says:

    @philbert: I sure hope you haven’t gone back there. I’ve gotten that kind of attitude copped at me for things not my fault (including a rude pharmacist last night who glowered at me because the guy ahead of me was a rude jerk — how was that my fault?) and made a point of not shopping at that place again.

  47. cde says:

    @killavanilla: In the original article, she states that she placed the shoes in a box she knew wasn’t correct.

    No, it does not. RTFA and it says that she found a pair of size 9’s not in a box. Then she found the only box in the area for size 9, with a pair of shoes that looked too small for the box. She made some effor to find the right box. She did not say, that box has a cheaper price, so I’ll stick it in there to save cash.

  48. Falconfire says:

    @Buran: Dont worry about it, every comment from killavanilla has been trolling to a extent and pretty much blanketly supporting big box retailers. Odds are he’s a lacky blogger from some industry group.

  49. Beerad says:

    This is actually a good time to plug one of my favorite online stores, Zappos.com. Crazy good prices on a huge selection of shoes, outstanding customer service and returns process, and nobody will ever accuse you of putting shoes in a different box.

    I never buy clothes online because I think generally you want to see the item in person, and yeah trying shoes on in a store has some benefits, but Zappos is just awesome. I’m a dude, so maybe seeing the shoes in person is more important for the ladies. Anyway, no I don’t work for them, know anyone who does, or get any kind of kickback. Just a devoted customer. All the discussion of disaster shoe areas in stores just reminded me of how much I liked buying shoes online.

  50. killavanilla says:

    @Buran:
    So let me get this straight, it’s the store’s fault?
    Way to blame the victim here….
    :-)
    Yeah. The shoe aisle is a mess.
    That’s been pointed out numerous times. It’s still no excuse.
    If you don’t like the condition of the shoe aisle, shop elsewhere. Otherwise, do the right thing and let the cashier know what you did and why. That way, it doesn’t have any chance of becoming a criminal matter.
    That’s not an excuse and I am not skewering the woman over it. But she did the wrong thing and the store responded within their rights and here, the consumerist called it ‘accidental’.
    This wasn’t an accident – she knew what she was doing and admitted so in her little bitchy article. She could have avoided this by being honest about it, but instead either forgot (ignorance is no excuse under the law) or intentionally neglacted to mention it to save a few bucks. Unacceptable.
    The store doesn’t want to ‘blame people for not magically knowing what goes where’, they want to avoid allowing customers to place more expensive items in boxes with lower prices, a common retail scam.
    So if you find a leather jacket with no price tag, is it okay to grab a price tag from a t-shirt and slap it on then demand that price?

  51. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Felix the Cat:

    It’s fine to post the blog link in your comment, but please stop copying/pasting in all that text in your comments. You’ve done that on quite a few comments, and this isn’t even a Target post.

  52. Dorgon says:

    I read the complete article, and the single most important thing in there is that she did not read the receipt she signed.

    How could she do such a thing? She’s an editor, for goodness sakes. For shame.

  53. MrEleganza says:

    killavanilla, It seems to me that you just want to replace one bias with another. Anyone reading your “improved” headline would not assume that the defendant contends she made an innocent mistake. Secondly, the write-up does absolutely nothing to imply that K-mart did anything wrong, you are just pulling that accusation out of thin air.

    Thirdly, this a consumer advocacy website. You wouldn’t expect the NRA to publish accidental gun death anecedotes or statistics, because that’s not its raison d’etre.

    By and large, though, the Consumerist does an excellent job or either allowing the corporation to defend itself or at least trying to get its side of the story. Again, you just want it to project YOUR biases. Go find a pro-corporation blog or whatever if that’s what you want. Understand the purpose of this blog.

  54. Beerad says:

    @killavanilla: Well, actually it does matter under the law whether this was intentional or not. Yes, she intentionally put the shoes in the box, but according to her story (about which I am taking no position) she thought it was the right box. Theft is generally a specific intent crime, meaning you have to know that you’re stealing something. If you legitimately thought you put the shoes in the right box, you aren’t trying to steal them. Hence the “accident” part of the story.

    There’s really no way to tell for sure what happened here based on the information given, which naturally leads to a lot of assumptions and speculation, but there’s certainly a plausible explanation under which she’s not at all at fault beyond perhaps a little “duh” for assuming that she had the right box (which the store employee was unable to locate, btw).

  55. She admitted she was wrong and she didn’t fault KMart, she was just writing about her experience and how surprised she was that it’s guilty until proven innocent. I don’t think she portrayed KMart in a bad light.

    She should probably be happy they kept the sandals, it might’ve burned her feet off.

  56. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @killavanilla:

    It might make more sense to address comments on editorial matters directly to the post’s author — Ben, in this case. E-mail addresses can be found in the left margin of the page.

  57. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    So, did he find the stuff or did he loot it?

  58. IndyJaws says:

    I’ve been in the same situation before (buying shoes and looking for a box to put them in). Never once would I consider just looking for a box in the same size and dumping them in without first ensuring the prices were the same for both. Please don’t give the excuse, “It’s K-Mart, they’ll be cheap,” and not look at both the shoe and box pricing. That’s just asking for trouble. 100% consumer fault.

  59. wring says:

    this is why there should be tags on the flip flops themselves and not the effin box, then the cashier scans that tag instead of the box. saves everyone a lot of trouble.

  60. wring says:

    also, lady spent $800 in merchandise and kmart couldn’t let the $8 go? WOW.

  61. jacknval says:

    Why the heck is her family taking photos in Kmart? Weirdos. She is wrong, Kmart is right, they see this all the time. And her “Do I look like a thief” claim is racist. She should be embarrassed to even have written this article.

  62. Morgan says:

    @killavanilla: A better metaphor would be going into a diamond store, finding 20 rings and 15 boxes scattered on a counter, finding a ring you want with the number of carats on a tag on the ring, finding the only box with that number of carats on it in the area and placing it in said box. Then, when it turns out that this was the wrong box, an employee of the store is unable to find the right box anywhere (you did read the article and notice that the store couldn’t find the correct box to put it in, right?). She should have mentioned that she didn’t find those shoes with that box, yes, but she didn’t have any reason to believe it was an issue; there was little to no correlation between the boxes and the shoes on the shelves, so why should she think the correlation mattered at checkout?

  63. Anonymous says:

    Kmart might be right, but as someone who hates shopping I’d just write them off of a hassle to me. A discount store can be cheap and hassle free at the same time. Make it easy for me to shop because time is money. Way to conduct business Kmart! Detain a paying customer for dealing with your mess! She won’t ever take your $8 again…but then you’ll miss out on $800. Duh.

  64. killavanilla says:

    @MrEleganza:
    Yeah. That’s it. God forbid we report a story without injecting bias into it and claiming it was an accident.
    My headline wasn’t an attempt at ‘improving’ anything. I was illustrating the inherent bias of the post and the way it was convened.
    And yes, this is a consumer focused site, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be reasonable when describing a story.
    But you managed to point out another issue this site has when you told me to go find a pro-corporate blog. Listen, I am all about this site being pro-consumer. But the implication was that she did it ‘accidentally’ and that KMart came with the hammer. But my opinion shouldn’t exclude me from reading the consumerist and I find it a little offensive that you make the suggestion that I leave. Kmart didn’t do anything wrong and this should have been a cautionary tale of what a consumer SHOULD do versus what this consumer did do.
    Instead, it reads a bit like a hit piece.
    I’m sorry we disagree, but I don’t think you should have the right to tell me that I should go find a pro-corporation website.
    But hey, I tend to be the voice of reason around here – the one who refuses to simply accept a one-sided story that exaggerates and implies no wrong doing on the behalf of the consumer. Most of you tend to call me the pro-corporation shill instead of taking into consideration that we often get exactly one side of the story.
    On the other hand, I do agree that for the most part, this site does an excellent job.

  65. killavanilla says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS:
    Perhaps, but then there wouldn’t be an interesting debate about bias and partiality.
    And I fully realize that the consumerist is consumer biased, but in this case the consumer made a mistake and the article headline implies that the act was accidental when it was, in fact, not really accidental at all. In the linked story, the author states that she knew she had grabbed a box with a different price tag on it. This puts here at fault. Hence, no accident.

  66. Beerad says:

    @killavanilla: Sigh. By her own account, she accidentally put the shoes in the wrong box. Nobody’s claiming that she accidentally boxed the shoes.

  67. killavanilla says:

    @Beerad:
    ah yes, but she didn’t say she thought it was the right box, she said she the box she chose said size 9:
    “The only box marked size nine had tiny toddler-size shoes in it; since they seemed to be in the wrong box, I removed them and placed my nines inside. I didn’t look at the price on the box.”
    For all we know, she put one brand names shoes in another brand named shoes box.
    Hence, her plausible deniability is in question.
    The way this scam works in a theft situation is that a person removes items from one box and places those items in a box with a reduced price. Then, at some point, they feign ignorance.
    All I am saying is that the claim of ‘accidental theft’ is convenient, but not realistic or reasonable.
    I am not saying she meant to steal, I am saying she could have avoided the issue by telling the cashier what she had done and why. Instead, she kept quiet and the store acted within it’s rights.
    Part of what this site can do is help consumers figure out the best way to resolve a problem. This story makes no such attempt, which is where my problem is. Yes, it is a story, but if all we learn from it is that Kmart is evil, then we haven’t really learned anything.

  68. Kishi says:

    I worked in a Dillards, and we had one guy who came in and kept switching tags on pairs of jeans. Now, since these were clearance, and given the sale we were on at the time, he was switching tags so he paid $12 for a pair of $16 jeans. I just don’t get it.

    He came in a few times, and the last time, our manager (nice guy, but fairly physically imposing) came over and hovered around the guy until he left.

  69. killavanilla says:

    @Morgan: Perhaps your analogy is more prudent.
    Point taken.
    But I STILL fail to see the importance of the rogue box being unfindable…
    So what?
    So go to the checkout with the shoes and tell her you couldn’t find the box. They likely would have charged her correctly and taken the time to find the box, as the situation would be that a paying customer wanted it instead of some crazy lady who did what she did wanted it.
    It doesn’t matter that they couldn’t find the box. What matters is what she did with the shoes that resulted in her underpaying for merchandise.
    Sorry, still not seeing the point here, but if the box was the issue, she would have asked for one at checkout and likely would have been given one, even if it wasn’t the right box.

  70. disavow says:

    For the most part, it seemed like K-Mart was justified in detaining her. But (assuming she didn’t exaggerate) for an HOUR…?

  71. killavanilla says:

    @Beerad:
    Go reread the article, she said:
    “The only box marked size nine had tiny toddler-size shoes in it; since they seemed to be in the wrong box, I removed them and placed my nines inside. I didn’t look at the price on the box.”
    That does not mean she ‘accidentally put the shoes in the wrond box’, it means she put the shoes in the only box she could find that was marked as size 9.
    I’m sure the folks at Jimmy Choo wouldn’t want her to put a $800 pair of their shoes in a box marked size 9 with a $300 price tag on it.
    The accidental argument she is making refers to the fact that she didn’t intend to pay less than she should have.
    She intended to use that box, even though there is a chance that the box was from a totally different manufacturer.

  72. Falconfire says:

    @killavanilla: The folks at Jimmy Choo would have waited hand and foot on her and taken the shoes to the casher themselves. Nor do they use run of the mill boxes.

    By your own quoting of the article you proved how little your making sense of this and are just running your mouth off since its obvious she assumed the size 9 box was for the sandals near where she found the box (that where um lets see ummmm SIZE 9), and not the obviously wrongly boxed kids shoes that she took out of them (which would never come close to filling a size 9 box might I add, unless it was a kids size 9 in which case the sandals would never have fit in the box)

  73. cde says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: Off topic, but I find it funny we can’t comment on a post announcing a new comment mod…. Ironic even :P

    @killavanilla: Again, you just gloss over the fact that she didn’t know the box and shoes were a different price until after she got stopped.

  74. killavanilla says:

    @Falconfire:
    Wow. THAT was an inflammatory response.
    I’m ‘running’ my ‘mouth off’?
    Brilliant.
    See, unlike you I am unwilling to make an assumption about the box she grabbed. It might have been a mens size 9 boot box for all you or I know. HENCE, I am asking the question while you are assuming she took a flip flop box.
    You are assuming that she assumed.
    Now THAT is solid reasoning if I ever heard it.
    One of the most important parts of thinking logically is NOT to assume. One part of thinking objectively is NOT to assume the pieces of the story perfectly defend anything.
    As many have pointed out, the shoe aisles are very confusing places at KMart. Just the other day, i was at kohls looking for a pair of sport sandals and found one, in my size, improperly placed on the same shelf as a crappy pair of same sized ‘dress’ shoes that cost half.
    If I had put the $30 sandals in the $15 shoe box, would you defend me?

  75. killavanilla says:

    @cde:
    She didn’t know the prices were different because she didn’t bother to check (which she admitted).
    Ignorance is no excuse.
    And of no consequence. I am NOT saying she did it intentionally. I am saying she was careless. I am saying that she could have avoided this by being more careful. I didn’t gloss over anything.

  76. cde says:

    @killavanilla: No, because you’re the type of person that deserves to go to jail for petty mistakes.

  77. cde says:

    @killavanilla: Check how? Tag on the sandels? Asking the workers, who without a box or tag, will be just as clueless?

  78. Maulleigh says:

    Yeah, I don’t get the point of this post. I agree with K-mart. Never underestimate how much people suck.

  79. killavanilla says:

    @cde:
    I’m the type of person that deserves to go to jail for petty mistakes?
    Tell you what, let me buy you a cup of decaf because that comment is not only offensive, but childish.
    No one is going to jail in this story.
    And when I make a mistake, I own up to it.
    And in a situation like this, I never would have made the mistake. I am careful about this sort of thing because I’ve been in a similar situation.
    No one deserves to go to jail over a petty mistake. Fortunately, she didn’t go to jail.
    What is your problem? Don’t like discussing things? Opposed to hearing others opinions? Offended by a differing opinion?
    Any chance of you ever being civil to me in the comments section or are you just hostile all the time when you disagree with someone?

  80. Beerad says:

    @killavanilla: I’m going to stop beating this very dead horse (sorry, after this post) but I think it’s pretty obvious from her article that she picked the box she did because she thought it was the right one for the shoes. If there’s only one size 9 box, and you’re holding size 9 shoes, and that size 9 box doesn’t appear to have size 9 shoes in it, it’s not that crazy an assumption.

  81. killavanilla says:

    @cde:
    She said she didn’t bother to check the price.
    She knew what the price of the sandals were.
    Since most retail boxes have stickers with pricing on them, yes – that would have been one way to check.
    Another way would have been to say to the cashier:
    “I wanted these sandals, but couldn’t find the box so I grabbed this one to put them in. The box may not even be for the same product. Just wanted to let you know.”
    Voila! Problem avoided.

  82. killavanilla says:

    @Beerad:
    Maybe.
    But the box wasn’t for the same thing, so I disagree (respectfully).
    The only similarity between the sandals and the box she chose was the size.

  83. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @cde:

    I know — file that one under irony. :-)

  84. Buran says:

    @killavanilla: It’s both their faults. And it was an accident. I guess that still means someone has to “pay”. Never screwed up, ever?

  85. killavanilla says:

    @Buran:
    I have screwed up.
    When I was much younger, I even shoplifted something.
    And you are right, someone has to pay.
    But she took it one more step and wrote a story about it that makes kmart look bad.
    I still don’t see how it was kmarts fault though….
    Their loss prevention officer saw what happened and did his job. Is it unfortunate? Sure. But I do wonder how difficult it would be to explain your way out of the ‘accident’ and offer to pay.
    I have avoided just such an incedent by speaking up at checkout.
    Heck, I’ve even gone back to my local grocery store to have them charge me for the case of Diet Coke they missed. I got home, took a look at the receipt and realized what had happened. So I went back. (I deserve a medal :-) )
    I just don’t see what Kmart did wrong.

  86. killavanilla says:

    @Falconfire:
    Now I’m a troll that works for a corporate advocacy group?
    Wow.
    Just wow. Tin foil hats, anyone?
    Just because I disagree with some articles and assertions of widespread corporate evil doesn’t make me a troll or an advocate for anyone.
    I am an independant thinker who doesn’t ALWAYS believe what consumers claim just because they are consumers.
    So let’s try this: instead of trashing me in your posts and trying to make ridiculous claims of trolling, just ignore me. That way, you can avoid coming off as insane and paranoid.

  87. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Lively discourse is one thing, but this thread is starting to degenerate into an off-topic flamewar. Flamers, you know who you are. Cut it out, please.

  88. thepassenger says:

    Did anyone else read this article and think that $24.50 for a pair of flip-flops, at Kmart, is completely insane?

  89. Javert says:

    @andymadrid1: Thanks for clearing that up. I thought that after they had crossed the store’s threshhold you would then accpet payment. I see the way that it was done would allow for mistakes and give people a chance to correct an error. If we are to believe as told in this case, the WSJ would have needed a new article today.

  90. emax4 says:

    People make mistakes, but it’s up to Kmart to determine whether or not her action was intentional or a mistake, then take appropriate action. In this case, whether it was intentional or a mistake, the action is going to be the same. I did the same thing at a thrift store when pricing answering machines once. I was looking at one that used a cassette and another in its own box that was digital. I don’t know how it happened but I put the cheaper, cassette-based machine in the digital machine’s box and ended up paying a higher price for the older unit.

    KillaVanilla’s right, that the journalist did screw up by writing an article about it. She also made the mistake of not admitting that she had made a mistake. Describing one’s actions does not constitute admitting one had made a mistake. She says that no salesperson was around, but she didn’t say that she went looking for a salesperson either after one wasn’t seen lurking around. On a smaller scale, she’s screwed up part of the store inventory as well. Not that this matters, but it shows that the consumers only care about themselves and show no compliance for store policy.

    She’s shooting herself in the foot (no pun intended) if you ask me. The better thing for us to do is probably write to The Wall Street Journal to their Letters to the Editor department and see where it goes from there, or see if any WSJ readers feel the same way as we do.

  91. girly says:

    She really approached it wrong.

    Instead of being offended she was stopped, she should have explained how it happened and just paid the difference.

  92. girly says:

    She wrote an article about it? Even this short snippet seems to show she doesn’t see the store’s side of things.

  93. phrygian says:

    I’m wondering why Kmart didn’t offer to re-ring the shoes at the correct price. Refunding the shoes instead of giving her the option to pay the correct price seems odd to me. (Probably because the retail stores I’ve worked at were more interested in selling merchandise than just making a point.)

  94. Trick says:

    This person handed over her license *AND* credit card? If I were in the situation I would have demanded the police come and review the video of my so-called shoplifting.

    I sure the hell wouldn’t give my credit card to some rent-a-cop on a power trip.

  95. cde says:

    @phrygian: I’m figuring that 1) they couldn’t find the box so they couldn’t ring it up, or 2) Since she “stole” them and was subsequently banned, they dont want to give her a legal reason to be there (Return/refund/exchange on warranty, etc).

    Seemingly, if she did just spend 400 or 800 dollars in her lane alone, and everything else in her cart checked out (Which Im sure they looked into), they still think its intentional theft and not an error.

    @Trick: I would have never gone to a back room in the first place. Make a scene in the lobby/exit area.

  96. Jesse in Japan says:

    Those shoes could have found their way into the wrong box weeks before she ever set foot into the store. The boxes aren’t sealed, and lots of people handle the shoes. Hell, I see shoes in the wrong boxes at shoe stores all the time.

  97. KiloWhipped says:

    @thepassenger: Haha – that was my reaction. “$24.50? For flipflops?? At KMART??? Wtf?”

  98. cde says:

    @KiloWhipped: Don’t laugh. These come with the special anti-chemical burn gaurentee

  99. FLConsumer says:

    What’s she doing in a K-Mart to begin with? I didn’t know K-Marts were still around, but the last time I was in one (maybe 4-5 years ago?) they somehow managed to be below Mal-Wart, which is quite an accomplishment.

  100. Bunnymuffin says:

    @thepassenger: Nope, I was wondering the heck these super wonderful $25 Kmart flipflops looked like.

  101. ShadowFalls says:

    @Bunnymuffin:

    Do you mean how well do they compete with Walmart’s? Perhaps even produce the same chemical burn effect we all hope for?

    Seriously though, it is easy to noy put a pair of shoes in the same box, especially if a person tries on many at a time and mixes them up. Sometimes people don’t take the ones they just tried on and put them back in the box, they just do it after they have done them all. As for the person claiming such, how could they assume such had even occured?

    It was Kmart’s fault for having a a “pile of shoes” being sold, and I have seen this happen in many stores, some never even have boxes for them. In any regards, It was surely not intentional, this could have been handled easier, instead they made it difficult. It was not like she never paid for them, or like there was anything she was trying to hide.

    When others mention why did she not inform the sales person? Well, it depends on when she chose the shoes. If she chose those and then checked out 30 minutes later, she could have forgotten, as apparently others were there with her, she could have become distracted and forgot to bring it up, say honestly if this has not happened to you at least once.

    Let us flip it around, what if a person had bought a pair of shoes but put it in a more expensive box. Would that guy have come running out and told her she spent too much? Ofcourse not, it is ok for Kmart to steal from you by accident and by knowing, but it is not ok for you to do it completely by accident.

  102. mrearly2 says:

    So, instead of pointing out to Mrs. Landro that she had a cheaper pair in the box, the clerk let her go, to be accused of theft by security personnel. What heroes!
    Mrs. Landro should have been careful–does she edit as badly as she shops?

  103. Charmander says:

    Sounds like something I would do, especially with my 2 kids in tow, on a harried day. Grab a box that looks about right. I thought they opened the box and scanned the shoes inside at the checkout anyway.

    If it happened to me, I would have appreciated the checker telling me that the shoes were in the wrong box, and having someone get the right box – which she couldn’t find (and apparently Kmart couldn’t find either). Why wait until the person is out of the store? Why can’t the checker say something? It could very well be an honest mistake.

    Accidents do happen. I believe her. And yes, she really should have said something at the counter.

  104. Charmander says:

    About going into different lines when you are shopping with family members who are also buying things: HELLO PEOPLE!!!

    There are plenty of scenarios as to why this could have happened. I generally go into the line that moves the fastest. And that doesn’t always mean I’m going to be in line with the people I came in the store with. What if they weren’t done shopping at the exact same time she was? What if they were in line together, and then a cashier said, “Can I help the next person in line over here?… so one of them moved over? What if the family members and her were in line together, but then they forgot to pick up something and then came back a few minutes later and a there was a new, shorter line – wouldn’t it make sense to get in that line? Presumably they were completely separate tr ansactions, so why it would be suspicious?

    The point is, nobody here knows why her family members were having their own, separate purchases rung up at another register (albeit at around the same time) so until you do, don’t cast this as a suspicious act.

  105. Anonymous says:

    @Killanvilla and the rest of you: You are all completely missing the point here.

    Kmart messed up badly. They’ve sent the very clear message to several hundred thousand Wall Street Journal readers that they assume every customer is a potential thief and that they have no intention whatsoever of changing that policy.

    Clearly, given the disarray of the shoe dept., Landro is not the first person to have accidentally placed a pair of shoes into the wrong box.

    So put prices on the shoes themselves. And put up signs that tell people to make sure they put the right shoes in the right box and be sure to tell the cashier. Provide sales help so that people don’t need to scrounge for boxes.

    Do these things and unsuspecting people won’t be tagged as thieves. The burden is on the store to treat people fairly, not on the customer to second-guess the store’s policies.

    There are plenty of other stores that treat people fairly and Kmart is going to quickly lose customers to them.

    This article is a pure PR disaster for Kmart- all people (save Killanvilla) take away from it is that Kmart assumes its customers are all criminals.

    Ouch!

  106. Anonymous says:

    @Mamalicious: You’ve posted what a lot of people thought after reading this article.

    Immediately followed by “I’m never going to set foot in Kmart again- that could have been me and they seem to want to entrap people– they never bothered to apologize to her even after the fact.”

    As for the inane “Two Cart Theory” – she was with her adult stepdaughter. The stepdaughter paid for her purchases and Landro paid for hers. Getting into two lines let them leave the store faster.

  107. girly says:

    If you check the boingboing posting now, there’s a comment on it from someone who says they are a loss prevention coach for Kmart, and that if it was a ticket switching scenario, procedure actually was not followed.

    Aside from the issue that prompted Landro to write her story, I think the way she wrote it is a bit telling (such as mentioning she contacted her husband while he was on the ‘golf course’).