Don't Believe That Guy Who Works At Lowe's Who Can "Get Everything 1/2 Off"

Here’s the story of a guy who had to learn the hard way that “your friend who works at Lowe’s and says he can get you everything 1/2 off” is a liar and a criminal.

We take you to the quiet Philadelphia suburb of Upper Moreland, PA where Eric W. Johnson is accused of stealing $28,000 worth of merchandise. Mr. Johnson was stealing all sorts of expensive stuff (examples include a $900 Troybilt Pony lawn tractor, a $1,099 John Deere lawn tractor, and six charcoal grills costing $169 each) and selling the items to friends for 1/2 off. He explained that he was “using his employee discount” to buy the items. Right. He even brought his unwitting accomplices to the store to help him shoplift.

Johnston was arrested March 21 for retail theft after store loss prevention employees, who had suspected him of stealing, caught him trying to remove a pallet with $1,033 worth of merchandise on it.

Employees saw Johnston talking to Bryan T. Gordon, 36, of Upper Moreland, in the store and then later take the pallet to Gordon’s truck, which was parked near the contractors’ entrance, said police.

Both Johnston and Gordon were detained, and police said they admitted that they intended to steal the items. Gordon was also charged with retail theft.

But Gordon paints a different story. He says he never knew Johnston was stealing from the store and had no intentions of stealing anything himself.

Gordon says Johnston, whom he knew from sometimes doing landscape work on his property, had asked if he could bring his truck to Lowes to pick up some heavy items Johnston had. Johnston also told Gordon that he could use his employee discount so Gordon could buy some bathroom tiling for half off the price.

“I thought everything was on the up and up,” said Gordon. “This was poor judgment on my part.”

As Johnston was about to load a skid of merchandise, including the tiling, into Gordon’s truck, loss prevention employees came out and grabbed both of them.

“I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. I’m just sick to my stomach,” said Gordon, who said he tried to explain the situation to police.

We feel bad for this poor gullible guy. How embarrassing! We hope the judge goes easy on him and throws the book at the Lowe’s employee. Do you think he’s telling the truth? Or are we too nice?

Police: Stolen Lowe’s items sold to friends [PhillyBurbs]


Edit Your Comment

  1. iguanoid says:

    Oy vey. Greed at a good deal can cloud your judgement I guess. Who knows if he is telling the truth, but if he is, I feel for the dumb bastard.

  2. alice_bunnie says:

    I think it’s plausible the other guy got dupe unless he’s been in on other “good deals”. I know I’ve had friends who’ve used their employee discounts to get me up to 30% off on things. However, pallets of goods might have made me a bit suspicious. I know employee discounts are for personal use and not for neighborhood use.

  3. chicagocooper says:

    So at Lowes they can detain suspects of theft?

  4. VG10 says:

    You can’t claim stupid, throw the book at both of them.

  5. ecwis says:

    they admitted that they intended to steal the items

    Ha, good job guys.

  6. @chicagocooper:

    They were loss prevention division, they are within their rights. This isn’t “normal employee detains thief” story.

    The pallets also makes me suspicious. Many people do allow their friends to use their employee discount, but they’d pay on the spot, while this is a Lowe’s it sounds strange for hauling off so much material at once.

    It isn’t possible to know if he’s telling the truth or not. It’s going to be up to the judge on this one, and a harsh lesson learned if the book is thrown at him.

  7. HeartBurnKid says:

    I say lock the thieving employee up, but let the doofus go. Stupid and naive isn’t a criminal offense — yet.

  8. Bladefist says:

    @chicagocooper: if they see you doing it, they have more rights to detain you. The receipt checkers, are the ones who have 0 right to detain you.

  9. ecwis says:

    So did the guy actually work for Lowe’s? If so, that fuels the argument that most shrinkage is a result of their own employees stealing merchandise. Eh?

  10. MeOhMy says:

    They should have just showed their receipt!

    As for the people involved…it’s odd that the part from the police says “THEY” admitted they intended to steal the stuff but then it says the friend had no idea. Which is it?

    I can sort of see the friend having no idea. When I’ve had friends with employee discounts that they could pass on to friends/family I took them at their word, but honestly I have no idea if any of it was legit now that I think about it!

  11. m4ximusprim3 says:

    If he’s stolen 28G’s worth of stuff, I’ll bet the LP guys were on to him for a little while beforehand and quietly documented everything that left the store untill they hit the magical “we can prosecute him” mark (used to be 5 grand, don’t know what it is nowadays).

  12. blackbrutha says:

    they should’ve just ran away, loss prevention ain’t the police.

  13. whatdoyoucare says:

    I’ve never heard of an employee discount at a major chain that offers 50% off- usually it’s around 10%. The friend was stupid and/or in on this.

  14. EmperorOfCanada says:

    I dont know, I might assume my friend was on the up and up. Who would expect their friend to have the balls to do this in broad daylight?

  15. Nelsormensch says:

    @whatdoyoucare: I’ve known some folks who had a legitimate 50% employee discount, but at apparel stores where the markup is generally huge.

  16. Darkwish says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Maybe not, but it should be.

    Of the places that offer employee discounts, I’ve never seen it more than 10%, most are more like 5% and have restrictions on what it applies to. Hell, half the time coupons and promotions/sales are better than the employee discounts (and I’ve never seen a place that lets you use both at the same time).

    I wouldn’t believe the 50% employee discount line if it was the general manager saying it.

  17. Darkwish says:

    @Darkwish: I should add, that I wouldn’t believe it unless they provided official company documentation showing that the employee discount really is that much.

  18. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:


    Hard to say whether the dude’s friend knew what was going on or not.

  19. ChuckECheese says:

    I would like to be the first to thank the Consumerist for tossing this red meat out to the blame-the-victim crowd.

  20. XTC46 says:

    @Darkwish: I worked at an electronics store and out discount was we got stuff at cost. For some products that was 5-10% but on others it was 90% On big screen TVs it was 20-60% depending on the brand.

  21. trujunglist says:

    I think the police are completely full of shit and the dude really was that naive. If a friend offers you something, even if it sounds too good to be true, I think that you’re more likely to believe that they wouldn’t do something illegal or whatever because they’re your friend and they wouldn’t lead you astray because you wouldn’t do it to them. That’s where he fucked up. He forgot that his friend isn’t him, and doesn’t think the same way that he does.
    The police are just trying to coerce a confession out of him by splitting them and their stories up. If his friend insists that he was in on the whole thing, then he’ll probably go down hard.

  22. ClayS says:


    We really don’t know for sure given the information provided.

    That’s why in a court of law, both sides have an opportunity to present their stories.

  23. amelie317 says:

    At Lowe’s the discount was 10% on normal in-stock stuff, and on special orders we paid 10% over cost, which was usually a hell of a deal.

  24. FightOnTrojans says:

    If it was a friend, I’d believe him. I’ve had friends and family get me a discount at places they work, and vice versa. Never has it been anywhere near as much as 50%. And there has always been a receipt involved, just to ensure that everything was on the up and up.

    This guy, however, wasn’t the poor schmuck’s friend. He was a guy that did landscape work for him once in a while. That is a big difference for me. 50% off would have been a huge red flag for me, plus obviously, there was no receipt. Should have known better.

  25. Difdi says:

    There’s an old saying about how you can’t cheat an honest man. That’s not entirely true anymore, in these days of sneakwrap contracts and companies that change the terms after you sign. But even so, it’s a lot harder to cheat someone who isn’t blinded by greed…

  26. MrEvil says:

    Lowe’s Employee discount is 10% off shelf price. For special order merchandise it’s cost +10%.

    What makes the Best Buy employee discount so lucrative is that it’s cost +10%, it used to be cost +5%. There’s alot of stuff at Best Buy with a very low employee price. Alot of car audio stuff ends up about half off.

  27. TPS Reporter says:

    A distribution company I worked for once that sold health and beauty stuff to grocery stores let us buy stuff at their cost. Of course I got the job because they had just had a major investigation and firings and arrests because the shipping guys were sending out whole pallets of toothpaste, shaving cream, all that stuff on trucks they would rent and then load. Apparently if you even admitted to taking home a company pen, they fired you on the spot during this investigation.

  28. MARTHA__JONES says:

    If Gordon was told Johnston was using his associate discount to obtain the good being sold to Gordon at a largely discounted rate he could not otherwise receive he was in the wrong. An associate discount is a benefit of employee which is extended to employees and their dependents.

    Gordon may not have been aware of the stealing, but he still knew he was a part of theft.

  29. MeOhMy says:


    An associate discount is a benefit of employee which is extended to employees and their dependents.

    This varies WILDLY from one business to the next. My wife loves to take side jobs for store discounts. At some places (American Eagle, for instance), the employee discount was for the employee ONLY – not even immediate family. In fact you could not even apply the employee discount to clothes of the “wrong” gender at AE. At other places the discount could be passed on to anyone you knew.

  30. uricmu says:

    How do you shoplift a loan tractor?
    Don’t you have to sign out for one? They don’t just have 9000$ items running around the floor.

  31. cde says:

    @MARTHA__JONES: Company POLICY is not law. If an employee offers to sell me something they legally bought at a discounted price, I have done nothing wrong, criminally or civilly. The employee does it against company policy, the only real recourse is termination of employment. They MIGHT and thats a big might, be civilly liable, under a very creative interpretation of thief laws, but its all bullshit. Like you. Hell, most store would not extend an employee discount to family members, for one.

  32. cde says:

    One thing everyone should look at is that Gordon thought that Johnston was offering him the tile at his cost in exchange for a favor.

  33. Kounji says:

    Lowe’s does not allow you to extend employee discounts to friends. By company policy you are allowed to extend it to your spouse and children, but not your parents or other relatives. Failure to adhere to that policy can be grounds for disciplinary action.

    That being said, that rule was violated plenty of times while I worked for Lowes. Generally it would depend on who the particular manager was on duty and who was allowing the particular discount. However to this extend where an entire palette of merchandise is going out door is something that will draw lost prevention in a heartbeat. Half off is not something that is typical at all for Lowe’s discounts. The employee discount is 10%.

  34. Kounji says:

    Also in the six years I worked for the company, I learned unofficially just through gossip of 5 alleged issues at the time. Even though shoplifting occurred, the employee theft was typically for more money.

  35. enine says:

    I know the story is a fake because you can’t get a truck near the contractors entrance, its always blocked by the Lexus and Mercedes cars whise owners are too important to park in a parking space.

  36. lemur says:


    If it was a friend, I’d believe him. I’ve had friends and family get me a discount at places they work, and vice versa. Never has it been anywhere near as much as 50%. And there has always been a receipt involved, just to ensure that everything was on the up and up.

    You start by saying you’d believe him but then you say that whenever you benefited from an employee discount it was not anywhere close to 50%. If a friend came and said you’d be able to get 50% off, would you believe him?

    If a friend came to me with that, I would not automatically think he is a crook or a liar but I would want to check on the terms of the employee discount from other sources. It is unfortunately the case that well-intentioned people are sometimes confused or misinformed.

  37. aka Cat says:

    @Troy F.: That AE policy would tick me off. I like wearing men’s shirts!

    On the other end of the spectrum, my ex used to work for a major personal computer company that allowed the employees to extend their employee discount to anybody, they just limited the number of things that could be bought with it. I don’t recall the specifics, but it was something like one computer, CRT and printer per year.

  38. WhirlyBird says:

    @HeartBurnKid: No, in fact, stupid and naive can get you elected President!

  39. JeffMc says:

    I think I believe the guy.

    One of my brother’s used to work at a local hardware store and I can remember all kinds of times while helping another of my brothers renovate that we’d just call his cell phone and ask him to bring us whatever it was we needed after work. I don’t know what the discount was, probably cost or cost +x% but quite often it would come out around 50% off and we never expected a receipt.

    It was all on the up and up, family was allowed the employee discount (there was another not as good discount for friends as well) and by the time we were done working on the house the girls at the register knew us and had my brother’s discount code memorized.

    Of course brother isn’t the same as some-guy-I-worked-with-a-couple-times but the scenario wouldn’t have set off warning bells for me.

  40. Wimpkins says:

    Discount? I had a friend work at Home Depot here in Richmond…they don’t even give employees anything.


  41. TheBestMaxEver says:

    A similar situation happened to me when I was 17 (Thank God I was a minor) I had a friend who was 18 who worked at Wal-Mart. I was hurting for money and she told me we could go do my shopping and I would get her employee discount. Turns out she had been bouncing checks at the same Wal-Mart she worked at. As we left the store, security got both of us and tortured me relentlessly. At one point the mullet lady even tried to handcuff me. Luckily, I am 6’5″ and 300lbs. We almost went toe to toe before the police arrived and arrested me. Aside from the embarrassment (I was a good kid); it was miserable being in juvenile hall for a night. Luckily, the judge believed me and my “friend” backed my story up. I was released to the custody of my mother (Who whooped my ass) Painful lesson learned.

  42. vacuumrt says:


    I work in the corporate office for a department store. Our employee discount is 35%, but it goes up to 45% to months every year.

  43. revmatty says:

    I worked retail (music) for about 5 years as a store manager. Internal theft was estimated to be something like 8x shoplifting for the industry in general. And in my experience in catching and prosecuting employees for theft that’s about right. As the story illustrates an employee stealing can easily run into thousands of dollars in a short period of time.

    Our employee discount wasn’t a fixed percent off, it was a fixed percent above cost. So a CD that we bought from the distributor for 10.75 the employee got for 11.75 (while the public paid 15.99 for it).

    I also worked at Good Guys one Christmas season and as someone noted above about working for an electronics store: the discount depends on what you’re buying and what the markup is. I could get a Packard Bell computer for 40% off of retail, but Apple’s were only 2% off.

  44. econobiker says:

    The key question about the guy who thought his friend was getting the 50% Lowes discount- how did he pay for it? Did he give his friend the cash before loading, was he going to the register with a credit card, had he paid for goods already with a credit card and his friend under rung the sale (4 cases of tile instead of 8 cases)? That would determine if he is in on it or not.

    I worked at a grocery store where they sold Christmas trees off the front of the store one Christmas. For a couple of the workers- when a customer paid cash for a tree(including an amount for the sales tax) and didn’t go into the store, the money went into the worker’s pocket as soon as the customer they helped load the tree in/on their car drove away.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I worked LP for Lowes for a good bit of time, they acknowledged that employee theft accounted for 40% of all shrink. The emphasis was placed more and catching cash thefts and employee theft/discount abuse rather than catching shoplifters.

    Granted, 28Gs worth of merchandise would be noticed through their individual department cycle counts as well as LP audits conducted on a weekly basis.

    Believe me, when John Deere’s and grills went missing it was easy to establish that this guy was well known. At the point he was detained they had all of the elements required by policy which is under the ol’ Shopkeepers privilege.

  46. FightOnTrojans says:

    @lemur: I’d be highly skeptical of it. Guess what I was trying to say was that I’ve fortunately chosen and befriended people who don’t steal from their employers in such a way. I’ve had acquaintances (friends of friends) who have offered to sell me stuff “off the back of the truck” which I’ve declined.

    It goes back to a conversation I had with my dad when I was kid. At the time, he had a company truck and a company card to buy gas and supplies for the truck. One of our cars needed a new battery. I asked him why didn’t he just purchase it with the company card and say it was for the truck. His reply: “Because it’s not right.” Good enough for me.