Best Buy Staffers Chime In On Changes To Loss Prevention Policies

Yesterday, we posted the claims of a Best Buy employee who says that his store and others have been pulling loss prevention staffers (aka receipt checkers) from the front of the store, which he believes has resulted in an increase of shoplifting at these stores. We asked any other Best Buy employees to chime in on these claims — and y’all responded.

One current employee writes in to say that the situation with loss prevention is just a symptom of what ails Best Buy as a company:

I have to point out that LP guys never really lowered shrink to begin with. They sticker anything. I’ve even watched customers grab an item off the shelf on one side of the store, walk to the front, ask for a sticker, GET ONE, and then go return it at Customer Service. I was written up for telling the Rep 2 (customer service desk clerk) not to take the return. The manager apologized on my behalf. It was later discovered that (surprise, surprise) that exact item was missing from inventory. I was written up a second time for “allowing” the shrink to happen.

Point is, yes, Best Buy is going down the tubes. It’s happening because of what boils down to a management game of telephone which comes from the top and goes down. Corporate says one thing to District, District interprets this and presents it in typical pointy haired manager fashion to store management, then store management interprets this (often very creatively) in the instructions they give immediately following the monthly meeting video which blatantly contradict it. To give you an idea of what’s going on:

Corporate: “Remember to qualify your customers, and offer them the solutions which best fit their lifestyle.”

District: “Train your employees so that they can learn to offer solutions more effectively.”

Store management: “Offer every service, every time. Write-ups will be issued if I catch any of you not offering any of the services.”

Department supervisor: “Hand the customer this folder with 15 different pamphlets and badly photocopied forms. All of them.”

I went through the manager training. I’ve read the emails that come from corporate to all employees, the emails from district to management, and been on the floor for quite some time. It really is just a game of telephone. Corporate might be singing the song people want to hear, but local management is just kind of Bovril-style robots about dumbing customer service down to “would you like some fries with that” offerings of often totally unrelated and unnecessary services, except you’re not allowed to take no for an answer.

The same is true of LP work. Management is overzealous about serving the customer… until it’s something that might even remotely cut into their bonus. For example, they will sometimes order that large returns be refused for the most contrived reasons, but they will publicly lecture you in front of the customer if you try to refuse a return of what feels like a brick in a hard drive box, and then write you up for taking the return when inventory discovers there is a brick in the box.

The point is, the employees are in a kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, and LP is no different. Most LP guys will just kind of stand there looking burly and occasionally bark things into the radio, but will refuse to actually do anything which in any way involves making a customer unhappy. This includes watching people carry TVs from the shelf right out the door.

Meanwhile, a second Best Buy staffer says his store did away with loss prevention altogether a while ago — and it has worked out for the store and the customers:

Basically, you have a break down of: 20% of theft is external, 20% is process shrink and paperwork loss, and 60% is internal theft. The thought process was “Why are we slowing down the entering and exit of the building by our paying customers for something that even by our own numbers, they barely contribute to?”

We did see a small spike during the first few months, and we sometimes see random large items leave the building that MAY not have before (TVs, surround sounds, etc) but overall the customer experience has been great. It’s a much more people-friendly place when you don’t feel a cold stare as you shop for DVDs!

The problem you have… is many people who were in that AP roll were there simply to not do work. It was an hourly wage to stand around and talk with their buddies or text. Now that they are forced to actually work, they aren’t enjoying their jobs as much. The customers come first and foremost, and getting rid of any hassle entering or exiting the building is top priority in my eyes. Hopefully this clears up some confusion around the policy.

Also, if stores are seeing a 13k jump in shrink, it’s probably disgruntled former AP associates who now know no one is watching them…. just a thought.