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Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Old Dec 19th 2006, 11:16 pm
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Default Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

A wee story about my shopping experience today (Whilst the material facts are exact, some of the more touchy feely parts have been deliberately hammed up to pander to the litagious society that is the US! :

Shopping:
I visited a big chain supermarket store on Tue 19th December.
I was wearing my usual business formal attire - shirt, black trousers, black Italian leather shoes. I had on my blue woollen duffle coat as it was raining and cold outside. I was glad I had the coat after the ordeal I was to go through.
I had stopped off as we were early for an appointment at the medical institute and as I was looking for a specific office product which I required to complete a business task.
I entered via the 'non-food' entrance (to the left of the store as you look at the front).
I browsed for about 10 minutes in the stationary aisles, and could not find what I was looking for.
On the way out, my wife called to ask me to hurry up as she was anxious about her appointment at the hospital to have her pre-natal scan (8 weeks pregnancy). She also had a full bladder (a pre-requisite of the first pre-natal scan).
I did not want to hold her up.
On the way past a display, I noticed a product I thought I would like to purchase as an Impulse buy. As I was in a hurry and could not see a free manned checkout, so I checked out at the self check-out at 11:08. I paid cash for the 1 item purchased and the total was $9.52.
I proceeded to leave the store. I did not bag the item, as I was going to unbox it there and then.

The Apprehension:
I was apprehended as I was about to exit the store by a Male - Elderly (in his 60's) caucasian - blue uniform - 5'5" - 5'7"('the greeter'). As I was unwrapping the purchase as I left the store, I was not truly sure it was me he had said "excuse me, Sir" to, until my path was blocked by the man.
He asked to see my receipt for the purchased goods. I duly obliged.
He then mentioned that the alarm had sounded (it had not) and asked if I minded stepping through the detector again. I did this, and the alarm did not go off, either when I went through again, or when he took the items I had paid for and went through the detector with them in his hand.
I was then asked if I had anything else in my pockets that had not been paid for.
I was taken aback, but firmly and politely said that I had nothing else.
He then called 'the supervisor' over. I stood and waited. During this time, I called my wife to tell her to go on to her appointment as she was already late (the appointment was at 11.30 but she was due to be there at 11.15). I didn't know how I was going to get over to the hospital as we had traveled together (she had collected me from work).
By this time I was worried and anxious, and there were several people gathered around who had stopped and were watching intently as I was being guarded.
The supervisor arrived. He was Male - Early 40's - possibly afro-american / hispanic - short 5'1"-5'4".

Escalation:
'The Greeter' asked if I could empty my pockets to prove I had nothing else. I asked why, and he stated that he believed I had something in my right jacket pocket.
I mentioned that I was in a hurry, that my wife was parked out at the front of the store, and that we had an appointment at the hospital to have a neo-natal scan at 8 weeks over at the hospital (about 0.5 miles from the store).

The Humiliation:
He then mentioned that one of his colleagues had seen me putting something in my pocket, and asked me to empty my pockets - at the front of the store and in front of the gathered crowd. I declined to do this in public, as I felt
embarrased and humiliated.
Another colleague (the assistant manager) was summoned. She was late 30's/Early 40's caucasian - 5'5" to 5'7" and she told me to follow her to "the office". Again, wishing to not further attract attention, and in an attempt to clear my good name, I reluctantly agreed to accompany 'the greeter', 'the supervisor' and 'the Assistant Manager' to a back office, as it appeared to be the only way that I would be allowed to leave the store.

The Humiliation continues:
I was escorted past all of the store checkouts from one end of the building to the other, with one member of staff on my left, one on my right, and one behind me. Everyone at the store (including the checkout staff) stopped to see what was going on. I tried to make myself as unobvious as possible, but it is difficult to fade into the background when you are being escorted by 3 staff members.

The Security Office:
I entered the small security room at the front of the store. It was unkept and uninviting. I felt the situation was very confrontational from the part of the employees. There were 3 of them directly in front of me, standing in front of the doorway.
I worried about the personal safety of the staff had it been someone other than me that they were dealing with. Had I been a drug-crazed shoplifter carrying a weapon, the situation may have been extremely different for all of them.
I was again asked to empty my pockets.
I suggested that the Police should be called, but due to the fact that I was closed in a small room with 3 strangers, I was in hurry to get back to my wife, and I was embarrassed and wishing to clear my name and regain my standing as soon as possible, I again reluctantly agreed to comply with their demands.
I emptied the contents of all of my pockets onto a garden bench in the security office. I removed a black woollen hat from my right hand jacket pocket, some old receipts and a packet of M&M's purchased from a gas station on the way from my left jacket pocket. I removed a disposable pen, some small pieces of paper and a few dollar notes from my left trouser pocket, 2 cellphones from my right pocket (my company cellphone and my personal cellphone. The shirt I had on did not have a breast pocket. I removed my wallet from my rear trouser pocket. I removed my jacket and stood with my pockets hanging from the trousers.

Innocent!
I felt I had proven my innocence. I started to put my possesions back in my pockets.
I asked if they were happy that I had not stolen anything. I did not get a clear reply.
I asked what would be done about the colleague who said they had seen me putting something in my pocket. I did not receive an answer.
I asked if I looked like a shoplifter. The assistant manager said "What does a shoplifter look like?".
I asked for an apology, and was told in a very condecending and unconvincing manner "Sorry about that".
I asked for a written apology. I did not receive an answer.
I asked if I was free to go. The assistant manager shrugged her shoulders and said "I suppose so".

I left the office, and proceeded to exit the store. More people were outside and stopped to look at me exiting the security room.
As I walked over the parking lot, I called my wife and broke down in tears. Inside my masculine exterior lives a very sensitive soul.
I was angry about missing such an important event in our lives. I was humiliated. I was lonely.
I started to walk to the Hospital, over the parking lot, over the wet grass beside the highway, until I reached the hospital. As I had never been there before, I again called my wife to ask where the office was. I could not reach her (she was having her ultrasuond at that time).

I eventually arrived at the offices at the hospital. I was emotionally drained. I was physically tired (I'm not used to walking such long distances now that I'm in the USofA). I was wet through. I was glad to see my wife and son.

The Follow Up:
I Called Tue afternoon to speak to the Store Manager
We had 10 minute call - I explained what had happened, how it made me feel etc..
He agreed that he felt that was "not right".
He said he would look into it, speak to the people in question (he asked me to describe the individuals involved and seemed to be curiously pre-occupied with the race of people involved). He said he would get back to me on my cellphone. I left my details.

The Peace Offering:
The Manager called back 16:15 same day.
Said that his employees had not acted properly, he apologised, he explained his background and values, and offered a $50 gift card as compensation. I said I would need to discuss this over with my wife, and that I would come into the store personally to discuss the matter further with him.

Advice:
I called a lawyer to ask for some legal advice regarding the situation. I explained the story, and they said they would call me back.

See you in court!


Watch this space for further developments.....

C
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Old Dec 19th 2006, 11:25 pm
  #2  
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Now get yourself a carry permit .... and a gun ... you find they will call the sheriff immediately ... with a whole new attitude
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Old Dec 19th 2006, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

omg what an ordeal

good job your wife went on her way to the hospital, it would have been very upsetting and emotional for her in her condition.

poor you, don't think you've been here long.....not a good start

all the best to you.
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Old Dec 19th 2006, 11:34 pm
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

That was an awful situation you were in. Especially with your wife pregnant and having to go to an appointment herself.

I probably would have been in shock if it was me, but think if someone initially asked to see my pockets I would do so especially if people were looking at me as I would have liked to prove in public immediately I was innocent and then publicly humiliate the person that was accusing me.
But that is what I would have liked to think I would have done but probably I'd end up steaming refusing anything anybody said.
I only hope I never have to go through it to see what I'd actually do.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:02 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

That was well out of order you poor sod all that unnecessary stress, well I mean for the both of you, yes please do keep us updated.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:29 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by texas_ranger
See you in court!
I'm sincerely sorry that that happened to you, but I have to say -- and please don't think I'm being contemptuous or dismissive by saying this -- I'm curious why you think this qualifies as something to sue over.

Don't get me wrong, I can imagine how embarrassing and frustrating it must have been. But it seems that's all it was -- embarrassing and frustrating. They didn't scream at you, throw you to the ground or lock you away in a back room. They took you to their security office, at your request, they didn't call the police. They let you empty your own pockets. When they saw that you had in fact done nothing wrong, they let you go without any arguments or resistance.

Could the three employees have handled the situation better and apologized more adequately? Of course! But the manager seems to have done all he can do to make up for it. He offered a sincere apology, said he would discuss the incident with the employees involved, and offered you a free $50 gift card.

So I'm not really sure what the point in suing them is. You'd probably do more damage by taking the $50 gift card, spending it as quickly as possible, never shopping there again and then telling everyone under the sun to avoid this store because of the way they treat their customers.

~ Jenney
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:43 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Its America anything is something to sue for
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:51 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

I'm sorry to hear of your ordeal...but I agree with Jenny and Mark...it's nothing to sue over. Go to see the manager, write to the head office...try to get as much as you can out of them...but don't sue. You don't know what can of worms you are opening up...your word against 3...one being of minority race. Take the high ground...do the right thing.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:57 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by Jenney & Mark
I'm sincerely sorry that that happened to you, but I have to say -- and please don't think I'm being contemptuous or dismissive by saying this -- I'm curious why you think this qualifies as something to sue over.

Don't get me wrong, I can imagine how embarrassing and frustrating it must have been. But it seems that's all it was -- embarrassing and frustrating. They didn't scream at you, throw you to the ground or lock you away in a back room. They took you to their security office, at your request, they didn't call the police. They let you empty your own pockets. When they saw that you had in fact done nothing wrong, they let you go without any arguments or resistance.

Could the three employees have handled the situation better and apologized more adequately? Of course! But the manager seems to have done all he can do to make up for it. He offered a sincere apology, said he would discuss the incident with the employees involved, and offered you a free $50 gift card.

So I'm not really sure what the point in suing them is. You'd probably do more damage by taking the $50 gift card, spending it as quickly as possible, never shopping there again and then telling everyone under the sun to avoid this store because of the way they treat their customers.

~ Jenney
The "see you in court" thing was a bit tongue in cheek and I guess was my attempt at satirising the litagious nature of the US.
I fully don't intend to take this any further.

The material damages are incidental.
However, they have taken away from me a very special event in my life (seeing my 2nd child for the first time - albeit on a sonogram - and being a supportive partner for my wife), and whilst I can't quantify what that means, I'm sure some ambulance chaser can.

Plus I got wet.
If that's not an excuse to sue in the US, I don't know what is!!!

Why not give them a chance at it?
Incidentally; Slander, Defamation, False Imprisonment and Negligent/Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress all spring to mind.

I was thinking of playing the race card too - "Is it because I is Scottish?"
Discriminating against an immigrant seems to be a topic of hot debate currently, with a number of advocate groups. I wonder if there is a Scottish branch to go with the Mexican/Cuban/Puerto Rico/etc.. groups.
I sense a number of different angles which could be taken in a scenario like this.

I bet the news would be interested also. fox News would have a field day. They'd probably bring the Outside broadcast unit and fly helicopters over the place. At least from what I've seen on the Fox 4 News to date.

I guess it will be a learning experience for me to understand what the legal take on it might be.

Fully agree that the Manager has been more than reasonable.

C
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 12:57 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

The OP is entitled to sue/obtain adequate compensation over what amounted to wrongful arrest. This would be exactly the same in the UK. An employee must be very certain that a crime has been committed before they carry out what is essentially a citizens arrest.

Kind regards

Tiny


Originally Posted by Jenney & Mark
I'm sincerely sorry that that happened to you, but I have to say -- and please don't think I'm being contemptuous or dismissive by saying this -- I'm curious why you think this qualifies as something to sue over.

Don't get me wrong, I can imagine how embarrassing and frustrating it must have been. But it seems that's all it was -- embarrassing and frustrating. They didn't scream at you, throw you to the ground or lock you away in a back room. They took you to their security office, at your request, they didn't call the police. They let you empty your own pockets. When they saw that you had in fact done nothing wrong, they let you go without any arguments or resistance.

Could the three employees have handled the situation better and apologized more adequately? Of course! But the manager seems to have done all he can do to make up for it. He offered a sincere apology, said he would discuss the incident with the employees involved, and offered you a free $50 gift card.

So I'm not really sure what the point in suing them is. You'd probably do more damage by taking the $50 gift card, spending it as quickly as possible, never shopping there again and then telling everyone under the sun to avoid this store because of the way they treat their customers.

~ Jenney
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 1:02 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by texas_ranger
The "see you in court" thing was a bit tongue in cheek and I guess was my attempt at satirising the litagious nature of the US.
I fully don't intend to take this any further.

The material damages are incidental.
However, they have taken away from me a very special event in my life (seeing my 2nd child for the first time - albeit on a sonogram - and being a supportive partner for my wife), and whilst I can't quantify what that means, I'm sure some ambulance chaser can.

Plus I got wet.
If that's not an excuse to sue in the US, I don't know what is!!!

Why not give them a chance at it?
Incidentally; Slander, Defamation, False Imprisonment and Negligent/Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress all spring to mind.

I was thinking of playing the race card too - "Is it because I is Scottish?"
Discriminating against an immigrant seems to be a topic of hot debate currently, with a number of advocate groups. I wonder if there is a Scottish branch to go with the Mexican/Cuban/Puerto Rico/etc.. groups.
I sense a number of different angles which could be taken in a scenario like this.

I bet the news would be interested also. fox News would have a field day. They'd probably bring the Outside broadcast unit and fly helicopters over the place. At least from what I've seen on the Fox 4 News to date.

I guess it will be a learning experience for me to understand what the legal take on it might be.

Fully agree that the Manager has been more than reasonable.

C

Are you on the sauce or just out to make a fast buck...you're white Caucasian FFS.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 1:06 am
  #12  
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by Jerseygirl
Are you on the sauce or just out to make a fast buck...you're white Caucasian FFS.
It's the Scottish sense of humour no one seems to get it unless your Scottish
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 1:08 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by irnbru4u
It's the Scottish sense of humour no one seems to get it unless your Scottish
My dad was Scottish.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 1:13 am
  #14  
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by Jerseygirl
My dad was Scottish.
Knew there was a reason I liked you

Think he just has a very dry sense of humour, he knows being Scottish isn't the same as being black etc.
I know so many people with the same sense of humour so dry you never quite tell when they're joking.
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Old Dec 20th 2006, 1:15 am
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Default Re: Stopped for shoplifting (stealing, not trying to lift the shop up ;))

Originally Posted by irnbru4u
Knew there was a reason I liked you

Think he just has a very dry sense of humour, he knows being Scottish isn't the same as being black etc.
I know so many people with the same sense of humour so dry you never quite tell when they're joking.

OK...but your chimney's still on fire. I'm calling 911.
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