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Just Say No to the Gate Gestapo

No Wallyworld

I’m not one of those people who rabidly hates Wal-Mart and other big box stores. I don’t like the experience but they’re a fact of life. I usually wear headphones and listen to an audio book so that I don’t have to listen to the toothless trash prattle on about their miserable lives but other than that, I’m in and out, no muss, no fuss.

Awhile back I got fed up with one of the little indignities that goes with Wallyworld shopping – the door checkers, AKA the Gate Gestapo. You know, those geezers that stop you and demand to see your receipt and prowl through your purchases. One of my life’s little resolutions that I made long ago is that I refuse to be treated like a common criminal (which is why I don’t fly commercially anymore.) I realized that the Gate Gestapo were doing just that so I decided to Just Say No!

I looked around the net and found out that I wasn’t alone. This is probably one of the best articles that I’ve read on the subject. I wish I’d written it myself.

http://www.bwcitypaper.com/bw.digg.page.final.html [1]

A little more looking found this site. It’s a bit more along the lines of the rabid HateWallyWorld sites and they steal most of their content from others but still, a useful meeting place. I left a comment there but I decided that it wasn’t enough so I wrote this article.

http://www.standuptowalmart.com/index.html [2]

I have been refusing receipt checks for several years. I haven’t been physically touched yet but when I am, a battery warrant will be taken.

Normally I “just say no” and keep walking. However, when I’m feeling frisky and have a little time to burn, I use a few of these techniques.

When the gate gestapos asks for your receipt, let ’em see it but don’t let ’em stop with the normal cursory glance. Insist that every single item be removed from the bag and compared with the receipt. And insist that an official printed price guide be produced so that scanning and mis-pricing errors may be detected. And be sure to ask for the manager. Once, when I got a very smart-mouthed manager, I insisted that we walk the isles to verify that the scanned prices matched the shelf prices.

After all that checking is done, wheel the cart over to customer service and return everything. Be sure to check off each item as it is scanned for the refund to make sure no mistakes are made. Try to take as much time as you can to maximally muck up the works.

Then, if you REALLY want to mess with their minds, go buy everything all over again. If you use a shopping list, that won’t take long. Or just change your mind at customer service. Tell them that you’ve decided to take the stuff after all and would they please re-ring all the stuff expeditiously?

If you have a friend along, video record the initial encounter. (takes some pre-planning, of course.) Write up the incident in the form of a press release and send it, along with a copy of the video to all the local media. You don’t have to be a big corporate type to send out a press release. If you’re lucky, they’ll pick up on the story and run with it.

A related Wallyworld peeve is not having enough check-out lanes open to handle the crowd. I refuse to stand more than 2-deep or for more than 5 minutes in line. If either of my “Policies” is violated then I wheel the cart to the door checker and tell him that I’m abandoning my purchases because of the store’s failure to open enough check-out lines. Then I walk out.

I used to just walk out but I decided that the message wasn’t being delivered clearly enough. So now I make sure that I tell someone, normally the gate gestapo, what I’m doing and why.

Wallyworld claims that all this checking is to deter shoplifting. As is obvious to the ordinary man, it doesn’t work very well. One reason is that most of the inventory “shrinkage” is from the inside. That is, employee theft. I got that from a friend who retired as a police chief and became head of store security for the local stores. We’ve chatted about that a bit. His educated guess is that perhaps 80% of the shrinkage is from inside jobs.

I used to cater meetings fairly often for one of the stores. I would pay attention to a large chart on display in the the employee break room. It charted shrinkage by department. Electronics led the way with an annual shrinkage in that one store of almost $1 million.

Think about that for a minute. Think how many big screen TVs and iPods would have to go out the door tucked up under someone’s coat :-) to equal $1 million dollars’ worth of shrinkage. That chart certainly reinforces what my friend told me, that most of the theft is not committed by customers. The Gate Gestapo are little more than security theater, management demonstrating that they’re doing something – anything – regardless of whether it works.

So. We may be stuck with the big box stores until something comes along to displace them but we don’t have to put up with the rudeness and indignities that frequently become part of the experience. Just Say No. Even if your effort doesn’t change corporate policy (it will if enough people do it), just saying no will make the individual gestapo gun-shy about asking. And after all, that’s what we really want. To be left alone.