Bottom of Basket "Shoplifting" Assignments

James Bond 007.5 interviewed a lawyer, to get to the bottom of whether or not these assignments have any legal risk.

Check it out:

[www.mysteryshoppermagazine.com]

Warmly,

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Well, that's what the grocers want to know: if their employees are doing their jobs. Usually, not, in my 3 yrs doing a store.
I STILL will NEVER do this type of assignment.

This could hurt a Nevada Work Card status, as you had to go through a LOT to get the work card.

The work card is VITAL to shop here and I will never risk it for $13 or $130 BOB shop. smiling smiley
No way have I considered doing this type of shop. It is good I have stayed away from
grocery mshopping. I also have always considered doing a shop only if I were comfortable
doing it. Taking pictures of the menus, the washrooms, the cashier, etc. are in the same
category. Not even if they were bonused...
I wouldn't have a bit of a problem doing these if I did grocery shops. I just in general don't like grocery store shops though.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Having worked in a grocery store for years, I would have zero problem doing this shop. If the item in the bottom of the cart is visible the whole time, the worst I see happening is someone asking you if you paid for it the whole time. Customers are distracted the whole time and I really don't see a store risking the negative press they would receive from accusing someone who made a genuine mistake. Since the item was always visible, all other employees will likely assume it was paid for.

I would never touch the shop where you have to conceal another item in a purse. That smacks of intent to me.
I did this shop exactly once and I made darn sure I did not approach the checkout until it was empty. The clerk rang up my water before I even got all the way to the belt. I was relieved.

I do shop the warehouse stores where you leave something under the cart. If they don't see, you call it to their attention after your transaction is finaled. Even with that, I go out of my way to give them every opportunity to see the items.

The one I flat out refuse to do is where you're supposed to offer a salesperson a $20 bill for an item and then walk out with it to see what happens. No way Jose. That is a shoplifting arrest if I ever saw one. I don't care how much paperwork you have on you the cops are going at least take you in the back to straighten it out and there is a good chance it will be in handcuffs. Around here, most 488s are cite released on the spot but some are booked. I'm not going there no matter what.
But if $20 is enough (or more than enough) to pay for the item, how is it shoplifting? Are you supposed to do this with an item costing more than $20?

Happiness is merely life's way of keeping you off-balance.
In this shop, you actually spend up to $20, which gets checked out and you pay for. The item under the basket is supposed to be $5 or less and that is not included in the $20 you are reimbursed.

Thanks, JamesBond, for getting a professional's opinion. I continue to love this shop. And, I promise, if I ever get arrested, I'll come right back and warn everybody.
I thought it was easy to come to the conclusion that if you had permission, it was not shoplifting. The potential difficulty would be to explain that to store employees and/or the cops.

I would be interested in knowing if anyone has has been 'caught'. Please tell us what happened.

Thanks in advance.

Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
That's the thing, I've read about this shop for six years on two different forums and the only thing I have not seen is where anyone had the slightest problem. I also know people who have had BOB items missed in real life with no consequences. I'm happy to say those people were also honest enough to let the store know after they realized the error. Most often they had already returned home.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
AustinMom Wrote:
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> In this shop, you actually spend up to $20, which
> gets checked out and you pay for. The item under
> the basket is supposed to be $5 or less and that
> is not included in the $20 you are reimbursed.


But what about the other scenario, where you select an item, give a cashier a $20, and then rush off and leave before the transaction is processed? I'm assuming you're supposed to select an item worth $20 or less for that. So if you've left the $20, even though the transaction wasn't officially completed, how is it shoplifting?

Happiness is merely life's way of keeping you off-balance.
Here's one thing that I've brought up before. My mind has gone blank on the exact legal term, but, the police are not going to arrest someone for shoplifting unless a store employee tells the police that there was an act of shoplifting. The police weren't there. They didn't witness anything themselves.

So, consider the situation if the store hires a shopper, makes it completely clear what they want the shopper to do, and then, has the shopper arrested. The shopper has done exactly what he or she was hired to do and, as a result, was subjected to humiliation and permanent harm. (An arrest record is definitely permanent harm.) Although I'm no lawyer, I think we're talking about grounds for a civil suit, as well as a lot of bad publicity.

So, I'm betting that the store makes sure that its managers are well aware of what's going on.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2014 02:00AM by Ishmael.
We would certainly hope so, Ishmael. I, too, think there is very little likelihood of being arrested, but that doesn't mean that an employee can't discuss it with another employee or a customer in a loud voice after you leave. It is good to have that paperwork handy, anyway.
You gotta remember that cops in general think that mystery shopping is a scam to begin with. Anyone can print something off of the internet. In certain low end stores there is a zero tolerance policy for shoplifting.

I've personally witnessed security in a WalMart chase down a shoplifter, knock them to the ground and kick the living crap out of them. Sears has a similar policy (My former division commander moonlighted as a security guard at the Sears on Soto Street in L.A. back in the days when cops were allowed to do that.). They knew there would be no justice in the courts so they meted out street justice in hopes the crook would hit somewhere else the next time.

I spent a lot of years working in the criminal justice system and there are cops that will call BS on this. Its a nice easy stat with little work involved.

All if this refers to the integrity shop, not the item under the basket shop. I think you're on much mire solid ground with that one.
I do these kinds of shops and they usuallly catch them. If they don't I say hey did you get my case of water and it is all cleared uo.
I disagree that LEOs think mystery shopping is all scams. Are they aware that there are a lot of scams out there? Of course. But they are also aware that there are hundreds of legitimate mystery shopping companies out there and that businesses rely on them.
seabreeze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I do these kinds of shops and they usuallly catch
> them. If they don't I say hey did you get my case
> of water and it is all cleared uo.


But the specific shops we are talking about when we say bottom of the basket "shoplifting" assignments are some that prohibit the shopper from clearing it up by saying "did you get my case of water." The guidelines of this particular shop require the shopper to leave the store with the unpaid item on the bottom of the cart if no one notices. If you do not, you will not be paid for the shop. Store management later often watches your checkout experience on video and verifies what your report states.

I do these shops, and I appreciate the input from an attorney. I see the shops where you throw down a $20 and run from the store with the item in a completely different light, and I do not do those shops.
I can no longer run fast enough to alarm anyone!

As for the BOB shops, I have done them many times and not had any problem. Some require the shopper to keep the item, others want the shopper to either declare it or leave it in the store when departing. When I started doing the BOB scenario, several years ago, the cashier or bagger almost never caught the BOB item. After a while, a large, handwritten note appeared on the bulletin board, next to the time clock at the front of my local store. It said something like, "BOB ALERT We lost points again last month becasue of BOB."

Sure enough, the rate at which the BOB item was caught skyrocketed at that store. That made me smile every time I walked past that time clock. At other stores in that same chain, I saw no improvement. I hope the manager at "my" store got a nice bonus!

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Shoplifting to me, is when I deliberately steal something and conceal it.

This BOB is not shoplifting to me. The merchandise is in plain view of everyone.

It is not our job to make sure the cashier ring it up. I mean, often I'm yakking on the phone and who says the cashier didn't scan it?

Just saying..

Oh, deliberately putting an item in a purse to conceal it can be called shoplifting by the store. That's what I think.
Oh No! You're not one of those people that yak on a cell phone while checking out are you? That could be an entire separate thread.
walesmaven Wrote:
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> I can no longer run fast enough to alarm anyone!

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Me neither.


ces1948 Wrote:
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> Oh No! You're not one of those people that yak on a
> cell phone while checking out are you? That could be
> an entire separate thread.

Hee! No kidding. I only answer it if I can see it's someone who might be calling about an emergency, which is exceedingly rare; and never make a call out while in line. I just wait til I'm out of line and on the way to the car. Actually, *in* the car... so some creep doesn't see me as distracted and come rob me or something. Anyway, I prefer to engage with what's actually going on around me in person. smiling smiley And, of course, NEVER when on an MS, either.


Also... even though I've never done a BOB scenario yet, I finally saw some on one of the MSC boards a while back. I was gonna try one, but they were all snapped up amazingly fast. ??? But... I've been seeing more and more cashier lanes with big signs posted across from the cashier, so behind where the customer stands, that say "CHECK BOB!!!" (sometimes they spell it out.)

Happiness is merely life's way of keeping you off-balance.
Gotcha! I'm on the phone yakking, but I am really recording, so there! tongue sticking out smiley

I blend in easily since everyone around here seems to be doing that, hahaha.
Several people wrote to the effect; "At the same time, the attorney did strongly suggest that you have a copy of the shop instructions on you, should someone decide to get law enforcement involved. He also advised to stay calm, be polite, and assuming the manager on duty was not familiar with the secret shop program, that you insist that the store manager, district manager, or regional manager be called to verify the program.

Some clients do not want you to reveal that you are the shopper. If you are revealed or you reveal that you are the shopper the shop is void. You do not get paid. With the BOB shops, that chain wants you to tell the cashier BEFORE YOU MOVE AWAY FROM THE REGISTER, that you want the item rung up or you changed your mind and would they take the item from the bottom of your cart.

I actually forgot I had an item on the bottom of the cart. I went out the exit to the car saw the item on the bottom of the cart and brought it back. OOPS!

Technically I could have been stopped and would have had to reveal myself and have the shop voided. I would have gotten no pay. The items I bought would not have been reimbursed. I always bring the guidelines with me so there is no question that I am on assignment. My loss of compensation would have been my fault as the guidelines said to pay for or give up the BOB item BEFORE you leave the checkout lane.
Piled Hip Deep, PHD Wrote:
-----------------------------------------------------
With the BOB shops, that chain wants you to tell the cashier BEFORE YOU
> MOVE AWAY FROM THE REGISTER, that you want the
> item rung up or you changed your mind and would
> they take the item from the bottom of your cart.
>My loss of compensation would have been my fault as the
> guidelines said to pay for or give up the BOB item
> BEFORE you leave the checkout lane.

I think the relevant question here is WHICH chain. There are numerous grocery chains shopped and there are multiple BOB scenarios. Clearly, the guidelines for the chain you shop require that you tell the cahier before you move away from the register about the BOB item. The guidelines of the chain for which I shop, and the shop being discussed here, require that the shopper exit the building with the unpaid BOB item if the cashier does not notice. If the shopper discloses the item to the cashier, it invalidates the shop and the shopper is not paid. Apparently, you do not shop for this chain and you have not seen these guidelines.
Here are several things that I do. I make sure that I've pushed the cart in such a way that the cashier will have the best possible view of the item at the bottom, if his or her eyes should happen to stray in that direction. I never look at the items that are being rung up; I just stare off into space. And, I shove the receipt in my purse without looking at it. More than once, I've gotten out to my car without knowing for certain whether the BOB item was spotted and rung up, or not. A gallon of water fits into the background noise of a $20.00 purchase rather well. (Usually, they make a comment when they see it, to make sure that I want it, but a couple of times, a cashier has seen it and rung it up without saying anything.)

My theory for why this chain has this requirement, by the way, is that they got tired of cashiers saying, "Oh, I would have caught it when they pushed the cart away from the checkstand." They wanted to completely eliminate the argument that there wasn't really a problem. Are there any other theories out there?
PHD, the shop being discussed here does require that you leave the building with the product in the BOB, and that you do not say anything to the cashier.

As I was the "several people" you quoted, and was the one having the interview with the attorney, there was a clarification that needed to be made, and I apologize for not catching it sooner. The attorney said, "If the police are called, then you need to make the choice about wearing the matching bracelets for a trip to jail, or revealing yourself as a shopper and getting the situation immediately cleared up." I made an assumption, and it affected my editing. The assumption was that none of us would want to go to jail, therefore we would be willing to reveal ourselves and loose the fee for that shop.

And one other point...if you chose to be arrested, thinking that you could then file false arrest charges, that won't work because you will have knowingly withheld information that would have caused the arrest not to happen. In other words, you would have basically entrapped the store and the police by failing to reveal that you are a shopper.

James

Piled Hip Deep, PHD Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Several people wrote to the effect; "At the same
> time, the attorney did strongly suggest that you
> have a copy of the shop instructions on you,
> should someone decide to get law enforcement
> involved. He also advised to stay calm, be polite,
> and assuming the manager on duty was not familiar
> with the secret shop program, that you insist that
> the store manager, district manager, or regional
> manager be called to verify the program.
>
> Some clients do not want you to reveal that you
> are the shopper. If you are revealed or you
> reveal that you are the shopper the shop is void.
> You do not get paid. With the BOB shops, that
> chain wants you to tell the cashier BEFORE YOU
> MOVE AWAY FROM THE REGISTER, that you want the
> item rung up or you changed your mind and would
> they take the item from the bottom of your cart.

.
Have PV-500 & willing to travel.
"Answers are easy. It's asking the right questions which is hard." (The Fourth Doctor, The Face of Evil, 1977)

"Somedays you're the pigeon, somedays you're the statue.” J. Andrew Taylor

"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him." Galileo Galilei
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