You’re a thief and we know it!

This weekend my husband and I wandered into a local antique store.  The first thing we were greeted with was a broken urn on a table, with a sign that said “This is what happens when customers carry big purses.   It was a costly $150 mistake the customer had to pay for.” Actually, it didn’t say that quite as nicely, but seeing as there was another sign that said “No photography allowed in the store”, that’s the gist of the message as I recall it.

Beside the table with the broken urn were more signs. One said “We have security cameras in place.  If we catch you stealing, we WILL post your picture on Facebook”.  Another sign showed two images from the security camera.  Under one image it said “This man was caught stealing.  A woman was also involved and he involved his 6 year old boy”.  The other image said “This woman left with a $150 dollar coat.  If you know who she is, turn her in.”

Not a pleasant welcome to their business!  The impression I got was that this business owner believes that a large percentage of people walking into the store are careless at best and thieves at worst. It’s easy to focus on the dishonest customers and to create a long list of policies and procedures (or threatening signs!) based on that small percentage of customers. Unfortunately, those policies, procedures and threatening signs also impact and affect the perceptions and transaction of the majority of the people that walk through your doors … the honest customers.

Also of note, there were two young ladies working in the store that afternoon. When we arrived, there was nobody behind the till.   Instead, they were off to the side having a personal conversation.  25 minutes later when we left the store, they were still chatting in the same spot.  Perhaps if one person stayed in front while the other person walked through the store interacting with customers, offering to answer questions or provide assistance, the opportunities to steal would be reduced and as an added bonus, the honest customers would feel taken care.

What do you think about the signage?  Am I over-reacting?

8 thoughts on “You’re a thief and we know it!

  1. I completely understand. You can welcome me into your business or you can make it clear that I’m a disruption to your day or you can make me feel completely unwelcome. However, very few businesses offer truly unique products or services and I find that my wallet tends to open or shut to the degree I feel comfortable with a business.

    As a slight side note, I despise hotels that use the coat hangers without the hook – the ones that connect to a special piece that stays hanging on the bar. The not-so-subtle message is: our customers are such lowlife thieves that they’ll steal the coat hangers. The practical reality is that, without the hook, I can’t hang my clothes in the bathroom to steam the wrinkles out while showering. Grr.

    • Your comment regarding the coat hangers without a hook (which I also hate!) reminded me of a hotel I stayed at where everything was bolted down, including some incredibly bad art, although perhaps art is not the right word to describe the framed pictures on the wall. My immediate thought was, “How quickly can I find another place to stay”, because if there is so much theft going on here that they are stealing remote controls and lamps, then this is obviously not a safe place to be. I imagine that, just like your comment with respect to self-fulfilling prophecy on the “You’re a Thief and We Know It Part II” blog, all those safeguards to prevent theft scare the honest customers away, leaving only the ones that cause the majority of problems.

      • I think I’ve been to a hotel like that where even the remote control was screwed/glued to the nightstand. I’m also amused/horrified by the signs on everything telling you that you’re welcome to take it home with you and they’ll bill your card as a courtesy. That sounds so much better than saying, “We have your card so feel free to steal whatever you want.” Or not.

  2. Pingback: You’re a Thief and We Know It Part II

  3. Wow where was this place located? I could never treat my customers like that, my philosophy
    Is you attract more people with kindness than ignorance.

    • Thanks for the visit Deb. Kindness and respect towards customers goes a long way. I imagine because you choose to treat people that way your store was busier than the one we visited was!

    • It was really disconcerting! I understand the need for security cameras as the shop is a big, rambling space, but the implied message that we were up to no good was over the top.

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