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Chapter 2: The Camera Caper


Jason 040From Kaiser7, TalesFromRetail

As a short recap, I'm a former corporate employee for a franchised vitamin store called "Vita". The owner is Tom and I work with my manager Mark and our resident femme fatale who I'm convinced doesn't do a damn thing, Ollie.

These are my stories.

I'm not a snitch nor am I a whistleblower, but I'm absolutely making sure to cover my ass so I call up Loss Prevention at corporate and explain to them what I derived to be shady dealings.

Long story short, they don't care.

Apparently the way this franchise system works is that Vita gets paid twice. Once for the products, and a second time they get a percentage of the sale. If product gets lost in between, that is the owner's responsibility, along with security and shrink management. Vita doesn't care because they already got paid for the products.

LP literally said, "He could be rolling around in the protein powder, as long as he paid for it, he's allowed to do that. It's his property now. He only pays us for our name."

Undeterred, I try to instill some sort of LP policy where our top 20 products would have to be manually marked whenever sold and nightly counts were to be taken, but no one did it.

I didn't raise my concerns to Tom (not that he would have cared) because I didn't want Mark to feel like I was going over his head.

Fast forward a few weeks and Tom is making increasingly frequent stops at the store. The thing is, he's not doing anything other than talking to me and complaining about random things and overall interrupting my work and decreasing my productivity and interrupting my sales.

During one of these visits, he stopped in mid-conversation, looked up at an air vent above us and said under his breath, "Yes, that looks good."

I took the bait and asked what he meant. He said he had cameras installed in the vents and these cameras were so small that you could barely see them. I was excited (I'm in a fairly competitive IT program) and when he left I immediately investigated.

You guessed it. There was no camera.

ManagertalesDays later, Mark and I were in the middle of two huge sales, the phone rang but I didn't get to it in time. Immediately after my cell phone rang. It was Tom. I picked up and he was yelling,

"Where are you! I don't see you on camera! The store is empty!"

I looked up. If there was a camera in that vent, he absolutely should have seen at least 5 people.

"I'm sorry," I said not moving. "I stepped out for a minute, do you see me now?"

"Yes, you need to be more responsible. Never leave the store unattended."

I was infuriated and told Mark what just happened.

He responded, "I knew it..."

Tom didn't bring up the camera again. Two months later Tom asked me for help installing something in the store instead of hiring a professional. When I arrived, it turned out that Tom wanted to install cameras.

I quickly googled the cameras he got and they were one of the cheapest cameras he could have gotten. I put them up and managed to attach them to a monitor where we got a really bad feed. I asked Tom where the hard drive was to save video and he said that he didn't want to "waste" his money on one. So I hook the cameras up to the monitor and that's it. He can't access the monitor remotely, he can't save video, nothing. Best of all, the monitor is in a cabinet under the register and the store is small enough where you can see everything from the register.

He basically used it as a scare tactic for us employees, but he had me connect everything for him so I knew what was going on.

As an experiment a little while later, I decided to see how much Tom was willing to lie to us. So I manually disconnected all the cameras for two weeks. And I would make sure to do something where if you saw me, I'd get in trouble.

After the two weeks passed of him not saying anything, I reconnected the cameras and asked him how the feed was.

Tom said it was good but he wanted to talk to me about my behavior. When I asked why, he said that he's seen me on camera sitting on a stool we have.

I laughed and apologized and said ok.

The thing was, I was never sitting on a stool.

For the past two weeks, in between customers, I'd been sitting on the counter.





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