Oakland, New Jersey
Not resolved

Dear Mr. Alvers

My family had the very unfortunate experience this weekend to interact with members of your Asset Protection Team, and based on that interaction can assure you no member of my family will ever set foot in your store again.

On Sunday August 19th my 18 and 20-year-old sons stopped into the Riverdale Wal-Mart to pick up some items for their new car.

They shopped for the items and decided to do the self-checkout to get out of the store faster. They had trouble with the scanner during which time an associate came to assist and punched in the over-ride code to reset the machine. They paid by credit card and again the machine had an issue and would not print the receipt. Again the associate came over and assisted, dealing directly with my son.

The final total for the purchase was $90.82.

Apparently when they had scanned the items an associate noticed that one of the items did not scan. Instead of approaching the customers and correcting the issue right then and there, they pushed their secret panic button and my sons were followed to the parking lot. As they stood in the lot for 30 minutes putting the newly purchased car seat covers in the vehicle a crack member of your team was writing down their license plate number and alerting the local authorities.

They arrived home to a Kinnelon Police Officer who told them they were required to call the Riverdale Police Department, where your store is located. When they made that call they were told they were being accused of shoplifting and needed to call the Wal-Mart store.

Since they are honor-student athletes who have never been in trouble they panicked and drove straight back to the store where they met with Justin. Justin reviewed the video and told them that he believed it was an honest mistake and that the matter was over.

Imagine my wife and my surprise when we came home a few hours later to three messages from the Riverdale Police Department demanding that they appear "ASAP" for their offense.

Not understanding how this could happen I took my son and we went to the store on Monday morning. I called before leaving my home and was told the Asset Protection Associate who file the report (which I assume is Justin) would be in the store and available at 12:30 for a face-to-face discussion. I arrived at 12:30 and was met instead by Steve (who I later found out was the new manager) and a woman who would not reveal her name to me.

I was not very happy that the person who called the local police and falsely accused my sons of shoplifting did not show up as he was supposed to. Apparently his boss Steve was confused about who was working that day and didn't realize he wasn't there. The next 45-minutes were filled with "It wasn't me" and "I don't know" and "since I wasn't here yesterday I am not sure" and "I don't know the accuracy rate on our readers", so it became clear to me very quickly that these two individuals were only interested in sweeping this under the rug and had no interest in explaining, or more importantly apologizing for this accusation.

The fact that your store associate had 2 interactions with my sons during the 90 seconds it took to make a purchase, yet did NOTHING but report it to the police when there was an error, is either malicious or incompetent. My guess is that your Asset Protection Team has a lot more fun playing "cops and robbers" and reporting crime, than actually preventing it. Even better a simple conversation with two honor-students would have solved the mystery in minutes and not forced me to take a half-day from work to get involved with two police departments.

Oh by the way, the "stolen" item was a $10 light kit for a car – the largest and least expensive item selected, clearly the one that a person would try and steal.

I heard all about the Wal-Mart procedures and protocols, which in my experience is a great cop-out for people who aren't interested (or smart enough) to do the right thing, at the right time. If your team had the slightest bit of training they could have fixed the potential problem instead of creating the problem.

As of the writing of this letter my family and I have not received an apology for the waste of time and effort, and got not the slightest bit of feeling that Steve and his team felt that anything could have been handled in a better way. The woman who did most of the talking, and would not share her name was similarly not the least bit repentant on behalf of the store.

When I asked them both who had made the return call to the police to close the issue I was met with blank stares. For all of the process and procedure I heard about apparently closing the loop isn't part of it. The team did a great job of slinging mud at people to local police, and feels NO need to close the loop and call off the dogs.

Your associate Justin also told my son there was paperwork going to Wal-Mart legal and a fine would probably be coming his way. He told my son that they would work with him if he couldn't pay all at once since it could be up to $150. Wal-Mart is big but I didn't realize you now have the authority to fine customers when your machinery doesn't work – maybe a another lie told to young men who don't know better?

My perception of Wal-Mart is that your "great low prices" generally come from pushing down prices on your suppliers and by not over-paying employees. My assumption is your "theft deterrent" team is comprised of underpaid, non-experienced individuals who are trained to hit the "panic button" at any potential issue. By the way that perception was solidified today meeting that team.

I understand shoplifting and shrinkage are a billion dollar retail issue. I also know that there are those who prefer to spend their money in a place that does not assume everyone is a thief.

I am insulted, disgusted and enraged by the treatment of my family by members of your unprofessional staff. I will be forwarding this message to the Wal-Mart corporate office, and to as many online outlets as I can.

I will never shop in your stores again. It was a terrible day of complete incompetence at the Riverdale Wal-Mart.

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It appears that Wal MArt screwed up with their employees. Never use self check out. Keep the humans in business and be safe.


You should contact local media outlets as well, it sometime seems that only public embarrassment forces big companies to admit their mistakes.