The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Through the eyes of employees

“A couple of months ago, there were these kids that came in to tag the corridors. The owner went to address it, and those kids attacked the owner and punched him in the head.” 

This incident is an experience told by anonymous source John Smith*, who works in Tanforan mall but requested to have their identity remain confidential to protect their store. 

Vast types of violence between customers and workers are becoming the norm. They can range from violent encounters like this one to a customer upset about an issue with a clothing item.

Samantha Patiño, a sales associate at DeMasque, handled an upset customer who wanted to exchange a damaged sweater but could not find the same size. 

She said, “He couldn’t find it, so he was about to walk out, and then he saw it on the mannequin–mind you, our policy for our store is we can’t take clothes off the mannequin until the new shipment comes in to switch the clothing out–and I told him that policy, and he says, ‘No, I want it now. What kind of customer service is this? I need to talk to your manager.'”

Although this may not be an example of the most extreme type of violence workers can face, it is one of the most common. Customers look for a place to take out their anger and frustration, and employees seem to fulfill that need, but customers take more violent and threatening forms often.

Overall, disrespect is a common attitude customers carry with them in their interactions with workers. Those who steal frequently think that the workers will not notice them in the act, but that is not the case.

“Someone brought in a right shoe and then was looking around the whole store for a left shoe that was the same as the one he was carrying. When he did that, he put the right shoe in his bag. We asked to see his bag because we thought it was one of our shoes, and that caused a whole scene, and we had to call security.” 

Andrew Flores, the assistant manager at Shoe Palace in Tanforan, represents one of many managers who have to call security on customers. Similar to the tactic mentioned by Flores, those who steal utilize them to maneuver their way out of situations. 

Aggression and deceit are two frequent actions thieves resort to when trying to hide their intent to steal. Employees trained on how to spot shoplifters will identify these traits in a customer relatively quickly; however, that does not prevent the customer from reacting more violently when confronted. Stealing and violence are activities that will always occur, but how security handles situations is something that can be altered and changed. 

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