In past posts, I have noted the criticism that civil recovery has been receiving in some of the mainstream media in the United Kingdom. However, just as has been the case in the U.S., the law is very clear on the statutory rights that retailers hold in using this process to help offset the costs of retail crime. Recently, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Mr Jonathan Djanogly, gave strong support for civil recovery on the floor of the House of Commons.
“Civil recovery is the legal means by which anyone who has suffered a financial loss due to the wrongful actions of someone else can seek appropriate compensation under civil law. Civil recovery schemes are used by many high-street retailers to deter shoplifting and recover from shoplifters the management, administration, security and surveillance costs incurred in dealing with the case, including the costs of the civil recovery action itself. That ambition is both understandable and justifiable. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. Businesses employ civil recovery agents to recover through the civil courts often relatively low-value losses arising from, for example, shoplifting or employee theft. The alternative would be criminal proceedings rather than a suit, with the likelihood of a criminal record for the person being prosecuted.”
“Retailers have a clear legal right to recover the costs of goods that they lose as a result of crime. The Government recognise the appropriate and proportionate use of civil recovery as one option available to retailers for dealing with low-level criminal activity that also amounts to a civil wrong. We believe that civil recovery, when used proportionately, provides an effective response to low-value and often opportunistic crime that often involves teenagers and other vulnerable people.”
“Let me be clear that the Government are entirely satisfied that retailers have a legal right to recover the value of any goods lost or destroyed as a result of an individual’s actions. Defendants can go to their local CAB and receive advice about what to do with the claim. The Government accept that a retailer arguably has a legal right to recover any additional costs or losses directly caused as a result of dealing with a case. However, we appreciate that there is no statutory or other clear basis for setting the amounts of such costs or losses that can be recovered in an individual case. Therefore, the amount of money, if any, that a retailer can recover from an individual accused of low-level theft in respect of its wider costs is entirely a matter for the courts based on the circumstances and facts of the case.”
In the first prosecution under the United Kingdom’s Corporate Manslaughter law, a private company was held responsible for a “gross breach of duty of care” that resulted in the death of an employee.
The company involved, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, employs eight people. Its senior management consists of Peter Eaton, who is its sole director and major shareholder. He was charged with gross negligence manslaughter and a health and safety offense, but a judge ruled last year that he was too unwell to stand trial.
The prosecution contended that the employee was working in a dangerous trench because the company had failed to take all reasonably practical steps to protect him from working in that way. During the trial, it showed that the company’s health and safety policy document had been written by Eaton in 1992 and had not been updated since that time. It also showed that the company had been warned about allowing employees to enter unsupported pits in 2005.
To read more about this decision, click HERE.
“Networking” is a term that gets abused, misused, and is often misunderstood. But, networking, when done right and with purpose, can be a key business skill. “How Leaders Create and Use Networks” is a good piece on this from Harvard Business Review. In this article, three types of networking are identified – Operational, Personal, and Strategic. There were a couple of lines in there that I really liked…first, in regards to personal networking:
“We observed that once aspring leaders..awaken to the dangers of of an excessively internal focus, they begin to seek kindred spirits outside their organizations. Simultaneously, they become aware of the limitations of their social skills, such as a lack of knowledge about professional domains beyond their own, which makes it difficult for them to find common ground with people outside their usual circles.”
“Many of the managers we study question why they should spend precious time on an activity so indirectly related to the work at hand. Why widen one’s circle of casual acquantances when there isn’t time even for urgent tasks? The answer is that these contacts provide important referrals, information, and, often, development support such as coaching and mentoring.”
Second, in regards to the mindset of many managers:
“..we often hear, ‘That’s all well and good, but I already have a day job.’ Others..consider working through networks a way to rely on ‘whom you know’ rather than ‘what you know’ – a hypocritical, even unethical way to get things done. Whatever the reason, when aspiring leaders do not believe that networking is one of the most important requirements of their new jobs, they will not allocate enough time and effort to see it pay off.”
How do you view networking? Is it a “dirty word” or an essential business skill?
There is a good article over on The Economist, “Employer, beware,” about labor laws in Brazil and how onerous they can be to employers. According to the article “They are costly: redundancies “without just cause” attract a fine of 4% for the total amount the worker has ever earned, for example. (Neither a lazy employee nor a bankrupt employer constitutes just cause.)..In 2009, 2.1m Brazilians opened cases against their employers in the labour courts. These courts rarely side with employers.”
Ikea, the world’s biggest home-furnishings retailer, has been held up over the past few years as the model of a company that has opened in Russia while refusing to compromise their corporate standards on bribery and standards. But, apparently they’ve had enough. The company says it won’t build more stores outside the Moscow region until local officials stop withholding permission for two of their outlets due to Ikea’s refusal to pay bribes to safey inspectors.
Ikea’s experience is not unique. Carrefour, Wal-mart, Royal Dutch Shell, and Nestle SA have all faced trumped up government regulation according to the National Anti-Corruption Committee, a NGO based in Moscow. To read more, find the Bloomberg article here.
Recent trade talks with the Chinese government have put the issues of counterfeit and pirated goods back in the news. Last year, China launched a six month campaign focused on enforcement of intellectual property rights but U.S. officials want to establish benchmarks to better measure progress and enforcement. It seems that much of this attention is focused on technology products but retail products such as handbags, apparel, and DVD’s are still very much part of the mix. Here is an article from the Business Standard and an article from Market Watch on the trade talks and the underlying issues.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., several high profile law enforcement raids show the goods have a steady demand from the buying public here. This article highlights a raid in Las Vegas that netted $350,000 in countfeit goods while this article reports a Los Angeles raid that seized over $4 million in counterfeit goods.
While this article specifically discusses “Privacy Awareness” programs, the points made are applicable to loss prevention, shrink, and safety campaigns. In working with companies on training and awareness campaigns, we have come into organizations and found they were previously falling into many of these traps. We especially think that problems #2 and #3 on this list are worth considering:
- #2 – Equating “campaign” with “program”
- #3 – Equating “awareness” with “training”
For a training & awareness campaign to be successful and produce results, it has to be well thought out and not simply a checkbox that is ticked off. You can read the full article here.
Canada’s two largest provinces now have laws requiring employers to seek to provide workplaces free of certain forms of “harassment”. No longer limited to human rights-related harassment, that term is broadly defined in these laws. Further, Ontario’s new law extends beyond “harassment”. It, like the federal law, also will require anti-violence policies and programs. These laws will apply regardless of whether a workplace has any prior history of such problems.
Ontario’s Bill 168, The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act will come into force in June 2010.
With Canada’s two largest provinces and the federal jurisdiction now having such laws, it may well be that other provinces and territories will soon follow. Read more here.
High unemployment. More people on food stamps. Fewer homeowners. Yet for all the signs of recession, one thing is missing: More crime.
Figures released Monday by the FBI show national declines in murder, car thefts and other crimes. But experts are scratching their heads over ebbing crime rates, which make this recession different from other economic downturns in the past half-century. Among the early guesses as to the reasons: jobless people being at home, where they can watch for thieves, and the American population getting older. Older people generally commit fewer crimes.
The FBI figures, preliminary tabulations from the first half of 2009, show crime falling across the country, even at a time of high unemployment, foreclosures and layoffs. Most surprisingly, murder and manslaughter were down 10 percent.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers are being told by the U.S. government to take greater precautions with their Black Friday shopping events to avoid a repeat of last year, when a worker was trampled by customers. Guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration includes using a bullhorn to manage crowds, setting up barricades or rope lines and clearing the entrances of shopping carts and other potentially dangerous obstacles, according to a statement released by the agency. The National Retail Federation issued its own guidelines for its members earlier this month, and Bentonville, Ark.- based Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is extending store hours to manage crowds. Read the article here.
This article takes a critical look at the business self-help genre and its visible “gurus.” According to the article, these writers tend to have three characteristics in common. Lousy leadership “gurus” are marked by a tendency to overstate the newness of their ideas, a fondness for naming “model” companies and a willingness to market various “tools” that purport to reduce leadership to a few easy steps. “If management could indeed be reduced to a few simple principles, then we would have no need for management thinkers,” the author writes.
While I would not dismiss their work out of hand, as this article does, it is an interesting phenomonen that business leaders flock to the same well-worn management principles time after time after time. It seems there is serious money to be made by taking a timeless principle and using a new metaphor. The more simplistic you make it, the better. If you write it as a parable (think Who Moved My Cheese) that is the best! Perhaps that is why you can find legions of folks who have read The One-Minute Manager but hardly a soul who has read Drucker’s The Effective Executive or The Practice of Management.
Read the full article at The Economist.
The Retail Council of Quebec reported Wednesday they are also increasingly victims of theft and fraud. In 2008 and so far this year, the province’s retail sector has registered economic losses of nearly $900 million – 84 per cent of that attributed to theft and fraud by staff, shoplifting and consumer fraud.
In a survey carried out for the council between July and August by geomarketer and retail researcher Altus Géocom, 54 per cent of the respondents (who represent approximately 162,000 employees working in more than 4,250 stores) reported a 10-per-cent increase in those incidents from 2007. Read full article here.
A manager’s genuine interest in employees’ lives pays off at every level, in every job
“One of the greatest causes of misery for employees is the feeling that the person they work for isn’t interested in who they are and what goes on in their lives, personally or professionally. Regardless of how much money people make and whether their jobs suit them, if they feel anonymous they’ll dread going to work—and return home deflated.”
Patick Lencioni has written a nice, straight to the point reminder for all of us about the important role an employee’s first line manager plays in their life. This is important for us to remember as managers, but also critical for us to remember in how it impacts shortage, safety habits, and engagement in the workplace. We can design every training and awareness program we can think of, but it all comes to nothing if not supported, reinforced, and breathed into life by our store management teams. Read the full article here.
Disagreement between merchants and banks over who should pay more for security is the biggest obstacle to implementing a chip and PIN payment card system in the United States. All electronic-payment participants concur that additional security is necessary, and this security should span from the card-issuing banks to the payment processors. “The question is, how much more fraud do the banks want to tolerate?” says Gartner Research analyst Avivah Litan. Nevertheless, Litan understands the U.S. resistance to a chip and PIN transition, given the enormous costs involved. The banking industry says it is willing to cover the cost of new cards, but it should be retailers’ responsibility to pay for new card-swipe terminals.
Read the full article here.
A couple who admitted on national TV last year to being professional shoplifters were arrested Friday at their Leslie Court home, federal officials said.
Laura and Matthew Eaton were arrested by federal authorities early Friday afternoon, said Greg Meyer, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s San Diego office. The exact charges they face were not immediately available, he said.
The arrests came 10 months after the Eatons appeared on the “Dr. Phil” TV show and talked about making as much as $100,000 a year shoplifting, sometimes taking their three children on shoplifting trips. Read the full story here.
Twenty-two major retailers lost more than $6 billion to shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2008, according to the 21st Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International, a loss-prevention consulting firm.
On the upside, a record 904,226 thieves were apprehended, up 7.26 percent from 2007. Of them, 832,106 were shoplifters and 72,120 were dishonest employees, the survey says.
That breaks down to one in every 30 employees being apprehended for theft from their employer in 2008, based on more 2.1 million employees.
The survey found that more than $182 million was recovered, up 21.64 percent from the previous year. More than $113 million was recovered from shoplifters, while $69.8 million was recovered from employees.
“With the downturn in the economy, we have seen an increase in theft, which is having a detrimental impact on retailers’ bottom-line profits,” says Mark Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International. “These theft losses drive consumer prices higher and can force unprofitable stores to close.”
The average theft in 2008 was $202.28, up from $178.37 a year earlier.
The 22 retail companies participating in the survey had 19,151 stores and more than $570 billion in retail sales as of 2008.
Today’s CNN.com homepage has the headline “Swine Flu could infect to half of population” as government agencies and the medical community work to increase awareness of the likely resurgence of H1N1 this Fall season. Is your business taking steps to prepare for this issue? Do you have a communication and education strategy in-place for your employees, contractors, and customers? Are you availing yourself to the tremendous number of resources availabe at www.flu.gov?
There are no “magic bullets” in dealing with H1N1. Yes, vaccinations should be available by mid-October but there could be significant spread of the flu by that time, especially with the return of children to schools. Even when vaccines are available, priority will be given to at-risk individuals first. In the meantime, routine and mundane steps like washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when you are sick are the keys to prevention. Employers can help the process along with things like communication, sick leave provisions, and hand sanitizer programs.
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office in the U.K. is holding training days to help shopping centers prepare against terrorist attacks. “Crowded places, including shopping centers, are likely to feature in the attack plans of terrorist organizations in the future as they are usually locations with limited protective security measures and therefore afford the potential for mass fatalities and casualties,” it reported. Full article here..
From time to time, we post article links or commentary about general management skills and this short article from Talent Management is worth a read. Honest, candid feedback on performance is such an important baseline for effective management and yet most managers in the workplace struggle with it. Read the article here.
Here is a link to a good article in The Guardian, a British paper, about the use of data-mining in the fight against theft and fraud. Data-mining is a hot topic in the U.K. and Europe as it really started to blossom there about five years ago and I would say they are a few years behind the U.S. in the adoption curve but I’m still surprised how many companies here in the states haven’t implemented a robust data-mining program. Read the article here.
Here’s a link to a short column by Curtis Baillie about avoiding litigation in retail loss prevention. Of course, most of our focus is on avoiding a bad stop at all costs through training, detailed policy and procedures, and the application of the “five steps” (sometimes six, depending on the retailer). However, any of us who have been in this business for a long time, know that bad stops do occur. Baillie suggests that admitting our mistake and apologizing might be the easiest way to avoid a lawsuit.
To most companies, this seems counterintuitive as they try desperately to avoid any acknowledgment of the mistake. If they do make a statement that somewhat resembles an apology, it is usually in the form of “We regret that you had an experience in our store that did not meet your expectations..” or some other corporate gobbly-gook. But, an apology is sometimes the easiest way to end the incident without litigation. Check out Baillie’s column here.
This is just the type of case that makes retail companies concerned about online auction sites. Police in Portland, OR arrested a local woman and recovered approximately $100,000 in designer goods, mostly purses, from her home. Initial news reports allege this same woman is a “power seller” on ebay with a strong record of sales. Read the article here.
A good article from over at the BusinessWeek site citing research that found that communication overload causes a professional’s IQ to drop 10 percentage points. Our addiction to our emails, VM’s, text messages, tweets, Facebook and the like is dysfunctional on many levels, but perhaps none so insidious as growing inability to focus our undivided attention for more than a few minutes.
The issue used to be that when we were at home, we were thinking about what needed to be done at work and when we were working, we were thinking that we needed to be spending more time at home with the family. But, now we feel like we have to be everywhere, all the time! When we are on the cell phone, we are checking email. While reading email, our phone alerts us that we have a text message. When we are on Facebook, we feel like we need to keep tabs on LinkedIn and when we are at lunch with a colleague that we haven’t talked to for a few months, we are constantly checking our Blackberry.
Perhaps the future will belong to those who use all of these technologies but have the courage to do so on their own terms? Read the article here.
Around 60% of UK online retailers do not know whether they are in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), according to a survey from Sage Pay. Around two thirds of the 1000 SMEs polled by the security vendor say payment fraud remains one of the most daunting elements of running an online business.
In addition, only a small proportion of respondents could demonstrate a clear understanding of the financial risks and implications associated with conducting business online. Only 39% of retailers questioned actually understand the definition of PCI DSS compliance, while 65% do not believe that they are personally responsible for covering the implications of payments fraud committed on their site.