Customer Disservice

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One of the very noticeable differences between Melbourne and Brisbane is the constant searching of bags. When you go into most large department stores (K-mart, Woolworths, Target) and you're carrying a bag, the bag will most likely be searched when you leave the store.

This searching sends a very simple statement: "We don't trust our customers."

I don't remember ever seeing the bag searching in Melbourne. It's certainly something you'd never see in Hong Kong. Any shop there which insisted on searching customer bags would never survive. I first encountered this in Walmart in Shantou, and thought it was just a reaction to excessive pilfering.

This theme of distrusting the customer extends to other places too. I went over to the South Bank yesterday morning to see the Art Gallery. One of my clients here is a patron of the Gallery and recommended that I see the 'Water Room'. As usual when I'm out and about, I had a back pack with me, holding my little digital camera, a map, etc. I wasn't allowed into the Art Gallery with a bag. A woman who appeared to be in charge insisted that I had to check my bag in the cloakroom before entering. She wouldn't give a reason for it.

(The Art Gallery is a stunningly ugly building, by the way.)

Interestingly enough, the two big Australian department stores, Myer and David Jones, don't do this at all. Maybe they realize that not treating their customers like criminals will encourage them to come back.


Alanski said:

That is a bad example of bad customer service but i suppose they probably have been burnt so many times so it's an extreme preventative measure. Not a nice one i agree. I like the bridge but yes the art building is butt ugly!

Bromgrev said:

Have they never heard of electonic security tags?

dave said:

Bromgrev, nearly all of the big stores have electronic security devices on the larger items, as well as lower price stuff like DVD-Rs.

Quite why they feel the need to back up the electronic devices with bag searches is beyond me. It must cost more to have someone standing at the checkouts searching bags all day than they'd lose through the kind of petty pilfering which wouldn't trip the electronic security system.

It's also not effective - I've walked out with bulging pockets (usually full of phone, palm pilot, camera, etc) without being stopped, and I really don't think that a serious shopstealer (as they say here) is going to load up a backpack full of stuff - it'll all go in less obvious hiding places.

Bromgrev said:

Maybe someone got the anti-terrorist and the anti-shoplifting measures mixed up. They're checking for bombs when you leave the building.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on August 1, 2005 8:46 AM.

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