What’s your policy when a customer accuses your movers of stealing? Do you have one? Has it ever happened to you? Did you reimburse the customer for the alleged theft and hope the problem would go away?
I once got a call from a customer who said our movers had stolen $200 from her employee’s wallet, and that I needed to fix the problem immediately. I went straight to the job as fast as I could and saw my movers huddled near a wall in the reception room. Before I could talk to them, the customer rushed into the room and yelled, “One of your movers stole my secretary’s $200 cash from her wallet, and we want it back!” Rather than react and possibly escalate the situation further, I softly called my supervisor aside and asked him what happened. He explained that while they were working on the other side of the floor, the customer rushed up to them and accused them of stealing her employee’s cash from her wallet. He remembered seeing the employee sitting at her desk but didn’t notice a purse or wallet. Based upon his knowledge of his crew, he didn’t think any of them stole the money.
What would you have done in this situation? Would you have reimbursed the victim’s $200 and continued the move? I did not! I told our crew to go back to work and asked the customer if anyone saw the movers steal the wallet. “Of course not,” she shrieked (as if I were stupid), “But it had to be them because they were the only ones near her office at the time of the theft.” She dragged me by the arm down the hall and pointed to a sobbing young lady who was the victim. She said her assistant left her wallet on top of her desk while she ran to the ladies’ room. Upon her return, she checked her wallet, and the money was gone. It seemed strange to me that a person would leave her wallet unattended in the first place especially since we (always) covered “valuables” during our pre-move instructions. In writing and in person we always covered security by saying that all valuables such as money, coins, jewelry, and alcohol are to be locked up out site.
I surmised that one of two things happened: Either one of our movers stole the money or the victim made the story up to get a “free” $200. To get to the truth, I told the customer and the victim our policy for dealing with theft.
1. I instructed the customer to call the police and fill out a police report.
2. I added that we were going to give lie detector tests to our 7 movers on the job as well as to both her and her employee.
3. If any of our movers failed the test, we would pay for all the tests and reimburse the victim for her loss. However, if they all passed the tests, the customer would be required to pay for the tests (at $125 each), and we would not reimburse the “missing” money.
What do you think happened next? The victim, who had been sobbing, stopped crying, wiped her face and said, “I don’t want to cause any trouble. Don’t worry about the money. I’m sure a friend will loan it to me. We don’t need to get the police involved or take lie detector tests. Just forget it. I guess I shouldn’t have left my wallet on my desk in the first place.”
In my opinion, our theft policy flushed out the real suspect—the alleged victim who probably pulled the same stunt in the past with another mover and got “free” money. In other words, I don’t believe that her money was stolen in the first place.
Moral of the story: Have an anti-theft policy in place and USE IT! Otherwise, you could be paying out false claims and worse—allowing your company’s reputation to be damaged unfairly. In this online, 24/7 “Yelp” world, even a single instance of appearing to be at fault (if your crew is genuinely innocent) could ruin your business overnight!
Be sure to join our Group at www.linkedin.com/groups/12060567 For more information on our online office moving training, please visit www.officemoves.com/training/index.html or call Ed Katz, 404.358.2172.