I was taken to a room for questioning, upon leaving a departmental store, for allegations of shoplifting.
I had picked up several cosmetic tester samples from the stands, as often (for products apart from foundations), the staff do not give you free samples and it is difficult to get an accuracy of colour matching in lighting outside the store.
I wish to emphasise that these were all tester products - they had been used already/ were not brand new. Some were also smaller than the standard product size. So it wouldn't be fair to equate them to the price of a brand new, full-size product, nor the theft of an actual product. Though, I do feel it was not the right course of action.
Nevertheless, I was given an exclusion order from the store. When I was questioned, I was asked to put out all the Make-Up testers I had picked up, and I co-operated fully in returning these. Given they were for high-end brands, the total was estimated at around £200 (in any case, given they were opened, non-full size testers, this estimation is inaccurate in itself); I was told by the Store's Security Officers that this would affect the charge RLP would ask for.
However, in the letter RLP wrote to me, they contradict the store staff - RLP are saying that due to all items being recovered, the £197 I owe is purely for the "substantial amount of time...in observing, apprehending, interviewing you..". I believe this is quite an extortionate amount in light of the circumstances, and the fact I was fully compliant.
Moreover, when I was questioned by the Store staff, they asked for my University address (assuring no correspondence would be sent there), as well as home address. They may have confused University with University residence, but they did not make this clear. Eitherway, RLP addressed their charge letter to my University, who had to open it before redirecting it to me. This is infringing on my privacy, and I am now also concerned if this could affect my employability? I didn't receive any Police Order (it is a civil matter), but could future employers see this on an DBS (CRB) check or elsewhere? Does paying the fee clear my name from any databases?
Should I dispute this case, or ask for a reduced settlement? Any advice would be much appreciated. This is really worrying me, and making it hard to focus on my work.