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awei7835

Wrongly accused shoplifting & treated like dirt, need help

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Hi, I am an international student studying in UK. Briefly, I was wrongly accused shoplifting, humiliated but proved my innocence (Not the other way around!). The next day when I returned asking for an apology, I was treated like dirt......

 

On 2 Jan I was shopping in Dingles. When I left the entrance, a security guard (named edited stopped me and told me he suspected me shoplifting and wanted my co-operation, bla bla bla in front of many people at the street. I returned with him to a stairway with anger and humiliation, I emptied all my pockets in front of him. The more pockets I emptied, the more uneasy he was..... In the end, he admitted he made a mistake and apologized.

 

However, what shocked me more was: actually, I was reported shoplifting by another CUSTOMER (can you believe it?! and they just trust a complete stranger), so he followed me around 10 mins. Even though he thought I was not suspicious, he still stopped me and asked me to prove my innocence!!!

 

After a bit research in internet, I found it was almost all big shops' policy that NEVER listen to a customer's report of shoplifting because of their unreliable sources and incredibility. In most shops, typically TESCO, security guard is allowed to stop a customer ONLY when a 6-step measure is strictly followed. The guard will be sackable if he stops a customer before 6-step is obeyed. (Note, 6-step procedure. 1You must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise2.You must see the shoplifter select the merchandise ; 3.You must see the shoplifter conceal, convert or carry away the merchandise; 4. You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter ; 5. You must observe the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise; 6.You must apprehend the shoplifter outside the storeApparently, the security guard completely messed up the procedure.

 

Anyway, it is not the end the story. The next day (3 Jan) when I pull myself together (I did not even sleep because of this traumatizing incident), walked back to Dingles expecting an apology (I almost took it for granted, as most readers of this forum would to), I met duty manager edited , or shall I call her Ms. Cold fish.

 

She leaded me to the same stairway where I had to prove my innocence. She wasn’t apologetic at all (can you believe it, they are customer-based business and you don’t even need to be trained to know you are on wrong side!!!) After I finished my story, she went “well, we did give you options, didn’t we? Bla blab la, we have to bla bla” During the whole conversation, she wasn’t apologetic, showed no sympathy and had a huge take-it-or-sod-off attitude. To be honest, I was godsmacked by this attitude. You don’t really need to be trained to say sorry to a wrongly-accused customer, do you? She also refused me to her office by saying “it is staff only, we have to talk here”. After my protest, she brought me to the fifth floor customer service area (still a corridor), so I stand there for 90 mins, have to justify why I was angry without being given a seat or glass of water in front of everyone on fifth floor.

 

I phoned their headquaters in London, they told me all these matters have to be handled in the individual shops. So on 5 Jan, unhappy with my treatment, I went to see the store manager. He wrote a letter of apology to me and I received today.

 

Now my concern is because what has happened are ridiculously out of proportion, is it possible for me to ask any compensation from them (mainly for wrongly-accusation)? If such a requirement is legitimate in law, what shall I do next? Lawsuit? If the answer is no, who else shall I complain to?

 

Thanks for your time.

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To be honest, I just wouldn't shop there again. As for compensation, you would have to take them to court and they could use a 'reasonable suspicion' defence, making any success based on the leanings of the judge. As you'd be paying for this in a civil action, it's a risk you might want to think hard about making.

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Thank you buzby...

Appreciate your suggestion.

 

To be honest, it won't be big deal if the next day manger simply gave me an apology. I guess she just added fuel on a fire.

 

Another side of me want nick some stuff and put into her bag one day and get her caught, so that she could feel what I felt. But....

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Is this Dingles of Exeter? If so then it is good to see that the intellect of the security staff has improved since I worked there. That member of staff has acted in contravention of the store policy when I employed by HOF - a member of staff must see a shoplifter take the goods and leave the store. A member of the public (which is what a store security guard is) cannot make a citizens arrest on suspicion of an illegal act, they have to know it was commited (I'm sure someone can explain that in more legal terms).


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Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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Is this Dingles of Exeter? If so then it is good to see that the intellect of the security staff has improved since I worked there. That member of staff has acted in contravention of the store policy when I employed by HOF - a member of staff must see a shoplifter take the goods and leave the store. A member of the public (which is what a store security guard is) cannot make a citizens arrest on suspicion of an illegal act, they have to know it was commited (I'm sure someone can explain that in more legal terms).

 

Thanks for ur reply. Yes indeed, Exeter!

 

That security guard himself saw nothing but still stopped me simply because another customer thought me shoplifting... What the hell was he thinking ? How come he think another customer was more reliable or credible than me? What if it was malicious? What if it was bad jok? What if it was racial? ....

 

Still upset and angry about them.

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Not a good story,people have been taken to court for less.

Under the green form scheme you are entitled to free advice from a solicitor,I would certainly have a word to see if its worthwhile to pursue this.

You can cite defamation of character and undue stress.

Additionally something in writing to Dingles head office advising that you are unhappy with their response,and advising them that you are seeking legal advice,may spur them into dialogue with you.

 

Incidentally I have to say that I am going to have to edit the names in your post,for quite obvious reasons.


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Tell the store manager you will be making a complaint to the police involving the phrase false imprisonment. Last person I saw drag a suspected shoplifter back to the store was lucky to only loose her job and get a caution.


Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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Not a good story,people have been taken to court for less.

Under the green form scheme you are entitled to free advice from a solicitor,I would certainly have a word to see if its worthwhile to pursue this.

You can cite defamation of character and undue stress.

Additionally something in writing to Dingles head office advising that you are unhappy with their response,and advising them that you are seeking legal advice,may spur them into dialogue with you.

 

Incidentally I have to say that I am going to have to edit the names in your post,for quite obvious reasons.

 

Very helpful, many thanks. I am thinking writing a letter to head office tom. Will be great to hear any information about possibility of lawsuit against them ...

 

Deleted names myself, save you some time, sorry about that.

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Tell the store manager you will be making a complaint to the police involving the phrase false imprisonment. Last person I saw drag a suspected shoplifter back to the store was lucky to only loose her job and get a caution.

 

Yeah, i just dont have a clue why that duty manager did not know how serious the issue was... my friend worked in Tesco n he told me they had to sack that security guard n send flowers & chocolate to that poor customer after a very similar incident. And me?... was only told off by them....

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If she went with the security guard by her own will then it isn't false imprisonment.

 

You've had an appology, which you say was all that you wanted in the first place but now that isn't good enough and you want to try for compensation? I think this is another thread that is going over the top - yes they were wrong, now they've appologised you should leave it at that.

 

Its frivolous law suits like this that are clogging up the legal system and turning us into a similar country to america.

 

How would you like it if you had a car accident and you believed it was the other persons fault and started to tell them why you thought it was their fault in a busy street. A week later you get a letter asking for compensation for humiliation in front of loads of strangers by the other driver?

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If she went with the security guard by her own will then it isn't false imprisonment.

 

You've had an appology, which you say was all that you wanted in the first place but now that isn't good enough and you want to try for compensation? I think this is another thread that is going over the top - yes they were wrong, now they've appologised you should leave it at that.

 

Its frivolous law suits like this that are clogging up the legal system and turning us into a similar country to america.

 

How would you like it if you had a car accident and you believed it was the other persons fault and started to tell them why you thought it was their fault in a busy street. A week later you get a letter asking for compensation for humiliation in front of loads of strangers by the other driver?

 

Did I ever say I give up my right of compensation right from beginning?

Yes i took an appology for granted, as you probably would too. But the next two days, i have to leave aside all my study/work, went there twice, asking for what I am entitled to, an appology. I had to justify my position to duty manager, in front of everyone, she didnot even feel for me. I spent 90 mins talking about it, without given even a seat, and no formal appology received that day. Now you are accusing me for clogging up legal system...funny... I haven't even seriously thinking of lawsuit yet. I come here to learn more and I genuinely need help & consolation from friendly & nice people... You dont know how traumatising it was and you never know if one day the same or even worse gonna happen to you, so don't try to patronize me like that...

 

All the best

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awei, sometimes blacksheep can be a little blunt, but I basically agree with hir on the subject of 'frivolous lawsuits' - ultimately, this isn't really worth going to court for, and is a waste of court time. However, I can understand how humiliated you must have felt, and yes, the security guard should have gone through the steps of suspicion, intent, concealment, failure to pay, etc - this is basic training for anyone likely to stop a shoplifter. I would be writing to Dingles Head Office again, citing what happened point by point, including the failure to follow procedure and the 90 minute wait (unacceptable!), and giving them a precise way to make you a happy customer again. There is a good thread here by barracad called How To Complain, and gives good pointers on writing a clear, concise letter likely to get a favourable response. If you post a draft of your letter up here when you finish it, someone on here'll check it over for you before you send it.


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awei, sometimes blacksheep can be a little blunt, but I basically agree with hir on the subject of 'frivolous lawsuits' - ultimately, this isn't really worth going to court for, and is a waste of court time. However, I can understand how humiliated you must have felt, and yes, the security guard should have gone through the steps of suspicion, intent, concealment, failure to pay, etc - this is basic training for anyone likely to stop a shoplifter. I would be writing to Dingles Head Office again, citing what happened point by point, including the failure to follow procedure and the 90 minute wait (unacceptable!), and giving them a precise way to make you a happy customer again. There is a good thread here by barracad called How To Complain, and gives good pointers on writing a clear, concise letter likely to get a favourable response. If you post a draft of your letter up here when you finish it, someone on here'll check it over for you before you send it.

 

Thanks for your post and honest reply. I know probably a letter of complaint is the best way. Also discussing with people here and sharing opinions really sedate me. Thats even more helpful and effective to cure me... Cheers once again

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In your letter to head office, I would suggest that you require individual written apologies from both the security guard and the duty manager. Also, confirmation that any necessary disciplinary/retraining action has taken place for these two individuals.

 

If they should fail, then inform them that you will make public their company's failings in an attempt to ensure that nobody else has to be humiluiated in this way.

 

 

Store security fuards or staore detectives have no power of arrest beyond that of a normal citizen - who cannot arrest on suspicion. They have no power whatsoever to require that you return to the store and if they physically attempt to restrain you, they are committing common assault.

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They have no power whatsoever to require that you return to the store and if they physically attempt to restrain you, they are committing common assault
I thought that they could make a citizens arrest and use reasonable force to restrain you, but they can only do this without fear of prosecution if they know that you are committing a criminal offence. If they do not "know" then the arrest is unlawful and so is the force being used, if they use excessive force then they are still liable for a charge of assault even if the arrest was lawful.

Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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Hi awei7835. I sympathise with the feelings you experienced following these two incidents. It must have been shocking and traumatic for you to be (a) wrongly accused of a criminal act and (b), treated with such 'contempt' by the duty manager when you went back to complain.

 

As has already been said by others here, I too feel your best course now is to write to ask for an apology and confirmation of the necescary re-training of the staff involved. However, I would not write to Dingles' head office but to the head office of their parent company, House of Fraser. I would also cc your letter to the general manager of the store concerned.

 

As an aside, I must say I find the increasingly common use of security guards in almost all kinds of commercial premises these days a sad reflection on the times and society in which we live. From your experience it seems that to put someone in a uniform and in a position of supposed 'authority' can lead to serious, unfounded allegations being made willy nilly.


Jimbo 44 - always happy to help, but always willing to learn from being corrected too!!! Whilst any advice given may be based upon personal experience, please always be sure you seek guidance from a professional in the particular field.

 

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark, but a large group of professionals built the Titanic.

 

A 'click' on the scales is always appreciated if I have helped. Many Thanks!

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In your letter to head office, I would suggest that you require individual written apologies from both the security guard and the duty manager. Also, confirmation that any necessary disciplinary/retraining action has taken place for these two individuals.

 

If they should fail, then inform them that you will make public their company's failings in an attempt to ensure that nobody else has to be humiluiated in this way.

 

 

Store security fuards or staore detectives have no power of arrest beyond that of a normal citizen - who cannot arrest on suspicion. They have no power whatsoever to require that you return to the store and if they physically attempt to restrain you, they are committing common assault.

 

I've done my fair share of time in store management, also having to deal with security issues as part of this. IMO, the above post is your best course of repproach and is totally accurate.

 

I'm wary to say this on a public board (because not everyone out there is honest), but if you are ever tackled by someone from a shop who accusses you of theft, your best reproach is to say "Sorry, you've made a mistake" and keep walking. If there is someone you know with you, get them to stay with you throughout what happens next as a witness. As long as you're innocent, everything they do from that point on buts them further and further into the wrong.

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I've thought about this in the past and my advice would be never to let the store staff or security guard insist on you proving your innocence or allowing them to search you. Always ask for a search to be conducted in the presence of a Police Officer. That way they can't pretend it never happened and you could insist that the copper writes down the surly attitude of the staff.


23/05/06 DPA Sent to Halifax

I Love You All :D

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Really appreciate all your helps. It means a lot to me with no familiy & friend around!:) Bless everyone :p

 

ivorbiggun, now I know what to do next time . Hopefully everyone who sees this post can also learn sth.

Jimbo44, i ve already calmed down now. Yes, legal action will be the very last resort and I will write a letter to their parent company instead. Thank you for reminding me of that fact (HoF) which I actually did not even know! :oops:

patdavies, I will include every points you mentioned in my letter. :smile:

omicron, will try that next time.Must be funny seeing their reaction ...

 

Cheers everyone

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i am a security guard and would like to reply to some of your comments.

1) no security guard has any special powers, they are still members of the public.

2) it is against the law for a security guard to search you without your consent even if you are actually caught stealing. the way we get around this is by saying something like ''do you mind emptying your pockets?''. you are within your rights to refuse a search.

3) a security guard can only use a citizens arrest if he is 100% sure that you have commited an indictable offence.(pronounced in-dite-able). he must read you your rights i.e

you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense, if you do not mention when questioned, something which you may later rely on in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence. at this point if you dont understand your rights the guard is required by law to explain them to you further. nobody can stop you leaving the store unless they have actually arrested you.

4) all security guards must carry an sia license, there is a £5000 fine for a guard caught working without one, even if he just left it at home. he must carry it at all times.

5) only a guard who has an sia licence in cctv operation (or a police officer) can follow people around the store with the cameras. if you think you are being watched then write down the time and place and what you were wearing and write to head office and demand a copy of the footage under the data protection act, you can also enquire whether or not the camera operator has an sia licence in cctv operation(this is different to a normal sia licence). all sia license holders are listed on the sia (security industry authority) website

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John, any views on store detectives that set exit alarms off, as a justification to stop someone.

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