Monday, April 2, 2012

Eating off supermarket shelves and not paying

LAST week, while shopping for cheese at a supermarket's cold storage section, a shopper attracted my attention.

The man, who was in his 60s and dressed in sports attire, was browsing through bunches of grapes across from the section where I was standing.

From the way he was rummaging through the unwrapped fruits, I figured that he must be a meticulous buyer - until I saw him surreptitiously popping some grapes into his mouth.

He did it several times until one of the supermarket staff spotted him. When the man realised that two pairs of eyes were trained on him, he quickly made his escape, but not before plucking another fruit and popping it into his mouth.

If you have been to the supermarket often enough, you may have seen similar incidents.

Just hang around the tidbit counters and I am sure you will see greedy shoppers dipping their hands into the cookie jars, despite the "No Sampling" signs.

Last week's incident with the grape stealer was not my first encounter with a greedy shopper. I would not have been surprised if the man was shabbily dressed. I might even have forgiven him if he was, for he could be too poor to afford grapes.

But from his attire -- he was wearing an Adidas T-shirts and track pants, a pair of Nike shoes, and had a Suunto watch strapped to his left wrist - he looked like he could afford more than a bunch. God knows why he treated himself to the fruits as if they were samples.

The worst case I have seen of a food thief was at a supermarket where a man and his wife had four kids in tow.

One of his daughters had been throwing a tantrum and he wanted to pacify her.

So, he reached for a pack of Vitagen drinks, took a bottle and gave it to his daughter, before returning the package, one bottle less, to the shelf.

When I saw the man again at the checkout counter, he and his family were walking through one of the empty lanes as if they had only been window-shopping. Obviously, he had no intention of paying for the bottle of Vitagen he took.

I once asked a supermarket supervisor how her employers dealt with shoppers who helped themselves to foodstuff and did not pay for them.

She said it was difficult to act because by the time the floor staff sprang into action, the evidence would be gone. The food would have been eaten and the containers thrown away.

"But, if we catch them in the act, like drinking packet drinks or eating ice-cream, we will politely ask them to pay for the food first.

"Some of us have been accused of being rude to our customers, especially when they have successfully got rid of the evidence. The more educated ones may even threaten us with legal action if we fail to show proof of their wrongdoing."

What do you think of supermarket goers who help themselves to food that are not for sampling? I consider it shoplifting.

How would you describe taking something from a supermarket and not paying for it?

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