We took a family trip to Wisconsin. We do it every year around July 4th, but this year was a special visit since Geoff’s dad is in very poor health. We drove so it took two days to get there. On Thursday, July 3rd I was the Whole Foods in downtown Milwaukee store. I frequent the Fairfax, Springfield and Clarendon stores. On this day, my husband had just dropped me off at the Whole Foods store after a long visit with his father who is in hospice care down the street. I was hungry and had time to kill since we were traveling and only had one car in town.
While I was walking around the store, I was talking to various clients. You see, I own a marketing consulting firm. So, I was taking and making various calls and shopping at the same time. I did not pick up a cart at the entrance of the store due to the fact that I did not think I would be buying much. As I selected more and more items, the items were falling out of my hands. I took a plastic produce bag and placed the items in it so they would not fall out of my large bucket purse (that had no closure). I also, as I previously mentioned, was hungry and got some nuts from the bulk food aisle. I weighed and labeled the bag of the nuts, as I typically do at the stores back home.
I stopped in the coffee area and made another phone call to a client. At that time, I ate the nuts, which again I typically do at the Virginia Whole stores I frequent. When I check out, I simply give the cashier the bag with the sticker so I can show him or her how much product was in the bag the point the bag was filled.
The music and noise got loud in the coffee area, so I left to go into the vestibule to talk to a friend. I had planned on returning into the store to buy the items in my bag, but was not given the time nor opportunity to do so. At that time a female loss prevention employee (I can only guess at her function since she had no name tag and refused to tell me her name) grabbed me by the arm and took me back into the store. I was led upstairs by the unnamed female employee and a male employee named Ted. Ted was extremely sarcastic and rude to me. I was detained for almost an hour until the police arrived. I called my lawyer for some assistance and Ted told me that I was making him uncomfortable.
The police finally did arrive and gave me a ticket for shoplifting. The ticket is $375. Thus far I have talked to a shift leader at the store in question named Mike who informed me that he was unwilling to discuss the matter with me, and also unwilling to review the store tape. I received a call from Whole Foods Headquarters informing me that “they were siding with the store, and if I had an issue with the ticket, that I would need to deal with the police directly.
Here are the issues that still need to be addressed:
– I have a bruise on my arm due to one of the Milwaukee store employees (the female who refused to give me her name) using unnecessary force.
– I was told by Ted at the Milwaukee store that I was “banned” from all Whole Foods stores nationwide. Be assured that I will not patronize that store in the future. However, I would like to know if I would be welcome in the Whole Foods stores I typically frequent. If not, there are plenty of your competitors who I am sure would value my business.
– At no time have I received an apology due to my treatment by the employees who handled this event the Milwaukee store.
– At no time was I allowed the opportunity to relay my version of the course of events on July 3rd in the Milwaukee store.
It is truly unfortunate that I have received such a poor response from headquarters and the Milwaukee store. Up until this incident, I shopped at Whole Foods at least once a week and had nothing but positive experiences with the employees.
A few suggestions for the future for the Milwaukee store, if you care to pass them on: I was an assistant manager for a large retailer and we never treated any loss prevention issue in the manner I experienced. We would either call the county/town police or have mall security deal with the customer directly. We also would videotape the conversation with the customer in question and a store manager or manager on duty.