When economic conditions are tough, we expect businesses and individuals to be creative, innovative and more industrious, in order to survive. However, it would seem that while businesses are trying, if they are at all, to be more creative in finding solutions to growth and profitability, some of their employees are busy looking for ways to “steal’ from the very sources of their livelihood.
This habit has now spread to almost every type of business: shops, hotels, bars, workshops, restaurants, entertainment places, fuel stations etc. Workers at these places are on the alert, ready to grab every opportunity possible, to get something for themselves, either from their employer, or the customer, “by hook or crook.”
It is not uncommon for shop assistants, salesmen, mechanics and many others, to suggest to a customer, in most cases s total stranger, to be part of their scheme to defraud a business. A typical example includes a salesperson offering a customer the requested services, and then suggesting charging them for less. The difference is then shared between the customer and the salesperson.
While this may look attractive initially, in the final analysis the customer realizes that he or she may have taken part in a serious crime, but for very little reward, considering that in the first place, he or she was prepared to pay in full for the service or product. In some cases the customer loses, as the salesperson may be lying, especially in the case of services that they have offered more than the customer has paid for.
Customers should walk away from such offers, to avoid being involved in stealing from other people’s businesses. You should ask yourself: “ What if this were my business, would I be happy to have my customers conniving with my staff to steal from me?” What if you are caught? How would you feel being embarrassed for taking part in theft of something which, in the first place, you were prepared to pay for ?
In most cases, the initial move is made by the sales staff, especially when a customer asks for a discount or a lower price. A person asking for a discount is not asking someone to steal.
From their side, businesses should ensure that they have adequate controls in place. They should not leave junior staff to execute a complete transaction on their own. There should be adequate checks by responsible supervisors. I emphasize the word “responsible”, as in some cases these acts have been conducted with the support of supervisors; and such supervisors to me are not worth the name!
Controls and paying reasonable salaries can deter some staff from initiating or participating in these fraudulent activities. Training staff in ethics and the operations of a business may help them realize the importance of every Dollar to the survival of the business, which is the source of their livelihood. Although these acts can be associated with the current economic hardships, it may not be easy to root them out when things get better. the crimes will only get bigger.