Winco — rude out of line
Days after the incident it still seems surreal, my daughter being walked away accused of shoplifting. The police did not show up or were ever called instead it was Winco Supermarket Rent-a-Cop(s) who intimidated and extorted my daughter.
It started when my daughter and I accompanied by my three-year-old granddaughter went shopping at the Lancaster WinCo in Salem for our family holiday dinner December 21st. I like the prices and we have shopped there for years. The bulk of the food was in the basket I pushed because my granddaughter sat in the basket pushed by my daughter. Anyone who has small children knows how difficult they can be when their eyes light up at seeing the brightly package goods. Additionally, children get tired easily and neither my daughter or I can carry my 40lb granddaughter in WinCo for the two hours of shopping we needed to do.
In spite of all our best efforts, my granddaughter was still able to grab items off the shelf. My daughter personally put back princess raviolis, hair ties, and other things that companies use bright cartoon characters to market their products with. I saw my daughter put back the many items she had picked up throught out the store. To be honest, we were more concerned on our holiday shopping than making sure these items were returned to their rightful place. We just did not want the items in our baskets.
We have a large family so it was no surprise that at the end of our shopping trip the cashier rang up a $350 dollar tab while my daughter bagged the groceries, while my grandaughter played with a pink hair band. Not thinking anything about it, with our mind completely focused on bagging groceries and getting home to feed the family, I told my daughter she is going to break her hair band take it away from her. My daughter took it out of her hands and placed it on her purse and continued bagging the groceries. I paid for the items, then my daughter, granddaughter, and myself headed out talking and laughing to the parking lot. I was trying to hurry to my vehicle because my granddaughter was cranky and needed to be changed. It was here that our shopping experience went wrong. WinCo store security ran after us and stopped us in the middle of the parking lot. With the attitude of someone who had just caught John Dillinger, he said very confrontationally “Did you forget to pay for something?” I had just spent nearly four hundred dollars in that store, not knowing my granddaughter had a hair tie in her mothers purse worth pennies from all the items we put back on the shelf earlier. My daughter was taken back into the store against my will and advice, while I headed to the truck to change my granddaughter. Let me say this, I have enough experience with the law and I know my rights. Furthermore, I know, understand, and respect the need for security. However, when security starts making accusations, false threats, and refuses to call the police they become Rent-a-Cops in my eyes because they are not abiding by the law themselfs. They are creating it as they see fit.
I unloaded my groceries and changed my granddaughter and it was then I decided to head back into the store to find out what was going on with my daughter. I rushed back into WinCo with my granddaughter on my hip to find my daughter was nowhere in sight. I went back out to the car to wait for the police to show, for I wasn’t going anywhere without my daughter. After fifteen minutes, my daughter came out to the car from WinCo's security offices in tears with a yellow peice of paper in hand with nothing but her signature on a pre-typed form requiring her to pay a mothly fee. My daughter told me she signed the agreement to pay the store $255 dollars for a theft she did not commit. Apparently, there was one hair band in my daughter’s purse that cost less than a dollar from a package of $5.60 hair ties that my granddaughter had opened. The store security had found the rest of the package somewhere in the store. One of the security intimidated her by making statements like; what happened to the Princess raviolis? Why didn't you steal those too? She wanted them as well! He searched her purse and questioned about every article she had in it asking if she had stolen each of those as well and if they were taken from their WinCo store. These items included items like a make-up brush bought from bath and body (name on the bottom of the brush) and a address book from a tanning salon she tans at. My daughter was told she was going to go to jail and the theft charges would go her record. Knowing that a criminal record would preventing her from having her dream career she immediately agreed to everything in tears. My daughter is 22-years-old and has heard the stories that her stepfather and I have told over the years and was terrified. Her stepfather and I are both law enforcement personnal and my daughter wants to go into law enforcement herself. The only thing she was guilty of is not keeping a better eye on my granddaughter and ignorance of the law. I looked for the phone number and address to WinCos National Headquarters, which the lancaster WinCo refused to give out with only the one piece of paper they gave her. When I called WinCo I was sent from person to person on the phone until I reached a answer machine, where I left a message and never received a call back. I wanted to contact them to know if they agree with the extortion policy their stores have. If my daughter was truly guilty of theft, then why weren’t the police called?
My daughter is young and was embarrassed and humiliated by the whole ordeal. She begged me at this point just to leave it alone, for they told her it would not show up on her record if she just paid $35 dollars a month (totalling $255). When your child is crying and pleading with you just to leave it alone, what do you do? However, I cannot let this go. Is this how WinCo keeps their prices low, through intimidation of naive young women? Refusing to accept payment for an honest mistake, they would rather extort 200+ percent? Where does this money go? Is this the policy of the national chain or just the Salem store? Incarcerated felons don’t get treated the way we were treated of this I personally know. How many others have been extorted like this? My daughter and I are Oregonians and Americans subject to laws of the state and the nation. Why are store security of a national chain allowed to treat Oregonians like we live underneath the Taliban?
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