CompUSA Stickers on My Camera?

 BLOG 2007 Sep 09

My problem with the CompUSA sticker policy, 09.09.07

UPDATE, 2007.12.08:
Well the news is out. CompUSA is going out of business. HA! Unfortunately, Best Buy recently started the same sticker policy and hassled me just the other day. Of course, I refused to put a sticker on my camera. Are you listening Best Buy? Read on...

CompUSA Fort Lauderdale, FL

I am a professional photographer. I take many photos in the field and I always have a camera with me. I'm also a business owner and one of the stores I visit on a weekly basis is CompUSA. Between computers, laptops, printers, paper, ink, cables, and accessories, I spend thousands of dollars a year at CompUSA. No store is perfect but CompUSA has implemented a company-wide policy that I find ridiculous and unacceptable. Whenever a customer enters a CompUSA store with their own laptop, digital camera, or other electronic device, an employee guarding the door will stop them and put a sticker on that customer's device before they can go any further. Every time I need to pick up something at CompUSA, someone wants to put a sticker on my Professional Nikon D200 camera! Ahhhh... no way! I hope you're reading CompUSA, because this is not the way to treat your customers!

I recently asked to speak to a manager and the conversation went something like this:

Hello sir, what seems to be the problem?

Rob G:
Hi. I really want to complain about this sticker policy. I don't want a sticker on my camera.

Well sir, this policy is in effect at all CompUSA stores to ensure that people don't bring in a used item and switch it with a new one.

Rob G:
Well, I'm a professional photographer and this is a professional camera that you don't sell here. [shows him my camera] Why do I need a sticker on my camera?

I'm sorry sir, but it would be unfair to other customers if we put stickers on some items and not others. Can we just put a sticker on your camera strap?

Rob G:
No. And I know you're just following company policy, but I think the whole sticker thing is kind of pointless. I always have a camera with me and no one stops me at Circuit City, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, or even Ritz Camera, where they sell this camera.

I don't know what they do at those other stores sir but just a short time ago, someone brought in their used laptop, switched it with one of the new models on display, and walked out. Had we put a sticker on the laptop he brought in, we could have checked for it on the way out.

Rob G:
What about all of the RF tags and alarm cables that the laptops are connected to?

Evidently, this person knew how to defeat the alarm cable.

Rob G:
Seems to me, if I planned to walk into a store with a used laptop for the purpose of switching it with a new one, and I knew how to defeat the anti-theft cable, I doubt a little sticker would discourage me. I'd simply peel it off and stick it on the new laptop.

Yes, except the stickers are designed to be difficult to remove.

Rob G:
And that's EXACTLY why I'm not putting a sticker on my camera! Especially since I come in here once or twice a week.

I'm sorry sir, would you like to write a letter to corporate?

Rob G:
Yes I would, thanks.

Instead of writing a letter to corporate, I decided to write this article and post it on my site. I think putting a sticker or anything else on a customer's personal property is an assault and a liability. Couldn't that employee be doing something more useful than playing sticker police?

Rather than simply rant, I have some suggestions for CompUSA corporate:

1) You must spend quite a bit of money on EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) and if it isn't working properly, it might be time to upgrade or switch vendors. I find it amazing that with RFID tags and stickers, display devices physically wired to alarms, and everything else locked up in display cabinets, you still implemented a sticker policy.

2) You should reprimand, demote, or possibly fire the person or persons who came up with the sticker policy because it is most likely costing you more in customer satisfaction than it is saving you in shrinkage. Don't forget to calculate how much money you are apparently wasting on EAS because of the need for such a policy.

3) Your sticker policy doesn't take into consideration people who have devices in their pockets, backpacks, or purses. Are you going to start patting people down and searching through their belongings?

If you still feel the need to accost customers entering the store, here are some tips:

1) If a customer enters and demonstrates to the employee at the door that they have an electronic item that is not sold at CompUSA, let them pass. I don't see how this would be unfair in any way to other customers.

2) Customers entering with electronic items are given a number from a Turn-O-matic or similar device. The employee at the door writes down the name of the electronic item on a clipboard next to the corresponding number. On the way out, the employee checks the item on the list. Yes, this takes a few seconds longer but does not involve touching or putting stickers on anything the customer owns. In my case, the employee would give me my number and write "Nikon D200" on their clipboard. On the way out, I would return the number and proudly hold up my camera with no stickers on it.

3) Have a cage or secure area where customers can "valet" their electronic devices. Each customer would be given a ticket to ensure that no one else could claim their property. I have seen this policy used by stores in New York City when customers enter with large bags or backpacks. I was recently confronted with this policy because I was wearing my camera backpack. I was allowed to keep my backpack with me as long as I opened it for an employee on the way in and out.



EAS = Electronic Article Surveillance,

Types of EAS devices:
- RF tags, security tags - labels or stickers that set off an alarm at the door
- Hard tags - hard plastic tags that must be removed by the cashier with a device
- Pins and Lanyards

Rants about CompUSA




14 Feb 2008 10:36am

"dude thats funny.. and compusa sucks"