Hurt the Help

June 1, 2010 by admncc

I don’t like to cut and paste stories too often, but in this case, my complaint was already built in.  This story appeared in print through McClatchy Newspapers in an article by Carrie Rengers.  I later found an expanded version of the story on Rengers’ blog.

“Heather Ravenstein tried to save Wal-Mart some money Friday by foiling a shoplifter’s plan to steal a $600 computer, but it cost her her job.  “I’m a single mom, and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Ravenstein, who is 30.  She has worked at a Wichita Wal-Mart for almost two years, most recently as a customer service manager.  Friday night around 10:20, she was standing near some registers when she saw a man with a computer coming up the main walkway of the store.  Ravenstein says the man set off an alarm.  She went after him.  “Let me see your receipt, and then I’ll take this off for you,” she told the man, referring to a sensor on the computer.  Ravenstein says the man refused and kicked her.  “And then he punched me in my shoulder, and then he finally gave up and just let go of the computer.”  The next day, about two hours before her shift was over, Ravenstein says an assistant manager told her it’s against Wal-Mart policy for anyone but a manager or someone in asset protection to try to stop a customer from stealing.  “He said there’s really no gray area,” Ravenstein says.  “It just goes straight to termination.””

“When asked about the situation, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anna Taylor e-mailed this response: “While we appreciate her intentions, Ms. Ravenstein’s actions put her safety – and perhaps the safety of our customers – in jeopardy and, in the process, violated company policy as it pertains to how we treat people in our stores.  As an unfortunate result of these circumstances, Ms. Ravenstein is no longer employed by our company.””

It’s time for the readers of The Constant Complainer to be the jury.  Is a policy a policy or should the retail giant have thanked Ravenstein and/or dealt with her in a different manner?

All Posts / Business / Law and Order / Retail / Safety Anna Taylor / Carrie Rengers / Company Policy / Heather Ravenstein / Kansas / McClatchy Newspapers / Safety and Security / Shoplifting / Stolen Computers / Terminations / Wal-Mart / Wal-Mart Managers / Wichita /


  1. Tristan says:

    Walmart does what they are encouraged to do by the actions of lawyers, socialists, unions, and ignorant consumers. Heather can think twice before working for a monkey corporation again or choose to keep cranking that organ.

  2. I have no respect for Wal*Mart or any company that uses that lame excuse of “there is no gray area” when someone stopped a shoplifter. Maybe their policy exists for a reason, but assuming this was her first offense, she should have been reminded as to why that policy exists and issued a warning. It sure seems like an excuse to get rid of her for other reasons.

  3. NeoConDon says:

    As Wal-Mart drifts farther to the socialist/fascist left, I’m becoming more and more disenfranchised with them. I loved them when they were a conservative, pro-american company that stood for something. But their love for the liberals and progressives is downright frightening at times, and I’m very concerned about how they are taking advantage of their customers when it comes to the environmentalist wacko lies of global warming…not to mention their love affair with General Electric (a company whose products I do not knowingly buy)

    This policy is obviously designed to protect the employees from harm, and it is a good policy. The punishment is the problem. I hope Wal-mart will cave and happily invite Ms. Ravenstein back.

  4. Dan says:

    A customer could go off on any of us at any time. I understand employee safety, but she worked in customer service. And it sounds like she was just asking a question. Really bad PR move by Wal-Mart Management.

  5. carissa says:

    I don’t see how putting one’s own life at rik is a liability to a company. I see a lot of problems with this. Plus I just don’t like Walmart as a whole. major fail.

  6. Jacki says:

    Wow, what a way to thank an employee for doing her job! If she had just let him go, they probably would have fired her for letting the thief get away with the computer! I mean, every time I walk out of Walmart, I get an employee chasing me down asking to see my receipt before I walk out with my purchases. So what are they supposed to do, ask to see a receipt, or just let people walk out willy nilly?

  7. Jane says:

    I can remember several times when I was practically attacked by a Wal-Mart greeter for not producing a receipt fast enough. They clearly pick and choose the situations they want to take a stance on. I hope this lady sues them.

  8. Jen says:

    You know what they say “No good deed goes unpunished.” I can understand wanting to stick with the rules, but when people stop taking each case into consideration it’s ridiculous. I’m sure they are just covering their butts in case she would have gotten hurt by the guy and sued Walmart.

  9. Angelica says:

    This happened to me once when I worked at Home Depot. I was reprimanded and threatened with termination for stopping a customer. He took off with two $500 drills. I ran out into the parking lot yelling, “sir, can I see your receipt?” He got into a vehicle. I got the license plate number and went back inside. Immediately they scolded me.

    I can totally relate and think it’s entirely unfair.

  10. It’s boneheaded in this circumstance, and they should let it pass, but I do see the need for trained loss prevention personnel to be doing those types of stops.

  11. Zig the "People" person says:

    This poor woman can “crank my organ,” anytime, Tristan. It’s to bad that she can’t help the company save some money. Maybe, then Walmart could offer their employees and the employees’ family suitable insuranse coverage. That is all I wanted to say about this silly situation. Who’s organ is she crankiing, Tristan?

  12. TallElf says:

    It is amazing that they can keep the prices so low by wanting people to shoplift. I guess if they cut the salary of that person for a year, it was a larger savings to them. Gotta love Corporate America.

  13. Dick says:

    I have to say that I am no fan of the big box stores such as Wal-Mart but at the same time I can tell you that the one in the small town where I live is a blessing for both the people who have jobs there and the people who shop there because of the good deals. Having said that I also know that their training and policies have to be strictly adhered to. Wal-Mart has a target on their back for litigation at the slightest provocation.
    My advice to any employee of any big box store who is not actually working in security, when they witness a theft they pick up the nearest store phone and call the store cops. They are trained to handle these situations where your basic clerk isn’t. DO NOT attempt to approach someone who you see stealing something, this only causes lawsuits and expense for your employer. Were you listening during the orientation part of your new employee training?
    Now before you accuse me of favoring WalMart over an unemployed single Mom let me tell you another side of the story that could or could not be true. Let’s say you are a Wal-Mart manager and you have an employee who is marginal at best, not real good at customer service, lazy, whatever. What a great opportunity to fire someone who violates company policy by confronting a thief! That’s where your 0 tolerance comes into play, they may have been looking for a way to get rid of that person anyway! I’m not saying that’s the case here but it’s possible isn’t it?

  14. Heather says:

    Ok DICK!!! first of all i was not a bad employee, i was there almost two years and had never been written up or punished for anything. i simply asked this man for his receipt and he refused and punched me and kicked me. ok i am sorry i have morals and was brought up better than that…… i do not regret what i did!!!!!

  15. The Constant Complainer says:

    OK, I can’t confirm that the above-comment by “Heather” is from the real Heather Ravenstein, but the e-mail did come from Wichita, Kansas, so we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

    Heather, thanks for commenting and sharing your side of the story. I love it when the real people contact us and comment on their own stories.

    It seems that several of our readers agree with you! We all know that Wal-Mart is making decisions to protect their pocketbook. It’s pretty easy for them to hide behind a “company policy.”

  16. Heather says:

    yes it is the real me, i am Heather Ravenstein! the same Heather Ravenstein that was fired from Wal-mart. that you guys for helping me get the story out there.

Leave a Reply