Is Home Depot Shaking Down Shoplifters to Make Millions?
Jimin Chen and a friend went shopping at a Home Depot in San Leandro on June 6. Before loading lumber onto a cart, each man put on a pair of $3.99 work gloves, to protect their hands.
Before Chen's $1,445.90 purchase was rung up, according to a complaint, filed in Alameda, Calif., Superior Court, he removed his gloves and left them on top of the merchandise in his cart, where they were plainly visible. The checkout personnel, however, failed to scan the gloves.
Immediately after Chen paid, and before he had left the store, he was accosted from behind, by a Home Depot security guard, who told him he had failed to pay for the two pairs of gloves. Chen and his friend were taken into custody by Home Depot security for about 30 minutes, during which time Chen, because of stress and lack of air in the holding room, suffered an asthma attack.
The class-action suit alleges that Home Depot has intimidated thousands of customers accused of shoplifting into collectively paying millions of dollars to have such accusations dropped, even though the company has no intention of suing.
"They just need to scare enough people, whether guilty or innocent, into settling their claims. About 20 percent of people who get the threatening letters, settle and pay the demanded fees." Christian Schreiber, Chavez & Gertler, attorney representing Jimin Chen
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