A viral TikTok video has lifted the lid on Bunnings’ supposedly unusual strategy for deterring shoplifters.
The Queensland man known only as “Relay” claims to be a former employee of the beloved chain — which has seen an uptick in popularity during the pandemic.
In the video, Relay says management would use the PA system to announce code phrases like “security to section C”.
The only problem?
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“The secret was that there was no ‘section C’, there was also, most of the time, no security,” he says.
The idea was to deter would-be sticky fingers from pocketing items in the home improvement behemoth, he continues.
Eventually, the code phrase was pre-recorded and added to the unnamed store’s radio playlist, which meant it would play incrementally during the day.
The team came to know it, and even enjoy it.
“We actually had the same announcements every day during the same songs, and you could predict them after you heard them for a while,” Relay says.
The TikToker says he worked at Bunnings from 2002 to 2006 in southeast Queensland and conceded it might’ve been a store-specific tactic.
But it’s not without merit — shoplifting costs Australian businesses up to $9 billion a year, an eyewatering figure from the National Retail Association (NRA).
Plus, shoplifting can be dangerous for the workforce — 85% of retailers told the NRA they’d experienced verbal abuse while trying to prevent theft, while 41% had experienced physical abuse, according to the Safe Retail Precincts report.
Relay also went on to reveal some less-than-likeable parts of the job too, like that new staff were supposedly told the Bunnings store would be intentionally short staffed so prices could stay low.
Relay also says the Bunnings promise to beat a lower price by 10% would only apply to each product once.
“The first time the discount was claimed for one product an alert would go back to head office and they would lower the price,” he claims.
“Even if it took a day to update the actual price tag, as soon as the computer was registering a lower price, they wouldn’t honour it.”
In a statement, Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider said the team offers the price guarantee “on all eligible purchases, not just the first”.
“Additionally, if we identify that we don’t have lowest price on a particular product we immediately introduce a temporary price reduction on the relevant product,” he says.