Shop Lifting at Apple Stores? I Tried it Out

People are shoplifting at Apple Stores with EasyPay and I tried it out.  I’ve actually wanted to do it for a long time.  Shoplift?  Nope – use EasyPay in the Apple Store app to scan the barcode on a product and pay with my phone only to then leave the Apple Store without interacting with a store employee.

IMG_4813

I did it yesterday, it worked perfectly and no, I’m not writing from prison.  Apparently, though, faking it works until you get caught which is why former NBA player Rex Chapmen was arrested last week with charges of shoplifting more than $14,000 of merchandise in visits to the Apple Store where he apparently faked purchasing with EasyPay.  This is one instance where fake it until you make it just didn’t work out as planned.

Having heard about Chapman before my store visit, I wondered if there is some sort of security in place, particularly for large ticket items.  I went for the $199 Phillips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack.  The experience is actually easy.  Scan the code, enter the Apple ID password, confirm the credit card security code and the receipt was displayed on screen.

AppleEasyPayAppReceipt

My thoughts were that at $200 price point, once it is scanned by the app, a store employee might be notified to come and assist as not everything can be purchased with EasyPay.  I wouldn’t find a friendly greeting creepy in the least.  Why?

Apple knows I am in store when I arrive.  They even warmly welcomed me to the store with their app. How did they know? Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) beacons.  Using multiple beacons in store and triangulation, we’re talking about high school math and not rocket science, Apple knows exactly where I am in the store while I’m there.  It would possible for a store employee to get an alert, walk over and say something like, “Thanks Mr. Bradshaw for purchasing Phillips Hue with EasyPay; would you like a bag?”

It didn’t happen and in reality it doesn’t need to happen.  This sort of technology should actually make it easier to get in and out of store and also reduce labor costs for Apple, among other benefits of BTLE.  Of course there are costs of adoption and there will undoubtedly be things put in place to work the kinks out that Chapman attempted to capitalize on.  I would’t be surprised, though, if BTLE is something that made it easier to find when Chapman had been in store so the right segments of security tape could be reviewed to find what he had taken.

Along with improvements to prevent theft, I’d like to see Apple’s cart be a bit more contextually aware.  Notice there is one item still in my cart after purchase.  I had placed the Hue kit in the cart before going to the store and then had to manually delete it.  Maybe the welcome message in the app when I walk in the store could be, “Welcome to Apple Store!  The X in your cart is strait ahead to your left.”

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