WH SMITH WITHDRAWS HONESTY BOXES BECAUSE CUSTOMERS ARE DISHONEST – I have to admit I find the term ‘petty crime’ offensive for no matter what the value of the item that has been stolen it still involves depriving someone of what is rightfully theirs.
Some time ago WH Smith decided to help out their customers by saving them the time on having to queue to buy a newspaper and to achieve their goal they installed an ‘Honesty Box’ in which customers would simply pick up a newspaper and leave the correct money in the box.
Originally the scheme was trialled in two of its stores and the system appeared to work well; even increasing sales.
In response to the trials WH Smith decided to roll out the concept to 60 of its stores situated in airports, train and bus stations; unfortunately WH Smith has now closed one third of all the honesty boxes and now people in certain areas are once again forced to wait in line all because some people were basically dishonest.
WH Smith announced its decision after declaring the system to be a failure and whilst it undoubtedly saved travelling customers time there were many who would simply shove anything in the honesty boxes, including scraps of paper, old till receipts and even chewing gum.
Is this really how our society can now be depicted; have we really lost all integrity when people will stoop so low as to not pay for a newspaper?
There are many who will view this as merely a petty crime but I would vehemently disagree for the theft of a newspaper is no different than the theft of a work of art or robbing a bank.
You might consider that a little dramatic but when you rely on the profits generated from the sale of goods in order to keep a business operational and keep people employed it’s frankly no laughing matter.
How would you feel if someone broke into your house and stole your TV or other valuable items? Unquestionably you would feel violated and deprived, however if you think that stealing a newspaper is petty then why shouldn’t your loss also be viewed as such?
The idea of the honesty box has to be lauded as an extremely good and commendable idea from WH Smith for they openly put their faith in their customers; try asking a bank to leave the door open so you could make a deposit or withdrawal and be honest about it.
Again you’ll probably state that I’m going way over the top but I tell you theft is theft and you can dress it up anyway you like but the fact is a crime has been committed.
We view crimes in many different ways; for instance someone breaking into your house to steal a TV and getting caught is not going to be subjected to the same punishment as that of a bank robber.
The chances are if someone had it away with your TV and got caught they would get off with a suspended sentence, but we all know that scenario wouldn’t apply to a bank robber.
By socially changing the level of a perceived crime we have in fact given consent to the crime and therefore made it almost inconsequential.
It’s not surprising really when you consider that there was an era where crime didn’t pay and yet in modern times it can often be a lucrative occupation.
We often say that people should lead by example and yet those who we are supposed to aspire to are often the biggest crooks of all… yes I’m talking about our illustrious politicians for there doesn’t appear a day that goes by without some of them being caught with their sticky fingers in the till nor able to speak the truth.
Society has certainly changed and in my view and not for the better. It appears ‘making an honest buck’ is now almost a laughable notion; yes the only ones making any money are those who engage in criminal activities.
Denis MacShane, or as some media groups have taken to calling him, Denis MacShameless; yes Mr. MacShane is another prime example to of the lack of honesty and integrity in Britain.
Here was an over-paid Government official that despite his vast salary took to stealing taxpayer’s money by fraudulently claiming bogus expenses.
Some viewed his activities as ‘petty’ and yet stealing £13,000 should never be considered as such. Yes he did pay for his crime, if you want to call it such but spending just six weeks in prison after being sentenced to six months can hardly be viewed as paying penance.
We live in a material world where consumerism appears to be the driving factor of our lives and people often turn to crime in order to obtain what they desire.
Some psychologists are suggesting that the public often view big businesses as just plain greedy and therefore justify the theft as merely ‘getting a little back’.
There’s no denying that we have changed the goalposts of honesty to fit in and suit the cultural times we live in; most of us perceive that everyone is on the take so why should we.
The issue really does come down to whether anyone is actually trustworthy and if someone can stoop as low as to stealing a newspaper then it should come as no surprise or shock when our politician view the Treasury as simply their personal and private moneybox.
Again call it petty crime if you will but I’ll stick to my version; that being plain theft and a crime that should be punished equally on all types of theft.