Why I won't be buying Kathmandu Shares

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Nov-2009 16:12

Theft is a problem every retailer has to deal with in the modern world. Whether it be theft from staff or customers, it is a financial loss that has to be absorbed by the business, and ultimately passed onto customers.
One of the most common methods used to prevent shop lifting in retail stores is the use of EAS tags. These are security tags attached to products, and if the goods are removed from the premises without the tag being removed or deactivated barriers located at entry/exit points of the store will sound an alarm.
There are two types of tags in use today, hard tags that are attached to goods and removed from the goods during the sale process with a detacher, and smaller (typically) single use tags that are left on the product and deactivated when passed over a deactivator pad which is normally built into the shop counter or barcode scanner. Two main technologies exist in the marketplace today, AM (acustomagnetic) and RF (radio frequency). Both systems are used extensively throughout the world however I've spent most of my time playing with AM based systems which I believe are technically superior.
False alarms from EAS systems are extemely uncommon - common misconceptions are that car alarm remotes or other electronic devices will set the alarm of, this is something that is untrue. The reality is that the technology is exceptionally good and it is very rare for anything but an EAS tag to set of a barrier. If you set off a barrier odds are you are wearing or have in your possession a product that still has an active EAS tag attached to it.
Virtually all goods sold from Kathmandu stores are source tagged. This means EAS tags are sewn into clothing or inserted into the packaging at the time of manufacture, a process that saves time as there is no requirement for retail staff to have to attach tags to goods instore.
What they are doing makes perfect business sense. It's what they aren't doing that is causing every other retailer in NZ using an AM based EAS system significant grief.
So what are Kathmandu doing that is so bad?
Quite simply Kathmandu are doing a very poor job ensuring that products sold in their stores or via mail order have the EAS tags deactivated at the time of purchase.
How many people reading this blog have set off the alarm in EAS barriers while entering or exiting a store? If this did happen to you, were you wearing any clothing manufactured by Kathmandu or carrying a Kathmandu bag? The odds are pretty high that you are.
The integrity of EAS systems has been damaged by Kathmandu's failure to ensure that ALL goods sold by them have the tags deactivated. This has created a nightmare for all other retailers operating RF based systems as "false alarms" are being created by people who are setting off barriers, not because they have attempted to steal goods, but because they are wearing clothing or have a bag or other product that has a tag that is still active. Not only does this create a nightmare for retail staff it's also highly embarrassing for customers who are being singled out when they have in fact done nothing wrong.
Stores other than Kathmandu may be guilty of of the same thing but the shear number of Kathmandu products in use now in NZ makes them by far the biggest guilty retailer.
So what can be done about it?
If you buy any products from a retailer and set off the barrier when leaving don't just let them ignore it - make sure they take the goods back and deactivate or remove the tags. This will wave you the embarrassment of having barriers alarms go off in the future.
If you have items that continually set off the barriers now it's potentially worth asking the store staff in the store where it goes off if they can deactivate the tag(s) for you. Deactivating the tags is very simple and I'm sure they'll be happy to do this, after all it's benefiting both you and them.
If you have Kathmandu goods that set off exit barriers then visit your local Kathmandu store and explain that you'd like the tags deactivated and are sick of feeling like a criminal whenever you go shopping.  Hopefully this will get the message across to their staff that failure to follow their own internal procedures doesn't actually save time, it simply antagonises valued customers.

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sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems. I'll also a co-founder of the TravelTalk.nz travel site. 

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com