You've heard of "take a penny, leave a penny," right? The Problem Solvers bust a 7-Eleven cashier, who's allegedly been taking your pennies without leaving any behind. But does a big corporation like 7-Eleven care?
"It happened every single time," says Ron Ruiz, a 7-Eleven customer.
Four times in the last four months, Ruiz has stopped at the 7-Eleven convenience store at 5920 East Burnside in Southeast Portland.
Each time, the same cashier has been at the register. And each time, Ruiz says he's been shorted.
"It was about 2 or 3 cents each time, but about the fourth time, I got really suspicious and began to think this must be a scam," says Ruiz.
The Problem Solvers wondered too. So we set up a test. We sent in three customers - Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah and two other KATU employees - to make four separate purchases. We made sure that the cashier would have to give us change. In every single case, we got cheated.
"I got 11-cents in change, but I should have gotten 12 cents, so I was shorted a penny," explains Bailey-Shah.
"He should have given me $2.17 back, but I got $2.15, so he shorted me by 2-cents," says Sarah Allen, a KATU assignment desk editor.
"I should have gotten $7.22 back," explains Ian Parker, a KATU reporter. "I got $7 and two dimes back. Then I went back a second time and got shorted a penny."
So in 6 minutes, we were cheated out of 6 cents. Just pennies, right?
Sure, except that at this rate - one cent per minute - a full-time cashier could pocket an extra $24 a week. If they were really consistent, they could pocket over $1,200 a year!
Bailey-Shah returned to the store to confront the cashier and inform his manager.
Initially, the cashier denied it, but after further questioning by Bailey-Shah, he said, "some, maybe."
The manager asked the cashier if he had enough change. He replied, "yes."
"So if you have change, what the hell are you doing?" asks the manager. "Are you crazy?"
The manager told us that this cashier was one of his best. And in fact, he said that he just fired another cashier for ripping off $9,500 worth of cash and merchandise from the store.
The manager suspended the cashier in front of our cameras.
But when we spoke on the phone with the franchise owner, he was more concerned about us videotaping in his store than his employee potentially stealing from customers. He told Bailey-Shah to file a complaint online.
Instead the Problem Solvers contacted the corporate offices for 7-Eleven in Dallas, thinking the company would care.
It sent this response:
"We have discussed this matter with the store franchisee, who is solely responsible for the training and managing of his employees. The franchisee has committed to coaching his employee on the proper way to provide change to customers to ensure good customer service."
-Margaret Chabris, Director of Corporate Communications
And remember that supposed suspension?
Two days later, another undercover shopper returned to the 7-Eleven store and the same cashier was behind the register. Fortunately, this time, he actually gave the proper change and even counted it back for our customer.