Bookstore dismisses employee over scam

The GW Bookstore is believed to have dismissed one employee for allegedly giving customers a 10 percent discount on their purchases in exchange for a small cash payment.

Two students told The Hatchet last week that a cashier tried to make the deal with them Aug. 30 between 1 and 1:30 p.m. The name of the cashier is unknown, but students identified her as black woman of average height and weight.

Pat Lee, director of the GW Bookstore, declined to comment on the employee’s alleged actions. In a statement sent via e-mail, Lee wrote, “As your bookstore we value honesty and integrity, which requires our associates be honest, ethical and trustworthy. Associates that fail to meet these standards of honesty and integrity are held accountable for their actions, which may include disciplinary action, termination, or prosecution.”

Bookstore managers typically review a cashier’s transactions at the end of each day.

Cliff Ewert, vice president of public and campus relations at Follett, which owns and runs the bookstore, said he is “quite sure the situation has been resolved.” He said only one employee was involved in the scheme, and he believes the employee has been terminated.

A sophomore named Rachael, who asked that her last name not be used, said that when she went to buy her books, the cashier was friendly. After the cashier rang up the books, Rachael said, the cashier wrote a note reading, “I’ll give you a ten percent discount for $10.” Rachael said the cashier whispered to her not to say anything because a manager was nearby.

“In my mind, I thought she was being nice and taking pity on me,” Rachael told The Hatchet. “In my mind I was like, ‘I know my books would be more than $100.'” After receiving her 10 percent discount, her total was $296.03.

Rachael said that as she was getting ready to leave, the cashier asked, “Where’s my $10?”

“I didn’t really get it,” Rachael told The Hatchet. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I misunderstood, but I don’t have any cash on me.’ She said, ‘Fine – don’t ever get in my line again.'”

Another student, Andrea Wilcox, said she should have paid $648 for books, but the cashier quietly said, “If you give me $10, I can give you a 10 percent discount.”

Wilcox said she offered the cashier $20, but the woman demanded exact change. The total price of Wilcox’s purchase came to $583, a savings for Wilcox – and loss for the bookstore – of $65. Wilcox said the discount was marked as a “manager’s request” on her receipt. Wilcox said she didn’t realize that the cashier was asking for a bribe until after the transaction.

“It was weird that she was all soft-spoken,” Wilcox said.

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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