One of our complaints appeared to be so peculiar; we could not resist quoting all of it here:

“Okay I was banned from your Orange, California store for shoplifting okay. I did not think the person who told me i was banned was there today and i wanted to buy a chocolate bar so i went to the store i was banned from to buy some effing chocolate bar and the effing security guard who arrested me on june 3 2010 told me that i was banned and I had to leave. I did not even get to buy my effing chocolate bar I wanted. i wished i knew his name so that i can call wal-mart and see if he is working and buy my effing chocolate bar if he is not. I also wanted to buy a slushie and Yu-gh_io cards from the money i got on my 12th birthday.”

So, the accused is an ‘effing security guard’ who arrested a shoplifter. Bad customer service indeed. The articulacy of the post and author’s age are quite remarkable. The problem itself is not a laughing matter though. By the official statistics, about 25 percent of shoplifters are kids. Out of remaining 75 percent, who are now adult shoplifters, 55 percent say they started this exciting activity in their teens. What is going wrong? Is it already the time when starving kids have to steal a loaf of bread? Not yet, hopefully. Are they unable to understand that shoplifting is stealing? Are their parents unable to explain? Remember Roseanne telling DJ who stole candies: ‘you have to eat it IN the store, otherwise it is stealing”? Okay, that show may be not about an ideal American family, but definitely about very common one.

When a five-year-old takes a stick of gum in a store, he does not yet understand the concept of exchanging money for merchandise. When pre-teen or teen does it, he knows exactly what he is doing and why. It is a tough competition in this age group, for who has the coolest stuff in their possession, while parents may not be able to afford this stuff. The child is angry, he feels entitled for good life, as much as the next guy. How much sense and maturity it takes to compromise and settle for less? So much easier just to grab and run.

But teens often steal not because they don't have the money for what they want, simply for the thrill of it, or in response to a dare, under peer pressure. ‘Catch me if you can’.

This is not a parenting site; this is a site about customer service. Sure, we consider our parenting duties among the most essential services. Then teachers, counselors, store executives, police finally… But what about media? Extremely powerful force, servicing the entire population. Movies, songs, videogames…, stuff that has more influence on kids than parents, teachers, counselors, (not sure about police). In movies, songs and videogames, how good are traditional ‘good guys’, who follow all the rules? Not so much. They will very likely end up doing something bad. The bad guys are real modern heroes. Despite of rubbing banks, dealing drugs, serving time in prison, they end up being great characters with integrity. That’s possible, bad guys can learn and change. But the ‘despite’ tag became the ‘because’, and the wrong message is sent. Based on these attractive media images, kids can justify what they are doing. Between right and wrong, when ‘cool’ is on the side of wrong; they are choosing wrong and feel right. The mere fact, that such post appeared on our site, speaks for it.

And the language of the post is pretty ‘effing’ emotional. Not much variety though. When kids want to be cool, they can invent quite an elaborate vocabulary. However an attempt to shock people by using foul language works only when first used. Repeating the same ‘strong’ word over and over becomes boring and stands for lack of expression. Maybe some youngsters need to read a couple of books (while in a book store, not taking them out).