Security racks at Walmart*

I understand Walmart* (I think this is their new logo) is all about improving their loss prevention, but I have a beef with one of their new implementations that just doesn’t make any sense.

Feeling scruffy and in need of a shave the other day, I decided that the old blades on the Mach 3 weren’t doing the job anymore, so while my wife and I shopped for food the other day, we stopped by the pleasantries aisle (I think “toiletries” is an icky word) to get new razor blades. I went to grab a new 5-pack, and low and behold, I couldn’t get it off the rack.
I tried a few times before, like a lab monkey who’s been shocked a few times reaching for that scientific banana, I realized it wasn’t worth it. I then saw the sign that said, “Ask for assistance” for these products.
The razors, and a few other of the pricier items (ranging from $10 to $25) were on racks that locked … or security racks … and if you wanted your razor, you had to ask for somebody to come and get a key.
The whole process took 3-5 minutes until I finally got my razors, and I was off on my merry way.

But I got to thinking of just how idiotic these racks are. If I wanted to steal the razors, what was keeping me from just sticking them in my pocket AFTER they were pulled from the rack? I think this whole idea is absurd, and if you really wanted to keep people from stealing your razors, you’d either put them behind a case at the cash register OR you’d put some kind of alarm trigger on them.
Instead, I had to waste five minutes to get somebody to unlock the rack and hand it to me … then walk away. It’s exactly the same as if I were to have grabbed it myself.

My only explanation for the nonsense is they don’t want to sell razors to people who LOOK like they’d steal it. If that’s the case, good luck, Walmart*. Maybe it’s a safety issue, since razors are sort of considered weapons. If that’s the case, then what’s keeping the guy you’re handing the razor to from taking them out later and wreaking havoc? And if it’s to keep kids safe, then I would love to find the kid who can open one of those boxes … it took me a pair of scissors and cuss words to get mine open this week.

I did some research trying to find more information about the racks, and while I didn’t find them, I did find a few stories about razor blades being a hot item for thieves at Walmart*.
Again, these shelves don’t help. They just frustrate people like me.

I just had to get it off my chest.


13 thoughts on “Security racks at Walmart*

  1. Well, having worked far too many years in discount retail at Walmart’s at the time direct competitor K-Mart… working at times ‘security’ no-less…. and I have to say that these devices/techniques do help a bit. And boy could I tell you some amazing, funny, and also disgusting stories… phew.

    But fortunately for us most criminals are pretty lazy, especially shoplifters, and anything that reduces the convenience factor can make all the difference. That convenience factor and high value is what made things like disposable razor packages so attractive. They are small, easy to grab and conceal in large quantities, and high value for refund.

    Although on the other hand, I’ve seen people wheel out buggies full of game consoles and even a generator, so this doesn’t always hold true! 🙂

    I agree that there are other methods like placement behind the register, but with the high volume that these stores do, that probably doesn’t scale well for the variety of products(various razor brands alone) they would have to stock at every register. And pharmacy registers, often adjacent to these areas, are usually very busy. I think bottom line is that they think that if a customer really wants this razor, they’ll put up with waiting for an ‘associate’ to come unlock it for them and saves multiple or unique stocking locations *shrug*

    …. but I hear your frustration. I’ve been there too. Basically one has to wonder why the law-abiding folks have to sacrifice their convenience because of the thieves. But unfortunately that’s always been true.

    In California(and perhaps elsewhere), it is illegal for anyone under 16?(maybe 18?) to purchase spray paint. So all the spray paint is locked up behind glass. When you go to big-box-home-improvement-store, you have to call for a clerk to come open the case, and stand there while you make up your mind about what paint you want. I remember the first time I ran into this and thought… ‘uh what?!’ Fun fun 🙂


  2. Great point, Billy!!! Those racks are right up there with the locked glass doors that you need assistance to get the stuff behind, too! From my experience, you’re lucky you only had to waste 3-5 mintues waiting for assistance!

    And, I can’t tell you the frustration I’ve had with those molded plastic packages that you can’t get into without a chainsaw! I actually ruined scissors trying to cut them open!! The worst experience I’ve had with one of those was when I was driving to NY and realized I forgot my cell phone car charger and my phone was about dead! So, I popped into a Walmart to get one and it was, of course, in one of those packages! I paid for it and then went to the customer service desk to ask them if they could use their scissors to open the package – cause, duh, I don’t travel with the chain saw needed to open it! The said they were sorry, but they weren’t allowed to do that! I showed them my receipt and asked for the manager — he, too, said they couldn’t do it!!! So, I got my money back (leaving them with a few choice words) and found a drug store that was willing to help me!!!!

    • Those are known as Clamshell packages. Lee Valley (mail order hardware) sells a rugged pair of shears to open them! I garden so I often use a old pair of prunning shears, much handier than a chainsaw! And yes I carry then in my car when I return to NY, always a bit of pruning to do at my mom’s place.

  3. Well, the razor blades have a little alarm sensor on them, too. I once bought a digital camera and a pack of razor blades in electronics, and tripped the system on my way out. I was convinced it was the camera’s fault, since all electronics do that… But… It was the stinking razor blades.

  4. This is also one of my new pet peeves! I discovered the new “razor locks” in WalMart about a month or so ago. Of course, it was a day where I was really in a hury scrambling around trying to find everything. Then…what…locked razor blades!?!?!? My wait was a little longer (because the lady who helped me was unlocking some perfume out of the glass case for another lady who had been waiting forever)!

    Needless to say, our razor blades will now be purchased at the drugstore!

  5. Billy, coming from the business world, I’m going to have to disagree with you. Although, you are correct that a thief could just as well put the razor in his pocket and walk out, most thieves aren’t there to steal just one razor. I think the point of the rack is to prevent there from soemone grabbing 20 of one item and walking out.

    Also, although you see it only as an incovenience, you must realize that the cost of theft goes into the prices that we pay. More security measures can help prevent costs from going up. Waiting 3-5 minutes seems a little excessive, but hopefully they that is because this is a new process for them, and the time will decrease as they simplify their processes.

  6. A comment on Kim’s experience with the heat sealed plastic containers most ‘stuff’ seems to come in these days…. now coined ‘wrap rage’ in some circles! 🙂

    Again, from my days working at K-Mart, I can tell you that in ‘days of yore’ when everything from electronics to toys were still simply packaged in boxes, a good half of the merchandise would be opened and scattered about the floor/shelves by the end of the day, especially in the toy section.

    Specifically with toys, it was the norm for parents to leave their kids in the toy section as ‘shopping daycare'(an entirely separate issue surrounding responsible parenting) for sometimes hours, where they would proceed to scatter a good third of the entire toy inventory on the floor and other departments, usually ruining several shopping carts full daily during holidays or other heavy shopping days.

    Even though the store would close at 9pm, during peak shopping days such as ‘back to school’, Hallowe’en, or the worst… Christmas(K-Mart ruined Christmas for me for years BTW, but that’s another story for another day about big-box mass marketing), the entire store staff would spend sometimes 2-3 hours straightening the mess and repackaging the merchandise, all to be repeated again the next day. It was very disheartening and frustrating.

    So, like many things in life, in response it appears that the vendors/manufacturers went ‘nuclear’ with these unopenable packages over the last decade or so 🙂 I guess they were simply tired of ‘writing off’ hundreds of $$ worth of merchandise daily and issuing credits. You really should have seen our ‘damages and credit’ department in the back, the volume was unreal.

    So again, I think these new packages were just a knee-jerk response to stop this problem… dead.

    But, I agree with you about the frustration this relatively new packaging presents though, and you are not alone. In fact, a recent report I saw tracked the high number of serious injuries specifically associated with attempts to open this packaging and ER volume on Christmas Morning from severe lacerations. It was high enough to be a real concern.

    Here is one article on the issue that highlights the problem:

    …a quick ‘Google’ turned up many more.

    So hopefully there will one day be a happy medium between this crazy packaging and destruction of product.

    Although I have to honestly say it is more of a societal problem than anything else. Just why do kids, and many adults, think it is OK to destroy other people’s property(in this case unbought store merch?). Maybe that’s the bigger question *sigh*


  7. I, too, encountered these security racks a couple of weeks ago. It was very surprising to me and seemed a bit over the top. I looked over at the pharmacy for some help. To my dismay there was a line of about 12 people curving out and about the store, and I was informed that if I needed help, I had to wait in line like everyone else. This was a reasonable request, I thought, but luckily the refill blades I needed were in a box made of cardboard. I just tore the 1/8 of an inch barrier above the hole-punch-like opening at the top of the package, and sauntered off to the register, feeling like a criminal. Was I guilty of a crime? I don’t think so. Either way, I could not understand why products like these would be locked up. Wouldn’t a hidden security tag suffice?
    It was not until today when my husband and I returned to Walmart to buy a home pregnancy test that I really became upset. Now the pregnancy tests, as well as various other items were locked in a glass box! I could not believe it… and entire aisle was turned into a giant safe. I was all ready curious at to why these (along with other potentially “embarassing” items) were kept right along side the line that formed in front of the pharmacy window. There is no exaggeration here… it is a stand-alone aisle, loaded down with every personal item Walmart sells. Now place a barricade of the impatient, sick, and elderly approximately 6 inched in front of it, all waiting for the pharmacy window to your immediate right. What do you do? “Excuse me, sir, while I contemplate what kind of lube I need,” or, “Pardon me, kind old woman. I just need to reach the Trojans. I’ve got a big night ahead of me, har har har!” All my husband and I needed was a pregnancy test, but what about everyone else? Some people are shameless, while others are quick to embarrass. The poor placement of these items was one matter, is locking them up really necessary? Customers must now wait in a line, then proceed to explain which personal items they need (“No… over to the left please…. yeah the ‘Intense Pleasure’, I’ll take THAT one!”), and finally after everyone has moved out of the way and has watched them receive their item(s), they must pay for the personal item(s) at the pharmacy window, only to walk their cart full of groceries back over to the main registers to wait in yet another horrendously long line.

    Electronics? Yes. Lock ’em up!
    Pregnancy tests, forms of STD prevention and contraception? No way, Jose. Security tags should suffice.

  8. I went to walmart today to get some groceries for my mother and on her list she put mach 3 razors. I was enraged when i had to spend 10 minutes looking for an employee to help me. This old woman i found was more than unhappy to help me and in an annoyed tone demanded i waited by the razor rack while she found someone with a key. The next woman who arrived and unlocked the rack asked me if i had any other shopping to do. I replied yes and she told me she would leave the razors at register nine for me as if to imply that if she had handed them to me i would have promptly stufted them in my pants and ran. I understand the security issues but there were Gillette quatros and other brands of razors that were NOT locked up. I was pissed and so was the cashier who empathized with me. He had to go to register nine and get the razors cause noone was attending that lane and i had to many items to go through it being as it was an express lane. It seems that the consumer experience is on a steady downhill ride.

  9. I do not understand why people can’t understand why Walmart locks these kinds of items up. It’s actually pretty simple: BECAUSE THEY’RE HIGH THEFT ITEMS! As a former retail associate I’ve seen the number of empty stolen razor packages, condoms, pregnancy tests, & so on that customers steal on a DAILY basis. At the store I worked at we always found 1,000’s of dollars worth of empty packages stuffed behind other product every single day. Our yearly average of shrink (stolen items) hit over a 1 million dollars one year. Walmart had to prevent some of this by installing these locking devices & glass cases. Is it a nuisance? OF COURSE IT IS! Is it a pain to find an associate? Sure it is! But they have to do it because people are thieves & will steal ANYTHING… and I do mean anything.

    The razors may only be $15, but when you get 10 or more stolen a day, something must be done to prevent this. There’s no easier way to put it than that. I just don’t understand why people get so upset & seem so shocked that these kinds of items are locked up.

    So, next time you get mad because something is locked up, think about it from the stores perspective. Want someone to blame? BLAME THE CRIMINALS WHO STEAL IT!

    • I just went through the pain of wating to to get razors unlocked, and then to over spend for my razors ($18.00 for 5 blades!). I felt like buying them all just so I wouldn’t have to do this again. The first comment was right. Now that the associate gave me the razor I put it in my pocket and walked out (JKG) Or I opened it up and ran about the store slashing people, ( JKG) I’m going to find a store that doesn’t lock them up and Wal Mart can bite me. I wonder how many other razor sales they’re going to loose?


  11. I know this is an old post (nearly 5 years now), but this just shows how little I actually shop at Walmart. Tonight, I was trying to resurrect a dead MacBook Pro. Found a link how to create a “restore stick” using my other MacBook and a USB flash drive/stick. Unfortunately, I did not have any spare USB sticks handy (at least any large enough to create a full installation/restore image), so the only place I knew that was still open at this hour that would have them was the 24-hour Walmart just down the street from here. I saw a 16-gig USB stick that was perfect for what I needed it for. As I said above, I very rarely, if EVER go into Walmart, and in fact, this was probably the first time I’ve been in one in a couple of years. I much prefer going over to Target and/or Best Buy (and for many of my electronic needs, places that cater to a much higher-end market than either Walmart, nor Best Buy typically offers – for example, you will NOT find the type of components and speakers I have in my home theater rig in a Walmart or even in the Magnolia section of a Best Buy!). So, thus much to my surprise when here I am trying to get the $16 USB stick I needed off the rack, and was like WTF? Bear in mind that this is nearly 11 PM, so did not even SEE a “store associate” anywhere nearby. Also, my time is much more valuable to me than having to deal with this BS, so I just simply yanked package off the rack, tearing through the cardboard around the hole. I’ve NEVER seen this in Best Buy or even Target (and in the case of razor blades, or even contraceptives), neither in CVS either. Talk about Guilty until proven Innocent here! Thus one more of the MANY reasons why I just don’t shop at Walmart, unless I absolutely HAVE to! In fact, I figured I’d pick up an SD card that I also needed while there in Walmart, but seeing it was also locked in the same manner, I decided to “F it!” as I did not need it that badly and will go and pick one up at Best Buy tomorrow instead. After this, I was curious about if anybody else encountered this and had any comments, so I did a quick “google” on it and found this posting. In fact, I thought it was relatively recent, but seeing this was posted nearly 5 years ago, did not realize Walmart was using those things for at least that long already.

    I can understand the reasoning behind this, as most typical petty thieves are opportunists and will look for the easy target. So anything that will hinder them from a quick grab will help in prevention. If they have to struggle to get something off a rack by physically having to yank it off and tearing the package or need to find somebody to unlock it, they won’t bother. The yank-n-tear would also be a good deterrent if they try the “refund scam”, assuming the person in the returns department has been trained or is smart enough to look for packages torn in such a manner that may be a tip-off to a potential attempt at a scam. But still, it is a royal PITA to have to jump through YET ANOTHER hoop just to get a friggan pack of razor blades, SD card, USB flash drive, etc.

    As for the “clam shell” packages, now, 5 years later from that initial post, it seems the manufactures have gotten better in designing their packages in making them easier to open, such as using tear-off strips or perfrated back, using tough cardboard that can still be easily cut with scissers, but not easily torn by hand. These still make it difficult for somebody to try to open it discreetly in store, or children not knowing better to try to open it so they can “play with the toy” in it. Believe me, I was friggan aggravated at those packages myself. At one point, I nearly destroyed the item encased within while trying to open the damn package!

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