The WSJ has some great reporting today in its A1 story on big retailers throwing their weight around against shoplifting suspects. In a process called civil recovery, retailers can harass suspects—even ones who have proven they are innocent—with lawsuit threats, demanding $200 or more to cover their theft-prevention costs.
But people targeted describe a humiliating and intimidating process, with no way to resist short of hiring a lawyer, a costly step few are able to take. Once a person’s name is turned over to a collection firm, he or she is dunned with letters and often phone calls, which refer to lawsuits and sheriff’s visits and sometimes multiply the penalty by demanding “pre-litigation” legal fees
The Journal’s done good work raising an issue with which we weren’t familiar, and with which we hope you weren’t either.
In economic news, HP turned in a solid quarter on overseas sales and raised its outlook for the year, though it said sales of its personal computers are slowing. The company’s board authorized a $3.3 billion share buyback because it thinks its stock price is cheap.
Wal-Mart posted a better-than-expected or right-on-target profit increase, depending on whether you believe Reuters or the WSJ. Sales at existing stores were up just 1.7 percent from a year ago, well below the rate of inflation.
And in the shaken, auction-rate securities market, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—in the news last week when its interest payments rose more than four-fold because of a market freeze—has better news this week. It’s interest payments dropped to 8 percent from 20 percent last week, but that’s still up from 4.3 percent before the crisis hit. Still, Bloomberg quotes an analyst saying the ARS market is still mostly not functioning.