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August 28, 2021

Is it ok for employees to re-sell merchandise they bought with their discount?

Employee discount programs are a popular perk. They provide employees with an incentive to "buy the brand," create an opportunity for increased sales, and make up a bit for crappy wages.

Lowes, for instance, gives its workers a modest 10% off merchandise. Apple, however, has started giving its workers a much bigger break on its products.

Usually, employees are supposed to use their discount themselves -- with a few exceptions. Employees who still live with their parents, for example, can sometimes purchase merchandise for them. In some instances, the same goes for spouses and partners.

But the usual idea is that discounted items are for the use of the employee. But what happens when that discounted merchandise ends up on Ebay or Kijiji?

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Should employees be re-selling merchandise they bought with their discount at a profit? Is it a crime? Or just a policy breach? 

It might be both, says Ray Esposito, an expert in corporate loss prevention.

"For retailers, especially loss prevention associates, discount abuse is at best a severe policy violation, and at worst a crime. However, that distinction is critical as it determines the outcome for the violator and represents the area where retailers are most likely to make inconsistent decisions."

He cautions employers that taking a laissez-faire attitude towards even petty dishonesty can lead to more damaging actions and behaviours down the road.

How do things work with your employer? Do you feel that employee discounts are being abused? Or do you care?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...