Teen Accused of Shoplifting with EasyPay

by jscariati

18-year-old Eric Shine was arrested at an Apple Store after being accused of attempting to shoplift a pair of headphones using Apple’s EasyPay system:

It was an undercover Apple security employee and a store manager who stopped Shine, accusing him of possessing stolen property. “I pulled out my iPhone, and realized it still showed the Pay Now button, and not the receipt,” Shine said. “I told them I had no intent of stealing; I’ve been in the store for an hour, and I’m still willing to purchase the headphones.” That didn’t satisfy the Apple Store staff.

While it does seem like he made a legitimate mistake, the problem is that someone who really is trying to steal could do the same thing as a “cover”: walk through the whole EasyPay process, stop before actually paying, and then attempt to leave the store.

Hopefully, this one event won’t cause Apple to reconsider the whole system (the fact that such a situation hasn’t come up until now, almost a year after EasyPay’s introduction, is a testament to how well it works the large majority of the time).

Rather than canning the whole thing, I think future situations like this can be avoided with a few small tweaks:

  • Once an item has been added to the cart, place a persistent banner across the top of each EasyPay screen that indicates that the item hasn’t yet been paid for
  • On the last screen (where you tap the Purchase button), automatically remove the item from the cart if the button isn’t tapped within a small window of time (say 30 seconds)

These two modifications would make it very difficult for someone to walk out of the store claiming that they thought they purchased an item – there will either be a big banner that reads “Not Paid” right there on their phone, or they’ll have neither an item in their cart nor a receipt for it.

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