"If you look at the cost analysis, they're gambling that the amount of money leaving the store, versus the amount of money they're saving on needing people in the store checking customers out, works in their favor," Ciabarra said. "Less people means less salaries you have to pay," which saves Apple plenty of money, he said.
Stores with self-checkout options can leverage impressive technology to prevent theft--intentional or otherwise. Ciabarra explains that Apple has "the technology to see what people are putting in their bags, and what items are getting scanned. Every item in the store has been tagged, and if that item hasn't been purchased recently, it will definitely throw off an alert" if you try to leave the store with it. "The technology has advanced for preventing shoplifting. Really good camera systems can detect shoplifting automatically" using visual detection algorithms, Ciabarra explained.
And Shine really shouldn't go back to that Fifth Avenue store, job application or not. "There's facial recognition so that anytime you catch a person [shoplifting], if they come back, it can alert you," Ciabarra said.
Kurt Jetta, the CEO and founder of consumer analytics company TABS Group, told Macworld that when stores add customer-driven point of sale (POS) options like EasyPay, "in general, what happens is that there's a fairly significant surge in sales" at first, due to the novelty of the new system. That's then followed by some "shakeout of people that don't like it for a lot of reasons--user difficulty, user error, and the like." In the end, Jetta says, sales numbers balance out.
Echoing Ciabarra, Jetta pointed out that such systems reduce cost to the retailer, and stores usually see "a significant customer satisfaction uptick" from customers who place value on self-checkout, particularly in terms of customer loyalty.
Like Ciabarra, Jetta says he is "suspicious" of Shine's story. "The assumption," Jetta said, is that if a customer tries to leave the store with unpurchased items, "is operator error or oversight ... Apple wouldn't want to make it the norm that they're harassing and jacking up all the people going to the stores. That doesn't help anybody."
One former Apple Store employee we spoke to on condition of anonymity said that the most common attempted abuse he saw of the EasyPay system was customers who would stack "two products on top of each other and ... only scan the top one." The former employee told us that store employees "were told to just approach the customer ... but never imply theft."
Shine only stands accused of attempting to shoplift the headphones, and he maintains that he was approached immediately and treated as a criminal, never once afforded the benefit of the doubt.