The study also reveals that in cases of sweethearting, customer loyalty is tied to the rogue employee rather than the company, so that firing the employee actually hurts the firm's ability to retain customers.
The term service sweethearting describes the behaviour of employees who provide friends and acquaintances with food and beverages or other free services that never appear on the bill.
For its part, sweethearting is estimated to account for up to 40 percent of revenue losses from theft - as much as 80 billion dollars - and represents 16 percent of losses attributed to customers.
Supermarkets, which typically operate on razor-thin profit margins, are particularly vulnerable to sweethearting, and a number of major chains--including Safeway Inc.
Based on what we've seen with initial installations, sweethearting has been more extensive than we expected, whether it's the cashier not scanning items or leaving them in the basket.
As noted by Richard Hollinger, a professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of Florida, Gainesville, sweethearting is a difficult problem because it is easy to do, hard to detect and can be performed by anyone with access to a point-of-sale terminal.
Transaction monitoring, which synchronizes point-of-sale transactions with video recordings, can be used to detect sweethearting after it has occurred by having someone visually observe that an item has bypassed the scanner.