A tender approach Featured

10:00am EDT July 22, 2002

Bob Tavenner's money is on customer service and customer awareness.

That's how the Value City Department Stores vice president of loss prevention teaches employees of his 97 stores to handle issues such as counterfeit currency.

"Stores that do a good job of servicing the customer, the bad guys don't have a chance. They don't want the question, 'Can I help you?' because they don't want to be recognized or you to remember who they are," he explains.

In his 11 years with Value City, Tavenner says the passing of counterfeit money has never posed a major problem, but there are occasions when the company opts to take the transaction and eat the loss rather than embarrass a customer.

Employees must be familiar with genuine money-such as the watermarks and security threads on the new $20, $50 and $100 bills-to identify counterfeit bills. Mark Sullivan, the Secret Service's Columbus resident agent in charge, says genuine money has a lifelike portrait that stands out distinctively; the Treasury seal and serial numbers printed clearly and uniformly in the same ink; and tiny red and blue fibers imbedded in, rather than printed on, the paper.

Sullivan adds that employees should be careful when attempting to get information to share with police or the Secret Service that would identify the person passing questionable bills.

"They should remember it's only paper and it's not worth getting hurt over," he says.

The Secret Service offers free training classes on the issue for groups of 35 to 40. For information, call 469-7370.