Best Practices:

Spot Sweethearts

Sweetheart Deals occur when employees give the customer (usually a friend or family member) a “deal” by giving away items at a discount or for free. These transactions can be prevalent because to the employee, it may not feel wrong because it does not feel like they are blatantly pocketing cash. For example:

  • An employee gives a patron a discount that the patron doesn’t deserve – this could be an employee discount to a friend or a senior discount to teenager
  • Employee voids or cancels part or all of the items on an order thereby giving the patron the items at a discount or for free

What to look for:

  • High dollar amount of employee discounts: Is the employee really eating $15 of food? Is there someone on the other side of the counter?
  • Employees who have a high number of employee discounts in a single day. Did the employee really take five meal breaks?
  • Employees who have the highest number of a specific type of discount – e.g. senior or police discounts. From a random selection of transactions, is the person on the other side of the counter really a senior or a police officer?
  • When auditing high-risk transactions, is there someone else on the other side of the counter walking away with the canceled or voided item?

Collusion can potentially be a problem if it is not perceived by the employee as being wrong. If the precedent has been set, employees may feel entitled to “hook up” their friends and family with deals. See: “Keeping Honest People Honest”


  • Make sure that your policy includes how discounts are to be qualified and given out
  • Create POS reports, especially around discounts and employee and manager meals
  • Schedule time to review (daily or weekly)
  • Validate suspect with Video; check that the recipient of the discount matches the criteria


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