FALMOUTH — Even in the face of a belligerent customer who threatened to sue her and her employer, Lisa Taylor didn’t back down.
She ended up saving the elderly man $2,500, after he was contacted by scammers who told him that he must wire them the money.
For that act of compassion and courage, Taylor received Walmart’s Ethics Integrity Action Award – the only one of the company’s 2.2 million employees in the United States to be so honored this year.
Taylor will pick up her award this week during Walmart’s annual shareholder’s meeting, in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The man Taylor helped eventually thanked her for intervening, but not before he claimed that as a retired lawyer he could not be scammed and not before she called in the police to further convince him that the request for funds was a hoax.
Taylor said that last summer the local Walmart, where she’s been the customer service manager for the past 13 years, began seeing several elderly customers coming in seeking to wire money.
Taylor suspected something was wrong, because these were not the customers she was accustomed to seeing at her counter sending money out of state. In addition, she said, many of them were confused and didn’t really know where or to whom they were actually sending the money.
She also said that many of them had the same story: a grandchild was in trouble and needed to be bailed out immediately. Taylor said one woman even asked to purchase $500 in Google gift cards, but clearly had no idea what they could be used for.
“We serve a lot of elderly people here,” Taylor said, and “you really get a soft spot in your heart for them. You want to help them out and serve them the best you can.”
She said over a period of about three to four weeks last July she intervened and thwarted a scam between three and four times a day. Taylor said the customers would often become upset and worried when she refused to send the money.
She would use her personal cell phone to show the customers the people who had contacted them were from places like Jamaica or Africa or, one time, British Columbia. Taylor would also often ask her customers if they’d actually spoken to their family member in person to verify the money request.
“That’s one of the benefits of a small store like ours. You really get to know the customers,” Taylor said. “I’m sure some (scams) slip through the cracks, but we do the best we can to stop it.”
While the integrity award means a lot to her personally, Taylor also considers it a team honor.
“I truly work in a team environment with the others on the (customer service) desk,” she said. “When I heard I’d won this award I wanted them to know that I appreciate their hard work and that this award is for them, too.”
Taylor lives in Portland and has two grown children and two grandchildren. Prior to working at the store on Route 1 in Falmouth, she also worked in the Windham store for 13 years, starting out as a part-time cashier.
She’s been to Walmart’s annual meeting before and called the event “a busy four days, but lots of fun.” One of the things she most enjoys is meeting other Walmart employees, not just from across the U.S., but from around the world.
Her more than quarter century as a Walmart employee is easily explained.
“Once you get invested it’s hard to leave,” Taylor said. “Plus many of my co-workers and customers have become true friends. If you’re a people person, it’s the perfect job.”
Lisa Taylor, customer service manager at the Walmart store in Falmouth, is always “happy to help,” particularly when it comes to saving elderly customers from being scammed.