Monday, August 22, 2005

Coat Check - Nightclub Security

Coat check is a luxury that is offered at the establishment’s discretion. Some establishments make coat check mandatory, but others allow it to be optional. If your establishment makes a coat check mandatory, make sure this is relayed to the patrons before entering the establishment and paying a cover. This prevents patrons who do not wish to check their coats from walking back out to their cars to secure their jackets and then attempting to avoid the identification line the second time.

If an establishment does perform a coat check, whether mandatory or not, they should be aware of the Rule of Bailments. The establishment is responsible for coats and even items in the pockets of the coats. This is called the Rule of Bailments and, in most states, the establishment cannot disclaim this responsibility, no matter what the establishment’s posted signs may say.
The Rule of Bailments states: a delivery of goods or personal property, by one person (bailor) to another (bailee), in trust for the execution of a special object upon or in relation to such goods (jacket, coat), beneficial either to the bailor or bailee or both, and upon a contract, express or implied, to perform the trust and carry out such objects, and thereupon either to redeliver the goods to the bailor or otherwise dispose of the same in conformity with the purpose of the trust. In another words, a patron (bailor) places their coat (property) in possession of the establishment’s (bailee) coatroom. The establishment becomes responsible for that item and the items attached or contained within.

The establishment MUST inform the patrons that any valuable property must be spoken for or retained by the patron themselves. If something of value is left in the pocket or in the coat, write the owner's name and item on the back of the issuing ticket. As the true owner, make sure to verify the possession of any item stored in the jacket pocket upon return.

THE COAT CHECK PROCESS

  1. Hangers and ticket identification should be assembled in numerical order prior to the opening of the establishment.

  2. Have the number facing the opposite way of the ticket window so that the customer who receives the ticket is the only person with knowledge of that number. This prevents "visual verification" theft from another patron.

  3. The patron should be advised to place the ticket in a pocket they do not use, or in a secure place, such as a wallet or purse. The money area of a wallet is a bad idea due to the fact that the patron will be constantly using this area while exchanging money for drinks. These ideas should be posted near the coat check.

  4. Reinforce the policy that the ticket is mandatory for the return of their jacket.

  5. The coat check person should always ask for a description of the garment prior, to retrieving it, for authenticity of the claimee's (person claiming the item) ticket.

  6. Always verify coat/ item being returned to an owner. Example: "Upon receiving the proper ticket, ask: Is this it (the person’s item)?"

MISCELLANEOUS (SUGGESTIONS)
The money and tip jar should be kept out of reach of patrons. The coat person is constantly away from the window, and this allows the tips to be taken by a patron who sees an easy getaway through the nearby exit.

DO NOT double hang jackets on one hanger and then issue a single claiming ticket. The reason for this is that the two people involved may leave at different times (possibly after an argument between the two of them). If one party leaves and takes the single ticket, the other party is left without a ticket and without proof that the establishment has their jacket. If party wishes to double hang, make sure two tickets are issued.

The establishment should require that oversized jackets should be required to be checked at the coat check. This reduces the possibility of concealment of illicit items or such items that may have been stolen while inside of the establishment. Also, this reduces the availability to conceal a weapon in the establishment.

REMEMBER, THE COAT CHECK IS ANOTHER CUSTOMER SERVICE, NOT A PROFIT MAKING ACTIVITY. SECURITY IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY IN THIS AREA. A DISHONEST OR NEGLIGENT COAT CHECK PERSON CAN COST AN ESTABLISHMENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

The following will provide some an example situation that may occur with a problem patron and how security should react in these situations. Some Situation/Reactions are repetitive of the above information, but it is essential that this is how security reacts.

SITUATION/REACTIONS
Situation: A person attempts to claim a jacket without proof of ownership.
Reaction: Reveal to the customer the establishment’s policy of returning items without proof. Explain that for insurance reasons the establishment may not return items without proper proof. Ask them to write their name and a phone number they could be reached at the following day. If the following day, there is an item that was not claimed and fits the description that was given the prior evening, call the claimant and have them come to recover the item. MAKE SURE THEY SIGN A PROPERTY RELEASE FORM CLAIMING THE OWNERSHIP OF THE ITEM.
Always check with an attorney familiar with your state laws. The word Bailment could be synonymous with another legal term in your state.

(c) 2005 Excelsior Entertainment
To learn more about Nightclub Security, go to
www.securitybehindbars.com

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