Monday, 7 April 2014

Security guards are hired to do more these days

Security  guards in shopping centres have certainly become more visible these days.

Walk into any mall and chances are, you will spot several guards patrolling the walkways, positioned near the entrances or escorting patrons to the carpark.

The heightened security comes amid growing concern over snatch thefts and robberies, especially in basement carparks. Some outlets have even hired their own guards to ensure the safety and security of patrons.

These days, however, guards in shopping complexes have to do more than guard the premises — they also act as the go-to person in cases of emergency or when shoppers are seeking directions.

StarMetro recently put to test guards at several shopping centres in the Klang Valley to see whether they could communicate in English or Bahasa Malaysia and their workplace knowledge. We asked for directions to the cinema, automated teller machine (ATM) and bookshop, among others.

While there were communication problems, most understood English and were helpful in leading visitors in the right direction, or at least to the nearest information counter.

One foreign guard at a shopping centre in Subang Jaya was able to accurately point out the location of the nearest bookshop. He even switched to Bahasa Malaysia when it appeared his directions were not getting through.

Those who were not so fluent in either language, were also able to communicate through hand gestures.

One guard in another mall in Subang did not understand what “karaoke” meant, but led us to the right location when asked where the “place to sing” was.

One shopping centre had Malaysian guards who could speak both English and Bahasa Malaysia fluently. When asked where the locksmith was, a female guard even offered to take us to the shop.

Another guard approached by the StarMetro team at the same mall was able to direct us to a camera shop and autopay machines on each floor.

While some malls did not seem to have a heavy security presence, this does not mean they were lacking in safety measures.

Concierge staff in a shopping centre in Subang Jaya told StarMetro that they employed plain-clothes guards to patrol the mall regularly, apart from the regular uniformed ones.

These plain-clothes guards were equipped with ear pieces for communication and work with auxiliary police.

In another shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur, the guards wore business suits and were able to point out locations within the mall and attractions close to the area.

One guard, however, was not sure how to lead StarMetro to the closest ATM but brought another to help with directions — probably because his base was outside rather than inside the premises.

In one of the biggest shopping centres in Petaling Jaya, security guards were placed in one location to make it easier for patrons to spot them and ask for help.

Most of the security guards StarMetro approached in this mall were foreigners. Out of the six guards, only one was not able to give proper directions but led the team to an information counter.

When asked where “Starbucks or coffee shop” was located, one guard whipped out a mini directory from his pocket and pointed us to the right direction.

Out of the 20 guards StarMetro tested, only a few were not able to give proper answers. However, instead of giving us the standard “I don’t know” reply, most directed us to another source of information.

All in all, the guards seemed to be well-trained and were a credit to their profession.


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