Mark used a gift card to buy a couple DVDs at a Florida Best Buy, then walked out the door without showing his receipt to the employee at the door. For this “crime,” a sheriff’s deputy stopped Mark and threatened to arrest him if he didn’t go back and let an employee check his receipt.
After I exited the store and was in the parking lot, walking towards my car, I heard someone start yelling, in a stern and urgent voice “SIR! SIR!” I heard quick footsteps behind me and turned around. It was a (sheriff’s deputy). He told me that Best Buy employees needed to see my receipt. I responded that I’d left the store, my business with them was concluded, and that they had no right to demand to see my receipt. The officer said that it was store policy. Regardless of store policy, I said, they still had no right to take or search my possessions. He asked me why I was being difficult. I pointed out that it was an imposition upon me to be chased down and detained in the parking lot and made to hand my property over to a third party, something which they had no authority to demand. The officer said that while they didn’t have the authority, *he* did have the authority. He continued, threatening me with arrest, “Go back and show them the receipt, or go to jail. Those are your options.”
I asked him why he didn’t just take the receipt from me, if they had the right to see the receipt. “I’m not going to touch your property,” he replied. I told him that I ultimately didn’t care about the receipt itself — it wasn’t important to me — but that I objected to their demand that they detain me and inspect it. The officer suggested that he take the receipt back to them so that they could “mark it.” I didn’t resist (I was there with my wife and infant son — I would have been in the dog house if I got arrested), so he took the receipt out of my hand, and walked back across the parking lot to the store. He returned a minute later, and silently handed me the receipt. I asked for his card. He turned around and walked away, replying “I don’t have to give you my card” while walking away.
Mark says the employee didn’t even check his bag, but simply grabbed the receipt, highlighted the phrase “keep your receipt” on the piece of paper.
A reminder: With rare exceptions, unless you sign a membership agreement for a retailer promising that you’ll subject yourself to receipt checks, you’re not obligated to stop and whip it out.