Best Buy Receipt Checker: 'I Do What I Do For Your Own Good'

An anonymous reader who says he works part-time for Best Buy as a “loss prevention” guy whose job it is to check your receipt as you exit the store writes in to defend his practice. He says doing his job right is not only best for him and the company, but for you, the consumer.

Read on to find out why you should smile when Best Buy passive-aggressively checks to see you’re not a shoplifter:

Hello Consumerists. I am a fan with a minor beef. I work retail, performing practice you revile that I see as necessary, quite apart from my paycheck. I check receipts when you leave.

So here’s the deal, with a reasonable degree of transparency. I don’t want to reveal my name lest I be fired or otherwise disciplined. I work part time for Best Buy, one of the oft cited offenders on this site. I’m the loss prevention guy. I wear yellow, and check your receipt when you leave. I don’t have any special loyalty to the company; I’m part time and in an off year between college and graduate school. I’ve been there less than six months, and won’t be there six months hence. For the record, I am speaking on my own behalf, and do not represent the views of the company, my particular store, my management, or anyone else of note.

To put it simply: checking the receipts makes sense, and it actually is to your benefit. I know most of you are rolling your eyes at this, but please allow me to elaborate.

I wish to forcefully reiterate my commitment to honesty, and am therefore obligated to inform you that receipt checkers are often encouraged to say things such as “I’m checking to make sure we billed you for the right model.” That’s garbage. Ninety-nine percent of our customers are smart enough to realize it. It’s patronizing, and you deserve to feel insulted by statements like that. Unfortunately, in a busy retail environment, we don’t often have the time to be honest and to explain the reason we check receipts and why it is good for you, allow a rebuttal, and pass it along to the management. We’d be fired if we did, so vapid platitudes abound.

I cannot emphasize that enough how big a problem theft is for us. I live in a very low crime region of the country, but our store, other Best Buy’s in the area, and other retailers in the region have had significant thefts in the past few months and years. There is an implicit assumption that when a greeter asks to see your receipt that he is accusing you of theft. The actuality is that we are using your cooperation as a vaccination. The simple act of asking to see receipts on high valued products stops a huge portion of thieves from even trying brazen thefts at our store. I’ve never caught anyone trying to walk out with a television that they never paid for by checking receipts. I am sincere in my belief that if I did not check them, people would try it. The model is designed to catch only paying customers and thieves who were too stupid to read up on shoplifting (there are forum posts, really), and the former are few. Frankly, it works. Asking to see your receipt prevents theft, just not the one that you imagine we are suggesting when you are accosted by our burly yellow door guy.

By protecting our products from theft, and therefore our revenue margins, there are so many things we can afford. Sheer profit is one of them, absolutely. I am not going to deny that. It is far from the last of them though, and many other benefit you as a customer. We can keep our prices lower, or keep more employees on the floor for more adequate customer service, or pay for more training to the same end. The benefits really are there. By taking four seconds to stop and show your receipt, we are working together to provide all those things.

Many checkers use their pseudo-authority to intimidate customers because they like the power. That’s not okay. I hate the ones that do. They make me look bad by association, and frankly that is a stress that I don’t need; really my best days at work are the ones where I can direct customers to what we offer or give them directions around town. However, a sincere and kind request to check your receipt should be tolerated. For one, in the end, it helps you. For two, do you really want to be the guy that causes a minimum wage employee to be fired in this economy for doing what his boss’ boss asked? If you are really offended the practice, or about how you were asked, ask to speak to a manager. Better yet, contact the corporate office, as they are the ones that dictate these policies.

If you bristle at Best Buy’s receipt checking policies, does this loss agent’s message sway you at all? When you have a run-in with a confrontational agent, who deserves the blame?