Rick is the Gandhi of receipt-check deniers. He writes in with a story of how he bought a 37 inch TV from Walmart and was able to successfully say no to the receipt checker blocking his way with his body. Rick did this by calmly and reasonably explaining his position to the assistant manager who showed up and by ignoring everyone around him who was trying to provoke him. Sometimes the quietest voice speaks the loudest.
After work I stopped by the Walmart to pick up a TV for my girlfriend. After circling the whole store in search of the bathroom before realizing it was right next to the entrance, I made my way back to the Electronics section and picked out a TV quickly. I wanted a midsize Vizio, so I chose the 37″ 1080p Eco model. I purchased the TV with my debit card at one of the rear registers about 20 feet away, and walked to the front of the store carrying the box in both hands.
I made it through the first set of doors into the front atrium of the store, but before reaching the outer doors I heard a man say “Sir?” I turned and faced Tony, the receipt checker.
Tony: May I see your receipt?
Me: No thanks!
Tony: Oh, ok.
I turned and continued walking towards to automatic doors. Tony called again, so I turned back.
Tony: No, I need to see your receipt.
Me: No thank you!
Tony: What do you mean?
Me: I mean no thanks; I’m walking to my car with my purchase.
Tony: Well, I need to see your receipt.
Me: I just purchased this TV in the back of the store. I don’t need to show you a receipt.
Tony: Yes, you need to show me your receipt.
Me: Actually, state law dictates that once I pay for something, I don’t need to show ownership of it. I just paid for this TV, the receipt is in my pocket, but my hands are full, and I don’t feel like getting it out. I’m going to leave now, thank you.
At this point Tony has positioned himself between me and the door. As I step towards the door he places his hand on the box in my hands and lightly pushes back, preventing me from moving.
Me: You cannot prevent me from leaving the store with my purchase. Please move out of the way.
Tony: I can’t just let you leave the store with a TV without checking your receipt.
At this point a woman, who has been standing with her family near some vending machine starts throwing snide comments at me such as “Just show him the receipt; it’s not that hard” and “god, you don’t have to be such a prick about it.” This continues on for the rest of my “stay” here, but I choose to ignore her.
Me: Are you unlawfully detaining me?
Tony: I just want to need to see your receipt before you leave.
Me: I have paid for this, I have the receipt, but as I have said, state law protects my right to not need to prove ownership of something I have purchased. You cannot physically prevent me from leaving the store. I am now going to leave the store.
I try and step around Tony, but he again pushes on the box in my hands to prevent me from moving anywhere.
Me: Are you illegally detaining me?
Tony: Yeah, if that’s what you want to call it. (Realizing he just said something bad) Listen, Walmart policy says that I need to check your receipt.
Me: Then Walmart’s policy is in violation of Virginia state law. They should have informed you that you don’tneed to see a receipt.
Tony: (Misunderstanding me) How could they have told me already that you’d bought this?
Me: No, when Walmart trained you, they should have informed you that you can’t force people to show their receipts. You can only ask.
Tony: I’m just a first-class worker, I don’t know about any of that.
Now I am starting to fill like the prick the woman near us keeps calling me. This atrium has two exterior doors on opposite sides, so I turn around ready to walk towards the other door to leave, but another receipt checker has walked up at this time. I can’t remember her name, so I’ll refer to her as S, since I believe that’s what her name started with.
S asks me what’s going on, and I explain that I’d like to take my purchase to my car, but Tony is demanding me to show a receipt. S agrees with Tony that I need to show my receipt for “purchases like this”. I give her the same explanation I gave Tony, that by state law, I don’t need to prove ownership of something I just purchased.
Me: You are welcome to check the security tapes to verify that I just purchased this TV at one of the registers in the back, but I don’t need to prove ownership.
S: You need to show your receipt before you leave the store.
Me: According to state law, I don’t.
S: Well I’m sorry, sir, but that’s Walmart policy.
Me: Then Walmart’s policy is in violation of state law.
S: It’s not that hard to show a receipt.
Me: No, it’s not hard at all, but state law says I don’t have to. I’m going to leave the store now.
S: No, the store manager is coming.
Me: When is the store manager coming?
S: The assistant store manager…
Me: When is the assistant store manager coming?
S: Yeah, she’ll be right here.
I finally put the box on the floor. (Woman: “Now just take four fingers, put them in your pocket, take out the receipt…” I’m mentally yelling at her, but completely ignore her externally.) After waiting (what felt like) 2 minutes the assistant store manager appeared around the corner. S walked towards her, and I waved at the store manager to show I wasn’t threatening nor uncomfortable with her arrival (in fact I welcomed it.) S pointed towards me and walked somewhere else, but Tony stayed behind me the whole time. I can’t remember the assistant store manager’s name, either, so I’ll refer to her as M.
M: Hello, sir, how are you today?
Me: I’m doing fine, but I’d like to leave the store with my purchase.
M: Well, what’s the problem?
Me: Tony, here, says I can’t leave unless I show my receipt.
M: Do you have your receipt?
Me: Yes, but I just purchased the TV in the back of the store and had my hands full with the box, so I didn’t want to take it out. Tony physically prevented me from leaving the store. Now I’m refusing to show me receipt for the principle of the matter. State law dictates that I do not need to prove ownership of something I have purchased, meaning I do not need to show a receipt.
M: Hmm. (She thinks for a bit.) Where did you buy the TV?
Me: In the back of the store.
M: (Thinks a bit more.) There are two registers in the back.
Me: *sigh* I purchased the TV at the register closest to the front of the store. There was a man checking out with his family at the register nearest the rear of the store. I paid for the TV with my debit card, and then picked up the TV myself. The cashier asked if I was going to carry it, and I said “yes, it’s light.” I then walked to the front of the store.
M: (Thinks a bit more, taken aback at the detailed report.) Ok, sir, it is your choice to leave the store with your purchase.
Me: Thank you.
I pick up the box, turn around, and tell Tony to “have a good night” as I exit the store.
The thing is, I bear no ill will towards the Walmart employees. They were simply not educated as to their role and lawful restrictions. I thought Walmart would have fixed this issue after all of the heat they’ve gotten about it over the years, but clearly this store didn’t get an internal memo. The situation could have definitely gotten worse. I’m almost glad the second checker arrived, as I don’t know what Tony would have done had I tried to exit the store through the other door. (He is an older gentleman, so I don’t think he would have tried to tackle me, but if he had actually placed a hand on me or otherwise gotten more physical, I would have been placed in a very awkward position.)
I don’t think an email to a Walmart executive will do anything. I’m open to any advice on how to inform this store’s management about the situation, so that they can properly train their employees. I feel badly about my interaction with Tony and M, since the honestly believed they were doing their jobs. I feel like I should stop by and give them gift cards for performing admirably in the tough situation Walmart has put them in, but that might be received poorly.
“In general, the store can’t force someone to show their receipt,” Joseph LaRocca, senior asset protection advisor for the National Retail Foundation told MSN. “The checks at the door are really designed to be a preventative measure and a customer service measure.”
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