Guitar Center Ends Receipt Checks At Most Stores

You might associate receipt checks at the door with electronics stores like Best Buy and warehouse stores like Costco, but one notorious door-checking offender is big-box music store Guitar Center. At least, as one reader reports to Consumerist, until now.

An insider tells us that all Guitar Center stores have recently ended the practice, and all stores are supposed to stop asking for receipts at the door. We contacted Guitar Center to confirm in a more official way, and will update this post when we hear back. Guitar Center has confirmed this report.

In 2010, we reported that at least one store in the chain found a novel way around checking customers’ receipts at the door: they had customers pick up their receipts at the exit, after completing the transaction elsewhere in the store. This allowed them to look over customers’ purchases before letting them out the door without being confrontational about it or implicitly accusing them of theft.

“They dissuaded a lot of business and generated a lot of ill will with that policy,” notes our tipster.

UPDATE: We heard back from Guitar Center, and they confirmed that receipt checks will end in most stores. Here’s the statement they sent us:

Guitar Center will no longer be checking receipts in the majority of our stores. This is a positive new change that will allow our customers to have a better shopping experience overall. We’ve been able to move those associates who were previously responsible for checking receipts into much more engaging roles in our stores. They’ll now be responsible for customer service, loss prevention, merchandising and more.

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  1. webalias says:

    I’m almost sad to see the policy end. After having been bullied and intimidated into cooperating in the distant past, I enjoyed asking, “Do you have probable cause?” and “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” My sense, the last time I refused to show my receipt to a Guitar Center door checker, was that he absolutely knew the law wasn’t on his side, and had been instructed to back off if somebody knew their rights. I’m aware, of course, the Guitar Center could have chosen to ban me from future visits, but given their prices and how poorly things are set up there, that wouldn’t have been much of a sanction.

  2. OrionBFury says:

    With this checking thing in general, I’m normally perplexed by it. But I’ve been on the retail side of it as well, so that may be why it doesn’t really bother me/confused by why it bothers others.

    I remember when I rung on items in other parts of the store, normally big ticket items, it was policy to contact the front to tell them it was purchased. So to use one of webalias’s comments, anyone up front could have probable cause if they never received a message, since that would indicate that it wasn’t paid for. Maybe a message wasn’t relayed, which could then make it erroneous, but still.

    I’ve never taken offence when asked, since I get the reasoning behind asking. It’s a theft detriment, and if being held up for 20 seconds can translate to lower prices, or avoid higher ones, I think it’s worth it. But that’s me. I get the anti-liberty mantra, but some people seem to take it too far, like people punching out the checkers cause they don’t like it.

  3. BikerGeek79 says:

    Guitar Center has a decentralized transaction model, where any department can ring out a sale. And because the store is so divided into rooms and sections, it’s hard to keep tabs on customers who can just pick up a bunch of stuff and walk out. It’s the combination of these two factors, I believe, that causes them to want to check receipts at the door.

    In a more traditional store like Walmart or Target, the sales floor is departmentalized but the registers are all in one place, so if you see someone walking out the door who didn’t come from the cashiers, it’s easy to tell something is up. Stores like the Apple Store allow any employee (even the customers!) to conduct their own transactions, but the store is so open and transparent that everyone can see everyone else making it harder to steal, and most of the big ticket items are “let me get that from the back for you” anyway.

    All that said, I’m happy to see GC abandoning their policy for the sheer fact that I don’t really appreciate being made part of any company’s loss prevention strategy without my consent or compensation.