HOWTO: Escape Best Buy Without Showing a Receipt

…I manage to get about 5 steps out the door before the door guard catches up to me and grabs my cart, with the “sir” in his “I need to see your receipt, sir” somehow not very complimentary. This is apparently a stalling tactic, as shortly a few more blue-shirted employees make a move to block me from making any more progress toward my car.”

Aaron continues his story of bushwacking through employees to flee Best Buy without showing his slip of paper for his large electronics purchases.

“I ask, still calm, if I am being detained for shoplifting. This suggestion apparently shocks my captor into regaining some of his senses, and he lets go of my cart. I explain that unless he wishes to do so, he has no right to stop me.

Full text here.

Aaron Hopkins sent a write-up of his experience to Best Buy who sent back a typical corp-speak letter saying they were sorry without actually addressing any of the issues he brought up.

“I would like to offer an apology on behalf of Best Buy for the inconvenience and frustration you have experienced as a result of your concern…We certainly do appreciate your patronage and would welcome the opportunity to serve you again in the very near future.”

Serve you with papers, that is.

Apparently Aaron pursued his umbrage from 1999 until 2004, there’s more letters back and forth between him and Best Buy, including shadowy employees and various rungs on the executive chain and fellow consumers and now his story popped up on BoingBoing.

Check out the rest of the story in the epilogue.

We advise that after five years, Aaron eat a cookie or something.


Edit Your Comment

  1. limiter says:

    When I worked in retail ten years ago I was told that 70% to 80% of theft was done by employees not shoppers. If that is true at Best Buy also then their reasoning for harassing customers is for the possibility of preventing a pathetic 20-30% of theft. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Your stats are pretty on the mark. And know who some of the most egregious offenders are? The so-called “loss prevention” experts the stores employs to stop customer and employee shoplifting.

  3. billpendry says:

    Let’s see… take about 15 seconds to cooperate with a reasonable store policy, or spend minutes arguing with store employees plus a few hours writing about the experience, trading letters with BB execs and making a web page? I hope he at least feels like some kind of I-can’t-handle-modern-life-so-I’ll-raise-a-stink-to-help-me-deal-with-it hero. A true patriot.

    Seriously, he complains about getting hassled to buy extended warranties? What a noob. His argument for the fact that these receipt-checking policies exist to prevent shoplifting and thus keep prices down is that he doesn’t care about prices. If that’s the case why didn’t he go to Big Al’s Satellite Barn and support a local business!?

    The letter from the BB employee that’s posted on his site is much more rational and true to reality than anything he has to say.

  4. billpendry says:

    Wow, I just wrote a long, well thought-out comment that somehow disappeared into the void of the internets. Let me summarize:

    This guy’s an ass.

  5. billpendry says:

    Ah, there it is! I’m an ass!

  6. Benko says:

    people just get WAY too indignant these days. bill’s right.. just freakin show the grunt your receipt, and leave.. and if you have to wait in line for a couple minutes, DEAL with it, if youre going to do your christmas shopping 4 days before christmas, then face it, its gonna be busy.
    because really, a big electronics store is a thief magnet, and the lack of a door gaurd just increases the risk for the store

    it’s the same reason that in bulk barn they have the ‘no snacking, help us keep our prices low’ things on the bins.. i think bulk barn’s only in canada.. but you know what i mean

    oh well though.. its these kinds of articles that keep me coming back to the consumerist.. so, keep raising hell!!

  7. madderhatter says:

    We went to BB the other day and were walking around checking stuff out when there was a complete power outage in the store. Man, you should have seen them scurrying around pushing to get people out of the store. I’d bet they lost quite a bit of merchandise … no alarms or cameras and a herd of people being pushed out.

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    I don’t think he’s being indignant. He’s right. Best Buy among other companies have the LP goon at the door as a scare tactic. They can’t accuse you of anything and they can’t search your bag. If they hadn’t made a stink over it when he refused to show his receipt there wouldn’t have been an issue at all. The issue was raised because they acted in a completely unprofessional manner, violated policy and treated him like a criminal, all for defending his 5th amendment rights. If more people stood up to the goons they’d abolish the practice. Fact is, it’s easier to pay someone to intimidate everyone than it is to invent or invest in a way to prevent theft.

  9. Smoking Pope says:

    I absolutely disagree with the logic that goes, “it only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s for your own good, so deal with it.” The guy’s point is that he’d already been detained by brainless Best Buy procedures and he didn’t want to wait in line to show his receipt which is his right by law.

    If you read the epilogue, you might have noticed that his biggest beef isn’t the policy itself, but rather the loss prevention specialists being completely ignorant of the law and how it pertains to their job. If they were trained properly, they’d know that it is a legal policy as long as it’s voluntary. Once they intimidate a person and pretend as if they are not allowed to leave the store, they are violating false imprisonment laws.

    Personally, I see the wisdom in this policy, and I will wait to show my receipt unless the line is ridiculously long. At that point, I walk out with a polite “No, thanks!” when asked to show my receipt. Only happened twice, and I was never chased into the parking lot.

  10. Kluv says:

    Anger over being unfairly detained = reasonable person.

    Being an indignant prick over the whole receipt checking process = Aaron Hopkins.

    There’s a lot of other things in the world that such energies would be better put to use towards.

  11. I must say that I too find this annoying, and wasn’t aware of the legalities that Aaron points out. I will say that today, during a shopping outing at Staples, I was told I must allow the store to detain my driver’s license when I was leaving the store with a shopping cart. Once I questioned the matter, I was told I didn’t have to leave it.



  12. DCTeacher says:

    This may be apropos:

    Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings

    § 5-402.
    (a) A merchant or an agent or employee of the merchant who detains or causes the arrest of any person shall not be held civilly liable for detention, slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, or false arrest of the person detained or arrested, whether the detention or arrest takes place by the merchant or by his agent or employee, if in detaining or in causing the arrest of the person, the merchant or the agent or employee of the merchant had, at the time of the detention or arrest, probable cause to believe that the person committed the crime of “theft,” as prohibited by § 7-104 of the Criminal Law Article, of property of the merchant from the premises of the merchant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m with Aaron B.
    #1- I don’t always have time for waiting in line, especially after I bought it and went through all their other dumb stuff, like lame sales pitches and warranties that you can’t get a successful claim on.
    #2- Employees get paid to adhere to company policies, customers don’t. Give me an I-9 or W-2, then I might care about your “policy”, until then, I care about your policy about as much as you care about mine…
    #3- Don’t follow me out of the store with the “Sir! Sir!” business, it’s no where near worth catching a 1.50 across your face for your $8/hr. job. It won’t bring down the corporation.