Macy's Doesn't Care If You Want To Save The Planet, Forces You To Take A Plastic Bag

Some people would rather not take a plastic bag if they don’t need one, ourselves included, because a) enough with the plastic bags already b) it’s wasteful and bad for the planet to take plastic bags when you really blatantly don’t need or want them.

With that in mind, here’s a letter from reader Erin:

I thought you might be interested in my experience at the usually sweet-faced Macy’s the other day.

While at the Galleria in Buffalo, I ran into Macy’s to purchase a couple pairs of winter tights. After being rung up, I told the salesperson that I didn’t need a bag. She told me that she had to give me a bag, that I wouldn’t be allowed out of the store without one. I said I would just show the receipt as my proof of purchase, and that it was no problem. Rosa told me that I could throw it out as soon as I left the store, but that I had to take it. I told her I didn’t want to take it because I didn’t WANT to throw it away and waste it, that I don’t use plastic bags on principle. She refused to give me my tights without the bag. I was so furious at this forced environmental waste. How ridiculous and unnecessary. Great customer service!


We’d really like to see them try to prevent you from leaving the store just because you don’t have a bag. Don’t taze me, Macy’s.



Edit Your Comment

  1. FromThisSoil says:

    So that’s when you take the bag, take the tights out, leave the bag on the counter and leave.

    If the cashier is being stubborn, don’t even deal with them, go around them.

  2. spenc938 says:

    Take the tights in the bag, remove the tights from the bag, throw the bag back in her face. What are they going to do, chase you out of the store.

  3. spenc938 says:

    @FromThisSoil: You beat me to it.

  4. inspiron says:

    Consumerism in general is a bigger environmental pain than a bag or two, the resources needed to make all of the crap then ship it 3000 miles overseas in a 50,000 horsepower container ship that gets 20 gallons to the mile and the resources needed to run the factories, extract the materials and keep the lights in in the store that uses thousands of watts of electricity per hours, 14 hours a day…and most of this energy and effort for stuff that people just pick up during recreational shopping or stuff that they THINK they need….I would not worry about a bag or two…

    About bags, I work at target and I’m the one who every or so has to restock the 18 registers with 25 boxes of bags, each box has 1000 bags and weighs 20 pounds. so 500 pounds, 25,000 non biodegradable high density polyethylene bags per week heading from Indonesia to new jersey to the dump!

  5. chili_dog says:

    Ha, you will now face the 7th level of Consumerist Hell– Showing your Receipt at the Door.

  6. consumed says:

    @Inspiron: Did you just watch the video at ?? :-)

  7. Unnamed Source says:

    I get tired of the baggers at QFC (now part of the Kroger chain) asking “Is plastic okay?” every time I buy groceries and groaning when I say “Actually, no. Paper please”. Too bad more states are passing laws banning plastic bags.

    • Difdi says:

      I can top that…literally: The TOP Foods near where I live has a sign on every checkout counter, that states “We bag in paper. If you prefer plastic, please request it.” But none of the baggers are apparently aware of the sign, since they ALWAYS bag in plastic, unless you make a special request for paper bags (or none at all).

  8. xl22k says:

    If anyone has seen how much crap is used to ship the merchandise to stores, they’d never worry about just wasting a single plastic bag to stores.

    The worst offender I’ve seen is some underwear and bra companies who sometimes will havea one or two pieces in a big box with lots plastic and styrafoam…but they all do it. I helped unload a truck at the store I work a few months ago, and it really was amazing how much stuff they waste.

    • Difdi says:

      No one package will ever be a direct threat to the environment, ever. Saying you might as well pollute all you like because individually your impact is all but nonexistent is absurd. It has never been about the individual, but the population of the planet is made up of them.

  9. mysticone says:

    @xl22k: While there is definitely a lot of waste in the entire chain of production, every little bit of waste reduction helps. So, I would say that people should worry about a single bag, and hopefully that’ll get them on the path to worry about all of it.

  10. guroth says:

    The issue is that if loss prevention or employees or other consumers see you walking for the door with items in your hand, and not in a bag, their first impression is that you are shoplifting. For loss prevention this means they have to waste attention or energy on you to make sure you are not shoplifting, same goes for other employees and if some consumers are suspicious enough they may even go warn an employee about it.

    I wonder if you would have had this hassle if you had brought your own “earth friendly” cloth shopping bag.

  11. inspiron says:


    Every little bit DOES help!

    But agian at target a loose bag that has already been taken off the dispenser is hard to recuse, and since cashers at target are being timed at how fast they check guests out they willusually throw out any unused bag that a person did not want and take from the dispenser.

    Oh and I had work today I brought back a flat cart with several boxes of “Red charge back” which is merchandise that is returned, found to be unsalvageable and to be thrown in the compactor and sent to the dump, more waste!

  12. mysticone says:

    @inspiron: Yeah, we do have such a wasteful society. :( My wife and I started saving our cardboard boxes and plastic bags for recycling (about the only thing we CAN recycle here), and it’s *amazing* how much of that stuff you go through. We’re just two people buying an average number of groceries and a few other assorted things. I don’t even want to think about it on a massive scale.

  13. Marimomo says:

    Maybe they use to bags as free advertising? Macy’s doesn’t care about the one bag they’re giving you because its free advertising for them when you walk around as their billboard.

  14. hn333 says:

    Walmart doesn’t care if you don’t want the bag. We should all shop at walmart.

  15. morganlh85 says:

    @xl22k: But if everyone just threw their hands up and said “what’s the point? X, Y, and Z is WAY worse than the plastic bag I take/the ATM receipts I throw away/the electricity I waste/the SUV I drive/etc.” then nobody would do ANYTHING about these problems and we’d all be a LOT worse off than we are now.

  16. Buran says:

    They must be taking lessons from Barnes & Noble which forces you to take a bag to buy ONE BOOK.

  17. Buran says:

    @chili_dog: It’s only hell if you actually submit that crap. Just keep walking. They can’t legally do a damn thing to you.

  18. GinaLouise says:


    I carry a fairly chic, non-branded reusable bag (i.e. not a ratty duffel bag) for purchases, and I still get forced to take a plastic bag at Sears, JC Penney’s and such. Everything, from socks to cast-iron pans, has to go out in a bag.

  19. ShariC says:

    I love the mentality which some posters have demonstrated here which seems to say, “there’s already a lot of waste in the process so don’t make a fuss about wasting a little more.” It’s the same thinking behind deriding people for buying a burger and fries with a diet soda. Just as every calorie counts (and what is the logic behind adding 200 more sugar calories as long as you’re ingesting 800 fat and carb calories? It doesn’t hurt to avoid that 200 calories and it can help), every little bit of effort you make to reduce waste counts.

  20. chili_dog says:

    @Buran: I knew I’d get a bite with the receipt at the door comment. But I must admit, I now go out of my way to show a receipt anytime I can (Especially at Walmart) just to know that other consumerist readers are shuddering for no apparent reason.

  21. madanthony says:

    I like when stores give me plastic bags. Now I have a place to put my cat’s poop.

  22. mrestko says:

    plastic bag = not a big deal

    that goes for the clerk and the customer

  23. Amy Alkon says:

    I always have a bag with me, from, and recently went to Macy’s at the Beverly Center, bought underwear, declined a bag, and had the salesclerk put the underwear in my bag. No problem.

  24. My mom has saved up all her plastic bags, and we finally found a use for all of them: holding my medical waste twice a day when she changes my surgical dressings. We’ve gone through tons of bags in the last two weeks.

  25. brennie says:

    Spider Jerusalem lets his mom change his surgical dressings? So much for the badass of investigative journalism. Did you quit smoking too?

  26. Benny Gesserit says:

    @mrestko: Exactly. If it bothered her so much she felt she had to write in, why didn’t she just say:

    “Very well then, I get these tights elsewhere. Please reverse the charge / give me back my cash and I’ll be on my way.”

    It sounds like a “rather curse the darkness than light a candle” situation.

  27. KimF says:

    I do it a little differently-my husband thinks I’m nuts, but I say if it’s stupid but it works, it’s not so stupid. I get the whole loss prevention thing. 8 times out of 10 someone walking to the door with merchandise and no bag is a thief. Fine. I keep a bag of plastic bags from different stores in the trunk of my car. It takes up little to no room, and if I need something at a store I frequent, I grab the bag for the appropriate store, fold it into my purse or coat pocket and I haven’t had a salesperson not understand my “I’m saving the planet one plastic bag at a time” idea yet.

    Conversely, I will take those pretty paper bags with the handles every time.

  28. TechnoDestructo says:

    “Wouldn’t be allowed out of the store?” Uh, what? Isn’t that kidnapping?


    Take your money elsewhere. Tell them you’re not buying anything if you have to have a bag. If you’ve already paid, demand a refund. If they refuse, tell them you’re never shopping there again. Then, if you have to, follow through.

  29. coren says:

    @Buran: Really? Cuz at mine they always ask, and usually I turn em down and stick the book in my’s where it’s going anyway, bag or no bag.

    Actually I do that with most purchases that won’t be easily harmed by being shoved in my backpack.

  30. KJones says:

    Bags are wasteful and we should avoid them, but at the same time, many stores ban people from carrying backpacks.

    I have no criminal record and consider it an insult to be asked to hand over my pack. I’ve even asked a manager, “How do I know you won’t steal something out of my bag when it’s behind your counter?” They don’t seem to like me asking the thing they are accusing me of.

    And yes, some places offer coin op lockers for bags, but think on this.

    1) You put your pack in a locker.

    2) You pick up items and put them in your cart or basket.

    3) You pay for your items, but refuse a bag and (I won’t pay for bags).

    4) You attempt to take the items to the locker and get your bag AND THEY WON’T LET YOU. Their arguments are idiotic:
    – “You have to leave the basket/cart at the till!”
    – “The lockers are near the entrance, you might steal something!”
    – “You can’t go to the entrance, only the exit!” (Then why the hell is the locker INSIDE the store?)

    The stupidity of such people is amazing.

    And as a side note, am I the only person annoyed by the trend of giving change AND the receipt into the hand at the same time? Who puts a receipt in their wallet? I want the receipt in the bag, *plus* I only have two hands, so I can only deal with the money and the wallet at one time. Aren’t these idiots smart enough to realize this?

  31. Kishi says:

    @KJones: Plenty of people put their receipts in their wallet- working retail for a year and a half taught me this. Now, granted, they should ask you if you want the receipt in the bag or with you, but not everyone wants it in the bag.

  32. dreamcatcher2 says:


    These people make reusable bags that pack down really tight into an attached pouch.

  33. acasto says:

    Handing someone their change and receipt together is now considered idiotic? You just can’t please some people.

  34. KogeLiz says:

    oh lord.

  35. KogeLiz says:

    What’s wasteful is shopping at Macy’s.

    Also, Doesn’t Macy’s usually use paper bags?

    Why not just throw the bag in your recycling bin when you get home?

    Why not just leave the bag on the counter and leave?

  36. floydianslip6 says:

    @ShariC: This is off topic, but with the burger and fries example, that’s just a common sense thing. Yea every calorie counts. But if you’re already scarfing down a burger and fries and think that drink is gunna save you or somehow makes the meal “healthier”….

  37. Martha_Jones says:

    @spenc938: Great idea, except most cashiers would just throw the bag out rather than give it to another customer.

  38. snoop-blog says:

    and you still did business with them?! yeah you sure showed them who was boss.

  39. taney71 says:

    I believe I read that people who do not use the plastic bags stores give don’t have any positive impact on the environment. Any change has to come large scale.

    Its like the federal budget. People say taking away pork barrel spending is what is needed to correct the budget imbalance. However almost all economists believe that you must cut large sections or programs within the budget. That is entitlement spending by either raising the min. age or cutting benefits (Social Security). Or cutting defense. And, probably most importantly, not adding more programs and entitlement spending to the budget. So war funding and universal healthcare would be out.

  40. Hawk07 says:

    If I were running Macy’s, I’d have the same policy. When you start letting people bring in their own bags, the shoplifters would have a field day with that one.

  41. angiewriter says:

    Plastic bags are not the anti-christ, people. They can be re-used and/or recycled. They make great trash-can liners for little bathroom-sized garbage cans. You can use them for packing material. You can take your lunch to work in them. I have 4 dogs and a cat, and they are a poop-creating empire. Plastic bags come in pretty handy for bagging that stuff up.

    But, since plastic bags are so evil, maybe the next time I’m out walking one of my dogs and she shits on a neighbor’s lawn, I’ll just smile and tell him that it’s “better for the environment” if I leave the shit on his lawn instead of putting it in a plastic bag. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled and applaud my staunch environmentalism.

  42. Coelacanth says:

    Here’s a simple solution taht appeases environmental activists and loss prevention concerns alike:

    Note – this policy should only apply to those stores with loss prevention people at the door.

    1) Require that the cashier provides a store bag for every purchase.

    2) Have the loss prevention employee examine the bag’s contents and sign off.

    3) Between the loss prevention checkpoint and a door, have a recycle bin that says, “Be kind to the environment. Recycle your shopping bag here.”

    4) Have a store employee collect the recycled bags periodically and redistribute them to the cashiers.

    This doesn’t waste, and people who might not normally think of recycling their bags may pick up the habit by example.

    Environmentally-conscious consumers can make their purchases with a little less guilt, and Target can add one notch to its image about being concerned about the environment.

    Now, if they would just stop stocking their shelves with everything made from China (and other cheap emerging markets)…

  43. evslin says:

    Just take the damn bag and reuse it. Surely you have need of a trash bag for your bathroom or something. I save all the plastic bags I get because I know I’m going to find something to use them for eventually.

  44. crackers says:

    @Hawk07: Except, most Macy’s stores are located near other stores, most likely in a mall. At which point you cannot expect your customers to NOT carry in their own bags…from other stores. Bringing in your own bag for Macy’s purchases shouldn’t have any impact on loss prevention AT ALL.

  45. unholycinna says:

    Is anybody else annoyed by the cashier handing you a reciept with another reciept hanging off the orginal with instructions on taking a survey, etc? Oh, and HEB handing me a coupon for money off gas when the only station I use is ExxonMobil (hubby works there). I try to hand it back but they look at me like I am stupid.

  46. kerry says:

    @kogeliz: Not all municipal recycling programs accept plastic bags, even ones clearly marked “recyclable.” I’m in one of the 8 wards of Chicago doing expanded recycling, and even we can’t do plastic bags.
    @evslin: I have never found a use for those stupid 6-inch by 6-inch bags you get at stores for small purchases.
    Like others, I also use reusable bags for shopping, and keep a small one in my purse at all times. I’ve never been told I could not use my own bag, or go without a bag, but I’ve never tried at the department stores. Target’s been pretty cool with it, as are my supermarkets, so that’s all that really matters.

  47. shortergirl06 says:

    Actually, Kerry, There’s a great use for the small bags. When I’m prepping vegetables, meats, etc for dinner, I use them in an old flour container to keep the scraps in. When I’m done, I tie the handles together, or make a knot in the top, and throw the whole thing away. I realize that I’m still throwing them away, but at least I’m using them one more time.

  48. IrisMR says:

    Meh. There’s nothing wrong with plastic bags, they will not destroy the planet and if you wanna be a hippie about it you can ask the store to buy “bio” plastic bags.

    Myself, I never leave without plastic bags! I need them to throw away stuff I’m supposed to recycle. (Which most would be thrown away by the municipality’s recycling program anyway.)

  49. stevegoz says:

    Out here in Chicago’s western suburbs, I get nuthin’ but odd looks and resistance from cashiers when I decline the plastic bag. My fave was at Target a few weeks ago — I was buying a new laundry basket along with my other items, so I asked the cashier to just put my other purchases in the basket. So she started putting them in a bag first, and I was all “No, don’t waste the bag; I don’t need it.” But last night at Barnes & Noble, the wife and I were able to get out with three books, two calendars and a roll of wrapping paper without a single plastic bag used.

    Sadly, 4 times out of 5 I forget my reusable bags in the boot of the car when I go to the grocer, except when it’s Trader Joe’s. They’ve made such a big deal out of reusable bags for so long that I take the extra second to think about it as I’m exiting the car.

  50. overbysara says:

    I think it really depends on the cashier you get.

  51. tylermorgan says:

    Back when I worked retail, we heavily encouraged customers to bring their own bags. In fact, we offered a small discount (5 cents or something) for each bag the customer provided; we didn’t have many problems with loss prevention, as the types of people with reusuable bags weren’t usually looking to rip us off.

  52. CaptainSemantics says:

    @kerry: I use those little bags for doggie poo on walks. Granted, you probably don’t have a dog, but that’s what I use them for. Maybe you can give them to a friend? Yes, I know, I’m stretching here.

  53. CaptainSemantics says:

    I haven’t experienced/tried it yet, but apparently the King Sooper’s (grocery store in Denver, think Kroger) gives you 5 cents per plastic bag you bring back. Do other places have similar programs?

  54. azgirl says:

    I bring my own shopping bags– Sometimes I put my purse into a tote bag and carry that in the mall, and put my goods in the tote. ( my favorite tote is made out of a pair of my old jeans)

    And say what you will on the effects– less is less. And finding work clothes locally made is not a possibility. I do sew my own stuff as I improve, but you know where the fabric comes from in most cases…

  55. azgirl says:

    As for the rebates for bags– Whole Foods and Trader Joes enter you into a contest… there are other places that give you a discount…but they are usually snappy about it. It is apparently more work for them because they cant just whisk your food into the bags…

  56. @brennie: Hey, all that lizard candy as a child took its toll.

    Seriously, though, plastic bags ARE useful, esp if you have a dog or an invalid.

  57. rdm24 says:

    I’d make it my business to get this employee fired.

  58. rdm24 says:

    Oh, and I’m tired of people arguing that a single plastic bag doesn’t matter. There are larger environmental problems there, but that’s no excuse for doing the wrong thing.

  59. veronykah says:

    @hn333: We all DO NOT shop at Walmart.
    I NEVER ever go there, thank you.

  60. digitalgimpus says:

    I’ve heard of this before. Many stores apparently do this. I recall in college people in class saying they worked at stores where this was the practice. For a simple reason:


    Notice how store bags are getting bigger and bigger? Notice many are designed as if they are intended to be reused (especially true for department stores). Similar quality “gift bags” you can buy aren’t cheap. Want to know why they do this? Bigger, better looking ads.

    It’s very simple. Why let free advertising walk away? By forcing bags upon people, they get their logo out there (brand recognition).

    Don’t forget how many reuse these bags for bringing things to/from work or school. Extra advertising.

    A marketing campaign like that would cost millions a year. And none would have the semi-endorsement of everyday people.

  61. hvsteve1 says:

    Actually, the clerk was probably violating store policy. While they are required to put the merchandise in a bag (loss prevention), the policy has always been to provide a paper shopping bag at the customer’s request. Your not wanting the plastic bag should have resulted in getting a paper shopping bag. Unless, of course, you did not say you objected to plastic and, instead, kept insisting, “I don’t want a bag. I don’t want a bag.”, in which case some poor kid who’s been on the job a few weeks knows nothing but to insist you follow a store policy which comes from the loss prevention department, violation of which could cost his or her job.

  62. kerry says:

    @CaptainSemantics: Ahh, good call. My parents use the newspaper bags for that, but since I don’t get a newspaper I suppose those tiny bags would be worth having if I got a dog.
    @overbysara: You’re right about that. A lot of the time I get a cashier who’s never been in the situation before, and is a little confused. I had one lady just stare at me holding the bag in midair while I repeatedly said “I don’t need a bag.” She couldn’t figure it out. That was at Aveda, a place known for their hippie-dippy, reduce-reuse-recycle culture, and I was only buying one small item.
    If you tell the cashier at the supermarket or Target or whatever right away that you brought your own bag, then proceed to bag your items as they get swiped, you’ll encounter less confusion (and probably less resistance).

  63. infopubs says:

    I’m amazed that people complain about this sort of bad customer service, and yet they STILL BUY THE PRODUCT.

    If this sort of policy annoys you, then return the items on the spot, saying, “If I have to take the bag, then I don’t want to buy this. Give me a refund and keep the bag, too.” Then go to the manager and tell them what you just did.

    Complaining to us helps a little in that it warns others about lousy company policies. But complaining to the store while removing your business and your money is much more useful.

    Same thing with the whole “checking your receipt at the door” BS. Don’t patronize those stores if you don’t like their policies. Are you really so addicted to the stuff you buy there that you are willing to do things that offend you?

    Sheep customers, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

  64. marsneedsrabbits says:

    They didn’t force you to take the bag.
    Either leave the bag on the countertop, or request a refund and take your money elsewhere.
    It really is that simple.

  65. CSR says:

    @rdm24: If the cashier was just following company policy (which in all likelyhood they were) I doubt you’d be able to get them fired for doing what the company told them to do.

  66. DrGirlfriend says:

    You know what I like about living in Portland Orygun? Bringing you own bag is so common here that I have never once had a clerk bat an eye at not giving me a bag.

    Hopefully as more and more people start declining bags, merchants all over will stop forcing bags on people. I suggest we keep declining bags, leaving them at the counter if necessary — as the practice becomes more widespread, we may encounter this kind of story less and less.

    I also wonder if it’s less a matter of store policy, and more a matter of an individual clerk not being sure if it’s against the rules or not. Some people are really afraid of breaking even the smallest rule and will err on the side of caution rather than risk a situation that they think may get them in trouble.

  67. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    @rdm24: “I’d make it my business to get this employee fired.”

    What the hell is the matter with some of you people? You act like the cashier has a say in Macy’s corporate policy.

    Listen, it’s obviously a way to help prevent theft. “I’ll show my receipt for proof of purchase.” To who? You big dummy. You’re not shopping at Wal*Mart – did you see a greeter by the door, hippie?

    If you don’t like the policy – send their corporate offices a message, or better yet, don’t f’ing shop there. Giving grief to some low-level cashier is just plain dumb. Get a grip.

    And if you think bringing in your own biodegradable dirt-bag to put your stuff in would work you need to learn a bit about loss prevention.

  68. ophmarketing says:

    I almost never accept a bag when I shop. I usually have my messenger bag-style satchel with me, so unless I buy something especially large or fragile, I just stick it in my satchel.

    (My favorite experience had to have been the time I purchased a tote bag at a Bass outlet store. The clerk started to put it in a bag, until I stopped her and pointed out the utter foolishness of putting a bag into a bag. She laughed, agreed, and handed me the tote with my receipt inside.)

  69. MsClear says:

    Plastic bags aren’t hurting the planet? Um ok…..interesting logic there.

    Anyway, plastic bags are made from petroleum products. There is a limited amount of petroleum on Earth. We also use it to heat homes and to run cars. Anyone checked on the prices of those products lately?

    But, no, heaven help us if we are all asked to use reusable packaging. How granola!

  70. vongarr says:

    Get a fabric bag that you can reuse if you’re that concerned. Not only will it save you from bags at the grocery store, it will come in useful against corporate policies.

    Easy solution. If they’re still pricks, then throw the bag at them.

    Anyway, this person is being a bit extreme. You buy one book at a book store, fine, no bag. But if you are buying multiple sweatpants, you need a bag of some sort.

  71. vongarr says:


    So they don’t think you’re stealing.

  72. bohemian says:

    I carry an oversized purse so I try to put small purchases with the recipt into the purse. Most places don’t give me any static.
    I get more static if I take my canvas shopping bag in with me somewhere. It seems to set off the shoplifter radar of everyone in the store.
    What annoys me are grocery stores that don’t want to let you use your own bags. We have one in town that will give you a discount for bringing your own bag. I currently have a mountain of plastic sacks full of other plastic sacks that I need to find somewhere to take them. They are mostly from groceries.

  73. UpsetPanda says:

    One thing is if you are going to go shopping, and want to put multiple purchases in one bag, go with a canvas bag or something (guys probably have more problems with this, since it’s kind of girly) but if you use a sturdy Nordstroms bag in a mall where there isn’t a Nordstroms, a lot of stores might watch you more because many retail employees are trained to watch these people as potential shoplifters.

  74. edwardso says:

    They make cloth bags with metal rivets that fit on to the plastic bad holders making it much easier for the cashier to scan and bag. It also folds into a square and snaps shut. They are sold at harris teeter for a buck

  75. snoop-blog says:


    take the bag, and just leave it in the store somewhere. and if you get stopped at the door, show your reciept, and tell the manager (or whoeverstopped you) that the cashier said it was ok to NOT have a bag. then the cashier gets ass reamed!!!

    or walk around the store and pretend your sticking more stuff in your bag (or really do it) and walk out. if your going to give me a bag for one item, i’m going to fill that bag to the brim baby!

  76. snoop-blog says:

    @bitfactory: shit it easier to steal shit with a store bag!

  77. snoop-blog says:

    what if i wanted to wear my new shirt out of the store? hmmm hmmm!? didn’t think of that one yet huh!

    btw- to all those talking about loss prevention, a good thief always buys at least one thing.

  78. TechnoDestructo says:

    When I go into a store with a backpack, I first close it, then put securely on both shoulders, and then don’t mess with it while I’m in the store. I’ve never been hassled like this.

  79. jamesdenver says:

    When I first worked at Burger King as a teen they were just getting ride of those cardboard boxes that they put the already wrapped whoppers in.

    Somewhere someone had the logic to realize there’s no point in putting a hamburger in a box, shoving in down the shoot and onto a tray, where a few minutes later it will be thrown away.

    I never take a bag unless I need one.

    Also in Germany last spring after I bought a few groceries I asked for a bag. I was told it would be about 50 cents or whatever in Euros. Excellent incentive to reuse resources and save the store money too. Wish the US did this.

  80. jamesdenver says:

    getting “rid” of.

  81. wring says:

    if I were the clerk, i would say “please let the camera record that you are putting the merchandise in your purse after paying. it’s a loss prevention issue.”

  82. Buran says:

    @chili_dog: Goody for you. But don’t whine about losing your civil rights when other people do all the work standing up for them when you don’t have the spine to stand up for yourself.

  83. molife says:


    This shoplifting excuse is just sincerely dumb! Let’s see? Will it be easier for me to steal something out of the store with a bag? Or if I’m forced to walk out holding my purchased merchandise in the open for everyone to see?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Even if this were a popular way of stealing wouldn’t it be easier for in store security to watch and see you walking out with the merchandise in your hand? Rather than having to observe the exact moment that you slip the item in your pants or the bag you were given?!!!

    For christsake think before you post. Or perhaps you did. This is the most ridiculous excuse for not doing something to help save the environment I have heard in a while.

    Let’s just not recycle. Cause it’s such a huge hassle for the garbage man!

  84. Buran says:

    @coren: It was Borders (oops).

    And here is the link:

    We Love The Environment: Borders Forces Customer To Take Plastic Bag, Claims It Is “Proof Of Purchase”

    That store is right down the street from me and I haven’t set foot in it since reading that story. The library five blocks away gets all my “business” now, not that I didn’t use the library before.

    Borders’ stupidity lost them a customer, and now Macy’s has lost one too.

  85. magus_melchior says:

    In Japan, they neatly bag the merchandise, and for flat items (e.g. books) they tape the bag shut.

    One time I was in a Mitsukoshi with a pile of bags and a sales clerk was nice enough to consolidate all that into one bag. Gotta love Japanese service.

  86. velvetjones says:

    @unholycinna: I am so deeply annoyed by the 2′ receipt. I returned a pair of pants at Martin + Osa and I swear to you 9 feet of receipt paper was involved and I had to sign in three places. What also bothers me? Stores that print out the receipt before they print the paper to sign. I also hate that freaking disappearing “ink” they use on those receipts.

    The loss prevention thing is overblown, yes there are crazy store thugs out there, but stores risk so much by confronting you that they only bust flagrant and repeat offenders. If they suspect you, they will “customer service you to death” to get you to leave the store. Sadly, the paranoia that everyone above is feeling is exactly how the stores want you to feel. Macys can suckit.

  87. LucyInTheSky says:

    does anyone else remember the borders plastic bag incident with the single copy of harry potter?

  88. Buran says:

    @hvsteve1: “Customer satisfaction” is also in the job description, and pissing off customers causes loss of job.

  89. Buran says:

    @LucyInTheSky: Didya see my posting of a link?

  90. Britt says:

    Doesn’t it have to do with advertising? I work in retail and once asked a customer if she’d like a bag or not. She was surprised to have a choice, saying she thought she had to take one so as to advertise having been to the store.

  91. itmustbeken says:

    I just called and left a message for the store manager.
    The only way we can stop this kind of nonsense is to let them know it’s stupid. Rosa is either an idiot or poorly trained.

    There is no need for bag for 2 pairs of tights that can easily fit into a purse. Last time I checked they wanted us to shop at these stores. Its damn time they act like it.

  92. TechnoDestructo says:

    @inspiron: “recreational shopping.” Jeez.

  93. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    It’s not the burger & fries calories that matter.
    Have you all forgotten that there are people out there who are diabetic & can eat an occasional burger, but not the sugar filled drink?

  94. TechnoDestructo says:

    So say some morbidly obese hairy unwashed pimply-faced booger-eater (like me) comes into your store wearing a t-shirt 1 size too small with sluttily-dressed underage anime girls on it, ass-crack sticking out of his filthy cargo shorts, all the while leering discomfortingly at every woman within line-of-sight…

    Are you going to insist in that case that he not take a bag?

  95. analretentivecalliopemusic says:


    Seriously, what the fuck planet are you people living on where ANY vendor requires you to take a bag before leaving their precious store?

    Here on the Left Coast of North America, I’ve NEVER had this problem. Hell, Costco THANKS me for not adding to their overhead by asking for a bag.

    No, wait a second, never mind… if you asshats are stuck in the great wasteland that is the “Heartland of America” and PUT UP with this crap… well, DON’T ever come here. Trust me. The coast is evil. EVIL, do you hear?!?! STAY AWAY!!!!

  96. 91004 says:

    Wow! Honest to God the same thing happened to me at Sears-Roebuck in Lancaster PA at the Park City Shopping Center Saturday evening around 5:48pm + or -1 minute.

    I bought some bags for my Kenmore vacuum since Sears sells Kenmore products. Anyway had a nice friendly chat with a salesperson and the people that were interested in buying the same vacuum that I had. I highly praised the vacuum and then walked up to the Register.

    A fairly attractive associate about 28 years of age or so run up my bill. It was $11.65 with sales tax. She was very friendly up to the point where she gave me my change and laid the receipt on top of the vacuum bags which were on the counter. I told her I didn’t need a Sears plastic bag because I don’t believe in not taking it for the environment sake. She said that she had to place the package in the bags anyway. She proceeded to try to bag it anyway.

    I told her no thank you for the bag and took my vacuum bags with me along with the receipt. She called the management who then had someone follow me out to the car and told me it was their “policy” that all customers must have their items in a bag.

    I told the individual that was following me that it wasn’t my policy and therefore we have a disagreement. As I was leaving the parking lot he was writing down, or acting to write down my license plate number…..

    What kind of world do we live in when you can’t even walk out of a store with a receipt in your hand and you still need a bag?

  97. BugMeNot2 says:

    My wife works at macy’s in California and doesn’t care if you take a bag or not.

  98. ElPresidente408 says:

    Macy’s in general is ultra-paranoid about loss prevention. Between customer theft, employee theft, and poor logistics they are one of the highest shortage companies, if not the highest. Your movements are so tracked in that store it’s not even funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if you got stopped outside the store for walking out without a bag, even with a valid receipt.

  99. figpetus says:

    Most of you seem to follow the general American attitude ( and I say this as an American myself ) that you are due everything, and must not be inconvenienced for anything. If you don’t want a bag, don’t shop there. Play by their rules or they don’t want you there, simple as that. Don’t be a hassle to the cashier, or the store manager even, for they don’t make the policies, and no one that does cares that you don’t want a bag. They know you will come back, because you can’t be bothered to travel to a less convenient retailer. People need to stop whining and start being proactive.

  100. rdm24 says:

    @CSR: You are probably right. But I would insist on talking to a supervisor, at least. And if the supervisor told me it was store policy, I would tell him that the policy was going to make me shop elsewhere.

    That said, I truly doubt it’s store policy to require bags. I’ve never been forced to take a bag at any store (though I had to insist at some places).

  101. rdm24 says:

    @bitfactory: I’m basing this on the assumption that no store is so dumb as to have a policy requiring customers to get bags, especially if the customer explicitly refuses one.

    I don’t think an employee should be fired for following policy. But if the employee is interpretting the policy to force the customer to take a bag (provided that is not the explicit policy), they are providing unacceptable customer service.

    And if it is policy to force bags on customers, I will shop elsewhere.

  102. Nerys says:

    Hey guys I am curious. I keep reading this “forced me” “forced me” stuff and I am well slightly amused.

    How precisely do they plan for “force me”? I mean short of physical force which is a level or conflict they would be on the losing side of in a really bad way HOW precisely are they going to force me to take a bag?

    I do not even allow them to see my receipt on the way out. I flat out say No Thank You politely and go on my way if they pursue I very clearly spell out to them “what part of no did you not understand” and I leave (I have only had to do that once it went no further)

    So really tell me HOW precisely would they force me to take a bag?

  103. internomics says:

    I just shopped at Macy’s and they asked me if I wanted a bag… This kind of sensationalism about one employee reduces the effectiveness of this blog.

  104. Greg Mahan says:

    I ran into this same situation at the Macy’s in the Houston Galleria a while back. The little old lady simply would not give me my item without putting it in a bag, no matter how much I told her I didn’t want it.

    I didn’t fight with her long..about a minute(“I don’t want a bag” “oh, the bag is a good idea so they don’t think you’re stealing” (whoever ‘they’ is) “No really, it’ll be fine, I have a receipt” “I have to put it in a bag” “Oh alright”)

    But annoyed at having to argue with the lady over a stupid issue, I took my shirt in a bag, walked 3 feet away, took the shirt out, dropped the bag on the floor, and walked out of the store.

    I saved a bag, and made the stupid lady have to clean up her work station, which surely annoyed her as much as she’d annoyed me.

    And they (whoever ‘they’ are) didn’t chase me out of the store as a thief.

  105. gamaliel says:

    For the record, I work at B&N and I’ve never had to tell anyone “we won’t let you out without a bag…” (Barnes and Noble is not Borders, guys. Please make sure you know what store you’re in when you’re making out your check.)

    As far as waste goes, how about all the unsold paperbacks that get destroyed?

  106. TheJollyLlama875 says:

    On the flip side of the same coin, I work at a Borders and you would not believe the number of people who want plastic bags for single items. Not just books, but CDs, even magazines. I mean, a plastic bag for a magazine? You’ve got hands, guy. Use ’em.

  107. MickeyMoo says:

    semi off topic – but I wish people would stop citing the diet soda thing. To people who are used to drinking diet soda – drinking the regular kind is like chugging pancake syrup. Find another metaphor – please.

  108. canerican says:

    I’ve been to that Macy’s and for some reason the employees there have a God-complex. Honestly, she could have recycled the bag, or brought it with her for the next time, people seem to get very angry over very small things.

  109. anmlStyl says:

    This is a metric that macy*s uses on their customer service employees. Let them know what you think, and rip ’em a new one!

  110. JpMaxMan says:

    I had the same thing happen to me at Union Square Wines in NYC – it’s right around the corner from whole foods and I had my nice fabric whole foods bag. Went in to big up a bottle of wine and told them I’d use my own bag. They wouldn’t allow me to leave the store without putting it in one of their plastic bags. They went so far as to have a staffer physically block my exit. Ridiculous.

  111. forever_knight says:

    i love the excuses for the practical uses of these bags! dog shit and trash bags! oh joy. nothing like wrapping up biodegradable material in a container that takes 20+ years to break down.

    fyi to pet owners. there ARE truly biodegradable shit bags for your animals. you may have to look for them (read: EFFORT you lazy asses) but they are out there.

  112. CSR says:

    @rdm24: Well, just because it’s stupid doesn’t mean it’s not store policy. I worked at a gas station once where it was store policy to check ID for anyone buying cigs or beer if they looked under 60 years old. Yes, I said 60. Fortunately, they did have a *huge* sign in plain sight that stated this policy, so when customers who were clearly over the legal age to buy these items started ranting, I could point to the sign. It also plainly said that any cashier caught not following this policy would be fired. So that would get the customer to stop ranting at me and just tell me how stupid the company was.

    Oh, and the sign also pointed out that we had to do this with every purchase. So if a 50 year old came in every day on the same shift to get beer? Had to card him every time. If they got cigs, walked out to their car, came right back in and got beer? Still had to card them.

    To be fair, the reason the company came up with that was because they had a *lot* of employees get busted for selling those items to people under age (none at my store though). And they’d gotten heavily fined. So I can sort of see their point….but we have some annoyed customers.

  113. CSR says:

    Whoops! I meant to say “had annoyed customers”. I don’t work there anymore. But they do still have the same policy, so I imagine they still have annoyed customers.

  114. edwardso says:

    @forever_knight: They sell them at petsmart and they are about $1 more than the non-biodegradeable ones

  115. Buran says:

    @91004: Wow, what a moron (them). If this ever happens again, DON’T go directly to your car. You don’t want someone writing down information that can be used to identify you. Walk to another business or place where there are a lot of people, or find a policeman and say “this man is following me, I’m not comfortable with this” and the guy will be asked to leave. Or if he keeps following you when outside his store, call 911 (if you have a cell phone) and report a stalker. Because that’s what he is, once he steps foot outside his store’s property.

  116. Buran says:

    @CSR: For being that picky, especially about people who had just been there, yeah I would stop shopping at your store too. If you want to card me when it makes sense, fine, if you start being a jerk about it when it doesn’t, I’m gone. No sympathy for the lost business.

  117. stancey says:

    Ugh. So wasteful. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I went to Lululemon yesterday and bought some new workout clothes. They were out of bags (which are pretty much completely reusable), so they offered to either just let me carry it out on my own or use a recyclable gift box that also had handles on it.

  118. TechnoDestructo says:


    There is an implicit threat of force in that they could call the cops, who might erroneously take their side.

  119. ElizabethD says:

    This is interesting because today I bought 1) a Rival crock pot at Kohl’s and 2) a bed pillow at Sears.

    In both cases I told the cashier I didn’t need a bag and would just carry the merchandise to my car. They were fine with it. The Kohl’s cashier affixed a piece of bright-blue tape with the Kohl’s name on the box “just in case,” as she said with a smile.

  120. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    @analretentivecalliopemusic: “Here on the Left Coast of North America, I’ve NEVER had this problem. Hell, Costco THANKS me for not adding to their overhead by asking for a bag.
    No, wait a second, never mind… if you asshats are stuck in the great wasteland that is the “Heartland of America” and PUT UP with this crap… well, DON’T ever come here. Trust me. The coast is evil. EVIL, do you hear?!?! STAY AWAY!!!!”

    A) Costco doesn’t have bags. At least in the midwest.

    B) Nothing screams dumbass more than some jerkweed who thinks they are superior because they live in a certain city. You, my friend, are that jerkweed.

  121. SarahInSeattle says:

    From experience, I know that Macy’s *will* let you carry an item out without a bag–through one exception. You have to wear it out. Put on those socks, claim the vacuum bags are earrings, and use that blanket as a cape and you’ll leave the store with no hassles.

  122. SarahInSeattle says:

    I decided to give my local Macy’s a call, at Macy’s Northgate (Seattle) location. The manager on duty said, “No, while we give you the option of using a bag, we don’t force you to.”

    So, if you shop Macy’s in the Seattle area, it’s safe to stuff (purchased) socks in your sack.

  123. jamesdenver says:

    To the commenters say “There’s useful purposes for bags” Of course there is. And I have tons of them under the sink.

    I walk and bike a lot of places, so I use my messenger bag to stock my errand purchase.

    I put my products in MY bag WITH the receipt. Like the other poster said “how on earth could they use force?” Detain me AFTER I paid???

  124. jamesdenver says:


    Yup I take my bag in every store. Walgreens recently accosted my at the front and demanded I leave it at the desk, when the pharmacy is in the BACK.

    I simply said NO, and kept walking at a rapid pace to the pharmacy and told him he’s welcome to accompany during my visit.

    Who the hell would LEAVE their personal items up front, in plain view of other shoppers (or staff) who could steal possesions.

  125. walletmouth says:

    I encourage people to email the customer service department of any store that does this. And to make a minor scene & demand a refund at the register. Bad word of mouth is bad for business, and if companies hear this message enough times, they will change their policies rather than suffer the reputational risk.

  126. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    OH COME ON. In the 90s and 80s environmentalists said plastic bags save tress! If you really care about the damn planet to get mad at Macys, bring your own damn bag.

  127. Take a bag, then when you get home, use it to line your trash (in a larger bag, of course). Why buy more garbage bags when you can reuse store bags to line your garbage pails?

  128. CSR says:

    @Buran: Ok….maybe I didn’t make it clear. *I* didn’t want to ID people when it was obvious they were over the legal age, or when they’d *just* been in the store. The company demanded it. It was either do what they were paying me to do, or no job. (That, and other stupid things the company did eventually inspired me to look for another job…and I got one *much* better. So in the end it was a blessing for me).

    Interestingly enough, the people that complained the loudest about it continued to come in there. And it wasn’t like we were the only gas station around–there were three in a five minute drive from us. I never understood why people would get furious….then turn around and spend money there. I even asked one guy why he’d yell at me-who had no say over what went on-but continued to give the company their business. He didn’t have an answer for me (but at least he stopped yelling).

  129. traciedesigns says:

    OMG… the same thing happened to me @ Macy’s in Milford, CT. I was using a giftcard I had received for Xmas, buying a set of 8 steak knives. The cashier took out a plastic bag and started to bag the knives, when I told him I didn’t need a bag. He looked at me, in all seriousness, and said, “But you need to take a bag–they’re going to think you stole it.” I said, “Not if I have a receipt,” and took the knives–sans bag–and my receipt. And what did that idiot cashier do? He threw the bag away! D’oh! So much for trying to help…

    Oh and btw, I shopped for another half hour in that same Macy’s, carrying my knives without a bag, and nobody ever bothered me.

  130. jhuang says:

    I dont know if it was the store or the employee, but Macy’s has never done that to me.. several times I’ve refused a bag, or the cashier has even asked me if I need a bag (if it’s a small item) and has witnessed me put the item in my purse and told me to have a good day. Never have I ever been ambushed at the store exit and told I can’t leave.. actually, I hardly ever see security at the entrance/exit.

  131. drjayphd says:

    @forever_knight: Yes, heaven forfend that people reuse the bags, even if they’d rather not get them in the first place. -_-

  132. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    You guys would have LOVE this…I was at Macy’s in Fairlawn, OH the other day, armed with gift cards I got from earned hotel rewards for some new clothes. They start ringing it up and said…”Oh, you’re not paying with a GIFT CARD are you?” and I replied that yes, I was for part of it…and they apologized and said their SYSTEM WAS DOWN FOR GIFT CARDS for at least the next hour. They were more than happy to take my Visa if I wanted to. I had other shppong to do in the mall, so I had them hold the stuff and went back. It WAS finally “up,” and then I had to laugh thinking of you guys, because she said “Oh, we don’t have ANY BAGS…is that okay?” I had a ton of clothes that I was supposed to just walk out the door with? lol. Anyway at the last minute they realized they could just leave the stugg on the hangars and put the plastic thingy over it…but I just found the whole thing funny. Wouldn’t have been if I was in a hurry though!

  133. Jim C. says:

    For the record, the place I shop at most often is the grocery, and I always bring my own bags. Almost all the time the baggers get the idea, but on the rare occasions they don’t, I just let it go.

    RDM24 wrote,

    I’d make it my business to get this employee fired…

    Hassle or make a scene with the underpaid clerk who has zero control over the policy and could get fired? That doesn’t make you an enviro-saint; it just makes you a jerk. If you must make a point, scream at customer service, picket/boycott the place, send a nasty letter to the CEO, shop somewhere else, whatever.

    RDM24 wrote,

    Oh, and I’m tired of people arguing that a single plastic bag doesn’t matter. There are larger environmental problems there, but that’s no excuse for doing the wrong thing.

    I’m sick of everybody like you. Get over yourselves. Any good karma you pile up by not wasting resources is more than cancelled by being self-anointed enviro police. Frankly, I’m almost to the point that I feel like deliberately getting plastic bags just see people like you have their heads explode in self-righteous rage.

    CSR wrote,

    I even asked one guy why he’d yell at me-who had no say over what went on-but continued to give the company their business.


  134. joycefricken says:

    Ummm… why didn’t you ask to speak to a manager. Maybe it’s not a store policy at all, maybe the salesperson was actually just stupid or, even better, insane.

  135. Difdi says:

    Save the planet? I remember (though I could be mistaken) an article about the amounts of energy and effort required to recycle paper bags and recycle plastic bags, and paper bags came out as the loser in that.

  136. tribblechomper says:

    kogeliz at 06:55 AM on 01/05/08 “What’s wasteful is shopping at Macy’s.

    Also, Doesn’t Macy’s usually use paper bags?”

    Actually, they prefer you use plastic…they want to save the trees by denying you the sturdier paper bag and giving you the plastic bag that’s cheaper than Ebenezer Scrooge’s accountant and thinner than a politician’s promises. I should know…I was a Macy’s employee over Christmas ’07.

    Oh, and as for Customer Service? I was there 10 weeks…got SIXTEEN Outstanding comments from the Macy’s Customer Website…so like a dummy, I thought a permanent job was inevitable; I was told that, because of financial cutbacks, I was not being kept on, nor were any of the 11 trainees I trained with…as of last week, 11 trainees are still working @ Macy’s, none of them with so much as ONE Outstanding rating.

    @KJones at 05:42 AM on 01/05/08: “And as a side note, am I the only person annoyed by the trend of giving change AND the receipt into the hand at the same time? Who puts a receipt in their wallet? I want the receipt in the bag, *plus* I only have two hands, so I can only deal with the money and the wallet at one time. Aren’t these idiots smart enough to realize this?”

    You know the thing that bugs me? When they give you change back…first the paper money, then the receipt, then the coins, which slide off the paper and fall to the floor.

    That’s why, when I give change, it’s ALWAYS coins first, bills second, and receipt (that shows the proper amount of change that should be sitting in the customers’ hand). Customers I’ve dealt with have been shocked by this, as it’s so frickin’ logical/customer-first, they don’t know what to say.

    We’re seeing less Customer Service attitude and more “Customer, Serve Us!” attitude; that’s why I got 16 Outstandings in 10 weeks…because I gave Customer Service attitude and thought like a customer, not an employee.

  137. senior chick says:

    Too bad! There are lots of uses for plastic bags (like storing things). I use them for wet swim clothes as well. If I don’t need them I do recycle them. You green freaks drive me nuts!