Unlawfully Detained At Home Depot For Not Showing Receipt

Reader Matt has launched the dreaded EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) on Home Depot—attaching a copy of a formal complaint that he filed with the Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C..

In addition to poor customer service and an inadequately maintained and stocked store, Matt says he was illegally detained by the Metropolitan Police and forced to return to the store to show his receipt to a Home Depot employee.

According to his police report, the officer stopped Matt without reasonable cause and forced him to comply with “store policy.” Matt feels that this was a violation of his 4th amendment rights.

Why are the Washington D.C. police enforcing Home Depot’s “store policies” as if they were laws? Nothing better to do?

Here’s Matt’s letter to Home Depot’s CEO Frank “Li’l Frankie” Blake:

Dear Mr. Blake,

Since purchasing my home in March 2007, I’ve spent nearly $10,000 on various projects around my home; most of that was spent at my local Home Depot in Washington, DC. Despite the poor inventory, poor customer service, long check out lines, disorganization of the store, rummaged-through/opened/broken/incomplete items sold, and many other problems with the store, I’ve shopped there because it’s local and has a good-sized lumber/drywall supply. After a recent incident, however, I’ll likely not return and instead will probably drive a few miles further to a Lowe’s in Maryland or Virginia in the future.

Long story short, I refused to show my receipt to exit the store, and was detained illegally (albeit briefly) by a uniformed Washington, DC Metropolitan Police officer in the 5th District on February 21, 2008. I’ve submitted a formal complaint to the police department, which is attached. I refuse to be treated like a criminal and be held at your store illegally in the future. As you probably know, most retail shrinkage/loss occurs as a result of internal theft by employees, not customers, so the store “requiring” customers to display receipts at exits likely isn’t doing much good anyway (not to mention that customers are not legally required to display receipts).

In addition to this incident, I’ve experienced the below within the past few months:

-Lack of knowledgeable sales staff

-Discourteous sales staff

-Inattentive sales staff

-Trouble receiving replacement parts missing from a ceiling fan kit; the local Home Depot associate actually opened up a new box for a different fan, gave me parts he assured would work, and sent me on my way. The parts didn’t fit my fan at all, and now the local Home Depot has yet another opened and incomplete item; the Chinese manufacturer was more efficient and shipped the parts to me as a courtesy.

-Saw used for cutting/ripping plywood and other lumber has been out of service for some time (forcing me to go elsewhere)

-Initial refusal by a cashier to allow an exchange of a Commercial Electric brand item; she claimed that the item was not purchased at a Home Depot, even though this brand is sold exclusively by Home Depot (after wasting 30 minutes of my time, a manager overrode the decision)

-Inaccurate inventory numbers, resulting in perpetually out-of-stock items (e.g.: one time, the store’s inventory system indicated to a sales rep that the store had hundreds of an item in stock, yet no associate could find the large, oddly-shaped item, forcing me to go to a competing store out-of-state, which has helpful staff and plenty of the item readily available)

-A store security guard grabbing my person and my purchased items and not allowing me to leave the store; my father had the receipt and already left the immediate area (Again, this type of action is unlawful; store employees or contractors have no legal right to touch/assault customers or prevent them from leaving, even if no receipt is shown. After purchasing the items, a customer’s obligation to the store ends.)

-Common items out of stock (one more than one occasion, I couldn’t find a CPVC 1/2″ elbow; this is a very common part, and it’s frustrating to have to rig several components together to complete a project)

-A 40-minute wait to even speak to someone about ordering a sheet of laminate countertop material (I recently built my own kitchen cabinets and counters); three other associates were present and available in the department, but claimed that the one busy associate was the single person in the store who could give me a rough guesstimate of price (I gave up and drove a few miles out-of-town to Lowe’s, which had a handful of popular styles of laminate sheets in stock, unlike Home Depot).

When I first arrived to DC, I was happy to hear that there was a Home Depot in town, as I was familiar with the “You can do it, we can help” attitude portrayed in advertisements. My experiences (only some are list above) have proven, however, that the Home Depot is most certainly not in a position to help as advertised. In fact, I wish I would have spend the thousands of dollars at Lowe’s or other stores. Even with a further distance to travel and possibly higher prices, I wouldn’t have left the store stressed out or frustrated nearly every time.

Mr. Blake, I realize this is a long e-mail, but I hope you– as Home Depot’s CEO– will consider what I’ve said and work to institute changes at the Home Depot in our nation’s capital; until then, though, I’ll likely find a store that’s well-organized and staffed with persons who are helpful.

In addition, I read today that Home Depot recently posted its first-ever annual sales decline, with a 27% drop in the fourth quarter of 2007. With those losses, I’m surprised that Home Depot hasn’t gotten back to basics like having good customer service, sensible policies, and treating customers as they should be treated.

Please feel free to contact me via e-mail or telephone at [redacted] should you have any questions.




UPDATE: Home Depot’s CEO Has Responded To This Complaint


Edit Your Comment

  1. Balance_In_Life says:

    If you’ve got nothing to hide, then just show the damn receipt. It doesn’t take but like 5 seconds. Stop making a damn fool of yourself at the front door and just show it.

  2. Um, can I be the first one? Matt, dude, you need to get a life. You should’ve stopped shopping at Home Depot the minute an item was out of stock or you were treated poorly.

    Your rant makes my sixth graders’ daily whining seem erudite.

  3. dreamsneverend says:

    Time to go to Lowes!

  4. ryatziv says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN):
    Baaaaaa! Let’s all think like sheep!

  5. LunarLoki says:

    His complaint is entirely legitimate. Its his right not to show his reciept. Shrink is also largely internal as he said.

  6. blitzcat says:

    He is totally in the right. The Bill of Rights protects us from unreasonable search, and this is exactly that.

    Its sick that the police are working for the interests of a private corporation.

    Don’t show the receipt.

  7. event horizon II: Home Depot

  8. @blitzcat: Paultards on Consumerist? What next?

  9. CMU_Bueller says:

    @blitzcat: The Bill of Rights protects us from the government. Unless I missed something, Home Depot is not the government. Your ignorance is not adding to this discussion.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): I disagree.

    @loquaciousmusic: I agree that he should have stopped shopping there long ago, but I believe his complaint to be valid.

    If you’re carrying bagged merchandise that you purchased and are carrying a receipt for, don’t stop when they ask to search you. Just don’t stop.

    Now, if you’re carrying UNBAGGED merchandise, then please stop.

  11. ryatziv says:

    @CMU_Bueller: No, but the cop that stopped him is.

  12. @loquaciousmusic: Nothing good to add to the conversation?

    @CMU_Bueller: You did miss something, he was detained by the police.

  13. DMDDallas says:

    @CMU_Bueller: The police illegally detained him, not Home Depot. RTFA

  14. @AngrySicilian: Not really, no. He should’ve just shown the receipt and been on his way. Does he really think that this is going to change Home Depot’s policies?

  15. rustyni says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): No, he’s not legally obligated to show his receipt, and whether he has anything to hide or not is irrelevant. The fact of the matter was, he was illegally detained (read: kidnapped). He’s not making a fool of himself, he’s exercising his rights to NOT be held against his will, without probable cause. Good to see that not everyone blindly follows the flock.

  16. bdsakx says:

    It pains me to say that I’ve got no sympathy for him on this one. Of the thousands of people to enter a store, 99.9% of them will show their receipt without hesitation, despite the underlying illegality of it all. I would rather be on my merry way and blend in with the other 99.9% then try to make a fuss.

    It could be worse like them writing your driver’s license number down. Then I would be really upset. Sometimes its easier to just be normal :(

    • fozumerist says:

      @bdsakx: “despite the underlying illegality of it all”

      There’s nothing illegal about asking to see a receipt or have a store policy as such.

      What’s illegal is having a *store employee* prevent you from leaving the store. That’s illegal and that’s not what happened in this case of (major) whining.

      From his own admission: ” and was detained illegally (albeit briefly) by a uniformed Washington, DC Metropolitan Police officer”

      A police offer has the right to stop you briefly to ask you a question. Matt is not the only person of interest in this story. The owner of this particular THD store also has rights, which includes the right to prevent theft.

      Should THD store file a complaint to a police offer (that just happen to be in th area), it’s the officers duty to investigate the claim.

      It sounds like that’s exactly what happened here.

      I think Matt’s being pretty stuck-up about this whole thing and if anyone has fault, it would be him. It didn’t sound like THD did anything illegal in this case.

      If the store employee held him down, locked the door, or parked behind his car, preventing his departure, that would be illegal. It’s not illegal to report possible theft to a police officer and for that police offer to investigate those claims.

      Even Matt said himself it was “briefly”, which would lead me to believe the officer simply asked a few questions, was satisfied with his answer and let him go. Probably after seeing his receipt as proof.

      It doesn’t matter if something is “bagged” or not. It’s pretty easy to sneak your own bag into a store.

      You’re not being “illegally detained” if a police officer stops you to ask a few questions. Not stopping could be illegal if you refuse to comply with police orders.

  17. MercuryPDX says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Have to agree…
    Despite the poor inventory, poor customer service, long check out lines, disorganization of the store, rummaged-through/opened/broken/incomplete items sold, and many other problems with the store, I’ve shopped there because it’s local and has a good-sized lumber/drywall supply.

    You’d think there’s enough in that one sentence to deter him from shopping there, but the “detainment” is the final straw?

  18. headhot says:

    Man that DC home depot BLOWS!!!

    The self check-out where broken for 3 months through Christmas shopping season. Customers were unable to pay via credit card at the kiosks.

    Also, its dirty, the employees are surly. Nothing is where it should be.

    My wife ordered flooring from them last year. It arrived 3 visits and 2 months late. As the stock was pulled I watched the associate drop the boxes from the top of the ladder breaking the ends of the flooring as he was too lazy to carry it down. When I confronted him on it, it almost came to blows. I was much larger then him and I believe he thought better of it.

    Given a chance I drive to PG or VA to Lowes. They are much better run.

    I think the DC Home Depot is one of the highest grossing the the nation, due mainly to its location and the renovation boom thats been going on around here. It certainly isn’t due to its service.

  19. Buran says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): Why am I not surprised that the very first is an asshole posting the kneejerk “why not just bend over?” crap that we’ve argued a zillion times.

    Feel free to surrender your rights. But don’t you DARE bitch when someone else stands up for theirs.

  20. Asvetic says:

    If it’s not posted, it’s not enforceable. If someone asks to see your receipt; you ask to see where it says they have the right… policy or other wise.

  21. joeblevins says:

    He mentions that his father had the reciept in the letter (maybe not the criminal incident) when he was detained by Home Depot staff.

  22. ChicagoAndy says:

    What I don’t understand in so many of these cases, if Home Depot is so bad (broken saws, rude staff, etc) how in good conscience could someone possibly justify going there in the first place?

    The complaint states quite clearly that these major issues have been ongoing – so why shop there? Why not shop somewhere that treats you well?

    Given your long list of complaints, didn’t you expect bad service when you went in there in the first place? Why not go elsewhere? There are plenty of lumber yards and hardware stores.

    (obviously, the issues surrounding the police officer are a separate issue)


  23. Buran says:

    @CMU_Bueller: Simple: a private citizen can’t stop you. That’s unlawful detainment and/or kidnapping. Period. I can’t stop you and force you to stay somewhere without being guilty of a crime. And without unreasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, the police cannot stop you either.

    Why not refer to one of the billions (seemingly) threads on this same issue?

  24. @loquaciousmusic: it’s possible… I’ve worked for big firms who had to alter policies after a big chief got a letter that made him think.

  25. ldavis480 says:

    Oh man, nothing makes me sadder and physically ill than all of the “conform and just show your reciept” comments. A statement once attributed to Benjamen Franklin and quoted in the letter “An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania” (1759) sums up my feelings best: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” — except this situation is worse since convenience seems to be the selling point of this argument.

  26. ecwis says:

    I agree with the poster above. Go to Lowe’s.

    I stopped shopping at Home Depot after they started treating everyone like a criminal. They kept me there for 30 minutes looking through every item that was scanned because they thought I was stealing something through the Self-Checkout.

    After the clerk was done, I told her to void the charge and went to Lowe’s. I haven’t been back to Home Depot nor have I been treated like a criminal at Lowe’s so I’m fairly happy.

  27. ClayS says:

    Does that mean that a store detective cannot stop you and bring you back into the store if he sees you shoplifting?

  28. ecwis says:

    @ldavis480: Yes, it seems like the Consumerist should come up with a bot to automatically delete all those comments. :-)

  29. apotheosis says:

    I generally show my receipt if asked to do so, and don’t have much sympathy for someone who makes an issue of something so trivial (and in the grand scheme of things, it is trivial) just for the sake of making a defiant gesture. It smacks of temper tantrum. If this marks me as a “sheep,” then shear my ass and keep me away from Welshmen.

    However, the facts appear to suggest that they don’t have the right to forcibly detain anyone who refuses to. If that’s the case, then BB and the police were wrong and should be held accountable for it.

  30. CornwallBlank says:

    I look forward to reading about his lawsuit — against the police department and Home Depot, for clearly violating his civil rights.

  31. sleze69 says:

    @Asvetic: Wrong. If they posted a sign saying they must check everyone’s breasts on their way out to prevent shoplifting, that wouldn’t make in enforcible. It’s still against the law to search a private citizen.

    Now if people agreed to the breast checks in some kind of membership (like Costco or BJs), that would be different.

  32. frankadelic says:

    Good luck, Matt. I’m glad to see that you’ve filed a complaint! I often get really worked when stuff like this happens to me but then I don’t do anything about it.

  33. Landru says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): Bullshit. Since when do the corparations interests supersede your freedoms? Start here and where do you stop? God, get a backbone.

  34. apotheosis says:


    Yes, it seems like the Consumerist should come up with a bot to automatically delete all those comments. :-)

    Better yet, how about a bot that preemtively determines whether your comment is defending the actions of the company requesting receipts. If you are, your comment is permanently detained.


  35. Illusio26 says:

    @ClayS: He said “without unreasonable suspicion”, I’d say a detective seeing you shoplift counts as reasonable suspicion.

  36. JollyJumjuck says:

    Here in Ontario I usually shop at Rona rather than Home Despot (yes, I typed that correctly). A few bad-experience-anecdotes keep me away from that chain.

  37. ThomFabian says:

    I’m all for standing up for your rights, and if you feel the need to stand up for the right not to show the receipt then more power to ya. But one thing I find odd is that you’ve clearly shopped at the store before and know their policy. If you have no intention of complying then why continue to shop their? Doing business with them only allows them to continue to stay in business and does nothing to encourage them to change their ways.

    But again, flex your rights all you want. I will say the police have no business doing Home Depot’s bidding.

  38. ThomFabian says:

    “why continue to shop *there*” rather


  39. joemono says:

    @bdsakx: So you would get upset about being asked to give your license number, and you would probably write to consumerist about it. And then someone would probably write something like:

    “It pains me to say that I’ve got no sympathy for him on this one. Of the thousands of people to enter a store, 99.9% of them will give their driver’s license without hesitation, despite the underlying illegality of it all. I would rather be on my merry way and blend in with the other 99.9% then try to make a fuss.”

    Don’t you get it?

  40. Illusio26 says:

    To all the people who say, “just do it, it only takes a second,” I say screw you. What is the point of having a bill of rights if they can be violated by corporate whim. Where should we draw the line?

    If home depot made a new policy that said everyone leaving the store had to lift up their shirt prove they are not concealing anything, would you have a problem? It would only take a second…

  41. Landru says:

    @chicagoandy: There is the issue that HD has put many of the mom and pop hardware stores out of business, so then the issue becomes is it worth it to drive twenty miles to find a different store. One or two slights maybe not, but after a while it becomes worth it.

  42. djhopscotch says:

    @ClayS: “Does that mean that a store detective cannot stop you and bring you back into the store if he sees you shoplifting?”

    yes, a “store detective” isn’t an officer of the law.

  43. Coder4Life says:

    wow, what a waste of his time. do you really think he’s going to take this email seriously.


    If you can’t even prove them wrong, then you have lost the fight…

    And stop ranting about previous issues, I am sure he’s well aware of the issues, but he does not care. He will probalby take home in the upwards for 200+ million…

  44. Michael Belisle says:

    Oh no! If you show your receipt, Home Depot might know what you bought! The horror!

    I’m sorry, I’m normally on the privacy side, but not in this case. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be suspicious when someone makes a scene about showing a receipt.

    @ClayS: Yes. At Best Buy at least, employees could ask the customer to stop. We could also nicely ask them to step inside the office and wait for the police. I heard the job was easier when the person confessed the sins.

  45. lpranal says:

    @ClayS: That’d be reasonable proof of committing a crime. Obviously that did not happen here.

    I used to work in a liquor store (attached to a grocery). I was told to never, EVER stop anyone, period- the most I could do is call security / loss prevention, and they could stop them IF I saw it for sure, and it was on camera. The reason being, people CAN and HAVE sued for being accused of stealing- not that this went quite so far, but it falls under the same legal heading- and that the shrink (loss) of a few items pales in insignificance compared with legal expenses and settlements. I’ve literally had guys just walk in, grab something and run out- in that case, you turn the tape over to the cops, and when they get busted for hitting their baby’s momma, they get theft charges tacked on.

  46. homerjay says:

    Good God, here we go with this again.
    Lets just agree to disagree. Some will stand up for their rights, others will bend over and take it in the ass when someone questions their integrity. Its just the way it is. Now can’t we all just get along?

    @Buran: I can’t believe I agree with you. ;)

  47. Honora says:

    Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no reason why, given the constitutional right of every citizen against “unreasonable search and seizure” he should have had to stop.
    Last I heard, if one had been accused of shoplifting, which wouldn’t be a stretch here to say, one has the grounds to sue.
    And besides, isn’t the purpose of this whole site to not act like mindless corporately-owned sheep and do what the companies tell us to do? We have minds. We should use them.

  48. ryatziv says:

    @Michael Belisle: Be suspicious, that’s fine. And if you have reasonable cause to think that there’s shoplifting, detain the individual. Just remember that if your suspitions are wrong, it’s an illegal detainment.

  49. jpp123 says:

    Receipt checking is designed to counter one specific type of loss -where the cashier and customer collude to under ring items. That is frankly not my problem and I’m not about to waste my time helping them solve it.

    I only show receipts at costco and that because the membership agreement requires it – everybody else can take a hike. I was banned from one comp-usa in the early 90’s because of this which cost them about $50,000 in corporate business.

    The poster is right on the mark in filing a complaint against the officer – the police are not (yet) a private corporate security force and the stop was a clear violation of his 4th amendment rights.

  50. apotheosis says:


    Lets just agree to disagree.

    Thank goodness, a voice of reason and balance without hyperbo…

    Some will stand up for their rights, others will bend over and take it in the ass when someone questions their integrity.

    …woops, nevermind. ^_^

  51. jinjin1080 says:

    @ldavis480: And what exactly is he standing up for? The right not to show his receipt at a store he CHOSE to shop at? If he wins what do we ALL win? Do we gain a piece of our liberty back? No, in fact we lose because we tie up a court system with issues that could be solved with common sense. We have a better system to excercise our rights, we vote with our wallets.

    This guy had more than enough reasons to never shop at Home Depot again, the fact that he has had issues in the past leads me to believe that he is a frequent shopper and probably has run into this policy before. Why did he choose now to try and do something about it?

  52. Skeptic says:

    by Balance_In_Life (PSN) at 05:06 PM
    If you’ve got nothing to hide, then just show the damn receipt. It doesn’t take but like 5 seconds. Stop making a damn fool of yourself at the front door and just show it.

    Spoken like a true authoritarian apologist, er who posts anonymously

    Practice what you preach BiL, if you have nothing to hide you should post under your real name! Me? I value anonymity, but I’m consistent about it.

  53. nevergod says:

    thank you for exercising your rights.
    the sheep on the forum are scary.

  54. InThrees says:

    Good God you “just show your receipt” people make me sick to my stomach?

    I wonder why we have such an epidemic of poor treatement, poor customer service, and customer abuse in this country? “Just show your receipt.” “Just pay the fee.” “It takes too long to complain about the service outage.”

    Stand up for yourselves, or if you’re too much of a milqetoast to do that, don’t suddently find that you have a pair when you have an opportunity to rip on someone who DID.

    I never show my receipt in retail establishments that I have not signed an agreement with that specifies I will – and I’m not a member of any establishment that does require it. (More because I just don’t care enough to sign up, not conscious choice.)

    He paid for the items. They were his or his father’s, and not the store’s. There was no observation or specific suspicion of shoplifting, this was just a dragnet receipt-check policy that hopes enough sheep will submit that people are scared into not shoplifting.

    Don’t be that sheep. Just stop it.

  55. mgy says:

    In terms of principle, I think that consumers should stop this infringement as soon as they can. A lot of you will say that showing your receipt is no big deal, and it really isn’t, but I have been corralled into 5-10 minute lines at some local stores in order to check bags and receipts. Quite frankly, it’s now my property, and I’d prefer not to let some doortroll peruse through it. Then again, I’m the kind of guy who tells cashiers that “I’d rather not” when they ask for my phone number or zip code. Maybe I’m a jerk.

    I am afraid that soon enough, store policy will dictate that you open up your purse or handbag before leaving the store. I mean, if you have nothing to hide, then just let them do it.

    Is there anything in your pockets? Let them check in there anyways. Better show your ID when leaving, and so on and so on.

  56. Skeptic says:

    by Coder4Life at 05:41 PM
    wow, what a waste of his time. do you really think he’s going to take this email seriously.


    Or DON’T show them the receipt and PROVE THEM WRONG about their mistaken belief that they have a right to stop you for not showing one–which they don’t.

    Why not choose the option that protects your rights and doesn’t involve bending over? How about when they decide to start frisking everybody? –a little over the top? Sure, but base on your bend over an take it attitude you’d have to argue that you should submit to that, too, to “prove them wrong.” F’ that.

  57. ThomFabian says:

    I find it interesting that you choose to set your rights aside to shop at Costco, but decide that it is important to stand up for them when choosing to shop somewhere else where it is their policy to check receipts.

    Again, its your right to do so, but I find it odd that if it is important to defend your right against showing your receipt that you’d willingly set it aside by agreeing to a membership agreement which requires it.

    Seems this goes against the “slippery slope” argument used by many folks when discussing showing their receipt.

    More power to ya, but that is interesting.

  58. mgy says:

    @ClayS: There are burdens of proof that a store must meet in order to detain someone for shoplifting. Things like actually seeing them select an item, conceal it, make a move towards the exit, all while maintaining visual contact. Stores usually abide by this, because if they physically detain someone who is discovered not to have lifted anything, they end up paying settlement costs. Big ones. The poster your quoted was a little wrong. Private citizens do have a little leeway in this instance.

  59. Dave J. says:

    With those losses, I’m surprised that Home Depot hasn’t gotten back to basics like having good customer service, sensible policies, and treating customers as they should be treated.

    LOL, that’s rich. What they will do instead is slash employee hours and benefits, probably firing most senior (ie., higher paid) employees in the process. I’ve completely given up on Home Depot and only shop my local hardware store(s). Maybe they cost 5% more in the long run, but they know me, and I know them, and they (gasp!) trust me and don’t subject me to hours of interrogation when I try to return a socket wrench or something.

  60. csdiego says:

    @headhot: You’re right, that Home Depot is the worst. The only defense is that a lot of the customers probably are trying to scam the store. Going in there as an honest consumer is like getting caught in the middle of a switchblade fight.

    I’m all in favor of supporting stores in the District instead of spending money out in the burbs, but Home Depot doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies no matter how much of a risk they took to locate in that neighborhood. He’s right just to take his business over to Lowes.

  61. Illusio26 says:

    @jinjin1080: He shouldn’t have to stand up for anything. It’s not a war he is voluntarily protesting. It’s not an anti-abortion rally. Its our fucking constitutional rights. We should just get them. Exercising them shouldn’t be considered “standing up for something”

  62. Michael Belisle says:

    @ryatziv: I’m pretty sure that’s not the law, but I’m just a schmuck. If your suspicions are baseless, it’s illegal detainment. But if you have probable cause (refusal to show a receipt sounds reasonable to me), then it’s not.

    Regardless, it’s going to be hard to get action on what sounds like an “unlawful threat of detention”. Note that Matt never refused to comply: He verbally protested and complied with the request. The officer did not force him. She just asked “nicely”.

    @ClayS: On further review, “Check your local laws”. Some jurisdictions give merchants the right to detain suspected shoplifters.

  63. timmus says:

    As I see it, there are two ways you can buck the system, if you really don’t want to show your receipt.

    On one hand, you can call the cop’s bluff. Now seriously, what are they going to do? A PD will not waste their time with something like this. It’s a civil matter. And you’ve showed HD you aren’t going to kiss their ass. Now that’s the kind of story you tell your grandkids about.

    This? A salute to the policeman and a complaint to the CEO. Meh.

  64. vdragonmpc says:

    This one is new to me. Just buy lumber and when they ask for the reciept swing the boards around under your arms looking for it. Couple of shin bonks will make the ‘power security trippers’ day.

    I personally hate having handfulls of plastic bags and having some ‘turd say “receipt please” after watching me put it in my wallet and pick up the stuff to leave.

    My response: Receipt is in the register have a nice day. Kbye. It helps to be big and crazy looking.

  65. Amelie says:

    While this isn’t my particular battle, I have the utmost respect for people, like this guy, who refuse to show their receipt.

    What’s sickening in this thread are the douchebags who think one should “get over it” because it doesn’t bother them.

  66. bluewyvern says:

    I usually have my hands VERY full of heavy and/or awkward items when I leave a store, and because of articles like this at Consumerist, I’ve stopped complying with the requests to stop and shuffle and dig out my receipts.

    My question is, do you have a good line for refusing receipt checks, something that is polite but definite and doesn’t invite confrontation? The best I’ve come up with so far is, — “I need to see your receipt.” — “No thanks, I’m good”, treating it like a “courtesy check” I politely decline, like when they say they just want to make sure you’ve been charged correctly.

    No challenges so far, but I’m still not thrilled with it. Anyone have a better line?

  67. Optimus says:

    @darkjedi26: “Where should we draw the line?”
    And I quote:
    “The line must be drawn here!”

    It’s from that other “Star” series, not to be confused with Gate or Search.

  68. ideagirl says:

    @Asvetic: In Californai, even if it’s posted it’s not enforceable (with the exception of membership stores)

  69. Mi1ez says:

    On the one hand, I want to side with Home Depot because they are simply doing receipt checks at the door to prevent loss of inventory by theft… and showing a receipt which you had only JUST gotten at the register is a pretty reasonable thing to do.

    On the other hand, I must come down siding with the customer: Just because i don’t show a receipt doesn’t mean I DID steal something–and more importantly, if I happen to walk into the store with an item that they also happen to sell and I’m accused of theft (and, obviously, I don’t have a receipt for something I’ve walked in with) then I shouldn’t be presumed to be a thief. They have the burden of proving that they’ve witnessed a theft or have evidence of a theft and pressing charges with an arrest.

    I sympathize with Home Depot, but I have to side with the customer on this one.

  70. NDub says:

    It is quite obvious most of didn’t actually read the story.

    “A store security guard grabbing my person and my purchased items and not allowing me to leave the store; my father had the receipt and already left the immediate area”

  71. alejo699 says:

    Hmm. Having to prove one’s innocence may not seem like a big deal, but we can’t let corporations get away with breaking the law any more than they already are.

    On the other hand, I was just wondering the other day how all these huge companies like Walgreen’s and RiteAid and Home Depot get away with putting up new stores every ten seconds never invest enough money in them to hire decent staff or keep inventory. Now I know: People like Matt keep going back to the same crummy places, getting the same crummy service, and don’t make a big deal of it until a cop detains them for no good reason. I believe you have a legitimate gripe, Matt, but how about doing the rest of the consuming public a favor and not shopping at Home Depot anymore?

  72. MissTic says:

    Add me to the list of people who think this guy should have stopped going to Home Depot a LONG time ago!!! His laundry list of complaints are valid and disheartening. And need to be brought to the attention of whomever is in charge of the Give a F*ck Dept. But, I have zero sympathy. No telling how much time and money he’s spent due to their incompetence but the reciept thing is what sends him over the edge??? Makes no sense.

  73. zippyglue says:

    @ldavis480: “Oh man, nothing makes me sadder and physically ill than all of the “conform and just show your reciept” comments. A statement once attributed to Benjamen Franklin and quoted in the letter “An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania” (1759) sums up my feelings best: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” — except this situation is worse since convenience seems to be the selling point of this argument.” — Well said, I couldn’t agree more. Every time these illegal detainment and search issues come up there are always a bunch of posters that say “don’t be a dick, just show your receipt!” WHY? Becuase the store says I have to? I don’t care if they do have the policy posted, legally, this doesn’t allow them to bypass the law. If you want to show your receipt, that’s your business, but don’t tell me that I have to show mine. The bottom line here is that they need to be following legal procedures for actions like this. In my opinion, they would need to meet the criteria for identifying you as a shoplifter in order to stop and detain you. They can ask for a receipt, but once you say no, that’s it. — It’s these idiots that are so willing to give away my rights that allow crappy stores like Best Buy to be successful. — “It’s your policy? Well than it must be ok!”

  74. Fidel on the Roof says:

    Ok. Home Depot sucks. Bad service isn’t going to slow down their business. They realize that most people don’t have a choice but to shop there. Lowe’s is more than 20 miles away and Ace Hardware has no selection and high prices. I almost have to go to Home Depot. They have us by the balls and they know it.

    It is easy to blend in and follow the sheep, but what if they do something more invasive? What then? Who will stand up?

    Anyway, there is no incentive for Home Depot to have competent or coherent employees. This seizure, however, might turn some heads back in corporate.

  75. Michael Belisle says:

    @NDub: That’s because his letter was long and rambling. But that’s a different incident. Read the police statement:

    A security guard asked if I had a receipt and I held up my receipt and continued to exit. As I started through the exterior doors, a [police officer] asked to stop and demanded that I show my receipt to the store’s security officer. [verbal exchange] At this point, I showed my receipt to the security officer and he initialed it.

    Matt’s a professional refuser.

  76. soulman901 says:

    Damn, we need more people like Matt.

  77. snoop-blog says:

    this is exactly why when i shoplift i don’t buy anything.

    no seriously though, if i put something in my pocket, checking the reciept is no going to help you find as i likley A) didn’t pay for or ring it up, and B) didn’t put it in a bag with the sh*t i actually bought.

    c’mon BB, give us theives a little credit. do you think a thief is actually stupid enough to get busted by a *reciept*?

  78. PinkBox says:

    Sure, we should have our rights… but at the same time, I can understand why a store may want to check a reciept every now and then, especially those with heavy shoplifting problems.

  79. Invisobel says:

    @bdsakx: I guess you’re right, sometimes it is easier to take it in the a$$ then fight the people trying to rape you, so you do what you feel you have to do, but I think I’ll maintain my anal virginity.

  80. KleineFrau says:

    @Michael Belisle: I’m pretty sure that’s not the law, but I’m just a schmuck. If your suspicions are baseless, it’s illegal detainment. But if you have probable cause (refusal to show a receipt sounds reasonable to me), then it’s not.

    Ummm, no. Use the example of a traffic stop (also works for houses and the like).

    If a police officer ASKS you if he can search your car, then he has no probable cause to do so (because if he has probable cause, he can do it without asking you). Refusing a groundless search is NOT probable suspicion. Searches on such grounds, that a person refused a *requested* search, result in happy fun lawsuits.

  81. Michael Belisle says:
  82. littlejohnny says:

    I’ve only been asked to show a receipt once ever. And that was when I was with my parents at one of those places where you had a membership and agreed to it beforehand. To the people that say just show the receipt it only takes a second, here is why I will not. I am impatient. I’m REALLY impatient. On the highway I will cut you off with one inch to spare just to get 50 yards ahead. That kind of impatient. And if after waiting in line for the pleasure of giving the store my money they think that I’m going to walk 20 steps and show my receipt to some old lady while she checks it they are insane. If I was detained by the police I would beg the officer to arrest me on the charge of ‘failure to comply with home depot store policy.’

  83. Michael Belisle says:

    @KleineFrau: That’s a fair point that refusing is not a justifiable reason. Like I said, just a schmuck.

  84. Buran says:

    @ClayS: That would be probable cause. IF they follow their state’s probable cause rules they can. But without cause (and not showing a receipt) they can’t do a thing.

  85. weedpindle says:

    Went to the local Wal-Mart once. The theft alert buzzer was going off every time someone left the store. Everytime. I refused to stop because clearly this was a malfunction. I asked the guy who yelled at me to call the cops if he thought I was stealing, and if he did I would gladly wait for them to show, because this was a mechanical problem. If he has no reason to believe you are stealing, he has no reason to detain you. And reason is someone seeing you attempt to steal by leaving the store or conceal something while in the store. Needs a legit reason to stop you or demand anything.

  86. Jon Mason says:

    @Michael Belisle: That’s a circular argument – Failure to stop for a search/check cannot be grounds to force you stop for a search/check…

  87. snoop-blog says:

    i get seriously offended when accused of shoplifting. (it’s because i am).

    but if you have nothing to hide you should totally be cool with anal searches.

  88. Zamboni MacN'Cheese says:


    Um, no. Under appropriate circumstances a private citizen may effect a detention. Store security personnel are allowed under “merchant privilege” to effect a “reasonable detention” if certain preconditions are met.

    Please don’t make blanket statements such as these without knowing what you’re talking about.

    Everyone else, no one is required to show a receipt unless you’ve agreed to do so by contract (such as Sam’s or Costco). Otherwise, no receipt.

  89. Buran says:

    @darkjedi26: She! :p@homerjay: It happens! I agree with you sometimes too! (even if I don’t post in a thread)

  90. KleineFrau says:

    Maybe I’ll mix it up a little sometimes.

    Employee: “Let me see your receipt.”
    Me: “My dog ate it.”

  91. snoop-blog says:

    every state has their own laws on this sh*t. i’ve already looked up mine and in indiana, @vidbidness: is right. they do have merchant laws that allow a citizen to detain a consumer for PROBABLE CAUSE, in my state it went on to define “probable cause” to the act of witnessing a theft, not putting hands in pocket, or walking around with items for a long time, or “looking paranoid”. only if they see you take an item, and watch you physically conceal it on your person. anything else is grounds for a lawsuit.

  92. brent_w says:

    @loquaciousmusic: If enough people are intelligent enough to stop consenting to illegal searches then YES … yes he will.

    BTW …
    I seem to remember a success story by a reader who got some wal-marts to stop doing exactly this.

  93. Optimus says:

    Employee: “Let me see your receipt”
    Me: Pull 4th Amendment card out of my wallet and hand it to the employee without stopping.

  94. snoop-blog says:

    remember the best buy incident? the guy refused to show his reciept to the store and drivers license to the police officer (he was a passenger and by law not required to show id in ohio). that guy is my hero. he did make out like a bandit though!

  95. Landru says:

    When they offer to check my receipt, I say “No Thanks, I’ll check it at home”, and I keep going.

  96. BigBoat says:

    Let’s quit the “shouldn’t have gone to Home Depot in the first place” comments. Yeah she shouldn’t have been walking down that alley at that time of night, yeah he shouldn’t have dropped his wallet when he did, blah blah. Blaming the victim is a fine way to shift the burden from those that actually deserve it.

    The actual issue here is slightly tough for me, cause it’s not really the (low level) employee’s fault for doing what their management told them. The real problem revolves around the door checker, and cop I guess, not having a contingency in place when someone rightfully declines to show a receipt.

    Let me simplify that further: There is No Problem with companies hoping to get lucky and having customers waive their rights, and there is No Problem when customers decline to waive these rights. When people create some fracas out of these non-problems; that’s when a Problem actually occurs.

  97. goller321 says:

    @Michael Belisle: You can ask… but you have NO right to detain for any reason other than observed theft. Please feel free to ignore me, and get your ass sued in the process…
    Good luck on the lawsuit OP. Had I been the one, I’d have walked away from the cop. Let them arrest me, it only increases my “damages…” in the ensuing lawsuit against the city and HD.

  98. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


    Sure, we should have our rights… but at the same time, I can understand why a store may want to check a reciept every now and then, especially those with heavy shoplifting problems.

    Sure, we should have our rights… but at the same time, I can understand why a the police may want to search a random house every now and then, especially in neighborhoods with heavy crime problems.

    Rights are lost incrementally. Every bite out of the apple, while small, perhaps even seemingly inconsequential, is another step towards haing nothing at all.

  99. dewrock says:

    A police officer unlawfully detained you and you filed a complaint with his department. Why are you now complaining to Home Depot about it?

  100. Bay State Darren says:

    IANAL, but if anybody’s interested, I can actually show this to my instructor who’s both a cop and a lawyer and get his opinion on it. Though I’m worried this thread will be inactive by then.

  101. fob9546 says:

    Home depot has no policy that states that they have to look at receipts out the door. At the one I work at, if the sensormatic goes off, we just ask you to walk back in so we can deactivate the merchandise. We never even ask to see a receipt. It just sounds like that store sucks.

  102. Michael Belisle says:

    @snoop-blog: Alright, so here’s a question. You might be right that it doesn’t prevent shoplifting. If this is the case, then the stores know that. And there must be a reason why. So what’s real reason for checking receipts?

    A) Control: show the consumer who’s boss?

    B) Make it easier for security people to stop people when they really think someone’s shoplifting? (If you stop everyone, presumably the shoplifter will stop in order to avoid making a scene. Voilá, detention for everyone to achieve detention for a few.)

    C) Other?

  103. brent_w says:

    @Michael Belisle: Its unreasonable to violate the bill of rights.

  104. Falconfire says:

    @vidbidness: Um he didnt, he said

    I can’t stop you and force you to stay somewhere without being guilty of a crime

  105. jimconsumer says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): You’re a good little citizen. So compliant. God help us if there are more like you. Some day, with any luck, even you may learn to think for yourself and assert your right to be free of unreasonable searches and detainment.

    Hint: We don’t have to prove our innocence in this country, not to the police or the courts and especially not to some random retail store clerk. Rather, the burden is on the accuser to prove guilt. Period.

  106. Michael Belisle says:

    @snoop-blog: It was Circuit City. And the guy called the police himself (awesome). Please try not blame Best Buy for stuff they didn’t do. Their reputation is already bad enough.

  107. Jon Mason says:

    My 2 cents:
    If I go to buy something at Home Depot, my goal for that visit is to buy my shit and get home. I am fully aware of the potential inconvenience that it would cause me to refuse to show my receipt, so I choose show it and go home with a minimum of fuss.

    If I care enough about one of my rights being infringed, I will choose the time/place to make a stand in the most effective way possible – and that isn’t while I’m shopping for a f**king paintbrush.

    How many of you people who “stand up for your rights” have written your congressman about it, organized a protest or a letter writing campaign to pressure the corporate headquarters to change the policy etc. Because trust me, telling some minimum wage worker to suck it isn’t going to change a damn thing.

  108. nelsonj1998 says:

    If the law does not require you to show your receipt, then don’t. When you stop exorcising your rights you will loose them.

  109. ludwigk says:

    @LunarLoki: Shrink *is* largely internal, but the bag checks are meant to deter softbagging*, which IS an internal source of shrink.

    So if you’re going to say ‘Shrink is largely internal’, PLEASE learn what that means!

    *softbagging is when a cashier purposefully undercharges for merchandise, usually being bought by someone they know.

    Having explained that, I absolutely DO NOT comply with requests to see my receipt. It is unconsitutional, and I pity any rent-a-cop/place of business that would attempt to detain me for it, because I will raise hell.

    The one time a rent-a-cop tried to stop my by physically barring my way, I walked 10 steps to the cash register, and shouted at the cashier, “It is an illegal search to require that I show my receipt! TELL HIM TO LET ME GO!” and he waved me by.

    At my local Home Depot, I was asked for my receipt, to which I replied, “Legally, I don’t have to show you my receipt.” This particular guard said, “You know, you’re right. If more people knew that, it would save me time. Have a nice day.” Of course… his job is standing around…

    When I purchase a single consumable item that I know 100% I won’t be returning for any reason, I will occasionally hand over my receipt, saying, “Keep it”, then walk out without showing my purchase.

  110. ? graffiksguru says:

    Atta boy, Matt, stick to your guns.

  111. goller321 says:

    @NameGoesHere: Them checking receipts is a low-cost method of deterring shoplifters. They should hire real security to do the job appropriately or hire some employees to staff the store, making it harder to steal…. AND maybe pay a decent wage so those said employees are worth something. You get what you pay for and these stores are simply trying to pass the buck off on us the consumer. Since when did it become OK to be forced into PROVING you’re innocent?!?

  112. snoop-blog says:

    @Michael Belisle,

    well my guess is that they have a lumbar yard right? i’d be willing to bet since you can’t put a sh*t ton (i love that measurement) of 2×4’s in a cart and then bag it, (they usually load up your own truck), they wanted to make sure you didn’t get more loaded than you paid for. BUT and it’s a HUGE BUT! you have to make store wide policies, and opposed to only checking reciepts at the lumber yard entrance/exit, they made it store wide to check ALL reciepts.

    i know that contradicts my previous comment, however, i was referring to in store theft, not lumberyard theft.

  113. chrisbacke says:

    You may or may not like his tactics – but it’s his tactics that tend to make life easier for everyone else. I root him on for his courage and willingness to make life easier for all of us.

    Just because it’s easier to do something (like show a receipt, pay a late fee, etc.) doesn’t make it right.

  114. xoxor says:

    Not sure about DC but in Utah:

    77-7-12. Detaining persons suspected of shoplifting or library theft – Persons authorized.
    (1) A peace officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee, servant, or agent who has reasonable grounds to believe that goods held or displayed for sale by the merchant have been taken by a person with intent to steal may, for the purpose of investigating the unlawful act and attempting to effect a recovery of the goods, detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time.
    (2) A peace officer or employee of a library may detain a person for the purposes and under the limits of Subsection (1) if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person violated Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 8, Library Theft.

    If you care, see also:

    77-7-14. Person causing detention or arrest of person suspected of shoplifting or library theft – Civil and criminal immunity.


  115. goller321 says:

    @snoop-blog: Actually it was Circuit City, not BB. I thought highly of him as well. Too bad he all but dropped the suit. The local DA pretty much forced him out of any lawsuits…

  116. snoop-blog says:

    @Michael Belisle: and it’s probably more of measure to make sure the employee’s didn’t screw up, not that the individuals are actually trying to steal large quantities of lumber

  117. snoop-blog says:

    @goller321: yeah my bad. i’ve slept too much since then to remember the details…..probably should have pulled it up before i opened my big trap and inserted foot. lol.

  118. erratapage says:

    So… now the tide has turned and we’re okay with the consumer on this one?

    How about those of us who don’t really care about receipt checks, except that it is proof that the store thinks that you’re a crook. I might show my receipt, but why on earth would I go there again?

    At least Costco tells me its position up front so I can plan for the inconvenience of going to jail for refusing to show my receipt.

  119. Michael Belisle says:

    @snoop-blog: I’d believe detecting employee fuckups as a reason.

    Then it’s like the “if you did not receive a receipt, please call…” which is to have the customer police employee theft (by making your order and pocketing the cash).

  120. snoop-blog says:

    here’s my opinion, as if anyone actually will read the rest of this comment now,

    if they want to ask to check reciept, fine, but if i refuse, let it be and we’ll be ok. i think when people are getting illegaly detained, and mistreated by our own police officer due to store policy, then we need to stand together as consumers and VOTE WITH OUT $$$$$$!

    another commenter tried to belittle us for being on the op’s side saying “why don’t we write congress, or protest etc….” dude, it’s the CONSUMERIST! where “shoppers bite back”, we are at the right place…..ARE YOU?!

  121. jamar0303 says:

    I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth it to return to the States…

  122. humphrmi says:


    A police officer unlawfully detained you and you filed a complaint with his department. Why are you now complaining to Home Depot about it?

    Because the illegal detention was initiated by staff of the Home Depot store. I don’t know about Home Depot but in most companies, involvement in an illegal activity on company property is against company rules.

    Example: Store clerk tells Police “We suspect that he is a shoplifter; please detain him.” They had no basis to suspect that he was a shoplifter, except that he didn’t show his receipt. Even though the police actually executed the illegal detention, it was based on bad faith on the part of the store employee.

  123. drmrsthemonarch says:

    ok, he didn’t refuse to show the receipt, his father had it and had already walked out of the store. I don’t see why on earth the Washington D.C police needed to stop him and enforce a retail policy.

  124. Freedomboy says:

    And for all you , just “submit to the policy” folks, what happens if you go with one of these jerks and suddenly he pulls a new tape measure or light switch out of YOUR pocket. Of course the event becomes one where they suddenly have something on you.

    NEVER SUBMIT, AND FOR GOD’S SAKE NEVER, NEVER GO “IN THE BACK”, they want a search, call a cop, insist they call one, you are entitled to due process and not whatever they think up. A cop will not palm a light switch and say he found it in your pocket, pacK or bag.

    A store employee has to make his side look good, the cop? Not so much.


  125. bohemian says:

    Between this and the shoplifting suit on a guy who had a receipt for the item last week Home Despot is pretty low on my list.

    The local lumberyard has been adding more services like picking orders for you before you get there. We have LOTS of projects (rehabing a house) and they might be getting all this business. Since they are all around less hassle.

  126. zippyglue says:

    My wife had an experience at our local Wal-Mart a few months ago where the buzzer went off. The Cruella Deville Doormaster woman asked to check her bags, my wife replied “no thanks” and continued out the door. The woman pursued her out the door, grabbed her cart, pulled it back into the store, and went through all of her items. These items included my 10 year old daughter’s first bra, which made it quite embarrassing for her at the busy entrance to the store as the woman held it up in the air and inspected it (why?). Once the check of the items was completed, she told my wife she could leave — interesting part was that she never asked to see a receipt.

    We’ve contacted Wal-Mart and received a call from a district manager. He apologized for the incident, but would not admit that it was wrong for the woman to grab my wife’s stuff or to detain her.

    We’ve been bouncing around different ideas as to how to respond to the buzzer and/or receipt requests in a creative way. Instead of refusing, why not have fun with it? So far our favorite idea is that as soon as an employee makes a request to see a receipt or check bags — Drop everything and put our hands against the wall Felony Police Stop style, and wait to see what the employee does. We’ll need to work on teaching this to our four year old, but I’m sure it will be quite a spectacle at the Wal-Mart entrance. I figure if they’re going to try and embarrass us we might as well give them the full experience!

  127. arcticJKL says:

    Two points.

    One: Stores trying to enforce illegal policies should be stopped. The best way is to not shop there but they also need to be informed that what they are doing is illegal.

    Two: I suggest others do what I do when I am asked for a receipt. I show the receipt and casually ask the employee what they do if someone refuses. So far all have said they can do nothing. If they didnt I would inform them that they are wrong and not shop there any more.

  128. humphrmi says:

    @xoxor: I think the salient point here is:

    …reasonable grounds to believe that goods held or displayed for sale by the merchant have been taken by a person with intent to steal…

    Is refusal to show a receipt reasonable grounds to believe that he stole the items? Some say yes. I say no. Reasonable grounds is, in my mind, having a store detective tell you that he saw you pocket a box of nails, or having a check-out supervisor confront you and say he didn’t see you put that can of paint on the conveyor belt to be scanned. Assuming that everyone who does not show a receipt is a criminal is just plain wrong.

  129. Consumer007 says:

    The 4th amendment is the 4th amendment, while it WAS the police who detained him, that also protects you from anyone else doing it. It’s called KIDNAPPING when anyone else does it (this scenario is specifically NOT included in “Shopkeeper’s privilege” statutes so don’t even go there.

    Really, why are people on here so quick to throw our constitutional rights away? I swear people like Balance and Loquais want corporations to do whatever they want and consumers to just deal with it. They must be Home Depot corporate thugs…

  130. Scuba Steve says:
  131. Kevmas says:

    So store policy trumps the law now? Hell I need to just follow the crowd more often.

    In retrospect he could have just said my father has the receipt.

  132. Anomaly69 says:

    @ Balance_In_Life, loquaciousmusic and anyone else who thinks he should just show the receipt:

    That’s exactly how the slow erosion of our rights starts and worsens. It’s the death of 1000 cuts. Little by little they take more and more from us. Then the next generation comes along thinking that it’s normal and ok and thus it sticks. It’s the same way with both government and corporate agencies.

    The only way to stop it is to fight all of it every step of the way. Don’t give in, complain loudly and pursue your rights aggressively. Maybe we can turn this great country back from a police state into a shining example of freedom. But I have my doubts.

  133. Buran says:

    @Optimus: Large white whale not included.

  134. Consumer007 says:

    I think we need to organize an anti-receipt day, where hundreds of people go through and when they are asked to show them say no, and if you keep bothering me I’ll have you arrested, and have cell phones ready to dial 911…that’ll learn em dern em…

  135. Buran says:

    @vidbidness: Might want to actually go read what I said. I said “you can’t stop someone without probable cause” in one post and referred to state laws in another. Without that probable cause, as laid out in those various laws, you CANNOT stop someone and if you do you are guilty of unlawful detainment/kidnapping.

    Lots of other posters understood…

    Please don’t make statements such as yours without actually thinking about the words you just read. Looks like selective reading strikes again.

  136. xoxor says:


    I never elaborated one way or another, but now I will.

    OK – so you think both the store security and the cop are going to deny they had reasonable doubt? The OP himself mentioned he asked the cop if he was surprised he didn’t have anything not listed on the receipt (or something to that effect…)

    So this goes to court – in all, who do you think will win? You really think the cop will get reprimanded? How far you going to fight this?

    Also note that there is both civil and criminal protection against the officer and merchant.

    You may have a right to set up a site called: [merchant_name_here]blows.com — however if the merchant has deep pockets and you don’t (e.g. Microsoft, for example) — is it really a fight you want to take on?

    I’m all for standing up for my rights. I just pick my battles. Nothing will come of this except possibly an ignored complaint on the officer in question.

    I had a cop tell me to F__k off once — was I pissed? Yes. Did I challenge him? No. Was he right to swear at me? No. But he’d win….

  137. xoxor says:

    @Humphrmi: Been up too long. He didn’t ask the cop — that was another story I read. My bad. Point still remains the same though….Gotta get some sleep :-)

  138. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


    I suggest others do what I do when I am asked for a receipt. I show the receipt and casually ask the employee what they do if someone refuses.

    I have a better idea. Do what I do when someone asks me an impolite personal question. Either a) Ignore them completely, or b) respond with a polite “No, you may not.”

  139. erratapage says:

    I’d like to refuse to show my receipt on REFUSE TO SHOW MY RECEIPT Day, but it’s pretty rare that they ask to see receipts in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. I wonder how often this is about shopping while black? Or about racial redlining?

    We can all agree that redlining is wrong, right?

  140. ThinkerTDM says:

    Here is the real problem: suppose he takes them to court. Home Depot and the police. How much is that going to cost? Is justice only available to the rich? The Best Buy incident ended because he settled. He didn’t have the money.
    Sure, it may be wrong to make you show your receipt. But who is going to call them on it?

  141. Coles_Law says:

    It’s amazing to me how worked up everybody is getting over this. If having to show your reciept is the worst violation of your rights you ever encounter, consider yourself blessed. I’m against having to show it too, but don’t act like this is the new slavery. Stop calling the dissenters sheep, and-here’s a crazy idea, calmly suggest alternatives, as articJKL and TinyBug (for example) did above.

  142. mtaylor924 says:

    @humphrmi: You’re right, it’s not reasonable grounds.

    An analogous situation is when you are pulled over and a police officer asks to search your car. Asserting your rights by saying “no” isn’t probable cause to initiate the search.

    To the same line of reasoning, pleading the 5th amendment at your own trial is not the same thing as saying you are guilty of the crime you were charged with.

    Unfortunately, most of today’s society views a “failure to comply” as an implication of guilt, rather than the neutral act it was meant to portray by the Bill of Rights.

  143. humphrmi says:

    @xoxor: I see your point, but for a moment, let’s look at it another way. Now I’ve got a story.

    I had a cop give me a parking ticket once, even though I was clearly not illegally parked. He argued with me, and ended up slapping the ticket on my car anyway.

    It was a really cheap ticket for a very minor violation. I could have just paid it. At $15, it would have been cheaper than taking a day off work. It wouldn’t have even made a dent in my budget.

    But I fought it. I took evidence, a city newletter that outlined the snow parking regulations, with me to court. I showed it to the judge. The cop was there, and actually apologized to me. And it wasn’t a half-hearted “I’ll get you later, buddy” apology – it was a “Jeez, you’re right, I’m sorry, I had a bad day.”

    OK, I can live with that. But the point is, I called him on it. Now he knows that he can’t ticket cars on that particular street for snow parking violations. He won’t do it again. Because the principle was more important to me than just paying a lousy $15 ticket and getting on with my life.

  144. humphrmi says:


    If having to show your reciept is the worst violation of your rights you ever encounter, consider yourself blessed.

    How about if we start here, and then work our way up to the worse violations of our rights?

  145. Nitrogen says:

    Unlawful Detention in Texas can be grounds for use of Deadly Force. Meaning, a security guard here trying that stuff can get himself or herself shot.

    Also, unlawful detention can be a civil rights issue; which can be forwarded to the FBI for investigation.

  146. TPS Reporter says:

    It’s a matter of principal, not what is easier. The store is essentially accusing you of stealing after you spent your money at their store. If it’s not lawful to detain you, then you don’t have to let them do it. Now I’m pretty sure if the cop had a reasonable cause to suspect shoplifting, then they could detain you and maybe refusing to show the receipt brought up that suspicion. If the buzzer thing goes off when I am walking out of a store I just keep walking, because I know I haven’t stolen anything. To say it’s easier just show the receipt is just being a wussy. Let them chip away at the little freedoms and the big ones are next.

  147. KogeLiz says:

    i thought the e-mail was written poorly. I mean it COULD be worse… but it seemed all over the place.
    My favorite line:

    “-A store security guard grabbing my person and my purchased items and not allowing me to leave the store;”

  148. jaewon223 says:

    Written very well, succinct and to the point with valid claims.

    I worked at Circuit City for several months and they did inform us that if we should witness someone in the act of theft, we are to only report to the managers and it is their responsibility to inform the police. They specifically told us NOT to detain or be involved in retrieving the item back. I’m fairly certain this is policy for retail stores because of liability issues and loss prevention is not a badge with any sort of police power.

    The store employee was wrong in touching you and detaining you and the police was also wrong in enforcing store policy rather than his sworn duty.

    Disregard the negative comments here. Although it may be just easier to show your receipt, you shouldn’t be treated like a criminal when obviously you are repeated customer. Just because something is easier doesn’t make it right. Hope you have better luck at Lowes.

  149. xoxor says:


    I completely agree with your points – I’ve argued points that I felt I could reasonably win (and some I couldn’t based on pure emotion.)

    I just don’t think this is one _I_ would fight {in Utah anyhow — the law seems pretty clear.)

    If I were to go after this, I’d at least look up the applicable laws on the net. I’ve seen a lot of emotion in this thread with a lot of “what should be”…

    I do enjoy the discussion — take care!

  150. FLConsumer says:

    @Dave J.: What is a “local hardware store”? HD/(B)Lowe’s have driven all of them off around here.

  151. dewrock says:

    The story is kind of ambiguous, but it does say that the police officer made him return to the store and show his receipt. That to me makes it sound like the store asked, he said no and that was the end of it until the cop intervened.

  152. spinachdip says:

    Is there a True Value or Ace location near you? They’re local and independently owned.

  153. timsgm1418 says:

    one of my all time favorite quotes, and so valid in this day and age@ldavis480:

  154. shor0814 says:

    @xoxor: Just a thought, if the officer and the store security had a reasonable suspicion, they would have, and should have detained him without asking for a receipt. The reasonable suspicion must exist before asking for a receipt, or it wouldn’t be reasonable suspicion.

  155. Tank says:

    @ryatziv: you be nice, he may be someone’s daaaaaaaaad. :)

  156. burbssuck says:

    Everyone who can’t understand why he keeping coming to the same crappy store clearly don’t understand traffic in the DC suburbs. This Home Depot totally sucks but I’ve also found myself going back to it several times because it’s 45 minutes closer than anything else. When you live in a city you don’t have a Home Depot across the street from a Lowes.

  157. thegingerman says:

    ok, so i’ve read through about 20 of these comments and there are whole bunch that say something to the effect of “just show the damn receipt and quit complaining”. But if you read the police complaint the writer says that he held up his receipt and continued walking out the door. I think it’s great this guy is standing up for our rights. For most people, and apparently a lot of this site’s readers, our constitutional rights are clearly taken for granted. Don’t know what ya got, ’till they’re gone.

  158. spinachdip says:

    @Coles_Law: I think it’s unfair to criticize non-receipt showers for being big meanies (well, not completely unfair, just a bit), when it was Home Depot and the DC MPD overreacting, when they should’ve abided by the law and left the guy alone. Remember, HD and MPD are the ones stirring shit up, not the OP, yet the first couple of commenters are telling the OP to get a life. I think the “sheep” characterization is more than fair in this context.

    Anyway, whenever I’m asked for the receipt (which isn’t often, since I don’t do much big box shopping), I just smile and say “No thanks”. That hasn’t been a problem anywhere.

  159. wtraxle says:

    Here’s an idea: next time they ask to see your receipt, comply, then take your receipt and merchandise to customer service and return it.

  160. Tank says:

    @sleze69: ha! you said “breast” and “BJs” in teh same sentence. My hero.

  161. azrael1o says:

    I agree that this is illegal BUT have a question: What if on the back of the receipt it says that by making a purchase we have the right to look in your bag? Then would it be legal and would you have to show it?

  162. peggynature says:

    Well, after reading this comment thread, I think I have a pretty good idea which ones of us will be lining up to have their tracking-devices implanted.

    Stuff like this is not trivial. Even the seemingly small things like illegal store policies fertilize the soil in which major civil rights violations can germinate. Because, after a while, people will be so accustomed to complying (for the sake of convenience and not making a scene) that they’ll no longer know how and when to fight.

  163. northernplateguy says:

    @CMU_Bueller: The Bill if Rights does protect us from the government. Think of it this way: You would not let a person you have never met before search your property, so why should you let the goverment. It does not matter if you have ‘somethin to hide’ or not. If you don’t know your rights, and assert them, you lose them.

    From [www.flexyourrights.org] Warning: If a police officer asks your permission to search, you are under no obligation to consent. The only reason he’s asking you is because he doesn’t have enough evidence to search without your consent. If you consent to a search request you give up one of the most important constitutional rights you have-your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The same goes for receipt checking security guards: You are under no obligation to consent (give up your rights) and the security guard is asking your for your receipt. He does not have a warrant.

  164. sly100100 says:

    I live in a pretty small town and we have a home depot, I can’t say it’s a bad place to shop. But they frequently don’t have a lot of things I am looking for and the staff generally don’t have a clue what I need.
    I shop there like I shop on the internet, informed.
    I do my research to find out exactly what I need and then I set out to find it. Because there is only a few hardware stores in town Home Depot and a local store I will often call first to see if they have what I am looking for. If I can’t find it here in town its a real pain to drive 1/2 hour to get a particular item. So I can see why one would continue to shop at a place that has poor customer service, items, not in stock, or rude cashiers. It can often be worth the hassle if it means driving out of town to get lumber.

    As for showing my receipt, I have been lucky enough not to ever have been asked, but I can assure if a store did ask to see my receipt, especially if I had just paid I would be really pissed and then I would never shop there again, and don’t even think about trying to stop me.

  165. @CMU_Bueller: ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    I fail to see where it says it’s only for the government.

  166. Jon Mason says:

    @thegingerman: Yeah, this guy is “standing up for our rights” like Rosa Parks and is going to start a movement that finally ends mandatory receipt checks. /sarcasm

    @xoxor – “pick your battles” – exactly what I was trying to say, but nicer put.

  167. northernplateguy says:

    @sleze69: [[@Asvetic: Wrong. If they posted a sign saying they must check everyone’s breasts on their way out to prevent shoplifting, that wouldn’t make in enforcible. It’s still against the law to search a private citizen.

    Now if people agreed to the breast checks in some kind of membership (like Costco or BJs), that would be different]]

    “Breast checks at BJs” I fell out of my chair laughing after I read that.

    BTW: How do you do quotes in HTML?

  168. spinachdip says:

    @azrael1o: No, because you did not consent to the agreement before entering the store or you made the purchase. I mean, if I print “by holding this receipt, you give spinachdip the right to cockpunch you” on a receipt, you don’t give up the right not to be cockpunched just because you bought something in my store.

    The reason Costco, Sam’s Club et al can inspect your receipt is because the *members* agreed to it as part of the membership agreement when they signed up prior to shopping.

  169. iotashan says:

    @bdsakx: So, to follow your logic, just because the majority of people ignore or are unaware of their rights, the minority should follow suit and shut up? Do you also stand outside polling locations and harass voters, since a majority of people do not exercise their right to vote?

  170. catnapped says:

    Don’t you people realize that every time you refuse to show a receipt, a terrorist somewhere in the world wins?!?



  171. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Bravo, Matt!

  172. camille_javal says:

    Home Depot (as a private company) could do this if they had a big-ass sign (much as Costco has you agree to it in the contract). If they don’t, then, yes, illegal detainment in many places. Notice is a huge part of our civil rights.

    I’ll show a receipt (although I don’t seem to shop at many places that demand this, blessedly), but honest to god, if an employee put hands on me (because I spaced and walked by – I sometimes am wearing my ipod whilst shopping), I would fucking file assault charges. I really, really don’t like strangers grabbing my arm. Shit, employee would be lucky if I didn’t have my pepper spray out (I’m a paranoid woman).

  173. Rachacha says:

    To those that say we should just all conform and show our receipts, I will say this:

    Where would America be today if Rosa Parks did not break away from the norm and fight for what she believed in?

    Who knows, maybe Matt will be in the history books some day for standing up for his rights and helping to prevent illegal detention in the name of “store policy”. While this one act may not get Home Depot to change their policy it may make them think before they begin instituting their next shoplifting check…X-ray scanning, or body cavity searches.

  174. kewlfocus says:

    Before I even read the article, just from the title, I knew it had to be the WAshington, DC Home Depot. I’ve only been there one time and that was definitely the last I lucked out and managed to sneak around the receipt checker, or I’m sure there would have been a heated incident. The receipt checkers in that Home Depot are actually “Special Police”, I guess a private security firm, so, they definitely don’t care about anyone’s rights.

  175. Gadgetgirl says:

    Adding in…

    Yes, it is a PITA to show a receipt upon exiting a store (Home Depot isn’t the only one my friend) but is it *really* worth being detained for not doing so? In my experience, a good 90% of the time the guy/gal at the door barely gives the receipt a passing glance before waving you pass. Believe me, I understand about principles, but you have to pick your battles. Flash the receipt and *then* EECB!

    Also, there are times when driving the extra few miles to a store that isn’t as crappy as the HD you described is worth it. It shouldn’t have taken you a situation like being held at a store to make you choose another place to make purchases.

  176. StevieD says:

    It is their property, you chose to enter and shop on their property. As your daddy told you many times growing up, it is MY house and MY rules when you have your own house you can have your own rules till then you will follow MY rules.

    This standard applies to any retail establishment, you shop in my stores you get to follow MY rules. Government rules don’t apply. They really don’t. A private establishment can have any rule that they want even if their rules are tighter or more restrictive that the government rules.

    What to wear Heeley’s? Go for it, just not in my store. Want to carry a huge purse suitable for shoplifting? Go for it, just not in my store. Want to brag about my competition? There are forums and public sidewalks outside, but not in my store. Want to wear puke green shirt with zebra stripped pants? Great, just not in my store. Want to shop and purchase goods? Then be willing to show your receipt prior to exiting the store.

    Don’t like my rules? Then vote with your wallet and go to another store. But on my property you follow my rules.

    By the way just be thankful that Metro PD did not decide to use you for target practice.

  177. spinachdip says:

    @masonreloaded: that’s nice, but the OP didn’t get to pick his fights – Home Depot and MPD did. If you RTFA, he couldn’t show the receipt to the rent-a-cop because his dad was already out the door, and he *did* show the receipt to the cop.

    And I say this in every frickin’ recipt thread – we’re not talking about the right to not show a receipt, but the right not to be detained without reasonable cause. That’s a pretty fucking important right, if you ask me.

  178. scottyxlr8r says:


    “@blitzcat: The Bill of Rights protects us from the government. Unless I missed something, Home Depot is not the government. Your ignorance is not adding to this discussion”

    He wasn’t detained by home depot, he was detained by a policeman, an agent of the government. Your ignorance is not adding to this discussion.

  179. shmianco says:

    have any of the nay-sayers considered the fact that those “receipt showing lines” (ie, please let me out of this store) tend to be rather long (read: fry’s)…i dont blame someone for simply wanting to gtfo of a store like that.

  180. Roundonbothends says:

    Reading all these complaints and comments makes me glad that I live in the south. If I go to Lowe’s or the Home Depot twenty miles away, I can expect a clean store with courteous, helpful sales people. If they tried anything else, they wouldn’t exist because word of mouth gets around!

    Then again, the “big ocean” and “little fish” theory doesn’t work around here, either. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And their markets are not so big that they can afford to piss off many customers off here.

  181. forgottenpassword says:

    How can the police enforce a store’s policy that is not even a law? I cant belive the cop even did this! You’d think they’d be smarter than to screw up like this.

    I hope the guy wins!

    Note: One thing I want to know is…. was the cop moonlighting as store security? I wonder how this works? Being a cop, can they act as a cop while working as a security guard? I would see this aas a police dept liability. Security guards & cops have VASTLY different abilities. A security guard can only make a “citizen’s arrest” (just like any average citizen can), while a cop has MUCH more powers under the law.

  182. friedduck says:

    There are a lot of people saying that it’s a stupid point because he wasn’t arrested, or detained, or thrown in the of the cruiser. So is it still trivial when it reaches that point?

    I occasionally throw out receipts when leaving the store–I’d hate to imagine the confrontation when the idiots who pass for police in my town asked me for proof of purchase.

  183. ginnylavender says:

    I’ve never been asked to show a receipt when leaving any Home Depot (or Home Labyrinth, as it was called on The Simpsons). And one poster talks about “the risk of doing business in that neighborhood.” So what’s happening here? Could it be that this store is located in a minority neighborhood and HD is assuming their customers are thieves? What about THAT lawsuit?

  184. forgottenpassword says:

    @timmus: I dont know about this…. sometimes… if you call a policeman’s bluff (even if he has no legal ground to stand on), his “respect my authority” complex kicks in & he may arrest, charge you & bring you through the system just as a way to punish you. What typically happens is you get a BS charge that would never hold up & is later dropped, but that is not the point…. its punishment for some percieved slight against a police officer.

    This is actually a common practice.

    ALso… One thing a lot of you are not taking into consideration…. Is that a security guard can just SAY(lie) that he saw you shoplift something if he is really pressed to stop & detain you. Security guards arent really the most honest bunch & wont hesitate to lie to cover their ass. Especially when the police later get involved. You hardly need any training at all (in fact… all you need is a clean police record) to become an unarmed security guard. Beleive me… I worked for wells fargo long ago…the only “training” we got was basically watching a 2 hour video on what you are supposed to do (which mainly focused on how to be observant & remember things you saw…. there was absolutely NOTHING on what rights you do or do not have to detain someone). I worked as a nightwatchman basically watching over the property & refused to work with the public in loss prevention types of jobs.

  185. bkpatt says:

    OMG it’s amazing how many untrained lawyers are on Consumerist! You people are effing ludicrous at best! It’s so funny to see you people bust out with blatant statements of “that’s illegal!”

    WTF is illegal? There was police on-site, so they either had been concerned about this guy’s behavior while he was shopping and called them in advance, had a concern about another shopper and were checking everyone temporarily, or this guy was just unlucky that he blew off the store security guard by keeping on walking past after flashing him a receipt and the cop outside saw it. HD has EVERY right to require a receipt to exit the store, they EFFING OWN THE STORE! They can set whatever policies they want for the shopping experience, beginning to end. Whatever MORON tried to infer that the “shopping” ends after you pay is an idiot. You are on private property, HD can require you to show a receipt to exit just the same as they can require you to wear shoes to enter. Wearing shoes is not a law last time I checked, but that doesn’t stop stores from having THAT policy. It also wouldn’t stop them from having the police remove you if you refused to comply with that policy. Police have a duty to “keep the peace,” and disturbing the peace IS breaking the law.

    As for “probable cause” – this douchebag CREATED probable cause the second he refused to show a receipt. How much more guilty can you make yourself look? You are leaving a store, with merchandise, and REFUSING to prove you have paid for it. Well, gee, I believe that leaves one of two assumptions. You are either A) a thief, or B) a moron who wants to LOOK like a thief.

    Oh, and want to know the absolutely ironic ending to this story?

    He showed the receipt and left.

    WTG Matt, you are officially a MORON.

  186. factotum says:

    “Yours, Matt”? Completely wrong closing. Is Frank his boyfriend?

  187. bkpatt says:

    For the Fouth Amendment quoters…

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Since none of you bothered to stay awake through PoliSci 101, let me highlight the key areas for you:

    “, but upon probable cause” (That would be the douchebag refusing to show his receipt, if not arising suspicion before-hand.)

    “supported by Oath or affirmation” (That would be HD presenting the concern of needing to see the receipt for the merchandise leaving the store.)

    “and particularly describing the place to be searched” (Done, it was on HD property, thus the search was to take place at the encounter.”

    “and the persons or things to be seized.” (that would be douchebag Matt, and his HD receipt.)

    This search did not even make it past UNREASONABLE. A store requiring a receipt to exit with merchandise is most certainly not unreasonable, as set by both precedent, protection of private property, and by acceptable norms. No court in the land would conclude that receipt checking is UNREASONABLE SEARCH.

    Matt and this thread are one big giant joke at the expense of society.

  188. forgottenpassword says:


    No…. an customer does NOT have to follow your rules (even if its your store) if they dont want to. They legally cannot be arrested for not doing so (unless your rules are the same as the law … like theft) you can ONLY ban them from your property & have them arrested for tresspassing if they come back.

    I can walk into your store, & not show a reciept & there is absolutely nothing you can do other than ban me from ever coming in again.

  189. Tijil says:

    How do you refuse to show a reciept at the exit? What do you say or do?

    I’ve done a number of different things…

    Just said “no thank you” and kept going.

    Reached into my pocket and handed over a wad of crumpled receipts from the various places I’d shopped at.

    Placed a nicely wrapped after dinner mint in the outstretched hand.

    Handed the very heavy parcel I was carrying to the door troll so I could slowly search for the receipt.

    But usually I just keep hobbling along as if I can’t hear them wailing and gnashing behind me – especially if there is a line of people waiting patiently for the trolls to do their thing.


  190. Mr.Ninethree says:

    @CMU_Bueller I think you need to re-read the post.

    and I quote

    “Unless I missed something, Home Depot is not the government. YOUR ignorance is not adding to this discussion.”

    I guess YOUR ignorance is not adding to the discussion.

    That being said, I agree with the complaint. Cops now think they own and can do anything they want when they want(and they can and will) just another thing to add to the list right here.

  191. Buran says:

    @bkpatt: You apparently slept through the part that discussed what probable cause is, which has been hashed out in lawsuits before. A common example is seeing a person hide something, then keep them in sight all the way to the door. If you lose sight of them you do not have probable cause any longer because they may have set the item down. So without that narrowly-defined “probable cause”, you cannot be detained. Failure to show a receipt IS NOT probable cause in most places (but check local laws).

    Making fun of the “douchebags” you’re so intent on sneering down at is rather ridiculous when you consider this topic has come up DOZENS of times before, the same smarmy point you’re trying to make has been made TENS of dozens of times, and that people who really do know this stuff have stepped up and explained the situation.

    You were wanting to know about jokes at the expense of society? You’re looking in the wrong place.

    And calling people “douchebags” just because you disagree with them is totally uncalled for. I suggest that if you want to be taken seriously, you be more respectful.

  192. kenblakely says:

    Home Depot sux in general, and where given a choice I will in all cases go with Lowe’s – I’ll even drive farther to get to a Lowe’s.

  193. Amy Alkon says:

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” –Ben Franklin

    I’m with the two other Ben F. quoters, and I’m disgusted by the people who argue for compliance. People died to win these freedoms we have. Have a little respect.

  194. Tansis says:

    The officer should have pulled out her taser gun and forced her to accept the Home Depot company policy. I’m sure that would have made the News.

  195. Amy Alkon says:


    Sorry, but refusing to be searched doesn’t count as probable cause for a search. If you didn’t sleep through government class, maybe you should’ve, as it doesn’t seem to have done you much good.

    Moreover, once you’ve paid for the item, you own it. If they can’t trust their cashiers, that’s not your problem or mine, and it’s certainly not justification to search me, this guy, or any other customer.

  196. StevieD says:


    Guess what at my store, no receipt = no products. I operate like a lumber yard. You pay upfront, you retrieve out back. No receipt and you just forfeited your goodies until you grow up and show the receipt. And yes I get away with it, I am protecting the goods until the rightful owner appears.

  197. mikelotus says:

    @chicagoandy: where are these lumber yards in DC?

  198. mikelotus says:

    @Gadgetgirl: you were in that HD when?

  199. mikelotus says:

    HD hates us for our freedoms

  200. forgottenpassword says:


    Well, that is obviously a completely different situation. You have to show proof of purchase to recieve the goods. Now if you sold me the goods & gave them to me at the same time…. and then demanded to see my reciept afterwards as I was leaving, then you could just go pound sand. Once I bought it, have the product & reciept in hand, there is nothing you can do.

  201. lihtox says:

    @loquaciousmusic: If he had simply stopped shopping there, Home Depot would have lost a little money and they wouldn’t have even known about it. By documenting these problems, complaining about them to the CEO and the police, and pointing out exactly how much money Home Depot would lose in the future because of his boycott, he may actually get something changed. Instead of whining about his lack of life, we should applaud his efforts.

    You’d probably tell Rosa Parks to get a life and sit in the back of the bus, too, because what’s the big deal?

    (NO I am not equating this guy’s complaints with the civil rights movement.)

  202. kylerg says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN):

    Hey dude, if you read the rant: his father had the receipt and was out of the immediate area.

  203. WraithSama says:

    Whether he should or should not have shown his receipt is COMPLETELY irrelevant!

    The ONLY important issue at hand is that they did not have the right to detain him, but violated his rights by doing so anyway.

    Ignore the receipt, it’s not important. Wanton violation of personal rights with no probable cause, and the fact that this violation is considered acceptable practice, is the matter at hand.

  204. spinachdip says:

    @StevieD: “This standard applies to any retail establishment, you shop in my stores you get to follow MY rules. Government rules don’t apply.”

    Government rules don’t apply on private property? This is the best news I’ve hear all week! I was worried my illegal cockfighting operation would get shut down, but since it’s on MY establishment, government rules don’t apply, right? And you know what? Just for the hell of it, I’m going to instruct my employees to NOT wash their hands after using the restrooom! Don’t tread on me, Big Brother!

  205. spinachdip says:

    @bkpatt: “, but upon probable cause” (That would be the douchebag refusing to show his receipt, if not arising suspicion before-hand.)

    Using the same logic, you can imagine a conversation like this:
    Cop: bkpatt, let me search your laptop. I think you collect kiddie porn.
    bkpatt: No, I don’t collect kiddie porn, and I’m busy right now.
    Cop: Aha! So you do have something to hide. Now that I’ve established reasonable cause, I will search your computer, bkpatt, you kiddie porn collecting douchebag!

  206. edrebber says:

    There are plenty of people with concealed weapons and/or highly skilled in hand to hand combat who are looking for and excuse to hurt someone. When someone like this who knows the law inflicts bodily harm on the store employee and can’t be prosecuted, maybe the policy will change.

  207. codexile says:

    So what is the right thing to do?

    It bothers me every time they ask me to show them the receipt, yet I go along with it.

    Should I ask them if they’re accusing me of shoplifting?
    Perhaps offer to return the items I’ve legitimately purchased?

    I’m just at a loss, really. I’d like to “never” shop there again, but unfortunately it doesn’t really seem like they care whether or not I shop there.

  208. Nissan says:

    In my local hardware shop, you have to show your receipt to an attendant at the front door, who then peruses tne receipt to see that it matches the items in your possession.

    This is a major chain store throughout the country ( Australia) and is accepted practice.

    Customers take it for granted and think nothing of it. The attendant is always polite and smiling, thanks you for co-operation and wishes you a happy day.
    It is hard to tke offence under these circumstances!

  209. Jordan Lund says:

    Stores have no right to enforce their policies on their customers. Once you exchange money for goods it becomes your personal property. They have no right to detain you or inspect you. It’s none of their god-damn business at that point.

  210. moore850 says:

    @bdsakx: Good point, if you really wanted to steal something, at least have some kind of receipt to show, even if it’s not for th egoods you have. I doubt that a receipt with 100 items on it is going to be compared against the 100 items you have, item-for-item. However, not having a receipt when you’ve bought something just doesn’t make sense. How else would you justify being able to remove goods from the store? Everyone gets a receipt at the register which is feet from the door, so to not have one just is illogical.

  211. pibbsman0 says:

    I don’t ever see the problem with showing a receipt. If you’re not a criminal you have nothing to hide. It’s a minor inconvenience and if you’re a pro, you can have it in hand ready to go. Just because you have the right to say no, doesn’t mean you can’t have the common courtesy to just go with the flow instead of causing a damn scene. There are really 2 ways that being asked for a receipt can end:
    A) You show the receipt, out the door you go (max: 30 secs)
    B) You complain, cause a scene, maybe get detained, complain some more. Come to the Consumerist and complain more. (total time: a helluva lot longer than 30 sec.)

  212. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Name calling, nice new low you stooped to there, bub.

  213. JanetCarol says:

    where as I do believe our rights are constantly being stepped on and forgotten, showing the receipt would have saved him a lot of time. He could have then sent the complaint and never shopped there again.

  214. Nicely handled, Mike. Your complaint, and your email, is topical, correct, and well-stated. Even if it doesn’t solve the problem now, properly-filed complaints like this are going to be important as we head into the real battle of keeping companies from infringing on basic rights in the interest of (usually ineffective) measures to protect their imaginary “right to a profit”.

    ::raises beer::

    And to all the sheep who want Mike and the rest of us to just shut up and put up with unreasonable searches…

    ::raises muzzle::

  215. @codexile: That’s why small, local businesses are nice: They DO care if you shop there.

    @Nissan: Maybe that’s even scarier. If your rights are violated with a smile, it’s okay? (Then again, I’m not sure if Australia has a fourth-amendment equivalent.)

    @edrebber: It would sure be a hell of a lawsuit. I’ve nearly been in it a few times, but so far every time my husband or I give the legal warning (“You have no legal right to detain me, but since you’re putting your hands on me, I have a legal right to defend myself. However, since I’m [insert dangerousness here], I have to warn you that my defending myself may result in bodily harm to you. This is your warning; you have five seconds to remove your hand before I defend myself. One. Two.”) …the employee always leaves off. Perhaps we keep running into the ones that are smart enough to realize they’re not getting paid enough to get beaten!

  216. mantari says:

    Wal-Mart sells Commercial Electric CFC bulbs. Just they don’t say commercial electric on the outer package. It is stamped on the bulbs.

  217. Kurt's Krap says:

    Not for notta, if there is no one in front of me, I’m not going to bother fighting the senior citizen or cop-wanna-be at the door. I’ll stop for the second or two it takes. Not worth the fight.

    BUT, if there is a line, NO F*CKING WAY am I waiting on for this. Ain’t happening.

  218. sleepydumbdude says:

    I don’t ever show my receipt in these stores. I only do it because I like being a jack ass to the employees. I love it in Walmart when I walk past the old people at the door and act as if I can’t hear them yelling at me. I’ve even been follow all the way to my car before while ignoring the guy who thinks he has any power to do anything.

  219. sp00nix says:

    This guy sounds like a complete stubborn jackass! He seems like the kind people avoid helping because he emits an asshole beacon.

  220. digitalgimpus says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): I’m guessing you’d say to Rosa Parks “just get out of the seat and stand for a few minutes”.

    @humphrmi: He likely ticketed a dozen that day, and likely only you got out of it. He still made a profit for city. That’s what counts.

  221. I generally avoid shopping there because of
    Too many items made in China, putting Americans out of jobs.
    Home Depot puts mom and pop stores out of business (which is very damaging to our economy).
    The store is disorganized, and the help is terrible.

    However, if you’ve shopped there once, you know they check receipts at the door. If you don’t like that policy, don’t go there.

    On the rare occasion I have to go to Home Depot (namely because the True Value I used to go to, closed shortly after Lowe’s opened up), I know they are going to check the receipt. It isn’t like they are going through your pockets or frisking you, or making you go through metal detectors on the way out.
    Keep in mind Home Depot also has self checkout, so I am sure corporate feels some need to make sure people aren’t just bagging and walking out with product.

  222. bdsakx says:

    @joemono: That’s not the same thing, way to twist my words.

  223. Hobart007 says:

    @ CMU_Bueller and all who say the store has a right to detain and search people without cause…

    If the government does not have that right then how can one state that private entities do? If not for the scale of the entity (Home Depot) this could be compared to a private citizen strip searching house guests as they leave to ensure that nothing was being stolen from the house. It is ridiculous.

    The bottom line is that just because people think it is stupid does not mean that there is no right to do something. I think many of the comments made criticizing the OP are pretty stupid but I would be just as worked up if you weren’t allowed your right (albeit to be stupid) to speak your mind.

    The 4th Amendment is a pretty important right and if Home Depot found something illegal in one of their illegal searches it would not be thrown out of court as it was not an illegal search by the government but rather information discovered and passed along by a private entity. I would personally rather not be searched by proxy for the government.

  224. mthrndr says:

    Sam’s Club does this. Is it illegal? I really wouldn’t care except that I have to stand there for 10 minutes waiting to show my receipt for my one rotisserie chicken why twenty people with flatbeds get “checked” in front of me. If it’s illegal, maybe I’ll just walk out.

  225. gte910h says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN): So if the cop told you to turn your t-shirt that said Vote Obama inside out because it would only take 5 minutes, that would be okay?

    That’s why they call them *rights*. It is *NOT* okay.


  226. edwu says:

    the quality of service at that home depot has declined rapidly since it opened a few years back … and they seem to be so concerned with the checking receipts while they have absolutely no concern about the day laborers hanging out in the parking lot all day (drinking, lounging in the landscaping, walking by your car as you trying to get out, etc…) … i just shop at the smaller local hardware stores where there is better service and they don’t treat you like a criminal

  227. ltlbbynthn says:

    @ClayS: No. They are not allowed to touch you. At least in DC and Md, if anyone in a store lays a hand on you it’s assault. Even if you are shoplifting.

  228. ProjectGSX says:

    Im glad to see more people fighting the “show your receipt” requirement. Its an illegal search plain and simple. Unless they have reason to believe you have committed a crime there should be no check.

    of course, the store will claim this is not to stop shoplifting but to make sure everything you purchased made it into your bag! How sweet of them.

    Thumbs up for the man standing up for his rights. And shame on those saying we should forfeit our rights for a little convenience.

  229. Bye says:

    @bdsakx: Go right ahead and blend in. And while you’re at it, RTFA.

    The poster states that his father had the receipt and had already left.

    Would you suggest stores pin the receipts to our shirts so we don’t forget on our way out that they assume all of their customers are guilty of theft until they walk out the door?

  230. humphrmi says:

    @mthrndr: As others have pointed out, when you joins Sams and Costco, you sign and agree to their membership contract, which includes verbage that allows them to check receipts.

    No such contract exists by default when you enter a non-membership big box store.

  231. sgodun says:

    FWIW, I stopped shopping at Home Depot about two years ago. Without exaggeration, they had perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the items I was looking for at any given time. The sales staff was mediocre at best, the shelves are always in disarray, and nearly every time I bought something I’d have to come back and return it

    True story: I once went in to buy a gallon of mixed paint. The only person available was an unsupervised 20-something year old man who was clearly autistic and had a “New Employee” badge on his vest. It took an hour and a half to get the paint, during which I made four attempts to engage a manager or other sales person to assist the poor guy (who clearly had no idea what he was doing). The punchline, of course, is that the paint I received was not the right color so I had to get ANOTHER gallon made. (This time I forced the issue; I went behind the counter and sat in front of the register until the paint was mixed.)

    I’ve since done my shopping at Lowes (much better, but not perfect) and my local Ace Hardware, the latter of which contains the most helpful and attentive salespeople I’ve ever met in any business.

  232. Gadgetgirl says:


    I wasn’t talking about a Home Depot, but rather giving examples of other stores (like Best Buy and Wal-Mart especially) where the person at the door waved me passed before I could whip out the receipt. And the person had the pen in hand to check.

  233. FilthyHarry says:

    Ya fuck that shit. If the alarm goes off when I exit the store I don’t stop. My thinking is: I didn’t steal anything. What? I lose my rights to privacy just because a machine beeps and red light flashes? Now I got to let some guy with a double digit IQ and a triple digit income root through my bags?

    As far as I know they got someone at a monitor in back, turning on the ‘alarm’ when someone ‘suspicious’ goes through.

    I have to wonder what kind of legal action this person can take against the police? Seems like wrongful arrest to me.

    Can I go up to a stranger and ask to see a receipt for the last thing they bought and then call the police if they don’t? What CRIME was committed when he didn’t show the receipt.

    I just keep walking and so far no one has hassled me.

  234. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


    However, if you’ve shopped there once, you know they check receipts at the door. If you don’t like that policy, don’t go there.

    I have a better idea. I’ll shop wherever I want to. If they have a policy I don’t like, I’ll ignore it. If they don’t like the fact that I won’t follow their policy, they may refuse to do business with me or ask me to leave. Because absent probable cause for a shoplifting detention, that is the only legal authority they have over me.

  235. davidc says:

    The *only* reason stores ask to see receipts at all is because of all the *sheep* that just comply. If the *sheep* would stand up for their rights and refuse to comply, the stores would stop doing this.

    So so all the *sheep* … just say no so that the rest of us stop being bothered.

    Outside of Costco, I ignore the *sheep* lines and walk right out of the store, but I do hold up my receipt as I exit. If they say something as I walk away, I simply reply “no thanks” :-)

  236. forever_knight says:

    don’t go to lowes or home depot if you want actual service. go there for cheapness and to be treated like you have the plague. same with most big box stores. once you’ve mastered this lesson, then you can move on with your life.

    TIP: small hardware stores are much better at helping you and having the usuals in stock.

  237. G-Dog says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN):

    Can I set up a camera in your bed room and bath room? If you have nothing to hide, why not?

  238. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:


    That is the stupidest statement in the world, “Let’s agree to disagree”

    Let’s get sick for our health.

    Let’s fight for peace.

    Let’s pray for atheism.

    Let’s agree to disagree.

    Let’s add to subtract.

    Let’s be stupid for intelligence.

  239. Dajiu says:

    For those who feel that the Bag / Receipt checks are OK, what if they changed it a little. What if they moved the Receipt check to the edge of the parking lot. The setup barriers at all of the exits of the lot and then stopped each car as it leaves and see if they will show their receipt. If they say “No”, should they then have the right to not only search you, but your car and anyone in it? I don’t think so. Should we be putting up with these types of things? You may want to, but I don’t. They have no rights to touch me, or my items unless they have probable cause. In most places they will not even approach you unless they have video evidence to go along with it because eye witness accounts can be easily faked or false.

    I am not a sheep, and will not follow their rules. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, ban me from their establishment.

    BTW: I’ve never been banned from anywhere.

  240. Mr. Gunn says:

    Buran: Feel free to surrender yourself, but don’t you dare complain about someone else not bending over.


  241. xoxor says:


    Possibly – but I see it as a starting point. Rather than grab someone and detain them, start gently by asking them for a receipt.

    The real crux of the issue is: Who is authority going to side with: The guy or the merchant/police.

    I think we both know that answer….

  242. erratapage says:

    Because I don’t shop at Home Depot if I can help it, I asked my husband who is a self-professed Home Depot addict about this thread. He verified that he has never been asked for his receipt at our local Home Depot. I can’t imagine being asked for my receipt at ANY local store (other than Costco). For that matter, I can’t remember EVER having to show a receipt in my 41 years, despite having traveled extensively.

    Yet, so many on this thread act as if it were a common event. I would be startled and offended. I would probably raise a holy stink while I was digging out the receipt. I would probably be banned from ever shopping there again which would be meaningless, because I don’t tend to go back to stores that make me raise holy stinks.

    And I would write letters to the manager and corporate office. And waste at least as much time on the issue as our Home Depot customer. I have better things to do. So don’t make me show my stinkin’ receipt!

  243. jack82 says:

    I am familiar with this Home Depot and it is horrendous. However, Matt was not illegally detained. The store requested to see his receit to make sure he wasn’t stealing something. When he refused, the store suspected he did steal something and asked the police to look into it. This is legal. The police can detain you briefly for any reason they see fit, whether you are walking down the street or in your car. It’s called a Terry Stop. And by the way, probable cause refers to searches of property, and it doesn’t really apply here.

    No, Matt was not legally required to show his receipt, but the officer can detain him if the store claims he was shoplifting. If he didn’t steal anything, the receipt would only serve to prove he didn’t.

    If Matt refuses to show his receipt and the store says he stole something, the officer can decide to arrest him.

  244. Dagonis says:

    People need to learn to pick their battles.

  245. jack82 says:

    I was a little off on the Terry stop. An officer must have “reason suspicion” to detain someone under this ruling. But if Home Depot emloyees say he stole and the officer believes them, that probably would satisfy the requirement.

  246. mpancha says:

    Although I disagree with you not showing your receipt when you were leaving the store (like it or not, the store has policies. If you have questions about those, you can ask a manager to explain, but wasting store associate’s time is what causes lack of personnel available to assist other customers. And this is one of those times where you should have been taught growing up to pick your battles… this is one that didn’t have to be picked.)

    …. that said… I commend your course of action to resolve your situation. Again, i don’t agree with the problem you are making the complaint about, I feel you are equally to blame for the issue that started all this… the receipt, but, you are going about handling your complaint in a very level headed way. Your letter is clear, outlines all of your complaints, gives good examples, overall it is very well composed.

  247. BugMeNot2 says:

    Seriously, you are a whining bitch and I’m sure the store is glad to get rid of you.

    It would be one thing if all that ever happened was they detained you. I would be pissed too.

    However, there is a whole list of times you complained to someone about something. Most people might return something occasionally, but you are on a mission to have everything done your way

    You are a whiny bitch. Deal with it. A whiny bitch.

  248. mpancha says:


    hmm… ‘lets agree to disagree’ is actual a pillar of society remaining peaceful. People will have differing views on things, and most times, each view is partially right, and partially wrong, but overall unimportant enough to where it is best to ‘agree to disagree’ to keep the peace.

    Its one of those things that makes sense when you get married, and do your best to stay married instead of taking the easy way out with divorce.

  249. aszure says:

    It amazes me how people think that checking a receipt is somehow an infringement on their rights. For starters…stores should ask for receipts…it helps stop theft. If you dont like it, then shop elsewhere. You are in THEIR store. If I thought someone was walking out of my house with my stuff, hell yes, I would do something to stop it.

    Also…read what the bill of rights actually is…its to prevent the govt from putting restraints and restrictions on the people.

    I worked in retail for 6 years, and most of the theft is internal, however, internal theft takes many more man hours to investigate and pursue. They have to try to curtail the theft somehow.

    For all the complainers…here’s a very simple suggestion….

    Keep your receipt in your hand until you get in your car. Think you can handle that?

  250. aszure says:

    @FilthyHarry: triple digit income in retail? What planet do you live on? Unless you mean $7.00 per hr.

  251. mpancha says:


    a bedroom/bathroom is an individual’s private propery, and we have laws governing illegal search/seizure.

    The store/receipt/purchase checking policies though do not fall under illegal search/seizure until you have left the premises. Until you have left the store’s property though, you are still under the realm of their rules.

  252. aszure says:

    @zippyglue: I am glad that you feel that refusing a receipt is somehow making you a better person than all of us. I bet when you’re not on the internet, you are the guy checking the receipt.

  253. chris.zeman says:

    Let me see…the store tries to protect its inventory by requesting to see proof of purchase before he walks out the door with merchandise. What did he have to lose by showing his receipt? He admits refusing to show his receipt, then later in his letter says that his father had the receipt and had left the immediate area. Which is it?

    This guy simply has a beef with Home Depot. I would too if I had received the type of service he claims to have received over an extended period of time, but I wouldn’t shop at that store anymore. I’d be willing to bet that the “grab” was nothing more than the guard getting his attention, but I can’t say for sure since I wasn’t there. My opinion…this guy was just looking for a battle, pure and simple.

  254. chris.zeman says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people will cry foul over something so petty as showing a receipt on the way out of a store and try to hide behind the 4th amendment. I wonder how many of the same people fall within the group that try to supress what other people say because it might offend somebody. They try to shut people up, rather than simply not listening or going elsewhere.

  255. Ezra Ekman says:

    Please forgive me if this post is duplicated; I experienced some kind of error when posting it the first time.

    For all of you sheep who don’t seem to value your rights:

    There are very simple, straightforward steps for establishing a solid base for probable cause. Failure to do so opens the store up to liability for false arrest (if a citizen’s arrest is performed), unlawful detainment/imprisonment, kidnapping (unlikely that this would stick), etc.

    1. A store employee must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise.
    2. A store employee must see the shoplifter select/pick up the merchandise.
    3. A store employee must see the shoplifter conceal, carry away or convert the merchandise.
    4. A store employee must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter.
    5. A store employee must see the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise.
    6. A store employee must wait for the shoplifter to leave the store before confronting them.

    It really is that simple. If those six steps are not followed, the suspect cannot be detained without risking liability. And if the suspect has not stolen any merchandise, *and* decides to press charges, the risk is realized. Please note that, while several states make exceptions to this (some allow for detainment of 10-15 minutes, I believe), most states DO NOT allow stores to detain individuals unless they have ACTUALLY broken a law. “I’m just checking your receipt” is not legitimate cause to detain. They MUST allow you to leave, or they are detaining you illegally, against your will. Time to call the cops.

    Now, I see your point. “Why do you care so much,” you might ask. Well, for a lot of reasons. First, I dislike the precedent. I don’t like the idea that just because I didn’t wear a tie that day or maybe I’ve got dirt on my jeans from a project, that someone will treat me differently. Second, I’m not being paid by whatever company decides to stop me to improve their security. I’ve got places to go and things to do. And quite frankly, by the time they’ve decided to stop me I’ve probably already been waiting in line for a while to check out, and a while longer because something wasn’t marked correctly. As Buran so eloquently put it: “Feel free to surrender your rights. But don’t you DARE bitch when someone else stands up for theirs.” You can be a sheep all you want. But us whiny bastards who make a stink are the only reason you HAVE rights like this, civil protections, and statutes preventing you from being taken advantage of.

    For those of you who keep complaining about this sort of behavior by stores:

    With the exception of specific cases (like this one, in which he was detained by the police), the appropriate reaction is very simple: as you approach the door and the security/store employee asks for your receipt, you simply say “No, thank you,” and keep walking. That’s it. Stop freaking out about how “horrible” these companies are for even asking. Yes, you have the right to say no. And similarly, they have the right to ask in the first place. Most people are sheep. They just go along with it without questioning why they are waiting in a second line after checkout to just get out of the store. If they would stop being sheep and refuse as well, eventually stores would stop asking because they would realize it doesn’t work. Until then, they will keep asking. And you can keep saying no. ‘Nuff said.

    It is rare (though not unheard of) for store personnel to follow you out complaining about it. I’ve had it happen at Best Buy once, and I just said “Look, you have the right to ask me for my receipt, and I have the right to say ‘No, thank you.’ Go ask that police officer if you have any further questions.” (Yes, apparently Best Buys in the SF Bay Area have police hanging out in the stores, augmenting security.) He walked inside and spoke excitedly to the police officer, who gave him a bored look and shook his head. That was the end of it. Yes, if someone actually DETAINS you, make a stink. It’s unlawful detainment, and it’s grounds for a civil lawsuit, if not criminal charges. You’re not a thief, and you’ve broken no law. Call 9-1-1 (if you don’t have anywhere to be) and make your point. But don’t expect them to allow you to come back if you do. You may not agree with the politics, but it *is* their store. Otherwise, JUST KEEP WALKING. Store policy doesn’t mean ANYTHING. They can claim it’s store policy to strip-search you and chop off your hands if you steal something. Does that mean they actually can? Of course not! The only stores that have ANY legal right to search your bags, check your receipt, etc. are membership-based stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco. You’ve signed a contract with them that allows them to do so. Setting aside the fact that some rights can’t actually be signed away, you’ve agreed to allow them to check your receipt, search your bag, or whatever else they put in the contract. If you refuse, they could (potentially) sue you for breach of contract. I doubt they would; they’d just warn you not to do it again, or perhaps cancel your membership. (Probably resulting in a refund of membership fees.) But other than those specific circumstances, NO store has a right to detain or search you, or your property (including your documents, such as your receipt), unless your state has granted them specific rights to do so.

    Now, this particular case is of course the exception to the rule, altogether. If that store told the officer you shoplifted, the officer was well within his rights to detain you. Of course, you could always have asked him the standard questions: “Am I under arrest? Am I being detained? Am I free to go?” If the answer is yes to the first, ask for what charge. If yes to the second, ask under what grounds. If no to both of the first, the officer MUST say yes to the third, or one of the first two answers weren’t correct. Either you’re under arrest/being detained, or you’re free to go. If you’re free to go, GO. If the store did NOT tell the officer that you shoplifted, you are not being accused of a crime. Unless you’re under arrest for a crime or being detained as a suspect of a crime, you cannot be detained by the police. (Legally, anyway.) “We think he might have, but aren’t willing to say he did” is NOT (so far as I am aware, though the current political climate may have changed this) enough for an officer to legally detain you. Either the store commits to this action and says you did, or the officer has to let you go.

    If the store DID accuse you of shoplifting, the burden of proof is on them. That’s where the six steps come in. Now, assuming that you didn’t actually walk out the door with something that you didn’t pay for (intentionally or not), they have NOTHING to support their claims, and they are liable. Sue their pants off. They’ll likely settle (particularly if they’re a large chain) because they know they have no legal backing for their claims. Document, document, document, and get yourself a lawyer. They know the law. You don’t. Guessing wildly at the right way to handle things may end up losing your case. Do it right, or give it up.

    That’s really all there is to it.

    – Ezra –

  256. kgarr says:

    I read through most of the comments, and maybe I missed something, but…

    I don’t see enough information here to come to a conclusion. Information on the event is sparse and seemingly contradicting.

    Did he have the receipt or did his father? Did he show it or not? Was he physically detained or briefly questioned?

    I am also wondering if requiring to show a receipt is unlawful. We have rights, but so does Home Depot. As much as some of us would like to think they don’t, they still have a right to protect their business. Personally, I don’t see how it is any different than the rights we waive, upon entering the store, when they use security cameras or ask for ID when we write a check. If anyone has some information I would like to see it.

    I don’t know if he was unlawfully detained because I don’t know the details of the detainment. If it is legal to require a receipt check, and a customer refuses, I see that as probable cause and see no reason why an officer who happen to be there can’t question the customer.

    But receipt checks are everywhere, and if they are in fact illegal, shouldn’t we be organizing to have this law enforced across the board, and not using it as a chance to complain about broken saws or CPVC elbow stock?

  257. sleepycoder says:

    By making a purchase, you are entering into an agreement to follow the store’s policies. The store can ask for you to show proof that you purchased your item, but it also obligates the store to honor any returns or warranties that it has published under its policy. Having said that, the store has no authority to detain anybody. At most they can refuse your business in the future and refuse to honor any returns or warranty service, since *you* broke the policy agreement. Simply put, if you don’t agree with the policy, just don’t shop there. You’ll be happier, they’ll be happier, and you won’t have to depend upon a cop’s faulty understanding of the law to go on with your life.

  258. moviemoron says:

    Ummm, people seemto be forgetting that we have rights. For those people that say”Go ahead and show them the receipt”, well, tell me where you live so I can go and search your house for drugs. Because after all, if you aren’t doing anything illegal, you should have no problem with that. Or, how about if I search your wife’s purse for a gun? If she objects, I can have her arrested because again, if she has nothing to hide, then she should let me search her and her person.
    So, I await, your addresses. Please post them here.
    But, I bet you won’t post it.

  259. amccoll says:

    I don’t see the big deal…if they wanted to do a full body cavity search then yes, but they just want to see a silly piece of paper. I don’t understand how this is being horribly intrusive on your rights!

  260. digitalshay says:

    sometimes my hands are full and the receipt is in my pockets, and i dont feel like putting all the shit in my hands down on the ground to scrounge for a reciept to prove that i just paid for something, nor am i legally required to do so.

  261. thalia says:

    If it’s policy to show your receipt at the door, then show the damn receipt. Costco does it all the time, they just look at it and mark it with a green highlighter. You don’t even have to stop if you’re walking slow enough.

    And who is going to take this letter seriously when he starts out saying, “I PROBABLY won’t come back to your store, I MIGHT go a few miles out instead, I don’t want to be detained in the future from you guys”. WTF?

  262. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:


    I don’t understand how this is being horribly intrusive on your rights!

    It’s not a violation of your rights or privacy if they ask to see your receipt. It is, however, a violation of etiquette and common courtesy. Absent a criminal investigation, I’m under no obligation to to justify or prove ownership for MY property to anyone, no matter how trivial or inconsequential such request may be.

    Simply put, it’s rude. And the appropriate answer to a rude personal request is to ignore it, or to respond with a simple and polite “No you may not.”

    The reason so many people discuss the receipt check issue with talk of privacy and rights is because over the past few years, the practice has become so widespread and so commonplace that many people, including door “guards” and LP employees, are starting to think that they actually have a RIGHT to see your receipt. The more people continue to meekly submit to this “minor” inconvenience, the more those seven dollar an hour blueshirts think that they actually have the authority to force you to produce it. This has led to a growing number of incidents of people being accosted, detained, verbally abused, forcibly restrained, and even assaulted by under trained or overzealous store employees.

    And those are a violation of your rights.

    And until people start standing up and saying NO, the worse it will get.

  263. whitjm5 says:

    Consumerist commenters: making the consumer the bad guy in the first two posts.

  264. PancakeBreakfast says:

    It’s not really a corporate Home Depot problem that the service at that store is crappy, it’s really just a function of being in D.C. I’ve never experience such poor service and lack of goods anywhere until moving to the District two years ago. My girlfriend asked an employee if they had mint during a trip to the local grocery store. The employee’s response: “You mean like gum?” Um, no.

  265. skoochie says:

    For those of you ragging on Matt for continuing to shop at Home Depot, thanks to the crappiness that is DC, the closest Lowe’s is a good 40 minutes away from that Home Depot.

  266. goller321 says:

    @bkpatt: You’re a fucking moron. HD has ZERO right to detain anyone without legal cause. It has been proven TIME and AGAIN that stores have a right to ASK for a receipt, but absolutely ZERO right to require one. Even Costco and Sam’s can’t force you to show your receipt… only expel you from their “club.” Maybe you ought do some research before you open that big, fat, stupid mouth or your (metaphorically speaking that is…)

  267. dantsea says:

    I see all the sheep have come out to bleat in support of Home Depot.

  268. nak1986 says:

    I don’t know if its been said because I got tired of reading in circles but heres my two cents.

    First off I think the “shrink is not my problem” comments are just selfish. If the company incurs shrink they compensate for it by RAISING prices, while lowering wages of the employees who are just trying to make a living, everyone looses. So you pay either way (I prefer in time) Which is my next point, the reason most of the shrink is internal in retail is because its harder to detect. By checking receipts on sco transactions and when the merchandise protection systems go off it acts as a deterent to shoplifters. Thus reducing externally caused shrink, keeping prices down and employees happy and more willing to help.

    Bottom line give the poor employee that is probably making 10-25k a break and stop for a few seconds so they can check your receipt and not feel ignored/disrespected. As someone who is working retail and can’t wait to get out of it I can say that things like this when people abuse employees is probably the root cause of all poor customer service.

  269. dantsea says:

    @pibbsman0 said “If you’re not a criminal you have nothing to hide. “

    If I have nothing to hide, then why would I accept the default assumption that I’ve done something criminal?

  270. goller321 says:

    @bkpatt: Again, since I have yet to see the other post, and because after rereading you post, I realize how much MORE of an idiot youare…)
    irst, entering and exiting a store are completely different. They can have what ever rules they want for entering, they cannot have ANY rules for exiting…. He moron, it’s called illegal detainment. By your theory, if you enter my house I can forbid you to leave before paying a “exiting” fine, or you don’t get out. The law is VERY straight forward…. once you pay for something IT IS YOURS! No one can say different. You are allowed to leave the premises at will. The store could bar you from re-entering in the future, but they NEVER have aright to control when you leave….

    Also, it has been found time and again that refusal to allow a search CANNOT be grounds for suspicion of wrong doing. No if, and, or buts! If a cop pulls me over and tells me to open my truck, and I say no, they have no right to open it, unless there are other factors introduced, like say blood leaking out of the truck…

    Get a life bone head… or maybe you’re just a troll…

  271. goller321 says:

    @m4nea: Go blow yourself. You want to show yours, go ahead. But the rest of us aren’t legally required to, nor do we plan on it… Jerk-off!

  272. zippyglue says:

    @aszure: What makes you think that because I purchase an item at a store, which after the point I have purchased it becomes MY item, I can be required to prove that it is my item? Like you go into a store and they have every right to do anything they want to you as long as you are on their property. If that were the case their would not be laws in place in every state that dictate how a shoplifter can be detained by a retailer. The idea that you are subject to whatever thing they want to do to you is ludicrous. — Here’s the bottom line, if they want to have security, then do it properly. Watch me on one of those cameras, make sure I purchase my items. Done. This check the receipt crap is just a cheap way for the stores to do security legally — period.

  273. zippyglue says:

    @aszure: Making me a better person that all of us?? Have you bothered to read the majority of the comments here? I don’t care if they check your receipt. You can show them your underware for all I care. The point is that they have no right to do it and I will not allow it. Why does it bother you that I don’t want to do things that I don’t have to do? You think I’m the receipt checker? Nice comment obviously designed to get a rise out of me. Sure sign of ingnorance is to insult the person making the arguement rather than citing the facts.

  274. Nissan says:

    I live in Australia and I mentioned in my previous comments that our local major hardware store requires one to show their receipt at the exit door!

    I should also have mentioned that the same lady who quickly “eyes” your receipt and purchases at the exit is also a ‘meet and greet’ lady.

    That is, she smiles at you as you enter the store and wishes you a happy day as you head for the aisles.

    When you exit you have already “met” her and there is no sense of ‘obligation’, rather an understanding that she is doing her job, that she is doing it courteously and with a smile and there is no sense of intrusion of the customer’s rights, whatever they may be!

  275. ohgoodness says:

    @CMU_Bueller: No, Holme Depot is not the government. But a uniformed police officer is. The one working for Home Depot.

    You’re an idiot. Let’s blame the customer.

  276. Viajero says:

    Matt, thanks for making the effort in the two well-crafted messages to the Home Depot CEO. Even if you hadn’t succeeded (and you did succeed in a big way for every Home Depot consumer), you did your part.

    The reply by the CEO [tinyurl.com] makes me feel way better about shopping at Home Depot, where I’ve had a few similar experiences to the ones you recount.

  277. DeeHaney says:

    “Since purchasing my home in March 2007, I’ve spent nearly $10,000 on various projects around my home;”
    – no point reading further than that. Having done my time in retail, that is one of two regular phrases for asshole customers looking to bleed the system for whatever they can. The other is “I have $10,000 of stock in this company…”

  278. dequeued says:

    I really don’t understand why people are bitching about this guy standing up for his rights.

    What is it that annoys you so much?

    Is it because his actions make you realize that you’re too cowardly to do the same? So you have to brand him as a jackass?

  279. thisisjacked says:

    Yes, if you’re in a store and someone wants to see a receipt, show it to them. It’s common courtesy to respect the rules of the area you are in, whether you like it or not. If the store is as shabby as claimed, I highly doubt the receipt checker is actually going to go item-for-item down the list and see that you’re not bilking the store of something. Instead he’ll highlight a line down the center of it and send you on your way.

  280. Buran says:

    @Nissan: Australian law may not be the same as ours. What is the closest equivalent do you have to our law barring unreasonable search and seizure?

  281. spamtasticus says:

    I do this all the time but have never been “detained” I never show home depot the receipt or at Costco. I’m sure I will end up in a similar cituation eventually. For those who said “just show the receipt” you are missing the point. Yes it seems like a small inconvenience but if we continue to allow ourselves to be treated this way then we deserve it.

  282. Nissan says:

    Buran- you may well be perplexed (probably horrified) to learn that in Australia we do not have the protection of a Bill Of Rights!

    This extract sums it up:-

    “Even though Australia has signed all five international treaties that make up the International Bill of Human Rights, none of these treaties are legally binding in Australia. Nor is there is a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution. This means that the fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone living in Australia are not protected by the law”.

    Ouch!! I can almost hear you say! ” no wonder that mob down there so docilely present their receipts at the check out!”

    ….and why we do not have the enshrined right to bear arms as you do under the Second Amendment!

    However, all is not lost, as we do have the protection of Common Law ( which as the name suggests came to us from our British heritage)

    This principle may be summarised as ” the body of law based on judicial systems and custom as distinct from statute law and is bound up in a set of precedents.

    The key word in the context of our discussion is ” custom”

    Thus it has been established under Common Law that a person may not be unreasonbly detained ( and certainly not unreasonably seized).

    Citizens arrests fall under this category as does wrongful arrest. Any one making a citizen’s arrest would need to be sure of their grounds if they were to avoid subsequent litigation!

    By coincidence, I was at a different Hardware Chain store the other day when there was quite a kerfuffle going on just outside the store, which illustrates my point here!

    A customer was quite volubly expressing his dis-satisfaction at a turn of events which saw store management detain him, then hand him over to police for questioning. I asked the attendant what was going on and was informed that a store detective had observed the customer stuff an item up his shirt then walk out of the store!

    I appreciate that this incident is quite different to the one germane to this argument, but it illustrates an example of when a receipt would need to be produced to establish one’s innocence or otherwise!

    As another example I was shopping recently at a Woolworths grocery store, when an announcement came over the store central speaker system to the effect that in future all parcelled items not purchased at the store ( ie brought into the store)would be searched. I noticed a similar sign at each checkout!

    The store has let the customers know it will be enforcing it’s common law rights!

    This somewhat lengthy discourse may well raise as many questions as it provides answers. There are always grey areas in situations like this! After all who defines ” unreasonable”

    To the detainer their action is reasonable. To the detainee it is most certainly unreasonble!

    I’m a mere layman and do not profess to have anything but a passing knowledge of our law. If I’m challenged at a checkout I go weak at the knees and cough up my receipt every time!

  283. Nissan says:

    I have just come across this article on the Net which makes for interesting reading:-

    Man is arrested after refusing to show his receipt at Circuit City

    A guy named Michael Righi was arrested after shopping at a Circuit City in Brooklyn, Ohio. His crime stemmed from making two separate purchases while in Circuit City and upon leaving, refused to allow the Circuit City loss prevention employee to search his bags or look at his two receipts. When he left the store and got into his father’s car, the Circuit City employee followed him and would not allow the car to leave.

    Righi asked the Circuit City loss prevention employee if he was being accused of shoplifting. He was told that he was not, but that he would not allow him to leave the parking lot until Righi produced the receipts and allowed him to search his bags.

    Righi refused and since the Circuit City employee was physically blocking him from leaving, Righi called the police.

    When the police arrived, they told Righi that Circuit City had the “right” to inspect receipts and bags of customers leaving their store. They don’t have this right. The police then demanded to see Righi’s drivers license. He refused. He was not driving a motor vehicle. The officer had no right to ask him for his license to drive a motor vehicle. The police reacted to this refusal by placing him under arrest.

    After taking Righi into the police station, they realized they had no business demanding that a person who was not driving a motor vehicle to produce a license to drive a motor vehicle. It would be like stopping a car and asking the driver to produce a fishing license. Not having anything to actually charge Righi with, the police found something vague enough to satisfy a reason for the arrest.

    ORD:525.07: Obstructing Official Business (M-2)
    (a) No person, without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within the public official’s official capacity shall do any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of the public official’s lawful duties.

    Righi was able to pay the bail ($300) and he was released. His trial will be September 20. He will undoubtedly beat the charge, but he shouldn’t have to. Righi did the right thing in not showing the Circuit City employee his receipts and not allowing him to search his bags. Righi did the right thing in refusing to show the police officer his drivers license.

    That doesn’t mean I would have done the same thing. I wish I could say that I would, but I know how I would have responded. I made a vow to myself a long time ago to never be placed under arrest in the United States. Other countries don’t count.

    Its important to point out that at no time did anyone from Circuit City accuse Michael Righi of shoplifting. If they had, they could have legally demanded to see his receipts and to search his bags. They had no reason to suspect him of shoplifting.

    The reason stores do this type of thing is because they don’t trust their own employees. They lose more money every year to their own employees stealing then they do to shoplifters. Employees have their friends come in and purchase things and they covertly place items in their bags without scanning them into the register. If stores like Circuit City want to stop employee theft, they should hire better employees. They shouldn’t coerce their customers into producing a receipt or consenting to having their property searched.

    Its degrading and annoying.

  284. neuromonkey says:

    I’m used to poor customer service, open & incomplete items, and bad stock-keeping practices, but if a a store employee ever lays hands on me accusing me of theft, I will respond in kind. I have no problem with a 3-5 second door check, but if I were grabbed, it would be a completely different situation.

    > So what’s real reason for checking receipts?

    The idea is that having visible and audible “security” measures in place will dissuade shoplifters from targeting their store.

  285. iamacyborg says:


    Shit – that’s a great way to skirt the whole “domestic spying” mess … Just request that every American citizen agree to a “voluntary” wiretap – refusal being conclusive enough evidence for a warrent anyways; as nobody in their right might would refuse a simple wiretap unless they had something to hide.

    I sure hope for the sake of your coworkers that this isn’t the same brain you use for your coding.

  286. Badjeebus says:

    @Balance_In_Life (PSN):

    Uhm… according to the official complaint he lodged with the PD, he *did* show his receipt. It just wasn’t in the correct manner for the guard or something apparently.

    OH yeah… and btw, someone has been bothering my sister online and their handle is similar to yours. Give me a record of all your online activities for the past year so I can confirm it’s not you.

    You have nothing to hide, right?

  287. Badjeebus says:

    Now that I think about it, I wonder how those ‘just show it’ folks would react if their favourite neighbourhood diner asked them to prove they paid their bill before they left the restaurant….