Wal-Mart Reports You To The Police For Not Allowing Them To Check Your Receipt

The epic conflict between shoppers and receipt checkers continues! Reader Michael was unwilling to wait in line to have his cart searched, prompting Wal-Mart to threaten to file a police report as they wrote down his license place…

So, my wife & I stopped in at Wal-Mart to get a few things. I didn’t have long before I had to be at work, but we had enough time to do our shopping. So we get what we need, pay at one of their express lanes, and then went to leave the store. It’s at about this point that we notice a line of several carts waiting for the people greeter to search through their bags and check their receipts.

Since I didn’t have a lot of time to waste, I simply went around the line and started out the door. At this point the people greeter told me I had to stop and allow her to go through everything I just purchased. I politely told her that she did not in fact need to search my property, and that they lost any right to go through the items in my cart when I paid for them. I proceeded to walk out of the store.

While I was transferring everything from the cart into the car, several Wal-Mart asset protection employees approached me, and asked to see my receipt. I told them no, at which point they stated that the merchandise was stolen. I told them I paid for everything, but did not have any more time to waste with them. I started to back out of the parking spot, when one of them tried to walk behind my car, I told him to move out of the way, that I didn’t want to hit him. He said he was getting the license plate, so I waited a few seconds for him to write it down, then proceeded to back up. Another one of their employees called the local police department. I also called to give them my contact information, and let them know what happened.

Then I called the store manager to make a complaint about the way I was treated. He stated that they had just started a policy to check receipts for any unbagged items. I explained that they were going through every bag in every customer’s cart, and that the delay this created was unacceptable. He said he had not heard anything from his staff, but he would follow up with them to find out what was going on. I gave him my name and phone number, and he said he would follow up with me. I have not heard anything yet.

About thirty minutes later my wife received a call from an officer of the local police department. He asked for our side of things, and then said he would smooth things over. While I understand that most people would just show the receipt and let them poke through your things, there really is no reason to do so. If you were any where else, and someone accused you of being a thief, and then asked you to let them search through your things to prove your not, would you allow it? I wouldn’t, in fact my reaction would be to leave, quickly. Thats what I did in this case, and thats what I plan to do in the future. If enough people were willing to stand up for their rights, this would stop happening.

Other readers have had luck referring their complaints about overzealous receipt checking to the executives at Wal-Mart. Here’s some instructions on how to craft an EECB to lauch on Wal-Mart, as well as some contact information.
(Photo: Jeff Holbrook )


Edit Your Comment

  1. SuffolkHouse says:

    I have one sack I always invite the receipt checker to look at. They always tell me to just go ahead and leave.

  2. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    I always wished I had the guts to say “sure you can check my bags, but only on the condition that if you don’t find anything I can kick you in the nuts”.

  3. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Our Walmarts never check anything.

  4. VicMatson says:

    We have a giant Walmart in my neighborhood that doesn’t make you show ID to use a credit card and they don’t ask for receipts at the door!

    That may have just changed, and if it has maybe they have been hammered into submission!

  5. Crymson_77 says:

    I had a “greeter” at a Walmart in Rockport, TX attempt to pull this with me. They were going through the cart of the people in front of me and I simply didn’t have time to wait (my fault, took the car with me and it had the diapers AND formula in it :( ) She attempted to stop me and I simply said no thanks. My brother in law stopped and showed her the receipt even though I was already in the parking lot and on my way to my car. When he caught up I advised him that we need not show them a thing and that I don’t particularly appreciate being accused of theft for shopping there…his response? “Oh, that makes sense…”

  6. arsbadmojo says:

    I don’t show my receipts, ever.

    Then again, I don’t go to Wal*Mart either, so this doesn’t really impact me.

  7. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    This happens to me all the time at Best Buy. They even check bags and sticker them as you enter.

  8. kaptainkk says:

    I never stop at the cavity checks after paying for an item. even if there is no one waiting in line. My 8 year old son was shocked when we bought something and walked past the cavity checker at Fry’s. He said dad you didn’t stop and let them check the bag. I smiled and told him we didn’t have to stop, we paid for the item and we are free to leave. If you give your rights for the sake of convenience, what’s next? Stand up people!

  9. geeky_reader says:

    I show my receipt and let them check my bags when that beepy thing goes off at the door. Otherwise, I’d get miffed if they approached me for no reason.

  10. mike says:

    I would have told them I was filing charges of criminal harrassment if they kept asking me for a receipt.

    I agree with a person’s right not to show a receipt. But I also understand a store’s need to prevent shop-lifting.

    This, again, shows that stopping law-abiding citizens does *NOT* solve crime. The criminals are walking out the door without purchasing anything, with $50 worth of merchandise in their purse/bag/etc.

  11. amyschiff says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: Best buy doesn’t usually hassle me too much, but it’s normally because I’m walking out with something small. They tend to stop the people who are walking in or out with bigger things like TVs.

  12. algormortis says:

    i’m just happy the police basically were telling wal-mart to calm down.

    the best buy i shop at has good, hands-off-the-innocents loss prevention. it is an exception and not the rule because all their other stores in the seattle area are awful and yet this one’s fine. heck, the LP guy is friendly and doesn’t bumrush me for my receipt. amazing.

  13. PyroBor says:

    On Saturday I was shopping in the Ridgcrest, CA walmart (#1600). Greeter at the garden center asked to see my reciept. This was a first time I’ve been asked that at that Wal-Mart, so I figured it was a new policy. For what’s it’s worth, I bought some sandpaper and a case of Yoo-Hoo.

    I came prepared and told her “No Thanks.” and gave her this note. It’s the first time I’ve actually had to use it…

    “”To the General Manager:

    I have handed this paper to your security employee who has requested to see my receipt following a purchase, a request I politely refused. I recognize that this employee is doing the job you have assigned, and this should not be seen as an indication that this person has done anything but a fine job.

    However, I am insulted by your practice of treating every customer as a potential thief. Note that this lack of goodwill results not only in my future choice of other, more customer-oriented stores over your own, it also results in significant negative word-of-mouth advertising regarding my shopping experience. Consider that you will have to spend substantial amounts of revenue in advertising for new customers with each customer you lose to this charade.

    I sincerely hope you will reconsider your policy of checking receipts at the door. I recognize that shoplifting and other forms of loss are a challenge to retail establishments, and I encourage you to take measures-including increasing the number and training of sales associates-to reduce loss. Insulting your customers is the wrong approach.””

    Tha back of the note says– “I DIDN’T STEAL ANYTHING. (Thanks for asking.)”

    She just gave a deer-in-the-headlights dumbfounded look and I just walked out, with no comfrontation.

    You can get a PDF of the note here-> [alex.halavais.net]

    It worked for me, but YMMV.

  14. If these stores were genuinely concerned about theft, they’d create more of a “corral” system at the front (instead of that massive clusterf*ck that defines the front of every Walmart).

    But instead they allow random shoppers to wander everywhere, creating this weird system where everyone is guitly until proven innocent.

  15. Jubilance22 says:

    How stupid.

    While Wal-Mart employees are going through every bag and checking it against the receipt, thieves are probably walking out the door with tons of items in their purse/bag/pockets. How exactly does this prevent theft? I doubt a thief is gonna stick around and let them check their bags.

  16. theblackdog says:

    Obligatory “OMG why do you shop at Wal-Mart?!” comment.

  17. AMetamorphosis says:

    Mistake # 1: Shopping @ Walmart

    Mistake # 2: See # 1

    Sheeple who put up with this nonsense get exactly what they deserve. Walmart is a horrible company with a rotten track record of human rights abuses.


  18. latemodel says:

    The average urban WalMart loses over a million per year to shrinkage.

  19. forgottenpassword says:

    I LOVE these reciept check stories!

    IMO… its insane to check thru everyones’ bags whilst comparing to the reciept when they are leaving the store. And expecting any customers to wait in line whilst it happens is BS as well.

  20. Jayski says:

    I upset the Checker yesterday as i left our WalMart.
    I RARELY shop there, but figured they would be the best bet to have a small kiddie pool for my 3 year old to splash in. Since it has been 90 plus each day, most other stores were sold out. It was the ONLY thing I purchased, I had my receipt in hand. as I was heading to the door, the line must have been 6 deep of carts to be checked. I went around and walked out the door. Another woman did the same.. I could hear the lady yelling… I just kept on walking.
    They can call the police all they want.. You didn’t commit any crime for walking out the door. and they can’t detain you for any reason unless they have seen you conceal merchandise from the moment you stashed it completely through the time you walked out the door.
    Aside form the Sam’s club and Costco Agreements, I am not going to stop. It’s just plain silly.

  21. Gokuhouse says:

    Ok people, seriously……You can’t allow them to accuse you of stealing if their alarm doesn’t go off. That’s the only time I stop. How would anyone of my friends feel if I checked them as they left my home after poker? They would hate me, as most people hate the receipt checkers. If you don’t like something, change it.

  22. Kevino says:

    From their own employees probably. Do you know what they pay there?

  23. Bye says:

    @PyroBor: That is wonderful. Thanks for sharing the link.

    @latemodel: Perhaps they should start paying their employees better so they don’t feel like they need to steal stuff.

  24. mike says:

    @Jubilance22: It’s call “Security Theatre”. The look of security is sometimes better than actual security.

    Read: TSA, Walmart Security.

  25. SkokieGuy says:

    @PyroBor: I love you!

    Non confrontation, but makes your point.

    It’s unusual enough that it is likely to be passed on to a supervisor, where as hostility will just be ignored, (that customer was such a jerk!), which in the minds of many workers, justifies the treatment consumers receive.

    I applaud what you’ve done and I think that hundreds of these letters flooding each Walmart week after week might have an impact.

    Did you consider sending a letter with a note to your local TV consumer reporter? You should!

  26. It makes more sense to checked BAGGED merch instead of unbagged. You have more to hide w/bagged merch.

  27. I walked out of wal-mart a few weeks ago when they asked for my receipt. I kind of felt bad giving the girl a hard time, it probably wasn’t her fault. I told her she would have to have the police check my reciept. She started yelling “Sir wait, you have to show me your reciept”. I kept walking. No one came out after me, but I kind of wish some one tried to detain me so I could call the police on them.

  28. Shaftoe says:


    28.9% of all statistics are made up.

    What facts do you base that on?

  29. @PyroBor: Just printed it out. I think the only improvement could be having a dollar bill on one side w a X through it to show the money they might lose.

    Any chance they have one for each state which lists the relevant statute about shoplifting and searching? Just to clear up any doubts for the store employees and/or the Police if called?

  30. chenry says:

    The Best Buy I go to usually checks receipts, but all they’re doing is making sure you actually have a receipt. They never look in bags or anything else.

  31. chrisexv6 says:

    I dont know if maybe its how I do it, but I rarely get stopped to check my carts (in fact, only in Costco, where we’ve agreed to such checks).

    When Im leaving a place like Walmart, Target, etc, I have usually finished putting my wallet back in my pocket. I have the receipt in my hand so I dont lose it……I leave the receipt in plain view in my hand as Im walking out, and rarely do I get stopped for “cart check”. Maybe they figure anyone holding out a receipt isnt stealing anything? Considering Im not a thief, Ill run with that theory until completely proven otherwise.

  32. PyroBor says:

    @SkokieGuy: Local TV station? The said Wal-Mart is 30 miles from me, and there isn’t even cell service in my town (signal is 30 miles away). Our “local” TV is the L.A. channels… But I agree, we need to flood all the B&M stores that do this. But of course Costo, Sam’s Club and other memberships stores, it’s part of your signed contract membership to show reciept..

  33. Invalid_User_Name says:

    I so very much hate to side with any store that performs this deplorable tactic, but in California there is something called merchants’ rights, or merchants’ exception, that does allow them to hold you even though they are not law enforcement. I think it also extends to the Nazi-receipt-and-bag-check tactic many stores seem to love. And customers consent to it by shopping there.

    Anyone know a little more about this?

  34. @SkokieGuy: @PyroBor: Since few stores check for receipts, and you know when you’ll be headed to one, I wonder if they could make store specific ones which have a generic “Wal-Mart” or “Best Buy” receipt on the reverse, with “I didn’t steal anything” overlaid, or as items listed on the receipt…

  35. Chese says:

    @Gokuhouse: They can’t even accuse you of stealing even if the alarm goes off! The standards are very high to detain someone for shoplifting. You can very easily keep walking if the alarm goes off.

  36. bohemian says:

    Walmart needs to establish an different entry and exit system and not leave merchandise anywhere past the registers and said exit. Then the register attendants can monitor what is going into bags. Post register there should not be an opportunity to pilfer anything else. Anyone who didn’t buy anything can exit via a different door.

    Or everyone could just cease shopping anywhere that does this stupid crap.

  37. PyroBor says:

    @Git Em SteveDave’s G3 hearts a certain MBP: I’ve been looking for relevant code here in California. On the california.gov website, you can search for every specific code and law and such, but I haven’t found anything relevant yet. I’m sure other states have an easy way to look of law codes as well.

  38. Uriel says:

    good for you my friend. I applaud you. It’s good to be informed of your rights. That officer knew they had nothing on you. He knew that he himself couldn’t search without evidence you had stolen anything, or probable cause, let alone, some “wal-mart bagger”.

  39. jpx72x says:

    I assume that the guy complaining knew that they checked receipts before he shopped there. Anyone who is savvy enough to post their experience on the consumerist knows that Wal-Mart checks them. If you have a problem with it, don’t shop there. Jeebus, it’s that simple.

    /And, preemptively, let’s not travel down the stupid slippery slope of “Well, if we’re ok with this, they’ll want to strip search us next!” No, it’s not the same thing. Not by a long shot. And, no, a minor encroachment on your privacy doesn’t imply the much more serious encroachment of a cavity search.
    //Bad consumer.

  40. Carl3000 says:

    I never had any trouble just walking past those guys. It’s really weird because they’re almost always trained to be non-confrontational and “just let it go” so as to avoid injuries and lawsuits that follow. Like standing behind the bumper of a suspected theif? That moron was lucky you weren’t a real thief on probation or something or his ass would be flattened.

  41. hi says:

    I wonder how much it would cost to hire some security to come with me when I go shopping. That way when they say ‘we’re gonna call the cops,’ I can say ‘their already here and they’ve been watching me shop the whole time’.

  42. Jabberkaty says:

    This is why I don’t shop at Sam’s Club – they haven’t started at our local Wally World (that I know of – very rarely do we shop there either). There’s nothing like paying a membership fee to be treated like a thief.

    I’d love to explain it to the cops, then the cop could explain to the manager that unless they see you actually stealing or attempting to leave the store without paying there’s no PC for search.

  43. battra92 says:

    Wal*Mart is usually ok with this thing, but it’s annoying as HELL at Worst Buy and BJs. There is no way they can check all your items but they have to sign or punch your damn receipt five friggen feet from the door!

  44. ChChChacos says:

    It’s Monday, so I know we’re all asleep..

    TYPO.. License place? Did you mean license plate?

  45. EBounding says:

    I heard if you don’t look them in the eyes the checkers can’t say anything to you…

  46. ElizabethD says:

    I’m trying to imagine shopping at, say, the Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn or even Macy’s at our local mall, and having a “greeter” at the exit stop me to search my bag of purchases. NEVER happen.

    Yes, I realize this is an apples/oranges comparison. But still, I find WalMart’s chutzpah appalling.

  47. krom says:

    What flatly amazes me is that, despite the fact that at least one story showing how anti-consumer WalMart is runs in Cist each week, they continue to receive emails from “readers” who… recently shopped at WalMart.

    Just how much good is Cist doing if its readers don’t heed a single of its many many warnings?

    DONT SHOP WALMART. You will be much happier in many ways.

  48. armishanks says:

    Just a note that the wholesale shopping clubs (Sam’s, Costco) reserve the right to check your cart and receipt as part of the contract you sign with them.

  49. ringo00 says:

    Given that I have the advantage of being 6’4″ and 280 lbs, and that the door checkers are invariably small, elderly women; I just keep walking out the door. What are they going to do, jump me? F— them and their dried out high-lighters.

  50. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Invalid_User_Name: in California there is something called merchants’ rights, or merchants’ exception, that does allow them to hold you even though they are not law enforcement.

    Every state is different, but most have a similar “Shopkeepers privilege” that allows them to detain you (for a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner), but only if they can show the legal standard of at least reasonable suspicion, and in some states they need actual probable cause.

    Refusing to show your receipt does not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion. If you set off the electronic buzzer, this MAY constitute reasonable suspicion (again, it varies by state)

    I think it also extends to the Nazi-receipt-and-bag-check tactic many stores seem to love.

    No, it does not. If a retailer has reasonable suspicion to believe I have shoplifted, he may detain me in accordance with state laws. Otherwise he has no authority over me except to ask me to leave his store. None.

    And customers consent to it by shopping there.

    no, they don’t. And even if they did, consent can be revoked at any time. Even as you’re walking out the door

    Anyone know a little more about this?

  51. MercuryPDX says:

    @PyroBor: That is just awesome. :)

  52. MercuryPDX says:

    @jpx72x: /And, preemptively, let’s not travel down the stupid slippery slope of “Well, if we’re ok with this, they’ll want to strip search us next!” No, it’s not the same thing. Not by a long shot. And, no, a minor encroachment on your privacy doesn’t imply the much more serious encroachment of a cavity search.


  53. rmz says:

    @AMetamorphosis: How’s the weather up on that high horse? Some people can’t afford to shop anywhere else.

  54. dwneylonsr says:

    They should watch the back doors closer. My wife told me that “Asset Protection” at the Target where she works showed them a picture of a guy walking out the alarmed back door with 40″ flat screen. By the time they responded to the alarm he was long gone.

  55. catnapped says:

    @krom: But still, I find WalMart’s chutzpah appalling.

    Why? They know most people are mindless sheep and will do most anything they’ll ask.

  56. davidc says:

    Stores can “ask” you anything the want to.

    They can “ask” you to sweep the floor. They can ask you to raise your right hand. They can ask you to recite the pledge of allegiance. They can ask to see your receipt.

    Personally, I just hold up my receipt as I walk by.

  57. backbroken says:

    Never understood what point it was to check the bags. You didn’t have the bags until you paid for your stuff. So how were you supposed to use the bags for shoplifting? Unless they are accusing their own register jockeys of being in conspiracy with you….

    Oh. Now I understand why they check your receipt!

  58. Keavy_Rain says:

    Is it just me or does receipt checking at the door make you want to steal?

    I’m always tempted to grab a Slim Jim or Snickers on my way out to see if they catch it.

  59. sarabadara says:

    I recently sucked it up and started picking up odds and ends at wal-mart. I was there Saturday and when I was exiting the store, an employee asked to see my receipt, probably because I had a couple large items under the basket. For a spilt second, I thought of the Consumerist and considered refusing but I thought, what the hell, and showed my receipt. It took about 2 seconds and I went on my way. Wal-mart may be evil or whatever, but I chose to shop there. I have the utmost respect for all of you who stand up for your rights, but it really didn’t hurt me at all.

  60. catnapped says:

    @Keavy_Rain: It’s under $25, so you should be OK :)

  61. mike says:

    LegalLad has a great article about this topic.


  62. Sundermania says:

    Never heard of them checking receipts at a Wal*Mart before. But then again, it’s been a while for me.

    I always let the guy mark my receipt at Best Buy though, just in case I need to return something later and don’t want to get hassled.

  63. JulesWinnfield says:

    It always takes FOREVER just to pay for things at every WalMart. If they think I’m gonna wait on another line for them to check my receipt, they can kiss my black ass!

  64. evslin says:

    @Keavy_Rain: No, because two wrongs don’t make a right.

  65. amoeba says:

    not too long ago I went to my local wal-mart in rivedale, ut. I went to buy a device since other stores didn’t have it. anyway…the cashier forgot to remove the alarm. the alarm from my package got activated at the exit. So two old ladies (don’t deserve to be call elderly) approached me and demanded to see my receipt I gave it to them and they took forever to check a small bag with 1 package. they were writing down in a piece of paper all the info. I just went insane and I took the product and receipt. next time, I rather buy my stuff online than wasting time in a crappy store like wal-mart…

  66. friendlynerd says:

    You saying “it’s not the same thing” does not make it so.

  67. IrisMR says:

    seems to vary from walmart to walmart… The walmart I go to never checks anything of the such. I mean, the cashiers check, they’re the ones making you pay afterall.

  68. jpx72x says:

    @david.c: They can also “ask” you not to come back.

  69. donopolis says:


    As was just pointed out this stupid receipt check is an attempt to catch employee theft not regular customer theft.

    They want to make sure that the register actually rang up all your products…hell even if they didn’t…It’s not shoplifting until you leave the store.


  70. mike says:

    @sarabadara: It *really* depends on who you are I think.

    If you don’t think it’s necessary because you are not a criminal, then Walmart has the burden of proof to show you actually stole something.

    If you rather get on with your day, show the receipt.

    Sometimes the battle isn’t with policies but with your time. At the end of the day, I want to say I had a productive day. If a productive day includes fighting Walmart about their policy, then more power to you!

  71. howie_in_az says:

    I forsee a future wherein the receipt checkers will sign the receipt and trying to return an item with an unsigned receipt will be impossible. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t happened yet.

  72. @latemodel:

    The average urban WalMart loses over a million per year to shrinkage.

    I think you mean “shrink”. “Shrinkage” is a totally different type of problem!

    “…I was in the pool!!!”

  73. jerrydill says:

    I think this is ridiculous even though I believe he should have let the walmart shoppers check his bags when he got to his car. I think the service at the door is unacceptable, though.

  74. kbarrett says:

    @Invalid_User_Name: Merchants have a right to detain if they see a shoplift take place.

    If they do not see a shoplift take lace, and erroneously detain an individual, that individual can sue for false arrest … good for a minimum $50k settlement in most cases.

    the reason for this right to detain is to avoid violence … the merchant makes the detention, the police are called, and the courts sort it all out.

  75. Wormfather says:

    @latemodel: As compared to like 150M in revenue.

  76. Ben Clayton says:

    @Jabberkaty: Every time I hear someone say that, I get angry, because shrink is only half of it.

    First of all, the receipt checkers are usually quite fast and they check slips to make sure everything you paid for is in the cart upon you leaving the store. There have been many times in my time there that a cashier has left something the member paid for on the ground or on the belt, and forgot about it until after the member left. Also, there is a lot of return fraud at Sam’s because you don’t REALLY need a receipt. They check to make sure they cover their asses, and you don’t come back with something you didn’t purchase there saying they didn’t give you a receipt.

  77. kbarrett says:

    Basically … if a greeter gets stupid, ask if you are being detained. If the greeter fucks up and says yes, then demand she call the police. If she doesn’t, call them yourself … you want a police report to be generated if a bad citizen detention/arrest takes place.

  78. darksunfox says:

    Is it just me or did the 2 minutes of minor inconvenience of having the bags checked turn into hours of effort talking to managers, talking to the police, posting on the internet, writing up a complaint letter, etc.?

    Also, why is it that all the stories like this include statements like: “I didn’t have long before I had to be at work, but we had enough time to do our shopping…” and “Since I didn’t have a lot of time to waste…” If it’s truly a rights issue and not a “I didn’t schedule myself enough time…” issue, why is it even relevant that a poster is in a hurry?

  79. rbaldwin says:

    I am glad someone finally stood up. Wal-marts where I live always stop customers that’s why I don’t shop there. It’s outrageous.

  80. Android8675 says:

    Fry’s Electronics in California does this, but because by the time I’ve found what I need and paid for everything, I’m so livid I just walk past the bag checkers. They don’t fuss though because they know well enough.

    Fry’s are total disaster areas, their merchandise (while plentiful) is usually never where you think it should be, and getting assistance is somewhat of a chore, they have 1 line for 50 check out registers, it’s all just very intimidating, by the time you get to the exit the last thing you want to do is have someone going through your stuff, you just want to get out. People still stop to have their stuff checked though. I had a couple of them ask why I just walked out, and I basically said, it’s my stuff, they have no right to search it.

    I understand why they do it, but i’m glad they don’t try to harass me about it.

  81. Snowblind says:


    I stopped this weekend when leaving Fry’s. She was cute and had a low cut top.

    I won’t stop for their paranoia, but I will always stop to talk to a cheerful and pretty girl…

  82. Snarkysnake says:


    I call…Improbable.

    Thats over $2700 a day that sprouts legs at Wally. This seems implausible. Not saying it can’t and doesn’t happen,but do the math and this looks like an urban myth size number that doesnt pass the laugh test.

    Wal Mart can call the cops all they want. You,as a citizen remember- You DO NOT have to prove your innocence in a court of law.The accuser has to prove that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt.They have to convince 12 jurors that you did it and you only have to convince one that you didn’t. Without reasonable suspicion that you actually stole something (detectors screeching like a fucked cat,miles of security tape or an employee I.D ‘ing you as a thief) you’re gonna skate if you drive on home.Five gets you ten that the Wally security guy called the cops and they told him that they could piss up a tree because they did not detain him or have him arrested.

    Bottom line- Don’t surrender your rights easily. you may never get them back.

  83. mxjohnson says:

    I don’t like Wal*Mart, but I shop there from time to time, mostly because I collect die-cast Pixar cars, and they have exclusives. I walk past the receipt checker. Ditto Fry’s — and when you need a stupid little UV LED, where else can you get one? And Home Depot, too. I shouldn’t have to go to Home Depot to buy a particular type of expanding foam sealant, but that’s how our national marketplace works.

    To say “Don’t shop there if you don’t like their procedure” legitimizes an *illegal* policy. It’s equivalent to writing Terms & Conditions on the door in invisible ink.

    Here in California, I’ve heard many times that they can check receipts because of some state-specific Merchants Rights, or more correctly, Merchant’s Privilege. That’s bogus. The Merchants Privilege is found in California Penal Code 490.5: “A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for the purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner whenever the merchant has probable cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has unlawfully taken merchandise from the merchant’s premises.” In other words, they are allowed to detain shoplifters.

    Does a refusal to hand over your receipt and bagged merchandise constitute probable cause? Hell no. To have probably cause, they have to see you take the item, see you hide the item, be certain you didn’t put it back, and watch you leave. To extend Merchant’s Privilege to checking every receipt would mean they have probable cause to believe every single customer is a shoplifter, which is ludicrous.

    Of course, as others have pointed out, Sam’s Club and Costco and other stores with memberships have a separate agreement with you.

    I’ve never been hassled when walking past the receipt check. But I’m sure at some point it will happen. I will be very polite, and ask whether they’re placing me under citizens arrest. I’ll explain that if they detain me, if they stop me, that is, by definition, an arrest. I’ll keep my hands at my side and walk to the door. If they block it, I’ll try to walk around them, with my hands at my side. I’ll note names, and if they call the police, I’ll file charges against them. If they break the law, and I don’t, that’s only fair.

  84. jpx72x says:

    @friendlynerd: Right, relying on my opinion as proof is a bad idea. But, it’s pretty easy to intuit. Privacy isn’t an on off concept–our expectations of privacy vary depending on the situation. For example, when a cop stops you, she can’t open your trunk without permission/reasonable suspicion, but she can shine a flashlight in your windows and check for illegal things in plain view.

    Similarly, you don’t have a super strong expectation of privacy for the contents of bags which usually contain only things that you (should have) just purchased from the store. You do, however, have a super strong expectation of privacy for your undies and their contents. The law’s on my side: you see lawsuits for strip searches in retail establishments all the time, but you never see successful ones for bag searches.

  85. Angryrider says:

    I’m glad Wal-Mart won’t be gracing my city anytime soon. The closest thing is a Target, and they don’t really care about checking the receipt or anything. As long as you don’t set off the alarm you’re fine.

  86. scooterist says:

    They used to do this at BJ’s and it always annoyed the shit out of me, but they no longer do it at our local establishment. I seem to recall CompUSA doing the same thing before they thankfully went out of business… a non-english speaking security person used to poke a hole in the receipt without even looking in the bag.

    All pointless really because there is no way they cross-check every item in your bags with what’s on the receipt, although I guess there must be more thievery with the self-checkout counters now.

  87. coan_net says:




    Why? If you don’t like people checking your receipt in order to help stop people from steeling which in turn raise the prices of items in the store, then WHY DO YOU SHOP THERE?




    PLEASE go and shop at another store which most likely has higher prices since they probable have more security camera and other security devices in place to help stop people from selling and stop trying to raise the prices at the stores I shop at. I personally like low prices. And if that means they can not buy those extra security camera – and they can stop spending money on extra security guards walking around and watching everything, and have a simple receipt checks as you leave the store – then that is where I will shop.

    Do I feel my rights are being trampled on? Nope – Why, because I have the freedom to shop elsewhere if I want. I just wish others would exercise those freedoms instead of trying to ruin the low prices for everyone.

    Damn bad apples….

  88. akede2001 says:

    I don’t shop at any place that automatically treats me like a criminal. Stopped shipping at Wal-Mart years ago. Sure you might pay a -little- more, it’s worth it. That is, unless you enjoy walking long distances to get into the store, waiting in long ass lines, and trying to navigate through isles packed and often blocked with unshelved merchandise.

    Unfortunately, I bought a vacuum cleaner there about a year ago. But only after checking a Fred Meyer’s, Lowers, and a Best Buy (in that order) and finding only wet/dry or canister vacuums.

  89. mgy says:

    My absolute favorite type of article on Consumerist makes a roaring comeback.


    I too love these stories, keep up the fight and after spending your HARD earned money at these establishments they should think twice about harassing you about a receipt.

  91. SacraBos says:

    @forgottenpassword: You know what we ought to do? If they insist in checking receipts, make them do the job right. Have them verify EVERY item, and cross check EVERY SKU number, and that the correct price was paid for EACH item. If they complain, insist in seeing the manager to complain that the checking person is NOT doing their job correctly. Make sure as many people as possible are inconvenienced by this practice as possible.

    Turn the tables. Make them pay severely for this practice and abolish it, not let them think calling the police is acceptable.

  92. melink says:

    I was walking out the door, my toddler throwing a fit, I had a couple bagged items in my cart and a box of diapers (not bagged) … the greeter said, “I need to see you receipt.” I said, “No, actually, you don’t.” and kept walking.

    Seriously, do you SEE and HEAR my damn kid? Do you SEE the bagged items? Take a wild guess, old lady, I’m not jacking your diapers – I just want to get the hell out of there.

  93. donopolis says:

    Do you really believe that they provide low prices by skimping on security…no the low prices come from international wheeling and dealing that no Mom and Pop store could possibly compete with.

    It has nothing to do with checking my receipt.

    They also save tons of cash by paying their employees substandard wages and benefits..thereby ensuring that there will be employee theft.


  94. Coder4Life says:

    @PyroBor: Yeah this is awesome, I like the writing it’s polite and to the point.

    though do you have a life? Can’t you people just show your reciepts the employees aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s the store policy or some manager.

    You know if the store is not busy or something they might just have their employees do a check to see if they find anyone stealing for like 30 minutes. Just to get an idea.

    JUST SHOW YOUR RECIEPTS.. If you don’t I hope you goto JAIL.

  95. BearTack says:


    I read LegalLad’s notes, and I don’t think that he really has much background in this area of law. Amongst other things, he said that a store manager has a right to search your bag upon reasonable grounds. In most states, and in my state in particular, the manager has a right of detention if he has reasonable grounds. But he has no right to search anyone. He can only detain someone for the police.

    If I believed that I was being unfairly detained, I would sit down and start screaming for the police. When the police arrived I would do my damnedest to have the store personnel arrested for illegal detention and if appropriate, assault and harassment. All of which are crimes of direct or implicit violence. Many police don’t know much about the law either, so if the responding police would not arrest the perpetrators, I would then go to the DA to file a formal complaint for the misdemeanor actions taken by the storekeeper.

    A policeman can not demand a receipt from you unless there is some reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred. What makes anyone think that a shopkeeper has more legal power than a policeman? And in demanding (rather than requesting) a receipt, the shopkeeper is likely breaking the criminal, as well as the civil, law.

  96. cef21 says:


    Sounds reasonable.


    There are about 4100 Walmart stores in the US, so at $3B losses, it’s about $750,000 per store. Since the shrinkage rate isn’t the same across all stores, it’s reasonable to assume that some stores are in the $1M range. I do not know if those stores are in urban areas or not, but since there are more shoppers in urban areas, there’s probably also more shoplifting.

  97. Saboth says:


    Go to jail? Last I heard you don’t go to jail for not committing crimes. You go to jail for theft, not refusing to show your receipt to strangers for legally purchased items. America might be heading in the direction of debtor’s prison, but we aren’t there yet.

    If I went through the self checkout (because I am in a hurry), why would I want to wait in line for 10-15 minutes while they checked the carts of all the mouth breathers that have 2 weeks of groceries?

  98. mythago says:

    I guess all the “DO NOT SHOP WALMART” people live in nice, retail-rich urban areas where you can pick and choose. Not everybody is so lucky. There are plenty of places in the US where there is no real alternative to Wal-Mart, especially when Wal-Mart is the reason that no other decent stores exist.

  99. NFlames says:

    I love it when people defend bag/cart checks by saying “it’s so you don’t forget any of the merchandise you paid for.” You are all sheep, It’s paranoia of shoplifting, WallyWorld is so terrified of losing a cent that they’re doing bag checks now? I call shenanigans because Target doesn’t do it, never have, they have sensors at the door and security guards to check IN THE EVENT OF A SENSOR GOING OFF, hell the only place I ever get bag checked is at Costco and I just go with the flow because the only other alternative to that is Sam’s Club and I refused to give any of my hard earned cash to Sam Walton and/or his troglodyte brood long ago. Otherwise I don’t shop at places who automatically suspect that I’m a shoplifting criminal.

    Wal*Marx – “Always Corporate Greed. Always.”

  100. cef21 says:

    @donopolis: If the wages and benefits are “substandard,” why do people work there? Presumably there are a number of other places offering “standard” wages and benefits. (By definition of the word “standard”) Walmart hires a lot of low-skill people. How much do you think the people checking bags at the exit could make someplace else?

  101. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @coan_net: If you don’t like people checking your receipt in order to help stop people from steeling which in turn raise the prices of items in the store, then WHY DO YOU SHOP THERE?

    Maybe it’s convenient. or cheaper. Maybe it’s a nice store except for the receipt check policy. I shop there for the same reasons any given person shops in any given store.

    PLEASE go and shop at another store which most likely has higher prices

    First, your assumption that receipt checking leads to lower prices is just that – an assumption on your part, with no evidence whatsoever to back it up. As for going somewhere else, why should I? Ignoring their receipt requests takes zero time, zero effort, and zero aggravation on my part.

    In fact, the incessant bleating of “Sir!Sir! I need to see your receipt!” fading into the background as I walk to my car is often quite amusing.

    So I’ll continue to shop where I like. I’m sorry my refusal to participate in their annoying, voluntary loss prevention process bothers you.

  102. Breach says:

    Yeah that “guilty of theft until proven innocent” stuff is complete bullshit. I worked at a Target Security for a bit, and their electronic eyes are always watching, there is no need for some senior citizen to treat you like a their before you leave the store, then have their “Asset protection” Nazis follow you around outside.

  103. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Ask that officer if you can file charges against the guy who came after you for harassment or some kind of illegal detainment. He stood behind your vehicle to prevent you from leaving. That is insane and reckless. Had you backed out and ignored him he probably could have gotten away with getting hit-and-run charges on you, despite him purposely standing behind your vehicle. What he did should constitute a crime. Its basically blackmail.

  104. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @BearTack: Amongst other things, he said that a store manager has a right to search your bag upon reasonable grounds. In most states, and in my state in particular, the manager has a right of detention if he has reasonable grounds. But he has no right to search anyone. He can only detain someone for the police.

    I didn’t read the link, but it pays to remember that the laws are wildly different from state to state. in California, for example, during an otherwise lawful detention, they MAY search your bags:[findarticles.com]

  105. snoop-blog says:

    Damn. This kind of shit never happens to me. I’m the kind of guy that gets off on the “principle” of things, and most certainly I would have taken this to a whole ‘nuther level. It’s like these receipt checkers pick and choose who to fuck with because they get one look at my, don’t give a fuck, tatooed up, fuck with me I dare you, ass and just let me walk on through. I swear the more conservative people that just look like do-gooders anyway are the ones they try to get hype on.

  106. humphrmi says:

    I was at a Wal-Mart this weekend in some small town in Wisconsin I stopped over at to get a few things for my boat. I normally try to avoid wally world, but I had no choice – only store in town that would have the supplies I needed.

    After I paid, I walked toward the door and someone asked me “Can I check your receipt?” I said “No” and kept walking. No police were called, the guy didn’t even holler after me or anything. As far as I know, I have no outstanding warrants in Wisconsin right now.

    I guess some Wal-Marts know that it’s legal to ask to see the receipt, as long as they take no for an answer.

  107. flipx says:

    Have lots of time on your hands? Glue a security tag with gum to the bottom of your shoe and walk out the door demand the police this will put in the afternoon. Oh and have a good lawyer can you smell cash.

  108. humphrmi says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: The responding officer took their story, and then said he’d smooth things over. I doubt he would have been as friendly if the OP starting raving about illegal detainment. I think at least the police involvement ended the way it should have – the cops listening to the OP and then telling wal mart to calm down.

  109. jswilson64 says:

    @Invalid_User_Name: I didn’t “consent” to anything when I walked into their store. If “consent by signage” and other such bogus retailer tactics were really legal, I’d be wearing a t-shirt that said, “By you reading this, you agree to give me $20” and then calling the cops on everyone who didn’t pony up.

  110. sarabadara says:

    @linus: You’re right. Under different circumstances, like a long line of people, I may have refused and kept walking. As it was, I didn’t have any issues with it.

  111. crescentia says:

    Just like some others here I really don’t understand why people still shop at Walmart. I’m poor as hell and probably make less money than the majority of people here and I don’t shop there. I would rather shop elsewhere than put up with their draconian practices.

  112. jonworld says:

    I was at Target the other day and my shirt kept setting off the anti-theft devices. However, no one even seemed to care, even after walking out with a cartload of stuff with the anti-theft things blinking behind me…funny…

  113. girly says:

    Wal-mart checks the bags because wal-mart knows deep down that shopping there is a crime in itself.

    Is there any way we could get a ‘boilerplate’ of where we think the receipt-checking ground rules stand so we don’t get the same speculation over and over again?

    Something like

    It’s their store, they can ASK to check your bags, however if they don’t have any proof or reasonable suspicion you stole (such as seeing you pocket something), they cannot detain you and since you own the items after making your purchase you are free to leave despite their requests. With the exception of places where a membership is required to purchase and showing a receipt is a condition of membership and you don’t want said membership revoked.

  114. girly says:

    Why do they bother with those beeping exits if they are going to have receipt checkers too? At least if the exit beeps its because of a screw up by the cashier or an actual thief.

  115. Chad LaFarge says:

    I’ve weighed in this before, so I won’t bore everyone with my reasons for submitting to this, I do want to disagree that no-one gets hurt by you not participating in the check. One way that it actually hurts to play this idiotic game is that there was a police officer who was wasting his/her time having to call the shopper to get “their side”, when they could have been out protecting and serving.

    So one shopper got to butch up and “fight the power” at the possible expense on someone else’s safety, and over the protection of the “low everyday prices” that they enjoy at Wal*Mart.

  116. jpx72x says:

    @jswilson64: Interesting, but fail. Consent to a license by doing something is upheld all the time. What, do you think that the license screen that pops up whenever you load software onto your computer which makes you promise that you’ve read an understood it is just for fun? If you can agree to binding arbitration with Gateway 2000 by clicking a button, you can certainly agree to have your bags searched by crossing a threshold (if the license is displayed prominently enough, of course).

  117. Kat@Work says:

    @Coder4Life: What??

    First of all, its RECEIPTS. Spell check please.

    Secondly, this is not logical: You compliment PyroBor for his notes, then tell those of us that don’t wish to bend over and just take it where the sun don’t shine that we need to go to jail?!

    I must have missed something… or you’re just being belligerent and illogical.

  118. jswilson64 says:

    @crescentia: Ah, another urban snob heard from. Ever been to _really_ rural America? Ever seen a downtown decimated by the Wal-Mart effect, with nothing but liquor stores and struggling mom-n-pop restaurants? In many small towns, the options are Wal-Mart or a small supermarket with prices jacked up over what they are in the next biggest town 15 miles away.

    And why should people give their rights away just to get the lowest price? If they think I’ve shoplifted, do it right and detain me, call the cops, etc., and be prepared to face the consequences when they’re wrong. Repeat after me: Offering low prices does not give one the right to abuse one’s clientele.

  119. snoop-blog says:

    @Chad LaFarge: Well chad I doubt the police would ever put a real emergency on hold for this. If a bank was being robbed near where they were, garanteed the cops would have put this douche on hold and worried about him later. I was trapped by a flood all weekend, I’ll put my life’s savings on it that they wouldn’t have responded to a receipt check call. They DO know how to prioritize I hope.

  120. bobpence says:

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics: Banks use the same tactic to justify thumbprinting for “on us” check cashing by non-account holders. If I steal a checkbook from an accountholder, the last thing I’m going to do is go into a branch of the bank tose checks are drawn on and present ID; they may know the checks are stolen, and they get to see my ID! So most check fraud will be and is in the form of passing stolen checks or bad checks to other parties. Yet the defense is always how much is lost in (total) check fraud, not how little of it comes through the front door of the freakin’ bank branch.

    Likewise Wal-Mart can do many things to cut down on shrink, but this is not one of them. And by the way, next time I’m asking for a bag for everything so I don’t have anything “unbagged”; too bad if it makes Al Gore cry!

  121. People, don’t worry all these folks ready to roll over for some person conducting an illegal search on them will be praising you some day.

    “If only I had my foot down like those folks on Consumerist.com back in the mid to late 2000s. I would be getting full cavity searches when I leave the store each time.”

    And as a rule, once a store does it I don’t go back again. Luckily no one has tried to play paper cop on me as of yet so I cannot complain.

  122. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @jpx72x: That would be true if this walmart has always done it. Mine doesn’t, so if all of a sudden they did, I’d still refuse to show my receipt.

  123. APFPilot says:

    I can’t get to the next page….

  124. craptastico says:

    i usually bring a bag of dog feces around with me for this reason. if they want to look through my bags, i want them to be inconvenienced as well

  125. humphrmi says:

    @jpx72x: Interesting, but fail. Entering a Wal-Mart != purchasing a license.

  126. jswilson64 says:

    “continue reading comments” link’s not working…

    Anyway, clicking on an “agree” or “ok” button is an action – it requires you do actually do something. Simply posting a sign and saying “by being here you’re agreeing to X” is not binding (unless X is a law on the books), because there’s no way to prove you actually _read_ the sign. So a business can put up all the signs they want – unless I sign a contract, I’m not giving up any of my rights to them. Costco makes you sign an agreement, so they can search if they want.

  127. snoop-blog says:

    Can’t see the comments! Why do you hate me consumerist?

  128. CPC24 says:

    @NFlames: It’s OK if Costco does it, but not Wal-Mart? Amazing…

  129. snoop-blog says:

    @humphrmi: I think you mean Entering a wal-mart =/= purchasing a license. I’m not an english teacher by any means, but I don’t want other readers to confuse your meaning.

  130. VikingP77 says:

    So paying for this to happen at the local Costco is different? Thats where I don’t shop anymore!

  131. nick_r says:

    I hope that WalMart continues to alienate customers until they go out of business.

  132. snoop-blog says:

    The thing that floors me is there is waaaaay more $$$ worth of shit being stole from these places by their own employees vs. shopper.

  133. quiksilver says:

    @coan_net: BINGO!!! Thanks! I totally agree

  134. humphrmi says:

    @CPC24: Club vs. store open to the public. Covered in comments ad nauseum.

    @snoop-blog: Yup.

  135. S3CT says:

    What I find funny is that the people care enough about walmart to be all serious about checking receipts and going as far as yelling at people who skip the shakedown.

  136. snoop-blog says:

    Sorry. I had to comment just to get to teh page cuz teh link iz brokez

  137. JiminyChristmas says:

    This is just rude:

    …Wal-Mart asset protection employees approached me, and asked to see my receipt. I told them no, at which point they stated that the merchandise was stolen.

    They were in absolutely no position to accuse someone of theft.

    My understanding of shoplifting laws is (IANAL, may vary by state): You can be detained and police called if all of the following criteria are met: 1) They see you conceal an item. 2) They verify you held onto the item throughout the store. After all, they don’t want you arrested just because you picked something up and put it down somewhere else. 3) You have to attempt to leave the premises without paying for the item.

    Short of that, they have no business detaining someone. The fact Wally World ‘asset protection’ staff either didn’t know this, or knew it and chose to act out their petty authoritarian fantasies anyway give the OP good cause to be angry. Likewise, I’m sure that if Wally World staff did this enough the police would get tired of mediating their lax loss prevention procedures.

    Sadly, short of just shopping elsewhere, in the real world an aggrieved customer doesn’t have a lot of recourse. You’re free to file a police report alleging battery or false imprisonment. However, good luck getting police to even take the report. Likewise, I would be shocked if a DA actually brought charges as a result of a situation like the one here. Unless someone actually laid hands on you, or locked you in a room, the authorities have greater concerns.

  138. snoop-blog says:

    that last comment didn’t work so lets see if this one will. I emailed meg, ben, and tips@consumerist about the broken link.

  139. emis says:

    I’ve been told that Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco are able to require the receipt check because they are member clubs–meaning you agree to certain policies when you agree to become a member (and in most cases pay a member fee)

    Anyone know if this is true?

  140. mac-phisto says:

    ever since i saw this movie, i tend to think of matters such as this in relation to this scene (NSFW – very graphic)–>

    see what happens when you just do what some strangle man tells you to do?

  141. mexifelio says:

    How about no longer shopping at wal-mart?

  142. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Chad LaFarge: Hold on, why fault the shopper here? In this case, it’s clearly the Wal-Mart staff who are responsible for wasting the police’s time. After all, they were the ones who called in a totally unsubstantiated shoplifting complaint.

    1. Store Policy 2. The Law. Those are two totally different things. It’s not the job of the police to enforce the former.

  143. mammalpants says:

    reflecting on this entire experience, i think you really saved a lot of precious time and helped me save some of mine, too.

  144. snoop-blog says:

    I was there, I mean, here, until I refreshed damnit!

  145. dweebster says:

    @SacraBos: I *LOVE* it!!!! Damn, next time I have an afternoon to waste I’m filling up a shopping cart at “Best” Buy then giving their crack security squad plenty of work to do. I’ll be sure to have them do price lookups on several of the items (“boy – you may be right – that doesn’t look like the price on the shelf – please look that up and be sure I was charged correctly – I’ll happily wait here because I would NEVER want to get on with my day until I have permission from the receipt check officer…”).

    Then finally after getting their blessing to exit through those hallowed glass sliding doors I’d steer the cart back around to wait in the “return” line because those employees probably want to spend their day dealing with me too.

  146. humphrmi says:

    @snoop-blog: We’ll just all wait to post any new comments until you catch up. While we all wait for snoop-blog, here’s a lovely musical interlude.

  147. jackal676 says:

    They could double the wages they pay out and employee theft would still be a problem at any retail store. Some people will simply take what they can when they can, and you can’t change an attitude like that.

  148. billf says:

    I used to shop at Walmart before I decided it just wasn’t worth the hassle anymore. What always bothered me about these receipt checks is that the “greeters” were very “selective” about who they would check. Going in by myself, I was almost never checked unless I bought a big ticket item. However if I went in with my wife, we would be checked without fail.
    Anyone care to guess which of us is white and which is hispanic?

  149. ByeBye says:

    @krom: Some of us don’t have much of a choice to shop at wal-mart. Open 24 hours, cheaper prices than Walgreens or the mall, and the usually have a better selection. I hate them for their clerks (used to be one!), their management, their policies, their lines, and crap. If I had another choice with all of the above (open, price, selection) then I would leave Walmart, sadly, can’t find any…

  150. Southern says:

    @emis: I’ve been told that Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco are able to require the receipt check because they are member clubs–meaning you agree to certain policies when you agree to become a member (and in most cases pay a member fee)
    Anyone know if this is true?

    It is true. At least in the case of Sam’s Club & Costco, where I am a member — I can’t speak to “BJ’s” (whatever that is), but it’s probably the same there. There’s actually a clause in the membership agreement that states that they have the right to inspect your purchases on the way out. It’s actually on the Sam’s Club site too, I’ve read it there before as well.

  151. Major-General says:

    @latemodel: Which is still within the shrinkage goals set by the company. But I have known people who shoplift, and they aren’t trying to sneak things into their bag after purchase. They put them in their pockets outside of the package elsewhere in the store.

  152. knucklesammichwitCheese says:

    Imagine if a Black shopper and a White shopper walk out of a walmart store with bagged merchandise at the exact same time or side by side and the alarm goes off…who do you think will be stopped? Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  153. Landru says:

    Them: “Can I check your receipt?”
    Me: “No thank you, I’ll check it at home.”

  154. dweebster says:

    @cef21: wholesale cost: probably about $10,000 per store.

  155. Me - now with more humidity says:

    krom: you’re an idiot. Walmart saves me a lot of money. I buy groceries there every week.

  156. jenl1625 says:

    @amoeba: I had a similar incident where an alarm went off and they were writing stuff down. I was in a bit of a mood, so I asked (not particularly nicely) why they needed to record that I’d bought the item after they already saw the receipt – they responded that the paper was so that they could trace which cashier didn’t deactivate the alarm . . . . That kinda mollified me a bit.

    The one instance when they asked me to see my receipt, I was prepared for it (having something large and unbagged). There was actually a line of about 6 carts waiting to be checked, and I didn’t care to wait, so I pulled out my receipt but just walked past. The checker-girl (on the other side of the row of carts) called “I need to see your receipt” so I waved it at her and kept going . . . . Nobody hassled me, so either that was acceptable or they just didn’t have the staff to chase me. What surprised me most was that a couple of other carts didn’t then peel out of line and follow me.

  157. Tijil says:

    I occasionally stop for the “receipt checkers” at some places as I understand they just need to mark the receipt with their marker so you can’t dump the merchandise in your car, then come back in and grab more of the same thing and show the unmarked receipt on your way out again. No big deal.

    But if they want to search what has become my private property since I paid for it, they can go pound sand… (Costco and other membership clubs excluded – I agreed to it there.)

    As to the door alarms. I have yet to stop when an alarm goes off – I know I didn’t steal anything. Besides, why stop for their alarm? Is that sort of programmed in response, or something?

    I see people all the time trigger an alarm when leaving, and most of ’em plod meekly back to have their private property searched through by some mouth breather. I’m sorry, I guess I missed the day we were all trained to stop if something beeped.

    I didn’t steal anything, and if some store wants to contest that issue, being retired I have plenty of time to wait for the police.

    (Of course you touch me aggressively and you may die on the spot – how do I know what your intentions are? First I’ll smack you a good one with my cane, and as you are wondering what in heck just happened, I’ll have my legally carried firearm out and we WILL wait for the police – unless you push it…)

    Other than that, I’m really a nice guy. :o)

  158. dweebster says:

    @Southern: Yes, it’s definitely part of the agreement I signed with Costco, so I have no problem living up to my side of the agreement and allowing their employees the enviable job of standing at the threshold and hitting my thermal receipt with a highlighter. Costco has lived up to THEIR side of the agreement beyond my best expectations, and taken back several junk products under a very liberal return policy. To me, it’s worth the $50 bux a year just knowing that their employees are being paid in the high teens per hour. Hell, best bang for my charity dollar.

    Now on the other hand, Walmart and their “race to the bottom” wages and policies, politician purchasing and business-destroying model gets no endorsement from me – it’s completely antithetical to maintaining a civil, democratic society. In the few moments I’ve been forced (out of no alternative) to use one of them, the receipt-checker gets no love just a “goodnight Irene” from me.

    Walmarts and “Best” Buys should be seen like a dirty, filthy portable toilet after a week-long Chili-eating festival. You never want to go into one unless you are in desperate need and there is absolutely no other alternative on earth within a reachable range.

  159. humphrmi says:

    This reminds me of a time when I was a teenager, I was walking through a grocery store and a store detective walked up to me and said he saw me pocket something. I said I didn’t, and turned my pockets inside-out. He kind of looked at me sideways for a minute, then apologized, said it must have been someone else, and walked away.

    At the time, I was a little bent out of shape, but in retrospect, I pine for those days. Gone are the good old days when store shrinkage officers wandered the stores looking for shoplifters and confronting them on the spot. Now they leave all that to people at the front of the store, who didn’t see you shop, have no idea if you shoplifted or not, and are ready to accuse you of theft the moment you stand up for yourself simply because you don’t follow their arbitrary loss prevention rules that help them save money by hiring fewer store detectives.

  160. marsneedsrabbits says:


    They’d also do away with “self check” before the day is out.

  161. parrotuya says:

    Wal-mart sucks! If you shop there, you should stop. And waterboard the CEO!

  162. pbwingman says:

    While I haven’t completely refused to a bag check, I have, mainly out of frustration, demanded a manager to check my bag. Once they arrive, I tell them if they are going to waste my time, I am sure as hell going to waste theirs.

  163. Pithlit says:

    @mythago: Yep, and it is for those people that I support those who stand up to the receipt checkers, rather than tell them to just show their receipt. I personally won’t shop at stores that pull that crap, and I’m lucky enough to have a choice. If anyone ever does ask to see my receipt, they’ve got a surprise coming.

  164. unleashed says:

    Can some one tell me if this law exists in Canada? And where I can find it.

  165. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @jpx72x: If you can agree to binding arbitration with Gateway 2000 by clicking a button, you can certainly agree to have your bags searched by crossing a threshold (if the license is displayed prominently enough, of course).

    Bullshit. Signs on the wall do not create an enforceable contract.

    Unless they can prove that you 1)Were aware of the “agreement”, 2) Understood the “agreement”, and 3) Agreed to the “agreement”, then there is nothing even remotely close to binding about their “notices.”

    Hell, even if you verbally agreed to that policy on camera while entering the store, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from withdrawing your consent at any time.

    Absent a legal detainment for shoplifting, retail stores have no authority over your person other than ejectment.

  166. haoshufu says:

    There is another purpose for receipt checking. Most places that check receipts also mark the receipts. This is to prevent some crooks leaving with the items and coming back into the store and take the same items with the same receipt and walk out of the door. I don’t like that policy either but I have never been held up long enough to make a point.

    If you really want to stand up and have time to play with them, tell them that if they want to search you, they need to call the police and you will let the police do the search since you feel that they are accusing you of stealing by requesting to search your property. They ARE your property now since you have already paid for it. Enough people doing it and WalMart will start getting charged by the local PD for every call asking them to go there.

  167. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @jswilson64: . Costco makes you sign an agreement, so they can search if they want.

    They most certainly can NOT search you. Since you did agree to their receipt check by signing up, you are expected to comply (and really, you might as well), but they have almost no power to actually enforce it, except for kicking you out and/or revoking your membership.

  168. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Landru: I like that answer. Perhaps I’ll start doing something similar.

    “No thanks, I’ve already checked it”

    Heh. This amuses me.

  169. ShadowFalls says:

    Wow, story here? Wanna steal from Walmart? Bring some Walmart bags. At least that is what they are saying that they are only checking because of unbagged items… Poor security in the least. Do what my local Winn Dixie does and apply stickers to unbagged items.

  170. CapitalC says:

    @latemodel: I only lose an inch or two due to shrinkage. ;)

  171. jpp123 says:

    See [www.rbms.info] for the CA statutes – without probably cause they have no grounds to detain anybody (and that includes standing behind a car) see also [www.crimedoctor.com] for a good run down on the issues.

    Basically Wally world was in the wrong.

  172. dangermike says:

    Neither of the times I’ve shopped at the local wallyworld have I had to show my papers. They have people there, and other customers are willingly — mayhap even happily — submitting to the indignity of a search but myself, I just walk on, making no eye contact, keeping a brisk pace and ignoring the existence of the door nazis. Same thing at Fry’s, where in a good year, I might spend about $40. (most of my electronics come from newegg these days)

    If they try to force the issue, I keep my pace and offer a quiet yet polite, “no thanks.” They’ve never tried to stop me in any of the half dozen places I’ve used these tactics in the Orange County, CA area. Of course, being 6’5 and built like a NFL center makes most people unwilling to force the issue.

    HOWEVER, I don’t mind showing the receipt at costco, as they occasionally catch errors like double-charged or paid-for-but-missing items and will fix it with no hassle other than the 2-3 minutes it takes to retrieve the item or money from the checkout lane.

  173. baristabrawl says:

    I have to say that this MIGHT be the only case where I would probably just leave. I usually just show my receipt. Fry’s does that all the time. I’ve been trying to buy candy or a soda and put it in my pocket before I leave, thus proving that they don’t really check anything. HA HA.

  174. starbreiz says:

    I stopped letting people check my bags after a greeter at Frys counted all 100 of the 3′ cat5 cables I bought for our data center. She counted 99 and accused me of stealing 1. Because I would pay for 99 and steal 1! It turned out the ringer screwed up (she scanned them all individually) and I wasn’t paying attention. They made me wait for a manager, then rering them all, and wasted about 45min of my time. I could have crimped half the cables myself from a spool by then!

    That’s when I found out I had a right to say no thank you. I think your typical citizen still needs educated about this right. I don’t belong to Costco, or any other club, but I think that mentally (where you sign a contract to let them check your bags) has crept into the other stores.

  175. skubisnack624 says:

    @Invalid_User_Name: I was an Assets Protection Manager at Target several years ago. I was with them for the better part of a decade. Like others have said, a store employee can ask you anything. I instructed my staff to check receipts on exposed (unbagged) merchandise, and when the alarms went off. I further instructed them that if a customer refused, then they should immediately apologize and allow the customer to leave. They would log the incident in case of a later complaint.

    TinyBug summed up the laws regarding this issue very well. I just wanted to add that large companies will also tend to generalize these policies in order to keep them uniform throughout the company, and will usually make their policies as restrictive as the strictest laws. That said, unless they have witnessed you stealing something, they have no right to detain you. If they do, you typically have the right to file criminal charges against the person who detains you, and will typically have civil recourse against the individual and the company.

    To the OP…I would suggest contacting an attorney. The loss prevention personnel detained you and verbally accused you of stealing. While it may not be worth your while to go to court, you could pursue a hefty settlement for unlawful detainment and defamation of character (or some other fancy-sounding legal term) since obviously they had no grounds for such actions. Let’s just put it this way…if I had done this at Target, I would have been fired pretty quickly!

  176. sgodun says:

    Submitter is a whiny ass.

  177. TeraGram says:

    @linus: “Great” doesn’t fit. “Somewhat interesting”, maybe. “Sort of informative”, perhaps.

    “Great”? Not by a long-shot. Legallad is a sheeple.

  178. @ConsumptionJunkie: There is a reason for that. If you walk in with a Best Buy merchandise to return or exchange, they want to tag it so they know it has already been paid for. that way, when you get up to customer service and the blonde ditz gets done chewing her gum and talking on the phone, she’ll know that the merchandise has already been paid for. That way you can’t go steal something and then walk right up and get store credit for it.

  179. Phas3Sh1ft says:

    “‘I didn’t have long before I had to be at work’ so I decided to be an asshat and create a day’s hastle in exchange for something that would have taken me 5 seconds.”

    I seriously don’t understand why this is a huge issue and why people’s minds are blown when they’re not just let out of the store. Bottom line is IF YOU DON’T WANT THE HASTLE, JUMP THROUGH THE HOOP. If you’re willing to deal with it, you know exactly what’s going to happen, especially given all of the other stories on the matter. All of us Consumerist readers have read the same story countless times. You KNOW the store is going to have a problem with it, so stop bitching about it when it happens.

  180. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @skubisnack624: I would suggest contacting an attorney. The loss prevention personnel detained you and verbally accused you of stealing. While it may not be worth your while to go to court, you could pursue a hefty settlement for unlawful detainment and defamation of character

    Frankly, i doubt they would offer a dime – the case isn’t worth enough for anyone to take on contingency, and they know it. Sadly, when it comes to mistreating customers, Wally World is used to getting away with murder. Literally.

    If murdering a suspected shoplifter only cost them half a million, how much is a few minutes of illegal detention worth?

  181. cwsterling says:

    @SacraBos: that is the best idea ever, granted i hope nobody else said this, im going to assume they did but still that is an amazing idea

  182. kdollarsign says:

    Once, I walked a huge cart full of houseplants out of Home Depot without paying for them. If only they had checked my receipt. Most of the plants died. Probably karma.

  183. TeraGram says:

    It seems there’s a glitch on Consumerist right now. The 2nd page of comments is unavailable.

  184. Oh Good Grief. Another unsubstantiated claim.

  185. GeneBob says:

    Am I the only one who noticed this is the OPPOSITE of “innocent until proven guilty” that our country was based on?

    Save yourself some grief and DON’T SHOP AT STORES THAT TREAT YOU LIKE A THIEF. Granted, most people will happily surrender their freedoms when confronted .. the price they pay for save 12 cents off that roll of paper towels is that it’s now O-K to assume you are stealing — UNTIL YOU PROVE OTHERWISE.

    Life is too short, and there are always alternatives to these clowns. This will be a better country when every last Wal-Mart has closed.

  186. Eoghann says:


    …then have their “Asset protection” Nazis follow you around outside.

    If they’ve accepted your money for the items, then are they really considered *their* assets? Aren’t they *your* assets?

  187. Tijil says:


    Yup. I e-mailed Consumerist about that several hours ago and it is still a problem.

    I finally got to see my comment in context by going to my profile and kinking directly to it from there…

  188. How come nobody complains about the snotty jewelry stores that require you to be buzzed into the store and out of the store after your purchase?

    Picking on WallyWorld is just too easy. Let’s pick on the real problem companies.

  189. FilthyHarry says:

    Unless walmart policy is somehow law, it would seem to me that whoever called the police would be in trouble for filing a false report.

    Look, if I say I now have a policy that I get look through the bags of everyone who visits me to see if they’ve stolen anything, and then someone doesn’t let me search them, and I call the police, the police are going to be very upset with me.

  190. LionelEHutz says:

    If you don’t show your receipts the terrorists will win dammit!!

  191. OmicroN says:

    @PyroBor: AWESOME! I love it! I’ve printed out two pages’ worth, and stuck ’em in my wallet. So, the next time they think I’m going to whip out my receipt, they’re getting the proverbial finger.

  192. RChris173 says:

    FL Law on this:


  193. higgy says:

    as somebody that knows people that work as door greeters at wallyworld…
    dont get pissed at them asking to check your bags…
    they catch hell, up to the point of being wrote up or even fired for “not doing their job”, some have been fired for not stopping a person walking out the door while the alarm is going off… do you want your grandma to stop sone 6ft 300lbs jackass running out the door…
    dont treat the greeter like crap, bitch at the general manager and higher up.. they are the cause of this….

  194. SinisterMatt says:


    When I worked at a Kmart (not for them, mind you, but as a contracted out security guard), that was my job. If the alarm things went off (and they did occasionally), I was supposed to stop them, check the receipt and mark what happened on the clip board. If someone didn’t stop, no big deal. Nine times out of ten it was because a CD or something didn’t get deactivated at the register. I’d mark it on the sheet, deactivate it on the tag deactivator doohickey and let them go on their merry way. No sweat.

    Usually if someone was trying to steal something, loss control (who sat in the back all day and looked at people with the video cameras) was usually pretty close and would take them down the second they left the doors. I, the fresh out of high school peon that I was, didn’t have the authority or permission to restrain the customers, unless someone’s life was in danger. But I digress.

    In this case it sounds like someone is being overzealous (isn’t that what most of these sound like?) about Wal-Mart’s policy. I’ve walked out of there before with $150 in groceries before and they haven’t said word one.

  195. bwcbwc says:


    The receipt checks are usually intended to prevent collusion between cashiers and their friends, so security after the payment isn’t the issue. Shoplifter goes to friendly cashier, pays for a few groceries and doesn’t pay for the expensive stuff.

  196. ZekeSulastin says:

    @mgy: Ah, yes, the good old “Keep the slippery slope of PrIvAcY loss from happening by making an ass of yourself and wasting everyone’s time!” post. Gotta love those who fight da man by not showing a receipt at the door. It does SO MUCH to ensure rights to REAL privacies.

    Seriously, get over yourselves and just show the damn receipt. The hours you waste for this bullshit can be better spent heading to another store or volunteering for a political organization to depose the government or something.

  197. BrianU says:

    First, I applaud your calm assertiveness in taking the risks and inconveniences of defending both your, and every one’s. rights to not have to practice living in a police state.

    Secondly, ” At this point the people greeter told me I had to stop and allow her to go through everything I just purchased.” NO you do NOT have to stop, or allow a search, or even identify yourself. Just because another citizen has a certain job, or wears a certain costume, does not give them the authority they believe they have and/or want you to believe they have, especially “police powers.”

    On a slight tangent, any person has to have a reasonable belief that you committed a crime to report another individual to the police, and meet this at a high standard in the process of swearing out a search warrent.
    The real police should be well aware of that. Any judge or magistrate would/should demand some sort of observation or “proof” other than statistics or randomness showing that you personally should have your Fourth Amendment rights jeopordized; so even if a police officer asked to search your bag or see a receipt, you can still refuse until they got a warrent.

    Giving false witness during the process of swearing out a warrent is a serious crime. “Well intentioned” but lame reasoning used to justify a search warrent most often gets a very dim view from judges, and busy police forces.

    All these hurdles and legal requirements related to stopping, questioning, and searching individuals, and the penalties for false charges, perjury, unlawful detainment, and unlawful searches were put into place in part to strongly discourage police, and particularly private individuals from even attempting to put their nose in your personal business.

    Not standing up for your rights is the first, and most important step in losing your rights and liberties. It seems certain to me that business and security guard type people count on lack of knowledge, fear, “going with the flow,” minimization of the importance of our rights and convenient rationalizations to take away from us what America’s foreign enemies have always failed to do.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. It’s a slippery slope to living in a totally corrupt Banana Republic when what was once common sense and adulthood is replaced by sheepishness. Bullies always get worse when the targets get easier. So, thanks again for not playing along with a bad policy.

  198. SayAhh says:

    From [www.flexyourrights.org]

    >24. I refused a search, but the officer searched me anyway. Was it an illegal search? What should I do?

    Unfortunately police sometimes search you even if you refuse consent. If they find anything illegal, you’ll have to get a lawyer and fight it out in court.

    If the officer convinces the judge that there was probable cause to search without your consent, then the evidence will be admissible in court. If your lawyer convinces the judge that there was no probable cause, then the evidence will be thrown out and your charges will be dropped. Every case is different so it’s hard for us to tell you how good your chances are in your particular case. Your attorney should be able to tell you what to expect from the judges in your area.

    If you’re searched illegally and nothing is found, you should still consider taking legal action or at least filing a complaint. Local attorneys, as well as your local ACLU and NAACP chapters may be able to help you.

    [comment] That’s in case you are searched by the REAL police. I wonder how much power grandpa at the Wal-Mart exits really has?

    >As for the lack of a mention of purchase verification in the Uniform Commercial Code, he is correct. Though I am certainly not a lawyer and have not retained one to research relevant statutes and case law for me, it is my belief that an item that I purchase becomes my property and therefore is mine to do with as I please as soon as I would be subjected to the store’s return policy for it. This is the case when the cash register closes or the credit card transaction completes.

    If this is true, then the only method available to legally prevent me from moving as I choose out of the store would be to detain me for shoplifting. I would’ve welcomed this, actually, as it would’ve been fun to sue Best Buy for false arrest.

    In order to insulate themselves from unfortunate civil suits such as this, many merchants have adopted six rules for their security personnel that guarantee having “probable cause”:

    * You must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise
    * You must see the shoplifter select the merchandise
    * You must see the shoplifter conceal or convert the merchandise
    * You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter
    * You must observe the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
    * You must apprehend the shoplifter outside the store

    An employee failing to meet any one of these criteria is supposed to let the suspect go. A door guard will never meet these criteria, and therefore will never actually accuse anyone of shoplifting just for not letting him look through their belongings. He’s there to create duress, giving the impression that you are not free to leave unless you let him search you.

    I completely understand why a merchant would be interested in searching everyone leaving the store. It makes great financial sense. I just don’t happen to let them, and they can’t do much about it. As I am not particularly price sensitive, I prefer to pay slightly more and not be intimidated every time I shop. Thus I choose to not return to stores that are aggressively enforcing this particular policy.

    I’ve only had a few bad experiences in the years I’ve been ignoring door guards, and I think the time I’ve saved in not standing in line again to leave the stores has more than made up for them.
    [comment] If you still choose to shop at Walmart (or BestBuy, et al.) and don’t mind showing–VOLUNTARILY–your receipt but simply want to avoid the line, then:
    a) walk to another exit and proceed exiting without acknowledging the “checker” or looking suspicious, and if they come after you, show them your receipt and say, “see?” without getting mad. That will drive THEM mad and save you from having to wait in line;

    b)walk around, if challenged, tell him/her to go check the videos as they have you on tape paying for your stuff and leaving the store without “picking up” anything else before you were confronted, which should also be on tape;

    or c) walk around, if challenged, go return the item you bought WITHOUT RETURNING THEIR PLASTIC BAG, then leave the store again, now with an empty bag, but pretend that you DID buy something. If they stop you again (and they will) then tell them that they already sold you the bag and you returned the items you bought (show them your chargeback receipt) and laugh and you watch them fume! lol :)
    And one more: [crimedoctor.com]

    >Are Door Bag Searches Legal?

    Yes, as long as the inspection is voluntary. No, if the bag check is involuntary or coerced. This is a rather fine legal distinction that is subject to misunderstanding and abuse. Basically, nothing in the law gives the merchant the right to detain a customer for the purpose of searching a shopping bag unless there is a reasonable suspicion of retail theft. See my web page on Shoplifting: Detention & Arrest for more details

    A customer can refuse to have their bag checked and simply walk out the door past the bag checker. Hopefully the bag checker has been trained to know that they cannot force anyone to submit to a bag search without cause. This is important because the expectation of the bag checker is that all bag contents have been purchased. The worst thing that could happen is that an aggressive bag checker would forcibly detain or threaten a customer who refused to comply with the voluntary search

    @Shaftoe: the fact that you have no sense of humor or sarcasm.

    This story reminds me of an earlier Walmart receipt story where the guy bought a gun (or shotgun), was told he couldn’t carry the gun out of the store so someone who watched him pay for it “escorted” both him and the gun toward the exit, only to be told that he couldn’t leave without showing a receipt, so he just returned the gun–without the receipt! :)

    He also couldn’t buy bullets at the same time, as I recall.


  199. Nicholas_schaulsohn says:

    Congrats on making the lives of the poor souls who have to work every ****ind day at walmart even more miserable. You’re so cool.

  200. ellastar says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: I’ve heard that they’ll put stickers on electronics that people walk in with (needing to find accessories and chargers and stuff). I can see that, as I wouldn’t want them getting confused and attempting to stop me for stealing something I already own. But the receipt checking is unnecessary.

    @Chese: At RadioShack, we aren’t allowed to chase after anyone if they refuse to stop after the alarm goes off. All we can do is put it in the log that we have every time the alarm is set off. Now, if only we could stop sticking the security tags to coworkers when they aren’t paying attention… ;)

  201. pdxmatt says:

    I live in just an AWESOME neighborhood that has not one but TWO Devil*Marts within about two miles of my house. The one right down the street has a considerably larger “minority” customer base than the other. I don’t want to insinuate anything untoward here, but I’m white and I’ve never been asked for a receipt….ever (although I’d love to and would carry on just like the author of this article). They corral people into the in and out door and yell at you if you go in or out the wrong one and the service is, well, you know. My name is Matt and I’ve been Wal*Mart free now for a year and four months, God willing, that will continue. Follow me brothers and sisters!

  202. LUV2CattleCall says:


    And what about the sheep that cream themselves over “making a difference” when all they’re doing is allowing the unions to stick a hand up their ass and make them a sock puppet?

  203. bigmil87 says:

    Wow seriously I can’t believe that so many people have an issue with having a receipt checked. Its just a safety measure for companys to protect their merchandise, because believe it or not people do steal from stores!

  204. mikelotus says:

    come on, what’s the big deal about showing your receipt? we are a nation of sheep, and doing this does not change that. we have let our civil rights erode over the last 7 years and you have the nerve to whine about walmart? when you decide enough is enough and get congress to stop the nonsense, then i will believe we are not a nation of sheep.

  205. jedipunk says:

    I will stop on three conditions only.
    1. My item is not bagged.
    2. I set off the alarm.
    3. Police are involved.

  206. Red_Eye says:

    You know if it weren’t for the paranoia of a few we would be moving toward a system they are currently trying in japan. Every product in the store has an RFID, you don’t go to a checker. You walk past a sensor and your cart is scanned and you are charged for everything in it. For verification purposes they could force your cart through a scale as well on the way out (all those self checkouts already know the weights of some of the items). Easy simple, quicker than you can imagine and no more checkout clerks or receipt checkers. Of course in this country we are all so afraid some terrorist (or marketing company) will setup a RFID scanner on ever corner that they will be able to associate our person with that truckload of Preperation-H and hello Kitty dolls that went by.

  207. HOP says:

    i have not been checked by the wal-marts in our area…the only time they go thru the carts is when the alarm bell sounds….now the sam’s club checks every cart, but they do it quickly….

  208. girly says:

    I can almost understand where wal-mart is coming from, but they really need to make people understand it is voluntary and not mislead customers into thinking they have to participate.

    I can see where wal-mart is coming from because with how the try to negotiate prices with suppliers I would love to see some kind of proof from them that they aren’t essentially a ‘fence’ for companies that might use shady means to produce or obtain the items wal-mart sells. ‘Cause I’ve always wondered.

  209. HOP says:


  210. girly says:

    @bigmil87: I think most people get that it’s a ‘safety measure’ for the company. But we also don’t have to do the company any extraordinary favors.

    And yes, some people like to threaten that companies might do more ridiculous things while they still have ownership of the items that will take up even more of our time, but I really doubt stores would do that because they would definitely lose a lot of customers at that point.

  211. pileofmonkeycrap says:

    Yeah, it’s a drag waiting for them to look over all the items. But mostly I find it amusing because the checkers at our Walmart are literally borderline retarded and I always leave with a smile because of them. Some are so adorable!

  212. trekkie says:

    I don’t shop there, problem solved.

  213. chrylis says:

    @Android8675: While Fry’s does have its share of problems, using a single line makes checkout much smoother by preventing everyone from piling up behind that person who’s insisting on buying a plasma with pennies. Instead, a single-line system makes sure that everyone gets checked out in first-come-first-served order (and makes adding cashiers easier, since there’s no land-rush to the register).

  214. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    Apparently there is still trouble with viewing additional comment pages?

  215. humphrmi says:

    @Nicholas_schaulsohn: Well intentioned but misplaced sympathy. Walmart management makes the employees lives miserable by not training them on the proper, legal procedure and by expecting their employees to violate most states laws about illegal search and detention.

    The customers whose rights are violated are secondary victims of this mis-management and are thus not contributors to said misery.

  216. APFPilot says:


  217. bravo says:

    If receipt checking before you leave the building is so crucial to these retailers, then why don’t they build a giant cage with NYC subway-like one-way turnstiles around the checkout registers. That way, there is very little chance that there is something in your bag that you did not pay for. Otherwise, leave us the hell alone. You can ask, but cannot force me to show you my sh!t.

  218. asaturn says:

    that may have been just the policy of that specific walmart. the managers of each one runs the place like it’s their own little country. the one here has a “policy” of emptying out the registers of all cash at midnight every night. really really safe policy, I might add.

  219. kallawm says:

    It just occurred to me that this whole issued could be avoided if stores didn’t put any merchandise beyond the cash registers. Then, it is the cashier’s responsibility to make sure everything is paid for. Once you go through the line, you’ve lost the opportunity to steal anything.

  220. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @amoeba: Part of that writing down was the cashier’s id. If a cashier has too many times where they didn’t deactivate the alarm in items, they get in trouble. It’s not trying to write down any of your info.

  221. bravo says:

    why is this site ALWAYS broken? the “continue reading comments” link is broken…AGAIN.

  222. freshwater says:

    I just want to applaud the OP. He stood up for his rights without being rude, and without exacerbating the situation. Yay!

  223. vladthepaler says:

    I think it’s great that the OP stood up to all of Walmart’s attempts to intimidate him. He did what was right, he held fast to his ideals. If only more people were like that….

  224. mariospants says:

    Actually, the one time I witnessed someone stealing a DVD (using their kid to transport the goods) it was because the checker was occupied with her husband’s receipt that she was able to unwrap the security from the DVD and toss it in the garbage. If the checker were to just stand there and watch people coming out she wouldn’t have gotten away with it.

  225. JanetCarol says:

    It is horrible that they would go through your bags! What if you were buying something embarrassing. F them. Where I don’t think it is right, I can understand the logic of wanting to check a receipt for an un-bagged item, it’s still wrong and it makes everyone feel like a criminal. It is embarrassing when my boyfriend walks out while the guy at the door is asking him for his receipt and he is yelling ” I don’t have to show you anything!” and everyone stares at me.

  226. JanetCarol says:

    Not everyone has money to shop at Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel, K-mart has a horrible selection and there really is not much else around. So shopping at Wal-mart is sometimes your best option

  227. mikelotus says:

    @janetcarol: Does Wal-Mart sell sexual devices now? Now that would be cool. Of course they are the only place selling the new Journey album. Talk about embarrassing if someone saw you buying that. I would probably be forced to commit suicide in that case.

  228. hesperid says:

    What could you possibly steal between the register and the door? Some breath mints?? Why not just hire more assholes to stand right at the register and stare you down to make sure everything is being paid for or install camera’s to catch the bag of dog food lurking on the bottom rack of the cart??

    I’d love to know how often they actually catch people stealing like this. I’m sorry, but no one can quickly take a mile long receipt and compare it to a huge cart full of crap, decoding the abbreviations, to ensure it all matches. It’s bullshit.

  229. TheNerd says:

    In my experiences at Kmart, there is really nothing we can do to stop a shoplifter, even if we have evicence. I once had a girl set off the exit alarm. She and her mother stopped. [Keep in mind that employees are not alowed to force customers to stop at the alarm. They must choose to do so.] I deactived all their products, then they tried again. The alarm still went off. She took her coat off, and this time the alarm didn’t go off. I asked the manager what I should do, and she told them they could go. At this point the mother was giving her daughter an intense glare, because she knew, and I knew, that her daughter had a stolen item in her pocket. Even still, we have no authority to accuse her of shoplifting. The customer is the one with the rights, not the employees.

  230. aikoto says:

    I don’t really see a problem with a store making a cursory check to see the receipt and glancing at your cart. Going through the bags, that’s a little different. But otherwise, it seems like a reasonable anti-theft precaution.

    Also stores like Costco require that you let the receipt checker look at your stuff right?

  231. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @aikoto: I don’t really see a problem with a store making a cursory check to see the receipt and glancing at your cart.

    Fair enough. Personally, I think their “checking” my receipt is rude, so I treat it the same way I would any other rude personal request from a stranger – I either ignore it, or simply say no.

    Going through the bags, that’s a little different.

    So apparently we just draw the line in different places.

  232. Wolter says:

    From [www.crimedoctor.com]

    A retail store makes a choice when it decides to apprehend and arrest those who attempt to steal their merchandise. Making that choice creates a legal responsibility of doing it correctly. This involves the proper hiring, training, and supervising those who make shoplifter apprehensions and arrests. In the retail loss prevention profession, the possibility of falsely accusing and detaining a customer for theft is a business reality that must be addressed.

    In the United States, citizens value their civil liberties and constitutional rights and don’t appreciate submitting to unlawful seizure and search. Because of this, there has been a legal trend of suing the retail store anytime a customer is wrongfully accused of shoplifting. In recognition of this, the retail security and loss prevention industry have developed six universally accepted steps to minimize the potential for a false arrest claim.
    They are:

    1. You must see the shoplifter approach the merchandise
    2. You must see the shoplifter select the merchandise
    3. You must see the shoplifter conceal, convert or carry away the merchandise
    4. You must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter
    5. You must observe the shoplifter fail to pay for the merchandise
    6. You must apprehend the shoplifter outside the store

    If these six steps are followed, false arrest situations and subsequent lawsuits will be almost nonexistent. These six steps were designed to establish a high degree of probable cause for detention and arrest of a person suspected of shoplifting. If one of these steps is skipped, the chance for false arrest increases proportionately. If two or more steps are skipped, the store personnel are acting recklessly towards customers and are exposing the store unnecessarily to liability and false arrest claims. Remember, state law may not require this high degree of care for criminal prosecution.

  233. dirk1965 says:

    I’m so tired of hear about this shit. Show your damn receipt so the old person will have something to do!

  234. gnappulicious says:


    actually, i live in rural pennsylvania – where the nearest city is 3 hours away – and i still refuse to shop at walmart. if there is something i need, i *GASP* buy it online from another retailer if i have to. no one HAS to shop at walmart.

  235. girly says:

    Why are there ‘just show your receipt’ people who tell anti-receipt checking people to just shut up and tolerate it?

    If they really believed that wouldn’t they follow their own advice and tolerate these comments?

  236. sniggity says:

    I’ve been to a lot of Walmarts all throughout the country and I have yet to see one Walmart physically going through a person’s bags at the door, let alone checking people’s receipts. Sure, I’ve seen them glance at receipts and look for expensive items match the receipt with what they have in the cart, but only on occasion.

    I find it hard to believe that someone had an experience where a Walmart “greeter” actually went through all their bags upon leaving the store. I am in no way defending Walmart and I do think they should stop this practice at the stores of which they do this, but some people tend to exaggerate I think. I personally feel people who do the “no thanks” bit are being d*cks and are looking for trouble, I mean, this isn’t Nazi Germany….yet. How hard is it to stop for 5 seconds, hand them your receipt and then walk out?

  237. sean77 says:

    @linus: I wish consumerist would actually feature that article with every single one of these stories.

    The store has every right in the world to ask for your receipt. They can detain you if they have a reasonable belief that you are shoplifting (refusing to show a receipt for an unbagged item fits the bill)

  238. vancleef9000 says:

    I worked at Wal-Mart as a Loss Prevention Officer and there are 4 things that must occur before you can be arrested for shoplifting(at any store)

    1)Selection of an item
    2)Concealment of said item
    3)They must have continuity of you and the item the entire time you are in the store
    4) You have to leave the store with the item.

    It’s actually harder to get caught shoplifting then it is to get away with it. If you are just walking out of the store and haven’t stolen anything the store can’t make you stop for any reason. They can ask you to stop but you don’t have to, even if the alarms go off. Just keep on keepin’ on. If you get hassled call the regional manager, the store manager isn’t gonna do jack to the people who gave you a hard time.

  239. Meathamper says:

    This is stupid. I paid for my stuff, and I have to get my receipt checked. Walmart employees are a bunch of idiots. It surprised me to know that they knew what to do with the license plate.

  240. To be honest, I recently started picking up odds and ends there again in a pinch. I use the self-checkout right in front of the door, where a lady is watching you, not to mention the cameras overhead. Nobody stops you, because you are already in front of the door-checker anyhow while paying.

    After reading some of the stories, it makes me think…while they were sending 4-5 guys out for this guy to check his receipt, someone else was shoplifting.

    And yes, most theft in the store is internal. When I worked at a Best Buy many years ago when it first opened in town, by the time we opened the doors, 50 grand worth of merch. had been stolen…including two floor style big screens.

  241. @sean77: no…they don’t have a right to ask you for your receipt if you JUST PAID FOR IT. I mean they have the right to ask you whatever you want, that doesn’t mean you have to stop. You paid and completed the transaction, the stuff in your hand is yours now, including the receipt, and you don’t have to show them anything you don’t feel like.

    I have yet to be stopped, but I would tell them I don’t have time and to check their security tapes. not to mention, you can tell / see the undercover store people looking at you while you shop.

  242. nevermindtheend says:

    How would you recommend responding to this type of thing at a public library?

  243. geoffhazel says:

    I am so used to getting my receipt checked at Costco, that it did not even occur to me to protest at WalMart. The only thing I have against WalMart is that there is only one very crowded store close to me (Bellevue WA).

  244. fett387 says:

    When they ask for my receipt, I always give it to them. Although, I put it in my mouth first and wait a couple of seconds, then I offer it to them.
    Yeah, I get weird looks but they always tell me to move on.

  245. lincolnparadox says:

    Ugh. One the one hand, this guy was well within his rights to tell the receipt/bag checker to “eat his sack.” But, at the same time, would it have taken that much to flash the receipt and say “I’m in a hurry, I paid for everything in this cart?”

    If they try to stop you by barring your path or, G-d help them, touching you, then you scream for a manager. Demand that s/he get on top of this policy, involve the local police if you like. Spend the day, call the local press.

    If you want to cause change, you need to not “be in a hurry.” Otherwise, you may as well just shop elsewhere. Target and KMart are happy to let you walk right out of their buildings, unmolested.

  246. SomalakshmiAkon says:

    Yes some people can only get jobs at Walmart because they have pushed
    out the other businesses in the area by undercutting prices. If that
    doesn’t sound like a familiar business model that has been seen
    litigation toward it several times, check your head and the news from
    a decade ago.

    Yes you have the freedom to shop elsewhere. Yes you also have the
    freedom to order online, however most people can’t afford to wait that
    long for most common household goods or groceries. Dollar-wise Walmart
    is inexpensive, however it comes with a cost for the others who might
    loose their job from a competing business followed by the only
    location to work is now the local mega-super-mart that pays less than
    livable wages. There is something to be said for the amount of jobs
    Walmart provides. But 57 labor lawsuits in 2006, as well as the
    average annual wages being below the poverty line don’t really excuse
    that fact.

    Yes some people are fine with having their receipts checked at the
    door. However, those admonishing those who stand up for their rights
    are complicit in the violation of those rights. When you submit to the
    superfluous demands of a human rights violator like Walmart, it is
    your choice to be a pawn in their attempted authority. Slippery slope
    for some, a subtle notch on the totem pole of making the dumb dumber
    with more elements of control to the rest of us. If you can’t see the
    control mechanisms a company like Walmart uses, you will never be able
    to unless you learn to start reading books instead of brining matches
    when someone asks you to.

    Shrink? Anybody ever work in retail at a large store? Most shrink come
    from people that work in the loading areas. 60-80% of shrink is
    internal for most major retail outlets including Fry’s and Walmart.

    Justify shopping at a place like Walmart all you want with statements
    like: “I looked everywhere else”, “They have exclusives”, “Best place
    to get a kiddie pool”. Some of the people who choose not to shop at
    Walmart do live in nice homes and can afford to buy goods at other
    stores. Some of us have student loans we are still paying off and
    recognize that subsidizing Walmart’s business with our tax dollars,
    their poor treatment of workers and environment, and ultimate
    financial impact on the community are all terrible costs to pay for
    paying a few dollars less on your next set of dishes or half gallon of

  247. magnus150 says:

    I work at a local wal-mart and we only check bags if the theft alarm goes off, as at that point we have reasonable suspicion. The person has the right to refuse at that point, but we also have the right to call the police and ban them from the premises.

  248. jake.valentine says:

    I will never EVER stop at a non-club (Costco, Sams Club, etc..) to show a receipt for something I have already paid for. The moment they accept your money for a product they have relinquished ownership to YOU! They can call the police all they want because you have not commited a crime. If loss prevention puts one hand on you it is a misdemeanor battery and YOU can then call the police. This type of social conditioning of the shopping public is one lawsuit away from going extinct. I don’t even like to do it at Costco, but you essentially agreed to it when you become a member. At least Costco offers superior customer service and a fair return policy which makes it easier to accept.

  249. Qooop says:

    I am happy to let THE STORE MANAGER come down from his high office and waste his time if he wants to check my receipt. I have told that, very politely, to the cavity checker. Then she just let me through, knowing that wasting my time was fine but no way was the store manager going waste his time.

  250. newfenoix says:

    Standard rule of thumb; store personal, especially at Wal Mart, CAN NOT detain you, search you or touch you in any way. In most states, trying to stop you from leaving is illegal. That is why more and more merchants are hiring UNIFORMED police officers as security. Demanding or even asking to see a receipt could be considered illegal detainment.

    My advice to anyone that has been caught in this situation is to tell the fruit cake at the door that if you are not allowed to leave, you are returning EVERYTHING you just bought for a refund. I did that one time and I was in uniform when I did it. Once is all it took.

    When an employee demands to see your receipt they are, in fact, accusing you of stealing. And that is against the law in all 50 states.

    Wal Mart was sued successfully by an actual shoplifter several years because the manager stopped him from leaving the store. My wife is a CSM at Wal Mart and their policy is you can’t confront or accuse. And yes, all of these “security” measures are to try to catch employees.
    And the term used by Wal Mart is shrinkage.

    I can’t remember the state, but at least one state is trying to get a law on the books that prohibits stores from practicing these Gestapo-like tactics.

  251. keleka says:

    If they demand your receipt and you don’t want to show it, just take your cart directly to the returns counter and tell them you want a refund so you can go spend your money at Target instead.

  252. TPK says:

    I shop regularly at Wal-Mart, because it is cheaper than my other local alternatives. Say what you will, that is my choice.

    I’m a middle aged (ouch it hurts to type that!) White guy, who is usually reasonably groomed and dressed. I rarely buy more than 3 bags of stuff at any one time.

    Although receipt checking is rampant at my local store, I have never once been asked to show one. I never break stride on my way out. Sometimes I ignore the checker, sometimes I look them in the eye, and once in a while, I even greet them with a “good night” or whatever.

    I strongly suspect that there is a significant amount of racial profiling going on in my local store. Almost everyone I see stopped to show their receipts is either Black or Hispanic. I have often commented to friends and relatives how interesting it would be to sit in the parking lot with a zoom video camera and record the action, to gather data in support of this theory.

    One of the big news shows needs to do an undercover story.

  253. SayAhh says:

    @SomalakshmiAkon: Amen!

  254. wildness says:

    I live in a small town and thus have to occasionally shop at Mall-Wart. Every time I leave the store after a purchase – and without a bag because I don’t need anymore plastic bags making cost of my gas go up – I hope that someone wants to check my receipt so I can tell them no and walk on and see the reaction.

    Bag checking is not to see if the customer is stealing per se, but to see if their employees are purposefully not ringing things up for friends, etc.

    Come on Mall-Wart, bring it on and call my dad – THE CHIEF OF POLICE!

  255. Vanguarde says:

    What I do in my store is have a ‘pre-check out’ security enforcer stand at the entrance of each line that is open to confirm each item the customer intends to purchase. I also have the same security enforcer bag the items for the customer, taking this job away from the cashier.

    In order to purchase the items from my store, the customer must go through this process which adds depending on the amount of items a minute at most.

    So how this works is that the 1st security enforcer checks the incoming items the customer has, scans them with a portable hand scanner, then goes to the bagging area past the cashier.

    As the cashier conducts the transaction and moves the items into the bagging area, the security enforcer scans each item as it comes down the belt, with the hand held scanner making sure the items match up from the first inspection. The security enforcer then bags each item, and obtains the receipt from the cashier.

    Once my enforcer is confident that the transaction has been honest and secure, he/she hands the customers receipt to them. Then the customer is free to leave, with no door checks.

    You can also set this up with 2 security enforcers at a time per lane. 1 stands at all times at the entrance and checks the incoming items, and the other stands at the bagging area with a hand scanner to confirm what the 1st enforcer scanned.

    Wireless technology is used to transfer the 1st enforcers scanner to the 2nd enforcers scanner. This of course costs more to me per lane, so I only do this when traffic is heavy.

    So if you come to my store, I promise you will NEVER be asked to show your receipt after you have legally purchased your items. They are yours as soon as you have paid and have been given the receipt.

    I do still have the usual security features for those who try to smuggle out product in their pants, handbag, etc.

    It is truly unfortunate that these mega chains treat their customers like criminals even after they paid for the items. What these places fail to understand is that the ‘last line of defense’ is AT the checkout lane – not past the security scanners where ambush employees are places to demand ‘proof’ you bought something.

    And following people into parking lots while blocking their car is criminal.

  256. Chad LaFarge says:

    @JiminyChristmas: I fault the shopper because they knew it was going to happen before they went there. They seem to prefer to create conflict, going out of their way to avoid a simple receipt check. You know it when you frequent a store that does it, when you enter and see other shoppers showing receipt on the way out and when you pass by the signs explaining the policy.

    This is not an issue of defending personal rights and freedoms, or of the stores oppressing their patrons. You are free to shop anywhere you like, and to show your preference for the businesses that don’t do the checks, as long as you don’t mind paying more to compensate their lack of active theft deterent policies.

    If you disapprove of it so strongly, elect a new store: Vote with your wallet.

  257. NoelleCabaiste says:


    Willful ignorance of the law is not a justifiable excuse. Try telling a cop that you didn’t see that traffic sign. And the same maxim applies to Walmart. If you don’t think that laws should apply equally to everyone and everything, then why are you commenting?

    Either you believe and should man up and stand up, or you should just shut up and be an good little corporate sheep.

    “Without justice there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.” MLK Jr.