IKEA Starts Checking Receipts

Party time is over at the Red Hook IKEA where, taking a cue from their big-box brethren Walmart and Home Depot, the Swedish maker of flat-packed furniture has instituted some intense receipt checking procedures.

I went there last night and immediately noticed they’ve cordoned off the wide throughput areas of the entrance and exit area on the checkout floor with retractable belt systems that allow for a single person to pass through at a time. The security guard stands in the opening. When you leave the store, the security guards check your receipts and your items in your bags to make sure they match, an employee theft and shoplifting prevention measure. IKEA even makes customers open their purses, like at a ballgame.

The checkers were dressed in security guard uniforms that were very much like NYPD uniforms down to a similar logo. There was also a standing station a few yards away manned by a uniformed off-duty NYPD cop.

Part of the problem is that IKEA doesn’t give you any shopping bags. You can buy their sturdy reusuable big blue bags (shown at left) for 59 cents. Perhaps they’ve had a problem with people coming back to the store with those bags and just walking out with tons of stuff in it. Now it seems their feel-good behavioral incentive has come to bite them in the ass and customers get hassled as a result. Come to IKEA, where our cost-cutting measure is your forfeiture of privacy!

Remember folks, they can’t detain you unless you’ve signed a member agreement consenting to receipt checks, or they have reasonable suspicion that you’re shoplifting. Refusing to show a receipt does not count as reasonable suspicion. My guess, though, is that IKEA guards are better trained than Walmart’s and will back down if you tell them to buzz off.

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(Photos: Ben Popken, daniel.julia)

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