Walmart Steals Your Cart Because You Won't Let Them Check Your Receipt

Discussion in 'The Study' started by Bob Hubbard, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Retail stores do not have the legal authority to demand a receipt be shown before allowing a customer to exit the building. If they forcibly detail a person from leaving without having probable cause to make an arrest (yes, picture the Andy Griffith show, shouting 'Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest!'), they have most likely broken the law regarding false imprisonment. If they take or hold the customer's property, they have committed theft. Depending upon the value of the property, it could be considered a felony.

    Loss prevention specialists are typically trained to follow certain rules before approaching and detaining someone they suspect of stealing store property. Mostly, they have to observe the customer secrete an item in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent man (there's that term again) would believe that the customer intended to steal it. They must keep the customer under constant surveillance up until they make an apprehension. If they fail to do so, they generally are trained not to make the stop - it just isn't worth it if they stop or even tackle someone and they turn out not to have the store's property on them.

    Fry's is notorious for checking receipts - and at one time, they demanded customers show them. They got sued - big time. They lost. Now they stand around and 'loom over' you and 'act like' you have to show them your receipt. You don't have to. You are well within your rights to walk right out. Oh, they'll still try to get you to comply. But take note of the words they use:

    "Sir, I need you to come back here! Sir!"

    Yes, they need. Well, I don't need what they need. That's their ***.

    "Sir, it is our store policy to check every receipt."

    Yes, and if I were an employee, I'd be bound by YOUR STORE POLICY. But your store policy does not have the effect of law on me. You and your store policy can step aside now, please.

    "Sir, I will come after you."


    Yes, you will. And continue to beg me to stop. But you won't stop me, nor will you lay a hand on me. Because you've been told not to by your management.

    NOTE: This may not be true at "buyer's clubs" like Sams, Costco, and so forth. You generally signed away your right to refuse search when you got your membership card. That's a binding contract, so if they want to stop you, they can - and search you - even against your will. You said they could in writing.


    I have heard much about how handwringing about how much money stores lose due to theft. I'm sorry to hear that they do. But I do not steal. I do not give retail stores permission to search me or my property (and yes, it is your property the moment you pay for it, not 'not until you leave the store' as some believe). I've been accosted. I walk away.

    Would I walk away from a police officer? No, of course not. A police officer has the full legal authority to detain me to determine my name, address, and what I'm about, and I must comply. If a police officer orders me to stop, I will. However, a police officer cannot search my bag and compare it to the receipt, either, except in that he can pat me down for weapons and ensure my bag doesn't have any in it.

    I am a bit surprised that the same people who get their panties in a wad over the very thought of government intervention into licensing martial arts centers or instructors would just meekly hand over their receipt and open their bag to have their own property inspected because some minimum-wage mouth-breather said so.

    No one at Wal-Mart, CompUSA, BestBuy, etc, are going to stop me at the door. They've tried, I just say "No, thank you" and walk around them and out the door. They tell me what they need me to do, I ignore them. They tell me they're going to 'come after me' and I ignore them. I've had them write down my license number - I let them and patiently wait until they're done before I carefully back out and drive away. I've never been visited by the police, never had a police report filed on me. I know because that information is public domain and I check.

    http://www.thelegality.com/archives/36

    By the way, a lot of cops think you have to show your receipt if asked, too. They're wrong. Not a biggie, and if push came to shove, I am in no hurry to be arrested and go to jail just so I could sue the city and get a settlement, so I'd probably cave - but in reality, no, the cop is wrong if they say that.

    However, I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice. Ask an attorney.
     
  2. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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    To prove a larceny you have to show an intent to "deprive" someone of their property. Meaning to withhold it or cause it to be withheld from him permanently or for so extended a period that the major portion of its economic value or benefit is lost to him, or to dispose of the property in such manner or under such circumstances as to render it unlikely that an owner will recover such property. A larceny charge against the store would fly like a lead balloon. Could I file the charge? Sure. Would it be a waste of the courts time? Probably.

    If they grabbed and held the customer physically there could perhaps be grounds for an unlawful imprisonment. But blocking the cart? I wouldn't make the arrest. Let them try and convince a detective to file a warrant...

    I wouldn't play the "tit for tat" crap between feuding store owner and customer. I wouldn't force the customer to do anything. I'd list the options I mentioned and let them sort it out. Receipt?...if not...let him go...if you (the store) don't like that then bar this person from the store...if not? Then Im leaving... take it up civilly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  3. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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    BTW: many of those "minimum wage mouth breathers" are just folks trying to make a living by doing what their employer tells them to do. Don't take it out on them. If they stand there and don't check then what happens to their job? Its not like they have a personal vendetta against the customers. You are the one who chose to shop there...they dont have a choice about what their boss tells them to do. Tell them that you have a problem showing your receipt and if they insist ask for a manager...THAT person you can give a piece of your mind. I've worked off duty jobs as store security, give the retiree "door greeter" who needs to work a minimum wage job to make ends meet a break...
     
  4. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    I guess I am against the grain. I always show them my reciept I figure the old disabled lady been thru enough. I know she can barely see the inside my cart nor cares. Beating someone on their terms is sweeter than beating them on yours.
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    This is very true. The best way to prevent external theft is good customer service. And the best way to prevent internal theft is good training. Employees that are well trained know how to prevent incidental loss, and will realize that there's no point in trying to get away with intentional loss, particularly if managment and the LP team are working together to identify and terminate dishonest employees.

    All of this said, I'm with jadecloudalchemist. The employee enjoying the brunt of your ire is not the problem and I'll be as pleasant as I can to her. I would also suggest avoiding Wal-Mart if at all possible. :)
     
  6. grydth

    grydth Senior Master

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    The advice of this police officer is the best I've seen here .... don't go shopping looking for a fight. Isn't that what most of our dojos teach us?

    If you know a place has a policy which offends you, shop down the street instead. If there's a sudden request, show them and tell them its the last purchase receipt they'll see from this customer. Then just walk away... again, isn't that what our martial arts teach us to do?

    An encounter with a greeter playing police officer can spin quickly into something with unforeseen physical and legal consequences for all concerned. Few, if any, are at all positive. There are seldom any winners, and there can be major losers. Folks - just avoid or minimize these encounters.
     
  7. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree.

    Though there's a good argument to charge the store with larceny... either for taking the cart or for taking the money and not surrendering the merchandise.

    It probably wouldn't get far at trial... but the argument exists.

    As to the right of the store or it's agent to detain a person suspected of theft... that's a trickier issue. Many states have a Merchant's Code like Virginia's which allows the store employees or the store's agents to detain a person if they have probable cause to suspect shoplifting. Can that greeter/checker stop anyone? No. But they can if they've been directed to by the store staff, or if you set off a shoplifting alarm.
     
  8. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, I don't 'take it out' on anyone. I just don't comply. I don't get mad, I say "No, thank you," sidestep and leave. I'm 48 years old, haven't been tackled yet.

    And most of the receipt checkers I've seen at Best Buy are the football players from high school a few years later - not nice old grannies. But whichever, I wish them all well - and then I leave.

    Non servium, baby.

    Catch you cats later. My fingers are barely working from dojo tonight.
     
  9. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'd almost thinking that checking everyone would undermine their own position in this regard.
     
  10. Jade Tigress

    Jade Tigress RAWR

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    I guess I'm the odd one out here. It really doesn't bother me, I've never given it a second thought and I don't know what the big deal is. Whether they give the cart a cursory glance, draw a line across the receipt, or just make sure you have one. I've always considered it making sure you paid and are not trying to walk out the store with stolen merchandise. Shoplifters cost people who pay more money. So, if I'm at a store that wants to see my receipt, fine, "Yeah, here it is. I paid for it." and I'm on my way. No big deal to me.
     
  11. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    i'm with ms. tigress here. i usually see one of four greeters at my local store: an old white guy who never asks for my receipt, an old black guy who is one of the nicest people i've ever chatted with, an old lady, & a handicapped guy who wears a lot of POW/MIA stuff. i've never really had the heart to take a stand with any of them, or seen any reason to. refusing them wouldn't affect wal-mart in the least, it just screws with their ability to do their job.

    jf
     
  12. Ninjamom

    Ninjamom 2nd Black Belt

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    If the security buzzer goes off as I leave, is that in itself enough 'probable cause' to detain and search for stolen goods?
     
  13. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    In Virginia, yes. State laws may vary.
     
  14. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    Maybe it's because I haven't had enough coffee yet, but I just had this image of the fight scene from Airport, except with Wal-Mart greeters instead of religious solicitors. :rofl:
     
  15. Gordon Nore

    Gordon Nore Senior Master

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    I would think staff would have grounds to inspect the purchases. The alarm in itself simply means that a product has not been properly scanned or the security tag has been removed. For some reason, though, I always look guilty when the darn thing goes off.

    The UofT bookstore changed their alarm to a recording of a woman's voice, calmly asking the customer to show their purchase to store staff.
     
  16. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Most of the time when the buzzer goes off for me they look at me and just wave me through anyway. They almost never actually check, though they may offer to demagnetize the item again.
     
  17. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Stopping the person and checking their bags actually effects a detention and search. The law gives them a bit of protection when the store does this, though in the policies I'm aware of, employees are supposed to simply ask the person to stop and have their bag checked. After all, most of the times I've seen the sensors tripped, it's been one of 3 causes: a missed tag/sensor, someone staying in the store getting too close to the door, or certain brands of strollers that used to set 'em off.
     
  18. RandomPhantom700

    RandomPhantom700 Master of Arts

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    Wait wait...the door guy saw there was an error on your receipt in your favor and let you know about it? Screw Wal-Mart, I want to shop THERE from now on. :)
     
  19. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+8.01-226.9

    Note that this is not the same as demanding to see a receipt or inspect the contents of a bag of an exiting customer - that is NOT probable cause.
     
  20. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    So, am I legally required to allow them to deactivate the device that is part of the item I just bought?
     

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