Thursday, March 5, 2015

To Wookiee, or not to Wookiee, That is the Question...

So, the other night I was a tangential participant in a Facebook discussion. One of my online friends, I won't name him, but suffice to say he's someone I consider a good person, went to WalMart and bought a number of items. None were "big ticket" - no computers, flat screen TVs, or anything even vaguely expensive.

So, as he was walking out, the greeter asked to see his receipt. He politely declined, was challenged a second time, declined a second time, and then left the store. Someone who he thought might be a store detective followed him out into the parking lot, again asking to see his receipt. He declined yet again, then asked if he was under suspicion of having done something illegal. When told no, he got ready to leave.

The detective/loss prevention person then took pictures of his car's license plate and informed him that he had better not have stolen anything, because they would inform the police. At this point, the friend in question asked if they wanted to call the police, because it sounded to him that WalMart was accusing him of a crime. The loss prevention dude declined to call the police, and my friend left the store parking lot and went home.

This is one of those kobayashi maru* scenarios, where there really is no good outcome. I *totally* understand not wanting to show a receipt. It's a colossal waste of time, you know you haven't stolen anything, it's sending a bad message to the store when you consent knowing you've done nothing wrong. On the other hand, my friend ended up wasting way more time arguing with store employees than had he simply shown his receipt. Yes, you're right, but you've allowed the store to steal more of your time than it would have taken to produce the receipt.

I've been challenged, and shown my receipt, for just that reason: it's easier. It takes five seconds, tops, they glance at it, are satisfied, and I leave. Easy peasy. Maybe people like me are the reason they feel they can challenge anyone at any time. For me it's a simple time/benefit analysis - it's simply not worth the extra time to argue with someone over whether they have the right to demand my receipt. I'm not going to convince the $10/hour loss prevention dude that he's chasing the wrong folks.

But the flip side is just as convincing: by not giving in, my friend forced the store to the brink, and they backed down. By not calling the police, they are admitting that they don't have sufficient evidence to even accuse my friend of a crime, let alone produce evidence to have him arrested. It forces the store to be more accurate in who they chose to accost leaving the store, and that's a net win for everyone.

I don't think the store did it maliciously, that simply doesn't make sense. It took time for the greeter to ask for the receipt; it took time for the loss prevention dude to go out into the parking lot to talk to my friend; if the store is doing this just to harass customers at random, it's a terrible idea all around. Not only are they losing money in the form of salary paid for precisely zero effective work, but they're diverting loss prevention resources away from, you know, people actually stealing from the store.

Bottom line, I really don't know how I would/will react. Honestly, I'm more likely to produce my receipt to get out faster - years of shopping at warehouse stores where you deliberately show your receipt when leaving have conditioned me to simply keep the receipt out until I get into my truck. On the flip side, by refusing to show a receipt when I know I've done nothing wrong, I'm forcing the store to examine their policies and possibly save them time and money.

Oh, I'm just kidding. We all know that's not going to happen. More than likely, the store has some idiotic, TSA-like "random search" policy where they ask every [X] person leaving the store for their receipt. Corporate has probably run some sort of analysis that showed a certain percentage of stops resulted in a certain drop in shrink (lost goods; yes, I used to work in retail...). By stopping every, say, 50th person leaving the store, they create the illusion that their loss prevention team is ready to swoop in like ninjas should you try to abscond with a Snickers bar you didn't pay for.

Maybe I lose some wookiee cred here, because it's not worth my time to teach a megamart a lesson that they'll never get. 

That is all.

*And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of using a Star Trek scenario in a post I titled with something from Star Wars... ;)


Ted said...

I've been operating under the theory that the reason that Costco and others check all the receipts is to verify that the checkout clerks are actually charging for all the high end items in the carts. And not just overlooking the flat screen thier sister just picked out.

Since you were in retail you know that most of the shrink goes out the back door, not the front. The employees all feel that because they are paid so poorly they are entitled to help themselves.

So yes I have no issue with showing my receipt before leaving the store,

Now can someone explain why Whole Foods asks me if I even want my receipt printed????

How much can that possibly save?? Rolls of register tape are pretty cheap.

AndyN said...

I'm a "my house, my rules" kinda guy. If it really bothers you that you might be asked to show you own something while on somebody else's property, you can always stay off their property.

Ted - If I had to guess, asking you whether you want your receipt printed has less to do with cost savings than with a slavish devotion to Gaia worship.

Armed Texan said...

Yeah, this is not a wookie suit issue as both your friend and Walmart are private entities. We are free to not shop Walmart if we do not like their policies and Walmart is free to employ whatever stupid policies they wish on their property so long as they do not try to physically detain you or file false police reports.

Had this been a Venezuelan state owned supermercado though...well we would have already lost by that point; time to emigrate.

Jim Landerkin said...

In my world-view, the door guy asking to see your receipt to determine that you aren't a thief is the same as a cop stopping you on the street, with no RAS or PC, to see if you have current warrants. Or, if you are openly carrying a firearm, to see if you are a felon.

Once we start giving in to the small infringements, the larger ones follow.

bogie said...

If I was shopping at a Sam's, that is their policy and they ask everyone for their receipt - I show it.

I was asked for my receipt once at Wally World. I declined. The guy then proceeded to tell me how it was "people like you [me]" that make prices go up. No, I didn't steal anything, and he watched the cashier ring up my stuff (I know he watched - I watched him watching) - he was just being a dink for some reason - I wasn't going to satisfy his ego.

GuardDuck said...

I've worked store loss prevention. I don't like the receipt checks at WalMart.

As loss prevention we'd have to have a bunch of articulable reasons to stop a person for theft. Not showing a receipt is not one of them. Heck, after stopping someone and being presented a receipt for the item would have just informed us we are real close to a false arrest moment.

My biggest problem with WalMart and other 'modernly' laid out stores is how hard it is for the loss prevention people to see if that big cart full of stuff getting wheeled out did actually go through the check stand prior to going out the door.

If the store's entrances and exits were laid out with just a cursory bit of forethought then it would be obvious when a person was by-passing the register with some goods.

Then cameras on the registers with real time mirrors to the register records make catching the 'employee's friend' discount a simpler problem.

When somebody steals from you, you don't care if they don't like you and won't shop there any more. But when you treat everyone like they are stealing from you, some just aren't going to be OK with that.

Anonymous said...

Yep, their place, their rules.

Come to my place, I can ask whatever I want.

And as to their 'right' to ask for the receipt, remember, the individual is the one with Rights (big R), but it is their property to do as they wish (for the most part). Don't like being asked? Do walk in the door.

Perhaps some of you would be better served talking about best work or business practices than about Rights. You don't actually have as many Rights as you might think.

-- James White

Anonymous said...

I the store. No problem.

The second I walk outside. Get a warrant. I want to talk to my lawyer.

Anonymous said...

I think of refusing to show a receipt as practice.

If I'm ever stopped by an LEO I'll be more ready to respond in a reasonable, calm, articulate manner.

I've been asked several times at Wally World to show my receipt. Their normal statement (note that ) is "I need to see your receipt". My response is "No, you want to see my receipt." I am not contractually obligated in any way to show them.

Had they asked I might have shown it. Probably not. Like I said, practice.

Bob S.

Farm.Dad said...

It takes little time to show them the receipt. It takes no time at all to LOUDLY say " Get away from me you pervert ! and keep walking .

Jason Cato said...

Two private entities so no coercion is needed.
But the retailer should be able to ban you from the store for being uncooperative.

Phelps said...

Actually, the store IS doing it just to harass you. They have no legal basis to enforce the receipt shenanigans, they have to use hassle and intimidation.

The message to this was, "unless you want us to act super creepy, show us your receipt." By your own admission, it has worked on you. You've been intimidated into compliance.

Old NFO said...

The other option is to turn around, go back and get refunds for every item. Then walk out after you point out the behavior to the manager. And yes, 90% of the shrink walks out the back door.

Divemedic said...

I'm going to disagree with most of you here.
They can ask to see a receipt, and I can say no. You say "their property, their rules," but what about MY property?
Do I have to cart around a receipt to prove that the wallet, cell phone, and wristwatch that I have on my person belong to me? Once I have paid for an item, the transaction is complete, and that is MY property. Absent any reasonable suspicion that I have stolen it, I don't have to prove that I own it. It doesn't matter if I bought it a week ago, or five minutes ago, it is MINE.

As to wasting time, I don't. When they ask to see a receipt, I reply as I walk by- "Sorry, I don't do that." and keep walking.

There was a woman in a KMart years ago that did that, and was tackled. She got her arm broken, and it turned out, had not stolen anything. KMart wound up paying her 3 million bucks. It takes a low of shrink to make up for 3 million bucks.

Michael Bane said...

I'm willing to show the receipts at the big discounters, Costco most notably. No big deal.

Oddly enough, I got stopped at a Best Buy as I was walking out by their loss prevention guy and his buddy, who asked if I would mind if they searched my bag and then patted me down.

I actually started laughing and walked out of the store. They followed me, and one said, "This is not a laughing matter, sir! We will physically restrain you until the police get here."

I politely declined, but said very loudly so the other customers could hear, "There are 2 men here threatening me. I am in fear for my life. I think they're going to assault me!"

I thought they we're going to wet themselves.

It was fun. I made the manager apologize to me under threat of lawsuit.

Michael B

Anonymous said...

Huh. On the one side, I see your point, or rather the side of me that wants to be a nicer human being does....

The smart-ass part of me thinks differently:
Exit Greeter: "I need to see your receipt."
Me: "That's an opinion I don't share, have a nice day" all said without breaking stride.

Alternate version a few weeks later as I'm carrying a large heavy box out of the store on my shoulder -- the only item in my order, purchased at the register closest to the greeter:

Exit greeter: "I need to see your receipt"
Me: "No you don't" in my best Obi-wan Kenobi voice

Another occasion:
Exit Greeter: "Do you have a receipt?"
Me: "Yes, I do." again said as I kept walking.

Takes no time, and the dialogue almost writes itself.


Ruth said...

Actually, at the Walmarts I've shopped at, they HAVE been checking everyone one carrying merchandise (or a shopping bag) on the way out the door. Might be the locations, or the time of day.

Honestly I fall into the don't care group. But that may be because I've never been stereotyped for it either. If they aren't stopping everyone I've never been stopped.....

B said...

I only show my receipt at places like Costco or Sams where I have signed a membership agreement consenting to the terms of shopping there which includes receipt checks.

Anywhere else I don't.

After I have paid for the merchandise, it's MY property. They have no more reason or right to search my shopping bags than my wallet or my wife's purse. They are my bags with my property inside them, thus they are private, no matter if I am still in their store. I will decline to be searched and leave.

I'm not rude about it. I just don't comply with those requests.

Anonymous said...

Want to know what's a bigger waste of time? Walking out and handing your receipt to be checked, loading the car then realizing that you hadn't paid for the dog food in the bottom of the cart. Then, going back inside to pay for it and walking out without having your receipt checked.

David said...

Old Dude at the Walmart Exit: "I need to see your receipt."

Me: "Why?"

Old Dude: "It helps cut down on shoplifting."

Me: "Which of the things in my cart do you think I stole?"

Old Dude: "umm, well, we're just making sure that everything was paid for."

Me: "So, are you accusing me of stealing or your fellow employee at the cash register of being incompetent?"

Old Dude (who's eyes are starting to roll in his head) "Umm, I need to see your receipt."

Me: "I don't think so."

Lady behind me: "Just show him your receipt and get out of the way."

Me: "Are you going to ask for her receipt also?"

Old Dude: "umm, yeah, I have to."

Me (turning towards the lady behind me): So which things in her cart do you think she stole?"

Lady behind me (getting shrill): "I didn't steal anything!"

Me: "I know! Me neither! But he (pointing back over my shoulder) thinks we both stole something."

I turned around to see the old dude walking away - very quickly.

Two days later I walked back into Walmart and the same old dude was the greeter. He said "Welcome to Walmart!" I replied "I need to see your receipt." and kept walking. They didn't ask on my way out...