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... ;)