Walmart

One Man Takes on Wal-Mart's Army of Greeters Single-Handed; Your Reaction Is Requested

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An editor at Black & White sends along this article, commenting that he's "curious to see what your readers might think of our piece." It's an entertaining read, and I'm glad to oblige. You can post your responses here.

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  1. “It’s an unpleasant fact of life that sometimes we must shop at Wal-Mart…”

    He lost me right there. Sorry, but nobody must shop at Wal-Mart.

  2. The author was a little too self-satisfied and not funny enough to make his point and just seemed like a tool to me. Especially the bit about the 60 year old guy running through the store. Just sad and not so funny.

    I wanted to believe, too.

  3. It sounds like this guy is one of those little smarties from the New York City 2600 meeting and wrote for 2600 magazine, or maybe he just read it too much.

    A merchant should have every right to check and see that what you have with you is on your reciept, even if it is only to check that the cashier did not make a mistake.

  4. Yeah, I agree with the sentiment, but this guy seems to enjoy being a prick just for the sake of being a prick.

  5. Don’t be so literal, ed. I think the guy makes some fair points, even if agree that he’s kind a dick for screwing with people who are just doing their jobs.

  6. Amen, Ed. If one does not like a store, one ought to shop elsewhere. Better yet, if the writer thinks there is huge market for Wal-Mart or Costco “clones” sans the receipt check… build them. The simple fact is that most customers are happy enough with the prices at Wal-Mart or Costco (or similar stores) that they will endure all sorts of nonsense including the post-check out delay. Personally, I can’t muster any sympathy for a guy who voluntarily shops at a store (including a “membership” store like Costco) knowing exactly how the store works and then bitches about it.

  7. I don’t think you are really sticking it to the corporation when an alarm goes off in error and you proceed right out the door. You are sticking it to the $10/hr security guard who is in the unenviable position of trying to find a balance between good security and a good customer experience.

    While I agree in principle with this author’s point, common courtesy says to stop and cooperate.

  8. Amusing article, but he makes a bigger deal out of it than what it really is–retailer intimidation of shoplifters (although the senior citizens doing the checking at my local Sam’s barely look at your cart and probably can’t even read the receipt given their cataracts)..

  9. Yeah, I don’t like the receipt check either… but I always concluded that my lack of enthusiasm was my problem. I can find no joy in acting like an asshat to some guy or gal whose gainful employment is checking receipts. Of course, I’m not a smarmy editorial writer.

  10. I liked the article. Maybe I’m one of those pricks as well.

    It seems this practice has been abandoned here in western NJ, but it used to exist. When asked for my receipt, I told them I lost it – that’s right, I lost it between the register and the door, and if it was so important for them to have the receipt, they should never have given it to me. I played it a little more intimidating than the author, but I agree with the sentiment. Oh, and I don’t ignore those security sounds, I yell, “turn that shit off!” if it wails as I leave the store.

    1. You mam are an Asshat i would love to see you try that at my store because you would NOT leave with anything you purchased sorry =/ O and again you’re an asshat have a great day and thank you for shopping at Walmat 😀

  11. I agree, they guy was an ass. But sometimes you gotta be an ass to demonstrate the stupidity of such compliance.

  12. I’m largely in agreement with the author on the grounds of personal dignity. Just because I’ve entered the store does not give the business the right to detain or search me. In fact, if they physically restrain me, they are the criminals, which is why the security guys are generally told not to try that.

  13. I’ve come to the conclusion those alarms are just like car alarms–nobody pays attention anymore. I always ignore store alarms and have never been stopped for doing so.

  14. The simple fact is that the Walmart shoplifter checkpoints are part of their lost cost business model. You want to wipe your ass for .07% less? Then you get to stand in line with the potential shoplifters. ed is correct. Nobody forces you to shop where they treat you like a criminal.

    However, I have to comment on this statement: “A merchant should have every right to check and see that what you have with you is on your reciept, even if it is only to check that the cashier did not make a mistake.”

    Absolutely incorrect. A policeman can’t stop me unless he has probable cause, and a store cop certainly has no broader authority. If they detain you for walking to your car, it’s false imprisonment, and you can sue them. However, perhaps the store has a sign that says all bags and body cavities are subject to search. Perhaps by shopping there you give up your rights. Either way, you have the right to purchase your goods and leave after you have purchased them. If a store policy clearly advises you that you give up your rights as a citizen upon entering the store, then you choose to trade your rights for low prices. This recognizes that you have rights and are waiving them.

    I think part of the bee in the author’s bonnet is that the big boxers try to play off the criminal checkpoints as customer service.

  15. The guy does make an excellent point that stores these days usually don’t put price tags directly on merchandise so there’s no way for an employee to check your receipt and know if you’ve been overcharged or undercharged.

    All in all, I’m usually willing to go along with the program and let the guy at Sam’s Club check my receipt…although the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. How exactly does one steal merchandise between the checkout counters and the door?

  16. If you go through the receipt check at Costco, and there is an item on your carriage that you thought you paid for, but isn’t on your receipt, what happens next? Do they simply charge you for the item, or charge you as a shoplifter?

  17. I loved that article.

  18. Just soes ya know. Some of the posters here have already discussed this issue to death in another venue. Love the article though.

  19. How exactly does one steal merchandise between the checkout counters and the door?

    I’m pretty sure they’re checking on their employes not you.

    On the other hand, where I live they check receipts at Walmart if you have large items that are not bagged.

  20. I loved it. Store owners have NO right to inspect my property. A store policy is not the same as a state law. I don’t surrender any rights just because they’ve got a sign on the wall. Screw ’em, I say.

    The author is correct. The greeters aren’t checking for overcharging or undercharging. If they were, it would be so time consuming that no one would put up with it.

  21. I think the author would agree that the store has a “right” to check your receipt, or perform a full cavity-search on you, if you voluntarily entered their property.

    It’s just that you aren’t obliged to assist them in this. They may be entitled to enforce their security, but that’s their affair, why should you wait in line for it?

  22. “I think the author would agree that the store has a ‘right’ to check your receipt, or perform a full cavity-search on you, if you voluntarily entered their property.”

    Regardless of the authors opinion, you don’t waive your rights simply by entering private property, especially property that is a place of public accomodation.

  23. Lamar,

    You are mixing protections from the government and the right of persons to protect their property. They are different.

    Also, please review the term should, that I used quite correctly and intentionally.

    Now, I am of the school that when someone is on my property I should be able to make sure they are not walking off of my real property with any of my personal property.

    I am certainly not going to deny the same to others.

    Oh yes, I am definatly in the school of tresspassers should be fair game for a good shooting.

    Before you imagine anything into that, the shoppers are in a store by invitation. If they don’t behave then the owners agents should be allowed to withdraw said invitation, keep the store property and keep the former patron out.

    Dreaming detentions (are you going to throw accusations of beatings in next?) into what I wrote reveals more about you than it does about me.

  24. Here’s an idea – the next time a “greeter” stops you and asks for a receipt, tell them you’ll only comply if they show you documentation that proves that they paid for the merchandise from the manufacturer.

  25. The article kept timing out on me, but I’m going to post this comment on the assumption that it’s the same article we’ve already discussed on Grylliade: I go through the receipt ritual whenever I shop at Costco, because I figure it was part of the deal I signed on for when I bought my membership. But it is entirely useless: every once in awhile a receipt check might do some hypothetical good, like when there are only five items in my cart, corresponding to the five items on the receipt.

    More often, though, what happens is my cart is stuffed with more items than can be counted in a one-second glance, and the receipt business is merely a ritual: I hand over the receipt, the checker makes a casual glance into my cart and then uses a magic marker to make the ritual slashie across the receipt itself.

    I have never, ever had anybody try to check my bags or receipts as I walked out of a regular retail store, though. If anybody asked, I would absolutely refuse.

  26. I own and run an independent retail store. We’re successful, partly because there are people who refuse to put up with the bullshit in those giant warehouse stores. I have no sympathy for idiots who shop at these big stores to save $0.03 and then are treated like cattle. Perhaps if these people (like the guy writing this article) weren’t subservient consumer whores willing to submit to body cavity searches to save a few pennies, they could shop elsewhere and be much happier.

    You know, the saying, “You get what you pay for” is more often true than not.

  27. Oh yes, I am definatly in the school of tresspassers should be fair game for a good shooting.

    That would mean you could invite somebody over to your house that you didn’t like and legally shoot them. Sounds like a bad idea.

  28. Oh, and as a retail store owner, we often DO ask paying customers not to come back if they’re assholes. It’s not very often, but we do, and it’s often for nothing more than treating my staff badly (which I will not tolerate). This guy would not be allowed to shop in my store.

  29. That would mean you could invite somebody over to your house that you didn’t like and legally shoot them. Sounds like a bad idea.

    I believe, as Chief Wiggums informed us, that it doesn’t work if you invite them over.

  30. Scooped by our own fan-site! I guess it’s only a matter of time before Grylliade eclipses us entirely…

  31. Scooped by our own fan-site!

    That happens a lot, between Grylliade and individual commenters’ blogs. We like to call ourselves trailblazers.

  32. The retail business is highly competitive. If having someone posted at the door checking prices was inefficient, one would presume that market pressures would eliminate the process. If enough customers were annoyed that this practice hurt profits, again, one would assume market pressure would prevail. The simple fact is that Wal-Mart and Costco are both highly successful retail chains… arguably the best in their respective categories. If they engage in this practice, they have determined that this practice is helps them achieve their business goals. Whether you or I think it is stupid or wrongheaded is not relevant (ergo it is grist for blogs and editorial writers). Absent a question of legality (and I see none), what matters is what the marketplace thinks.

    I have this vague sense that the article is like a Rorschach inkblot for libertarians.

  33. Half the time those sensor alarms go off, they either just wave me on through, or (if the checkout is nearby) the rest of the time offending item is re-swiped over whatever deactivates the sensor.

    I guess that the sensor doesn’t really catch many true shoplifters, just merely acts as a deterrent for the simplest acts of shoplifting.

    The same could be said of the “receipt check” though in some cases it could be done far more efficiently than what the author of the article has run into.

    Wal-Mart should change the policy to openly say that it’s a theft prevention procedure to check receipts. Euphemisms are just insulting.

    Not having experienced the great inconvenience that the author did, It could be that he’s just over exaggerating for the sake of this article.

    Detecting shoplifters is more commonly done before the shoplifter even approaches the door. I had a friend who used to do loss prevention at a Wal-Mart. It was more about noticing certain behaviors and activities of a shoplifter and watch them through to the point where the shoplifter was confronted after they left the building without paying.

    Police are involved only if the person is a repeating offender, or they refuse to sign a form agreeing to not enter into a Wal-Mart for a period of time.

    1. “Wal-Mart should change the policy to openly say that it’s a theft prevention procedure to check receipts. Euphemisms are just insulting.”

      if its anything like my store go to the customer service desk and somewhere on the wall should be a sign saying almost just that word for word.

  34. Personally, I can’t muster any sympathy for a guy who voluntarily shops at a store (including a “membership” store like Costco) knowing exactly how the store works and then bitches about it.

    Really? I would think that being a customer (or a member, especially) would be exactly what gives a person the right to complain about how a store works.

    I did not find the author to be a jerk, or smarmy, or an “ass,” or anything like that. He did not insult anyone–he simply was direct and logical in making his case. His story, if true, shows the contradiction between the stated reasons for the policies and the behavior of employees in carrying them out.

    I have found, though, that in this world people are more likely to think you are a jerk if you address them with logic and evidence than if you call them names. People would much rather be called a name than be contradicted. Why? Perhaps because people can easily respond to name-calling, but responding logically is a challenge, and thus the person is “an asshole.”

  35. I believe, as Chief Wiggums informed us, that it doesn’t work if you invite them over.

    Right, I’m assuming that if you’re willing to shoot somebody, you’re probably willing to lie about the circumstances. The dead guy is not likely to contradict you.

  36. Absent a question of legality (and I see none), what matters is what the marketplace thinks.

    True, and what the marketplace thinks can in part be shaped by what people read. Thus the article is written.

    I have this vague sense that the article is like a Rorschach inkblot for libertarians.

    Me too!

  37. Yeah, I agree with the sentiment, but this guy seems to enjoy being a prick just for the sake of being a prick.

    I don’t think so. Everything he does (in the article) seems to be an action towards a principle, and the principles seem to be well elucidated in the article. The things that go over the line (“my papers are in order” in a German accent) are mere imaginings and obviously included for humor. See my earlier post for a theory about why people think being logical makes you a prick.

  38. I’m in Jennifer’s camp here, with one exception: there was an instance at Sam’s Club where I had two $1 bags of bananas, and the cashier only charged me for one. I never noticed, but the checker did, and sent me to the cust-serv desk to pay for the extra bag. But in that instance, I only had like 4 or 5 items, so it was easy for the high-school-dropout door checker to count to 5. But when you have more than 5 items, it’s a pretty useless ritual. All it serves to do is create a big line, which sucks, since you’ve already waited in at least one line already.

    But the way I see it, it’s their store, and they can run it the way they want, within the law. If people don’t like it, they can boycott. But simply bursting through the door like a self-important asshole doesn’t do much except make you look like a self-important asshole.

    I read this article last week when it was linked to Digg or Reddit, and it left a weird taste in my mouth. I hate the door checkers, personally, I think it’s a stupid ritual…but I have enough human decency to protest in my own way: by avoiding the places as much as I can. I’m not so selfish and self-important that I think that, simply because I am the customer, I have all these special privileges and rights. This attitude seems even more prevalent when it’s some big corporate retailer, and not a mom-n-pop operation. If the locally owned hardware store did the same thing and checked your receipt, I doubt that the author of this piece would be raising the same stink…but for some reason, it’s always easier to rally against a faceless corporate monster with evil policies than it is a small retailer with “real people” who own it.

    And that’s what this all boils down to for me…this notion that “big corporate monsters” are fundamentally different from local retailers. I happened to see the “Harbucks Coffee” episode of South Park last night, and while it’s pretty simplistic, it’s spot-on.

    This isn’t really about door checkers. It’s about this attitude that, since a corporation is really big and wealthy and expansive, then the customers should suddenly have all kinds of special rights to protect them from “the corporation”. It’s tiresome, and while I agree with the general sentiment of the author—namely, that door checkers are useless impediments to efficiency and expediency—he comes across as an asshole who believes that he has special rights just because Wal Mart and Costco are big retailers.

  39. Concerning this whole “store policy” bit–at membership stores like Costco you know what the policy is when you buy the membership, but I’ve never seen a retail store with a sign posted like “We are going to check the contents of your bags before you leave.” So this isn’t even a matter of “don’t shop there if you don’t like the policy.” At least not for a first-time shopper.

    As I said before, I’ve never been checked at a regular retail store, but I’d damn sure refuse if anyone tried.

  40. “I believe, as Chief Wiggums informed us, that it doesn’t work if you invite them over.”

    One of the best Simpsons references I’ve ever seen.

  41. Except for “Wiggums” instead of “Wiggum,” of course.

  42. This guy is kinda like the hardcore libertarians who carry the small metal “bill of rights” with them through security checkpoints at airports. Well intentioned without a doubt, but they still make us all look like kooks!

  43. Guy Montag: I was merely highlighting that what you think should be legal (i.e., shooting people who enter private property and detaining strangers without cause) is not legal.

    “You are mixing protections from the government and the right of persons to protect their property.”

    Sorry, not true. False imprisonment is a civil liability, and over-zealous rent-a-cops are liable for this quite often. It is a tort by a private actor against another private actor. Keep in mind, posting somebody at the door to check receipts does not constitute false imprisonment.

    “Absent a question of legality (and I see none), what matters is what the marketplace thinks.”

    The first part is not entirely correct (see above), and Walmart’s sales are down. Perhaps people are tired of crappy service in exchange for minimal or illusory savings?

  44. This isn’t really about door checkers. It’s about this attitude that, since a corporation is really big and wealthy and expansive, then the customers should suddenly have all kinds of special rights to protect them from “the corporation”. It’s tiresome, and while I agree with the general sentiment of the author—namely, that door checkers are useless impediments to efficiency and expediency—he comes across as an asshole who believes that he has special rights just because Wal Mart and Costco are big retailers.

    But remember that the government grants corporations a special right (limited liability) so it’s not unreasonable that we should hold them to a higher standard than mom’n’pop’s store.

  45. “I don’t think so. Everything he does (in the article) seems to be an action towards a principle, and the principles seem to be well elucidated in the article.”

    Oh, those aren’t “principles”, those are just logical points that he makes by being a self-important asshole. Yes, his points are valid, but that doesn’t make the methods of his protests valid as well. There are ways, other than just busting out the door and making some min-wage security guard follow you through the parking lot, to protest stupid policies.

    It’s more the attitude of the author that, somehow, because he’s a customer, that he has special rights and privileges, that really irks me. He doesn’t have any claim to anything in the store. It’s not his. They own the store, they get to make the policy. He can protest it all he wants, but just disobeying store policy is a good way to get yourself kicked out for good and/or have your membership revoked…and the store would be completely justified in doing so.

  46. Dan T.

    So, instead of arguing with the statement you have to make up one that does not fit what was said?

    Someone who is invited over is not a tresspasser.

    Are you trying to tell us that we should not be allowed to shoot anybody in our own property, or in defense of our own property, least they die and there is only one story of the events?

    That seems a little silly to me.

  47. Dan,

    No, we should simply protest the fact that corporations get special rights from the government. Nice try, though.

  48. A “right” to complain is not dependent on membership or patronage. And I fail to see the logic of how jacking around an $8 an hour retail employee responsible for checking a receipt is going to change the corporate policies of a multi-billion retail chain. I have no objection to the editorial as a written expression of opinion. What I find mildly distasteful is the behavior described therein and the hypocrisy. I find it inconsistent to condemn a business for practice while continuing to patronize said business. It’s like railing against strip clubs but showing up every Friday night for the wet T-shirt contest and half-price appetizers.

  49. Dan T.

    So, instead of arguing with the statement you have to make up one that does not fit what was said?

    Someone who is invited over is not a tresspasser.

    Right, my point is that once you’ve got a dead body lying in your front yard it becomes kind of difficult to prove under what grounds he found himself there.

    Are you trying to tell us that we should not be allowed to shoot anybody in our own property, or in defense of our own property, least they die and there is only one story of the events?

    Yes.

    Not to mention the repugnant idea that if a kid chases his baseball into your front yard, you should be allowed to shoot him.

  50. Where are these “special rights” and “privileges” coming from? These “special” rights you seem to think are johnny-come-lately liberal causes have been a part of the common law for decades if not centuries. There is even a shopkeeper’s exception that says a shopkeeper can detain somebody if they have reason to believe that the person committed a crime. This is not new law, this is how the system works. If Walmart detains you without reason to believe you’ve stolen something, they are acting outside the bounds of the law.

    This common law right is not a “special privilege” and not even particularly new.

  51. Perhaps by shopping there you give up your rights. Either way, you have the right to purchase your goods and leave after you have purchased them. If a store policy clearly advises you that you give up your rights as a citizen upon entering the store, then you choose to trade your rights for low prices. This recognizes that you have rights and are waiving them.

    Perhaps, if they also put a big sign that said
    “YOU GUVE UP THE RIGHT TO NOT HAVE A COLONOSCOPY PERFORMED BY ONE OF OUR FRIENDY GREETERS”, would also be OK with some of the commenters here?

    A doubt that a sign is enough of legal consent to surrender any rights. I personnaly dont go around reading every sign at the store, do you? Also has the command of the English language an absolute necessity to shop at Wallmart now? Im afraid that in order to legally surrender personal rights, Wallmart and the like, would have to get written concents to surrender such rights from every customer.

    And because I do not sign anything, and because they asked me to come in and shop there (they really did, on TV, and even sent some stuff in the mail) I do not surrender any rights by entering their property. Which means that once I paid for my purchases they are MY PRIVATE PROPERTY and I can refuse any subsequent inspections. Unless of course they are suggesting Im a thief and then we can involve the police.

    1. i just want you to know that you just made my day lol

  52. Lamar,

    WalMart’s savings are very real and have been demonstrated to be so.

    The service? Aside from the creepy/depressing greeters who are old and/or physically/mentally deformed, I don’t see WalMart’s service as “crappy”. I’ve never ever been checked at the door of a WalMart. Never. Only at Sam’s Club, because they are a warehouse store…but my feelings on that are listed above. But as for WalMart, the reason I personally stay away is not the store itself, or even the employees—it’s the client?le that it attracts. Swarming hordes of redneck clans, each with their own swarming horde of redneck children. I simply can’t take it. It’s even more depressing than the deformed greeters. It’s like going to a tractor pull, without the tractors.

    But I do save money, that’s for damned sure…it’s no illusion. The service is usually good, and my bags have never been checked. If it weren’t for the redneck hordes, I’d be there more often.

  53. “because he’s a customer, that he has special rights and privileges, that really irks me”

    No, he has special rights and privileges as the owner of the merchandise.

    “making some min-wage security guard follow you through the parking lot”

    He doesn’t have to shop there and they don’t have to work there.

  54. I liked the article.

    I do not sign might rights over by entering a store & do not see why I should consent to a warrantless search by a private company any more than I should for a police officer.

    If they don’t want me there because I won’t consent to a warrantless search, they can, like Frank, ask me not to come back. I’ll be glad to phone the local news media as soon as I get home.

    How many times on this website has someone posted the comment that the most important right is the right to say “NO”?

  55. Evan!,

    It’s not that he (the customer) has “rights and priveliges”, it’s that he has no *obligation* to assist the store in asserting their own rights, by waiting in line.

  56. The service is usually good, and my bags have never been checked. If it weren’t for the redneck hordes, I’d be there more often.

    I’m perpetually amazed at how quickly people’s standards drop once there is money involved. My store is clean, neat, doesn’t have things scattered on the floor, has items that are priced, and you never have to wait in line for more than about 30 seconds. If Wal-Mart is considered “good service”, then perhaps I should fire some of the smart, friendly people working for me and replace them with high-school dropout who don’t want health insurance. I’d save a bundle!

    Maybe if all consumers keep lowering their standards, then at some point in the next year or two, tractor-trailers can pull into parking lots, throw the shit out of the back, and people can scramble over the piles of plastic Chinese shit like dung beetles! (Hey, there’s nothing more important than MONEY, now, is there?)

  57. The alarms and subsequent checks are obviously there to serve as a deterent to or action against shoplifting. Some of the commenters here seem to be in denial that shoplifting occurs, when in fact it is a major concern for retailers. An alarm means that a crime may have been commited. The business-owner certainly has a right (if not an obligation) to investigate it.

  58. “A doubt that a sign is enough of legal consent to surrender any rights. I personnaly dont go around reading every sign at the store, do you? Also has the command of the English language an absolute necessity to shop at Wallmart now? Im afraid that in order to legally surrender personal rights, Wallmart and the like, would have to get written concents to surrender such rights from every customer.”

    It’s not so much a matter of you surrendering your rights as the store retaining theirs. See Lamar’s post above re: common law.

    And if you think that nothing short of a signature is enough for WalMart to have the right to detain you, or for any number of other things to happen, then I fear you have no experience with common law. Believe me, contracts do not begin and end with signatures. Oh, if only it were that black and white!

    “And because I do not sign anything, and because they asked me to come in and shop there (they really did, on TV, and even sent some stuff in the mail) I do not surrender any rights by entering their property. Which means that once I paid for my purchases they are MY PRIVATE PROPERTY and I can refuse any subsequent inspections. Unless of course they are suggesting Im a thief and then we can involve the police.”

    Your personal theories on common law are intriguing. They do not jive with the reality of this country and our legal system, but they are intriguing nonetheless… ;->

  59. I don’t think so. Everything he does (in the article) seems to be an action towards a principle, and the principles seem to be well elucidated in the article. The things that go over the line (“my papers are in order” in a German accent) are mere imaginings and obviously included for humor. See my earlier post for a theory about why people think being logical makes you a prick.

    You must be one of those people that doesn’t believe that in order to maintain a civil society some degree of code of manners and civility is required.

    Nothing requires me to hold an elevator for someone. For me to not do so makes me a prick.

    Consciously deciding to make someone else’s day miserable (especially someone who had nothing to do with the implementation of a store policy) just to serve logic makes you a prick.

  60. Evan! Thanks for your opinion. Walmart’s savings are real. They just aren’t that much. And if you don’t see Walmart’s service as crappy, then I can’t help you. Seriously, are you kidding? Perhaps you are saying, “Walmart’s service is good for the prices they charge” or something. You can’t seriously argue that Walmart provides good service. You’d have to go to Saks Fifth Avenue for that.

    Seriously, Walmart service is appropriate for the low cost joint that it is, no more, no less. Also, unless Walmart has a reason to suspect you, your items are yours, regardless of your location on their property.


  61. The alarms and subsequent checks are obviously there to serve as a deterent to or action against shoplifting. Some of the commenters here seem to be in denial that shoplifting occurs, when in fact it is a major concern for retailers. An alarm means that a crime may have been commited. The business-owner certainly has a right (if not an obligation) to investigate it.

    Where did anyone suggest that shoplifting does not occur. The problem is that I AM NOT A SHOP LIFTER, and I’m insulted if I’m treated like one, and I have no obligation to stand and take it.

    1. THEN DONT SHOP AT WALMART

  62. Your personal theories on common law are intriguing. They do not jive with the reality of this country and our legal system, but they are intriguing nonetheless… ;->

    Did you happen to glaze over my last sentence. If they feel that Im a shop lifter, they have a right to detain me (how much force can they use?), and like I said I would call the police.

  63. This guy is a self-important ass, and completely, entirely in the wrong. From the Costco Membership Priveleges & Conditions:

    Part 9, General Policies:

    “Costco reserves the right to inspect any container, backpack, briefcase, etc., upon entering or leaving the warehouse.”

    “To ensure that all members are correctly charged for the merchandise purchased, all receipts and merchandise will be inspected as you leave the warehouse.”

    Note it doesn’t say “reserve the right” for the second – it says, explicitly, “will be inspected”. He is obligated to comply, by the document that he, himself signed to gain membership.

    If he doesn’t like it, he can turn in his membership and stop going. If he wants to keep shopping at CostCo, he should comply with this rule.

  64. “I’m perpetually amazed at how quickly people’s standards drop once there is money involved. My store is clean, neat, doesn’t have things scattered on the floor, has items that are priced, and you never have to wait in line for more than about 30 seconds. If Wal-Mart is considered “good service”, then perhaps I should fire some of the smart, friendly people working for me and replace them with high-school dropout who don’t want health insurance. I’d save a bundle!”

    As I said, I avoid WalMart because of the crowds of rednecks. But I do save money, Frank. And, yes, in many instances, I’ll choose the cheaper store over the neater store. WalMart may not be as clean as it should be, but that’s never been much of an inconvenience to me.

    Believe me, my shopping choices are very rational. It might piss you off that I don’t care so much about the things you pride yourself in, but the reality is that saving money is important…and many people, myself included, depending on my mood, are willing to trade certain things for that opportunity.

    Personally, as I said, I draw the line at the swarming redneck hordes, but I guess that’s not good enough for Frank. Hey, Frank, one way to lose customers for SURE is to insult them by asserting that they are stupid for valuing lower prices over cleanliness or short line wait times.

    “Maybe if all consumers keep lowering their standards, then at some point in the next year or two, tractor-trailers can pull into parking lots, throw the shit out of the back, and people can scramble over the piles of plastic Chinese shit like dung beetles! (Hey, there’s nothing more important than MONEY, now, is there?)”

    As I said, there’s nothing that’ll keep me out of your store more than insulting me for shopping elsewhere.

  65. Val: don’t go to places that waste your time and make you feel like crap. There are plenty of places where you will enjoy shopping, where people know the merchandise they sell and where the people working there may even, after a few visits, give a crap about you. In the long-term, a decent relationship will get you savings in the same ballpark as Walmart. Flame that anecdotal evidence.

  66. Lamar,

    I think it boils down to the fact that I usually don’t need any help when I go to WalMart. And maybe that’s my own prejudice that is working for me. I always assume that WalMart employees are dumber than rocks, so whenever one is actually helpful and knowledgeable, it sticks out in my mind.

  67. The libertarian uptopia Wal-Mart… no lines at the check out (or after), but a three-hour wait to sign to the 864-page “consent-to-shop” contract.

    I’d love see one of our friendly libertarians sue on the grounds that a store employee asking to see a receipt for goods purchased from the store immediately after said purchase and on the premises of the store was conducting a warrantless search. The next time the subject of why libertarians can’t get elected comes up, I’m just linking this thread.

    By the way, good find on the Costco membership agreement.

  68. Maybe if all consumers keep lowering their standards, then at some point in the next year or two, tractor-trailers can pull into parking lots, throw the shit out of the back, and people can scramble over the piles of plastic Chinese shit like dung beetles! (Hey, there’s nothing more important than MONEY, now, is there?)

    Thats great Frank, if there are things that are more important to you then money when performing a commercial transactions, then please lower your prices to sub-wallmart levels and I will shop at your store and will be the most curtious and friendly customer ever.

  69. A Tale from Retail Hell:

    I used to work for a locally-owned bookstore chain. They opened a new location back in the mid-90’s, and I was assigned to it. It had security gates installed at the entrances and exits, which the old shop they had closed did not. From time to time the staff did catch shoplifters when they attempted to negotiate the egress with product that had yet to be paid for and hadn’t had the hidden sensor deactivated. However, the false positives far exceeded the actual “gotchas.” Sometimes that was due to operator error, as the bookseller on cashier duty did a poor job of swiping the item over the proper framistat. Other times it was because the publisher or manufacturer had secreted the gizmo too well. But the #1 cause of phony BEEPs was the customer carrying books into the store. The local public library used the same system, but they don’t deactivate the sensor when you check a book out. Rather, they pass it around a barrier to you on your way out. I’m sure that saves them a bunch of money on buying replacement sensors, and labor costs on having to re-tag returned books, but what a pain in the neck for merchants using the same security vendor.

    Some clothing manufacturers ship such things as jackets and coats with those sensors hidden deep in linings, too. If the place selling your coat doesn’t deactivate the gizmo completely, you can set off a security gate just from what you are wearing.

    I do think it is a good idea for stores to post their policy on checking bags and responses to security alarms where those entering can see it, and decide for themselves if they wish to comply with it or not.

    Kevin

  70. Val: don’t go to places that waste your time and make you feel like crap. There are plenty of places where you will enjoy shopping, where people know the merchandise they sell and where the people working there may even, after a few visits, give a crap about you. In the long-term, a decent relationship will get you savings in the same ballpark as Walmart. Flame that anecdotal evidence.

    Meh, I barely shop at Wallmart, just if I happen to be driving by and need to pick up an item or two. I simply took point with the idea that just because a retailer has certain rights you have to surrender yours.

  71. I guess if nothing else this thread illustrates why the law is much more complex than just “you’re allowed to do anything as long as it doesn’t affect others”.

  72. “I simply took point with the idea that just because a retailer has certain rights you have to surrender yours.”

    I think the point is that they have the right to harass you up to a certain point. When you politely turn to leave, they can’t stop you unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. These are not special rights, these are entrenched common law torts.

  73. I think the point is that they have the right to harass you up to a certain point. When you politely turn to leave, they can’t stop you unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. These are not special rights, these are entrenched common law torts.

    Absoutely agreed. I think the article was describing situations where the customer was infact politely turning to leave. They were harassing him, as is their right, he was refusing as is his right.

  74. Ethan,

    Logic has nothing to do with whether or not the guy’s a prick. Logicians can be quite pleasant, in fact. As illustrated earlier, harassing a minimum wage grandpa will not change store policy. It defies logic to think that it will. Now go take off those Vulcan ears.

  75. Logic has nothing to do with whether or not the guy’s a prick. Logicians can be quite pleasant, in fact. As illustrated earlier, harassing a minimum wage grandpa will not change store policy. It defies logic to think that it will. Now go take off those Vulcan ears.

    Now I realize I put up a straw-man argument, with the ‘colonoscopy’ remark, but I was trying to be humorous, but what this ‘Change store policy’ argument that keeps creeping up. Where in the article did it mention the unending crusade to change retail policies nation wide? The author did not personnally like the policy, so he made a personal choice not to comply. I did not see an attempt to change anything, infact he usually left before even confronting any managers/security guards. Maybe he liked the attention, maybe he just get a warm fuzzy feeling from sticking it to the ‘man’. More power to him. I can relate.

  76. Frank,

    Can I purchase 12 GA, 3 Dram 7 1/2 shot shells, 5 quart bottles of MOBIL 1 0W-30, FRAM oil filters for a ’96 Jeep and a ’72 Charger at your store?

    If so, I’m in!

    Side note to some of the others: rednecks are people too. Stop being so Michael Richards with a different checklist.

  77. I’ve never been asked to show a receipt when leaving a store, though most of the big-box retailers are too inconvenient for me to frequent. The time it takes to shop there offsets any small savings.

    I don’t pause and wait because of a beeping security sensor when I leave a store, however, and I’ve never had anyone chase me down.

  78. I’m not sure how jacking up the minimum wage employee checking receipts is “sticking it to the man.” What we have here is a guy who knows how these stores work, patronizes the stores anyway and then “expresses his contempt” by screwing around with the employees. Listen, if the guy wants to be a prick, so be it. It’s unfortunate, but fortunately, not illegal. Spare me the tripe, however, that this guy is somehow acting logically.

  79. Guy,

    I never said Rednecks weren’t people. All I said is that I don’t enjoy the company of droves of rednecks and their annoying redneck kids who routinely descend on our local WalMart from 5pm Friday till 5pm Sunday. Sure, they’re people, and many of them are probably very nice…I just don’t enjoy the particular situation of an already-depressing WalMart store being inundated by even-more-depressing hordes of rednecks.

    Believe me, I grew up in the company of many a redneck. I killed 3 deer last weekend, so one could make a good case in calling me somewhat of a redneck ;-> But hordes of rednecks swarming a WalMart sounds about as enjoyable to me as attending The Source Music Awards…

  80. Jose,

    You hit the nail on the head. If he was truly “acting logically”, he would have boycotted the stores, and urged others to do the same, whilst complaining directly to store and corporate management.

    What he did, however, just sounded like he was attempting to “fight the man” by writing a rather lengthy article about how great he is for pulling these stunts. Ooooh, look at the balls on this guy…willing to stand up to a rentacop security guard!

    Oh, and to Val, you obviously did not read the whole thing, because he did indeed talk about how he hoped that he could somehow make a change…he was, admittedly, skeptical about how successful he could be, but he did entertain thoughts on the subject.

  81. The polite thing to do would be to help the old guy out. It’s only going to take a few seconds.

    Yes, you have the right to be a dick. Please, don’t be a dick if you can avoid it.

  82. I think the answer to what rights the store has compared to what rights you have is that it’s all about jurisdiction and encapsulation.

    You choose to shop at the store, so they have the right to make you do whatever they wish in order to shop there. HOWEVER, if you break one of their rules, they are allowed to do whatever they can within the law to keep you from shopping there in the future.

    So, if you disobey the receipt-checking policy, they do not have the right to touch you or detain you or anything like that. They do have the right to file for a restraining order from you with the local government, preventing you from shopping there in the future (though not likely this would happen). This way both of your rights are observed and respected.

  83. I think the guy acted logically. Your one-sided view of how activism should work, especially since you believe that activism should fail, does not equate to the author’s poor logic. Doesn’t the squeaky wheel get the grease?

  84. What I can’t understand is why people in the US value living so far beyond their means that they must subject themselves to being treated like cattle to support their lifestyle. I’ve never understood that. People are free to do what they’d like. Personally, I live so that I don’t have to pinch every penny, and as a result, I don’t *have* to worry about money to such an extent that I have to go to those kinds of stores to save a few pennies here and there.

    This is a very clear trend that I’ve witnessed over the past decade or so. More and more people don’t mind spending their hard earned money in these big box stores. Doesn’t anybody have any fucking self-respect, any more?

  85. OMG, Frank, you really ARE the ultimate. Good job.

  86. Oh, and to Val, you obviously did not read the whole thing, because he did indeed talk about how he hoped that he could somehow make a change…he was, admittedly, skeptical about how successful he could be, but he did entertain thoughts on the subject.

    I took another look, and infact you are correct. (Yes I did read the whole thing)

    Throughout my struggle, I have assumed that enough of these encounters will eventually work their way up through corporate levels to a decision maker who might implement change. That may be a flawed assumption.

    Even though that doesnt seem like an unreasonable thought. I think his second paragraph describes his primary reasons and positions pretty clearly.

    …There are many reasons, chief among them being that rational adults should not instantly obey mechanical voices (unless that voice instructs us to exit a burning aircraft). Also, if you haven’t stolen anything and therefore do not require interrogation, there is absolutely nothing that should compel you to linger post-transaction. It’s depressing enough simply being there in the first place. Another good reason to make a quick exit is that you aren’t being paid to assist some giant retailer with its security measures. You aren’t part of the team, and you didn’t clock in. The clearest reason for leaving the store, however, is that there exists absolutely no legal obligation to remain there, and the store has no right to detain you.

  87. OMG, Frank, you really ARE the ultimate. Good job.

    Sorry, I didn’t think that wanted to be treated like a person as opposed to a walking wallet was all that absurd. I must be out of my mind for preferring something a bit more personal when spending my hard-earned money.

  88. Ed is right, nobody has to shop at WalMart, especially if it’s icky.

    My policy is to never stop when the alarm goes off as I walk through the door with goods that are bought and paid for.

    Observation: If it ain’t at Costco, I don’t need it. No self-respect.

    Had a client who had serious problems with Best Buy’s security guards. They actually called the police on him, who showed up at his home a couple of hours later demanding to see the receipt. That’s how serious they were about it. Needless to say, my guy has exercised his freedom to shop elsewhere.

    I have had the Sam’s/Costco receipt check go both ways. We owe you and you owe us.

    Don’t shop at WalMart much but I’ve never been asked to produce a reciept on the way out.

  89. Lamar, you think one guy acting like a horse’s ass in one Wal-Mart is going to change anything? According to the corporate site, Wal Mart handles 176 million customers a week. Yes, a week. I don’t care if the guy self-immolates in Aisle 6… Wal-Mart is not going to change its business model.

  90. To sum up:

    Ed: “Sorry, but nobody must shop at Wal-Mart.”

    Joe: “The polite thing to do would be to help the old guy out. It’s only going to take a few seconds.”

    Everything else is superfluous. Go home now. And thank you for shopping with us.

  91. Frank, there is a balance there somewhere. It is important to get good service for some products and not so important for others. I enjoy the broad selection and knowledgeable staff that I find at a place like the Wine Bank in San Diego. The prices are fair and the service is superb. OTOH, Costco offers a narrow selection of pretty good wines that I like and know all about. The prices are very good. I’m not going to pass that up.

    And, being a big guy like Costco doesn’t mean your service will be rotten. I bought carpet through Costco and it was the best service I’ve ever had on a carpet deal. I can’t say enough good about them. OTOH, the very worst shitty service I ever had on a carpet deal was from a small operation that cost a little more because it was high quality. It was a long boring list but they couldn’t have done worse. From destroying the paint on the walls to short changing the pad……….but you get the picture.

  92. “Wal-Mart is not going to change its business model.”

    First, you were talking about the logic of his idea. Instead, you are attacking the practical viability of his plan. There’s a difference between what is logical and what actually works.

    Second, your post fails to acknowledge that the author, and that should have been your first clue, is an author. He is able to write about his experience, and possibly influence other people to act similarly. Even if he doesn’t influence a single person, he gives those who already feel the same way confidence that they aren’t the only ones.

    Third, I don’t expect Walmart to change its business model. I’ve already acknowledged that they are the low-cost, low-service budget, second class customer outfit. Being a head of cattle is worth it for millions and millions of people.

    Finally, Walmart has changed its business model in the past to accomodate criticism, and it will do so in the future. Don’t forget that those who criticize Walmart, much to your chagrin, also shop there.

  93. Oh, those aren’t “principles”, those are just logical points that he makes by being a self-important asshole.

    Perfect confirmatory evidence of my theory.

  94. You must be one of those people that doesn’t believe that in order to maintain a civil society some degree of code of manners and civility is required.

    I am not sure where you got that one, though it is interesting (and more evidence for my theory) that you chose to attack my character rather than my words. I believe manners are important–it’s just that I don’t think that manners and sheepishness are equivalent. If you think you are being hassled, assertiveness is the way to go.

    Nothing requires me to hold an elevator for someone. For me to not do so makes me a prick.

    If the person running for the elevator wants to check your receipt, you are not a prick to not hold the door. There, now your analogy is actually analogous.

    Consciously deciding to make someone else’s day miserable (especially someone who had nothing to do with the implementation of a store policy) just to serve logic makes you a prick.

    You must not have read the article very clearly. The author was not “consciously deciding to make someone’s day miserable…just to serve logic.” He was trying to make a point about the policy AND he was careful to ask the person to bring someone else in who had more authority, exactly what you should do when facing with an underling who is enforcing nonsense.

    Logic has nothing to do with whether or not the guy’s a prick. Logicians can be quite pleasant, in fact. As illustrated earlier, harassing a minimum wage grandpa will not change store policy. It defies logic to think that it will. Now go take off those Vulcan ears.

    I agree with the first two sentences wholeheartedly.

    I would not characterize the author’s behavior as “harassment.” If anything, it is the author who is being harassed. Also, like I say above, the author attempts to bring someone else in when the “minimum wager” starts being stupid, so obviously the point wasn’t to harass the minimum wager. Talking to a security guard about the lies in the posted security policy at the store for which the security guard is a security guard seems quite rational. You will have to point out to me what is illogical about that. It may be naive to think that that one conversation will change store policy, but you do what you can, right?

  95. As far as it being “polite” to stop and surrender your receipt, I have a problem with any policy that attempts to manipulate my sense of civility in order to get me to comply.

    My impression of the receipt checking policy is that the checker is trained to scan for hight dollar things in the cart and check the receipt for them, especially electronics.

    I don’t stop either when the alarm goes off. I walked right past one last week in a Wal-Mart. It’s my stuff, I paid for it, I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait for someone to approach. I just keep walking like I didn’t hear it. Wal-Mart is usually so crowded, the employee at the exit can’t tell which customer set it off anyway.

    All the anti-wal*mart comments really befuddle me. I have been into more than one Kmart that was literally filthy and had merchandise all over the floor of the aisles. I have *never* been to a Wal*mart like that. Ever. They have wide aisles, they’re clean, and 99.9% of the customer service I’ve had there has been good. My only complaint is that it often takes too long to return merchandise. And yeah, Wal*Mart is crowded. That’s because it’s a GOOD store, with low prices. You are free to pay more for exclusivity, but because you value personal space doesn’t mean that Wal*Mart is a de-humanizing entity.

  96. “I have a problem with any policy that attempts to manipulate my sense of civility in order to get me to comply.”

    So, asking you to prove that you actually paid for the items of which you are in possession prior to leaving their property is somehow “manipulating your sense of civility”?

    I’ve got news for you, Guy: not all people enter a store with the same “sense of civility”. Not only that, but those customers’ senses of civility are not readily evident. It’s not as if they have a “sense of civility” meter on their sleeve. So while you may enter the store to purchase a product legally, the person next to you may have a civility deficiency, and may be planning to shoplift. Considering that these intentions are not readily obvious to store employees, it seems absurd to me to demand that everyone be given the benefit of the doubt, especially when shoplifting is a VERY big problem for retailers in this country. While I’ll agree with you all day that the reciept-checking policy is useless, I will not agree that they are trying to “manipulate your sense of civility”. They’re just trying to prevent shoplifting.

    In a perfect world where nobody stole anything, you’d have a good point. But we don’t live in that world, so you don’t.

    “I don’t stop either when the alarm goes off.”

    Same here. It’s more of a deterrent than a real prevention technique, Guy. I’ve never shoplifted in my life, yet those things have gone off on me plenty of times due to the cashier’s mistake in deactivating a security tag, or just technical problems with the alarms.

    “And yeah, Wal*Mart is crowded. That’s because it’s a GOOD store, with low prices. You are free to pay more for exclusivity, but because you value personal space doesn’t mean that Wal*Mart is a de-humanizing entity.”

    Noone ever said that it was bad that WalMart is crowded…just that I hate crowded stores, and that is exacerbated when said crowd is majority white trash. Just a personal preference thing. But, yeah, they’re crowded because they’re cheap…and also because lots of the trailer park folk like to socialize at the WalMart, just like the teenage girls like to socialize at the mall…which is, coincidentally, why I typically avoid the mall too.

  97. I’m going to pass on the semantics badmitten, Lamar, but since you apparently missed my earlier post, I said:

    “I have no objection to the editorial as a written expression of opinion. What I find mildly distasteful is the behavior described therein and the hypocrisy.”

    I’m a fan of the written word and its power to promote change. I don’t have any problem with the writer expressing his opinion. Personally, I think his essay would be more effective if it 1) were funnier; 2) did not make him appear like an asshat. Your mileage may vary.

    Hell, I don’t particularly like the empty exercise of showing my receipt. On the other hand, I’m not going to hassle some minimum-wage employee doing his or her job as if I’m a member of the Justice League of America, Logic Division, Retail Sales & Rentals Department.

  98. “and may be planning to shoplift”

    If the person next to me is the shoplifter, then why the hell are they bothering me?

  99. While I’ll agree with you all day that the reciept-checking policy is useless, I will not agree that they are trying to “manipulate your sense of civility”. They’re just trying to prevent shoplifting.

    I dunno about manipulating a sense of civility….but the system is set up to make most consumers feel like they have to comply.

    I have been through this situation at Best Buy’s locations that have high theft rates. The security guard steps in front of you as you are leaving and demands to see your receipt. The impression left to the consumer is that they must comply or else they won’t be allowed to leave with their merchandise. They don’t. In fact you have every right to refuse the receipt check and just walk out. They do not have a right to detain you unless they have reasonable cause to suspect you of shop-lifting (refusing to show your receipt does not qualify) and if they are wrong, most states give consumers the right to sue for being improperly detained.

    As for just trying to prevent shoplifting…good for them. Unless I am getting paid though, I have no obligation or inclination to assist them in their goals and don’t want to be burdened with having to prove that I am not a shoplifter, just because shoplifting is a VERY big problem for retailers in this country. That’s their problem, not mine.

  100. As a business process, I’ve found that door security exists to validate or (i guess) ‘frank’ the receipt, making it valid for returns. No shaped-punch or initials/checkmark, and you’ll get a hairy eyeball when attempting to return an item off the receipt.

  101. “As a business process, I’ve found that door security exists to validate or (i guess) ‘frank’ the receipt, making it valid for returns. No shaped-punch or initials/checkmark, and you’ll get a hairy eyeball when attempting to return an item off the receipt.”

    You’re such an idiot! You’re idealogical thinking makes no sense. Why don’t you take your liberal ass, snort some goat droppings and piss in a bottle marked “V8” – That would be more interesting!!!!!

  102. While I’ll agree with you all day that the reciept-checking policy is useless, I will not agree that they are trying to “manipulate your sense of civility”. They’re just trying to prevent shoplifting.

    I’m not a shoplifter. If I am suspected of shoplifting because of a malfunctioning security doohickey buzzer, it is the store’s responsibility to prove that I am guilty, not my responsibility to prove that I am innocent.

  103. “As a business process, I’ve found that door security exists to validate or (i guess) ‘frank’ the receipt, making it valid for returns. No shaped-punch or initials/checkmark, and you’ll get a hairy eyeball when attempting to return an item off the receipt.”

    At the Costcos in my area, all they do is make a slashmark with a yellow highlighter pen, the same highlighter you can buy for 50 cents at pretty much any drugstore in town.

  104. As a former grocery bagger and Orchard Supply Hardware cashier, I can attest that the amount of sensors and security bullshit a store has is inversely proportional to its ability/inclination to actually DO anything about shoplifters. I can remember many occasions at OSH in which a shoplifter sprinted off without being pursued after tripping the security alarm or refused to reveal to the manager what was hidden under his shirt without consecuence. The grocery store I worked at, on the other hand, had no bothersome sensors or receipt inspectors whatsoever. But anyone who walked out the door without paying for something was promptly detained by the Chinese guys that owned the place and handcuffed in the back while the police were called. Don’t ask me if that’s legal, but it sure was effective.

  105. “Don’t ask me if that’s legal, but it sure was effective.”

    It’s legal if they stole something or if the owners had a reason to think they stole something. If not, the store’s insurance will get popped for $10,000 or so, maybe more depending on how humiliating the experience is. Handcuffs? Ohh, that’s an extra $10,000.

  106. Well, Jennifer, most days I find your comments interesting, but you’re losing me today. Frankly, I don’t care if the guy at Costco blesses my receipt with a Native American sage smudge. Unlike government, the idiocy of businesses is at least somewhat mitigated by market forces. While I’m not on the Costco Board of Director’s, I’m going to presume that since Costco is a successful company in a competitive marketplace, they have a decent reason for hiring a guy to mark your receipt with a yellow highlighter. And since Sam’s Club (the Wal-Mart counterpart) does the same thing, I’m guessing they have determined there is a rational business reason for this practice. The next time the guy marks my receipt, I’m going to thank him for standing as symbol of the free enterprise system.

  107. Except for “Wiggums” instead of “Wiggum,” of course.
    Oh god, how mortifying. In my defense, I haven’t watched a Simpsons episode in about 5 years on account of the show’s unfunnyness.

  108. “The next time the guy marks my receipt, I’m going to thank him for standing as symbol of the free enterprise system.”

    Thank you, sir, may I have another?

  109. Unfunnyness in this century, that is.

  110. Jonah and everyone else on the “the store has the right to do whatever they want and you have the right to shop elsewhere” bandwagon…

    Does the store have the right to put up a sign that says “Whites Only”? Of course not. The store’s policies cannot be in violation of the law. And the law, or at least the Constitution, says that I should be free from unreasonable search. Before you shout “they are telling you in advance that they feel it is reasonable to check your bags on exit” and reminding me that I can shop elsewhere, would it be any more legal if the sign out front said “We think it’s reasonable that only Whites shop here. If you disagree with this, you can shop elsewhere”?

    All in all… the guy’s a prick. He’s my kind of prick, but still a prick.

    Cracker’s Boy.

  111. Ethan,

    From the article

    The completely misleading nature of that message became obvious during my next encounter with Costco security enforcement. As I suspected, there were about a dozen customers in line for “receipt review” at the exit. That represented about six extra minutes that I wasn’t being paid for, and so I rolled toward freedom. The employee “reviewing” receipts left the line and cheerfully said, “I’m going to have to see your receipt first.”

    Pelfrey returned her attempt to actually help him get out of there quicker by being a jerk, and you seem to applaud that. It would have hardly have been “sheepish” for him to simply show her the receipt, and your words claiming otherwise do give some insight into how you view manners and civility.

    Sorry to use your words against you, but there you are.

  112. Entertaining article, even if the author comes across as a jerk. It is not very uncommon for cashiers to miss ringing up items that are bagged for an accomplice. The store’s representative at the door checks the receipt to see if any big ticket items in the bag have not been paid for. As I understand the business of retail, if the store suffers less shrink, they can keep prices lower. In essence, the store is paying me to show my receipt.

  113. val-

    I simply took point with the idea that just because a retailer has certain rights you have to surrender yours.

    “Rights” only refer to your interactions with governments- or where you can confidently expect a gov’t(aka “a man with a gun”) to intervene in your behalf…

    Tell the lion that’s about to eat you about your ‘right to life’…

    Tell the boss about your ‘right to liberty’ when you played hooky on that first 75 degree day in spring…

    Tell your wife about your efforts in ‘the pursuit of happiness’… :o)

  114. While I’m not on the Costco Board of Director’s, I’m going to presume that since Costco is a successful company in a competitive marketplace, they have a decent reason for hiring a guy to mark your receipt with a yellow highlighter.

    And they’re welcome to do so; my comment about the yellow highlighter was in response to a speculation that the purpose of the receipt check was to somehow validate the receipt.

  115. “Pelfrey returned her attempt to actually help him get out of there quicker by being a jerk, and you seem to applaud that.”

    I’m tired of people calling this guy a jerk. Walmart can be a jerk, but they put a low wage face on it, and we’re supposed to go along with it? Disregarding somebody is different than insulting them.

    Let’s face it, then get over it: Libertarians are jerks. Otherwise, we’d give a damn about poor people, the generations that will inherit the Earth, Darfur and quite possibly the goddam children. We don’t advocate doing a damn thing, and it ain’t because we’re so philanthropic.

  116. Fletch,

    C’mon. You’re just not right in your spiel about rights. You’re just really, really confused. Places of public accomodation occupy a middle ground between private property and public property. You have rights even though you are on private property and dealing with a private individual. Jeeez.

  117. Libertarians are jerks. Otherwise, we’d give a damn about poor people, the generations that will inherit the Earth, Darfur and quite possibly the goddam children. We don’t advocate doing a damn thing, and it ain’t because we’re so philanthropic.

    Woah! Not how I feel, not at all. Disagreeing with the use of the blunt force of gov’t to solve problems is not the same as being heartless. Was some sort of rhetorical point being made there that I missed, or are you sincerely speaking for yourself?

  118. Just a little frustrated at the perceived lack of cognitive consistency. I’ve found that libertarians are a lot more practical than the heartless tax nuts we’re made out to be. We might even be the real compassionate conservatives! But probably not.

  119. I’m not sure where treating “places of public accommodation” differently from private property counts as a libertarian value.

  120. I’m not sure it matters, since that’s the law.

  121. It only matters when you are keep claiming to be a libertarian. I suppose you are just fine with the TSA searches at airports, random DWI checkpoints, drug laws, the current tax code, and affirmative action. After all, “that’s the law.”

  122. I’m a practical libertarian. I default to free market ideals, but if that doesn’t work, I ask what will. And the laundry list of evils you mentioned all take away individual rights. The idea of having places of public accomodation serves to expand individual rights. I like having my rights expanded, even if it means Walmart can’t arbitrarily strip search anybody on their property.

  123. Nice strawman with the WalMart strip search example. I’m not aware of any WalMart that engages in that activity.

    How about “whites only” bars or nightclubs? Do people of other colors have their individual rights trampled upon by the First Amendment right of free association?

    I only use that as an extreme example. I would never patronize such an establishment and would hope that in the civilized world no one else would either. However, does someone have the right to open such a business?

  124. However, does someone have the right to open such a business?

    No. Perhaps a private club, but not a business, and absolutely not a place of public accomodation. If you hold yourself out as open for business, you have to be open to all without discrimination. Boo hoo to the ultra-libertarians who think private property means the right to shoo blacks away. That’s just not how the Constitution works.

    It simply isn’t legal. My Walmart strip search comment wasn’t a strawman, it was a mockery. It was an example intended to show that people don’t lose their rights just because they venture onto private property. That is to say, we don’t become private property merely by being geographically located on private property.

  125. I can make a mockery as well. Lactose-intolerant people should be able to have any recipe made dairy-free at any restaurant at which they want to dine (and goddammit it better taste exactly the same as the regular recipe). Diabetics should be able to purchase sugar-free ice cream from any ice cream truck that passes through their neighborhood. Dwarves should be able to ride any ride at an amusement park.

    Where do you draw the line?

  126. Boo hoo to the ultra-libertarians who think private property means the right to shoo blacks away. That’s just not how the Constitution works.

    Absolute bullshit, by the way. If I don’t want someone on my property, I have the right to keep them off of it. I only used blacks to get the reaction I expected from you. No business that wants to have any chance of making money today is going to enact an anti-black policy, but the free market isn’t good enough for you.

    By the way, you’ve made it clear that you’re hatred of WalMart is quite irrational. Feel free to not shop there, but don’t think that you are in any way acting libertarian by insisting how evil WalMart is.

  127. jf, I have to go with your excellent points.

  128. Once you’ve handed over your cash, the items in the bag/cart belongs to you. You have every right to refuse having someone rummage through them.

    Are you going to let them frisk you or go though your purse/wallet at the exit as well?

  129. Julian,

    You are quite correct on both points. Unfortunately, neither is germane to the discussion at hand. The author of the original linked piece isn’t complaining about anyone going through his purchases, he’s complaining about having to show his receipt at the door. Furthermore, he’s taking an inordinate amount of delight in breaking the balls of the people asking for his receipt, when they have done nothing to earn such treatment.

    Honestly, I find it interesting how some of the same people who lament the fact that Life In These United States (copyright: Reader’s Digest) is so bad that there are people so unfortunate that they have to take jobs as WalMart greeters, while at the same time condoning this type of behavior towards those poor souls.

  130. Thank you, TWC.

  131. BTW, I think I was channeling Jennifer when I made those points, because as I look back at my “mockery” post, it reminds me of some of her best arguments. I guess she’s rubbed off on me a little bit.

  132. look,. imo the guy is absurd and a jackass.

    costco, walmart etc. have low prices. that’s WHY he (admittedly) chooses to go there, at least on occasion. anybody in the biz knows that groceries, even at the more expensive safeways, etc. operate on very low margin. shrinkage (stealing) *really* affects the bottom line.

    iow, one of the REASONS why costco etc. can afford to sell stuff cheaply is because they do not pay to have store security lurking around the shopping area, reviewing video, etc.

    costco, etc. are private businesses. he is 100% right that they do not have the legal right to demand he produce ID (iow, there aint a lot they can do if he refuses), but they *do* have the legal right to tell him – fine, then don’t come on our property ever again, and if you do, you get arrested for trespassing. that might be kind of absurd, but no more absurd than his receipt antics, and it is THEIR business, not his.

    again, he has EVERY right (legally) to refuse. and they have every right to ban him from one, or all costco’s because that’s THEIR prerogative.

    if you think the policy sux, then DON”T SHOP THERE (protest with your wallet) or write the management. the guy CHECKING the receipts is no more responsible for that policy than the cop arresting somebody for a law he may very well disagree with, is responsible for writing the penal code.

    he’s directing his “protest” at the wrong people, and he’s acting incredibly childish. costco, etc. exist because they make a profit, and there are some inconveniences (and some advantages) when one shops there vs. a normal grocery store.

    costco has rights too. you DON’T have to show them your receipt. and they DON’T have to let you on their property ever again.

  133. typo: should be “produce RECEIPT” not “produce ID”

  134. They started checking receipts on the way out of the Fry’s Electronics stores here and I was righteously indignant just like this guy. How dare they? Well, it turns out they were not questioning my honesty. They instituted the policy to insure the honesty of their cashiers. Seems they and many other stores have found a nice little “leakage” scam, as employee theft is called. The cashier has a friend buy a few cheap items and one very valuable item. Then the friend comes to the cashier and he rings every thing up except going through the motion of ringing up the high-dollar item. Then the co-conspirator simply walks out of the store. They were losing huge amounts. So they started checking the receipts. Interestingly, they have no legal standing to do so and if there is a line I just walk around it, not with an arrogant self-absorbed chip on my shoulder but with a nod and a waive of the receipt to the guys so they understand I have a schedule to keep. They don’t stop me and I don’t think they legally can. This fellow should get off his high horse and realise the huge losses from employee theft. I saw a high-school buddy do it when he worked at Best Buy 35 years ago. He would take a knob or two off a nice stereo and take the knobs home. Then he would approach the manager and ask if he could buy the stereo for cost. Then he put the stolen knobs back on and either use the stuff or sell it to a pal. Pretty sleazy and one reason he is not my friend anymore. Lighten up, nobody woke up this morning at Wal Mart thinking how they will fuck with you today.

    1. Actually im planning for tomorrow.

  135. It seems like every day this place is becoming a hotbed of irrational compliance and authoritarian toe-kissing types.

    Anyway, I don’t know what the hell a Garyladyland is or whatever. Maybe thats the place the conservative Republicans hang-out. So this is my first time reading this.

    To me it’s pretty simple. Once you pay for the merchandise, you own it and are free to remove it from the premises.( just like if I pay with a credit card and the charge goes through I am under no obligation to produce an ID or otherwise assist in violating a merhcant agreement as a condition of removing my property). If they really think you stole, they can call the police. If they touch me, I call the police on them ( if they are lucky).

    They have no right to restrict my person from leaving the store with my own property.

    This guy was correct.

  136. They have no right to restrict my person from leaving the store with my own property.

    Actually, it is perfectly legal for the store owner to ask you to confirm that you paid for what you bought. You can refuse, of course.

    It is also perfectly legal for the store owner to detain someone if they have reason to believe they are stealing. Or are you saying store owners have to sit idly by while their stores are looted?

    Now, if you refuse to let them see the receipt, have you given the owner reason to believe you are stealing? Maybe. Its certainly not the lay-down win people think it is.

    And beside, what is your fucking problem in comply with a perfectly reasonable request?

  137. Pelfrey returned her attempt to actually help him get out of there quicker by being a jerk, and you seem to applaud that.

    The employee was not trying to help him get out of there quicker! She was making him stop. I didn’t “applaud” his reaction, I simply think it was justified, given the nonsensical policy the employee was trying to enforce. He didn’t stand there and get in the person’s face–he simply declined, in a way that could not be misunderstood, and left. He went on to register his complaints with a more appropriate person–the security guard.

    It would have hardly have been “sheepish” for him to simply show her the receipt, and your words claiming otherwise do give some insight into how you view manners and civility.

    Being civil and being cowed are not the same thing. Whether a person is trying to see your receipt (or comes up to you to try and get you to buy something or comes up to try and give you a pamphlet or sign a petition), and you feel hassled (a natural response), the best way to end it is to be firm and clear. He was both, and was not uncivil.

    Sorry to use your words against you, but there you are.

    I stand by what I wrote. I don’t see that you have unearthed a contradiction of any kind. By the way, what “words” of my did you use?

  138. STOP STARING AT ME!

  139. if you think the policy sux, then DON”T SHOP THERE (protest with your wallet) or write the management. the guy CHECKING the receipts is no more responsible for that policy than the cop arresting somebody for a law he may very well disagree with, is responsible for writing the penal code.

    he’s directing his “protest” at the wrong people,

    Perhaps you shoudl read the article. He does write management. So he has followed your advice.

  140. Ethan, you are becoming tiresome.

    Being civil and being cowed are not the same thing. Whether a person is trying to see your receipt (or comes up to you to try and get you to buy something or comes up to try and give you a pamphlet or sign a petition), and you feel hassled (a natural response), the best way to end it is to be firm and clear. He was both, and was not uncivil.

    Really? From the article you either didn’t read or have already forgotten:

    The employee “reviewing” receipts left the line and cheerfully said, “I’m going to have to see your receipt first.”

    Adopting her happy demeanor, I replied, “And you are going to have to chase me in order to do so.” Sometimes it’s worth being an ass just to see the response on people’s faces.

    Right. That is the behavior of someone being civil. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on how civil that response was.

  141. BTW, apologies for the “tiresome” remark, I’m coming down with a cold and it’s making me cranky.

  142. “jf, I have to go with your excellent points.”

    Yeah, he countered the truth that places of public accomodation may not discriminate with what he can do on his own non-public accomodation property. I’d call that excellent.

    Then you accuse me of being anti-market because Supreme Court upheld an anti-discrimination law passed by Congress that public businesses can’t discriminate. Yes, excellent point.

    My disdain for Walmart is a matter of personal taste and has nothing to do with libertarianism. Is this confusion more of that excellence?

  143. Sometimes it’s worth being an ass just to see the response on people’s faces.

    That’s his interpretation of what he said, not what he said. Also, you have to take that along with the general tone of the article, which is trying to be humorous. Also, how does presenting HIS interpretation of what he said have to do with MY interpretation of what he said?

  144. Absolute bullshit, by the way. If I don’t want someone on my property, I have the right to keep them off of it. I only used blacks to get the reaction I expected from you. No business that wants to have any chance of making money today is going to enact an anti-black policy, but the free market isn’t good enough for you.

    jf: I dont get it are you saying you should have the right to keep anyone of your property or that you do? On and individual basis you definetetly have legal recourses in the form of restraining orders. However try keeping a group of people based on skin color/religion/gender etc… and those people have some very severe legal recourses against you. Its a matter of fact, I dont see how anything Lamar said is bullshit.

    I dont hate Wallmart, but I dont like shopping there because its usually too damn crowded, but I do sometimes for the convenience, sometimes for the prices.

    But like we said earlier, Walmart has every right to ask you for your receipt or even ask you to look in your bag. You have every right to refuse. If they continue to confront ask them if they are suggesting that you stole something, if not, move on. If they suspect you stole something, call the police. But in no way in hell are you required to assist them with their policies, thats their problem, they are not paying you.

  145. i am aware he wrote the management. i am saying that is a valid means of “protest”. giving the receipt checker a hard time was misplaced.

    many things in everyday life that we do and don’t do, are not because we HAVE to, but because it’s civil and reasonable.
    are stealing. Or are you saying store owners have to sit idly by while their stores are looted?

    “Now, if you refuse to let them see the receipt, have you given the owner reason to believe you are stealing? Maybe. Its certainly not the lay-down win people think it is.”

    the above person is wrong. refusing to show receipt IS NOT sufficient for store people to detain you, or to suspect shoplifting (legally). specifically, civilian store personnel cannot stop you anyways, for “reasonable suspicion” (terry v. ohio) as cops can, but only a very clear probable cause standard (usually referred to as “in fact committed). basically, they have to witness you steal, to detain you legally. cops can detain on Reas . Suspicion, civilians can’t. i could go into extensive case law etc. on this, but i’ll spare you. suffice it to say that refusing to show a receipt in and of itself does NOT give private security the right to detain you.

    regardless, as has been made clear, they have a right to ASK for Receipt, they merely have no recourse if u refuse EXCEPT to “trespass” you from the store. they CAN say “never come back and if u do, u get arrested”

    if u are going to shop costco etc. then abide by their rules when you do. if you can’t abide by their rules for THEIR private property, then don’t shop there. period.

  146. oh by the way, the post above about checking the receipt to determine (and prevent) EMPLOYEE shrinkage was spot on, and is something that both the OP and most posters have missed.

    shrinkage greatly affects the bottom line, AND employee theft (very often in collusion with shoppers) is one of the most common and lucrative way to do it.

    PERSONALLY, i want to keep prices cheap AND i want to prevent crime and hope the thieves ARE caught. for those reasons, as well as my respect of Costco’s rights to set policies on their property (even though they are run by liberal ninnies ) 🙂 i accept their receipt policy.

    if you don’t like it, shop at a normal grocery store, and pay the markup. but at least you don’t have to show your receipt!!!! (rolls eyes)

  147. “jf: I dont get it are you saying you should have the right to keep anyone of your property or that you do? On and individual basis you definetetly have legal recourses in the form of restraining orders. However try keeping a group of people based on skin color/religion/gender etc… and those people have some very severe legal recourses against you. Its a matter of fact, I dont see how anything Lamar said is bullshit.”

    you need to distinguish between private BUSINESSES and PRIVATE PROPERTY. the law absolutely (case law) says that private property owners can restrict access based on race, or ANYTHING else to private property but NOT if that property is a place of business, etc.

    iow, any person can say they don’t want blacks, whites, greys, greens, or whatever at their HOUSE, or their privately owned real property, but NOT if it is a business/place of “public accomodation” where members of the public are generally invited as invitees or licensees.

    that’s essentially what the law says.

  148. if you don’t like it, shop at a normal grocery store, and pay the markup. but at least you don’t have to show your receipt!!!! (rolls eyes)

    Everything you said is spot on.

    But if you dont have a problem with being perceived as a jerk (not everyone will think that, some will) and people (rolling eyes) at you then go shop at costco or wallmart and then blow off any receipt checkers/greeters/security guards. Works just as well and you can have the best of both worlds.

  149. except, that as i said val- *if* u refuse to show your receipt at costco, etc. they CAN “trespass” you. any private business can refuse the right of service (for various but not all reasons) and trespass you from accessing their store in the future. failure to cooperate with their rules is DEFINITELY a valid and legal reason to trespass you.

    So, if u do blow off the receiptcheckerdoodsand chicks, they CAN trespass you , and you lose your PRIVILEGE to shop there ever again. (shopping at private businesses is a revokable privilege, not a right)

  150. whit: Im not arguing that point. We are in agreement there. Live with the consequences of your choices, I think that pretty liberatarian

    We can discuss the practicality of running a ‘No-Shop’ registry, like the casinos, but that would be comepletely besides the point.

    I have a question for you: Does the security guard/greeter have the power to tell you never to come back. Or does it have to be manager/supervisor type positions, and does it have to written or is verbal sufficient.

  151. if the management LETS the security guard/greeter have the authority to trespass people, then they have that authority. most grocery stores empower private security (often hired on contract basis, and who work for seperate security companies) to “trespass” shoplifters etc. for instance.

    iow, it depends on their policy. if the management extends the power to them, it applies to them

    it does not HAVE to be written, but for court defensibility, it is preferred to be written (and signed acknowledgment). of course, you can also refuse to sign a trespass warning.

    in court, it would come down to your credibility (i was never trespassed) vs. their crediblity (two seperate store employees saying you were), not to mention it was probably on videotape, since the entrance/exits are often video surveilled.

    also, note that Costco is a store that is “members only” and SHOULD have it clearly written in the contract you sign (and pay) to be a member, that you will abide by the receipt rules.

  152. Or are you saying store owners have to sit idly by while their stores are looted?

    No, but searching people who you have no reason to suspect of shoplifting is an intrusion.

    if u are going to shop costco etc. then abide by their rules when you do. if you can’t abide by their rules for THEIR private property, then don’t shop there. period.

    Or, since you are a member at Costco, exercise your right to complain. As the author did, it is best to keep the interaction short with the people at the low rungs–the cashiers and greeters–and explain your complaint to the security people or to management.

    I don’t understand this whole idea of “if you don’t like policy then don’t shop there.” It may be that the author dislikes the policy but that the things he does like about the store outweigh his displeasure enough to (at least occassionally) shop there. A customer has a right to complain and still remain a customer, right?

  153. whit, I think you are just plain wrong about the legal standard for false imprisonment.

    It varies by state, but in at least some states the standard is not “in fact committed,” (a strict liability standard), but is instead something more typical for torts, a negligence/reasonable man standard (a reasonable belief), sometimes a stronger “probable cause”. In Texas, where I live, the standard for a storekeeper is reasonable belief. In California, it is probable cause.

    I would agree that refusing to show a receipt, without more, is not probably cause, but in states where all that is needed is reasonable belief, I think the store owner would have a decent case.

  154. No, but searching people who you have no reason to suspect of shoplifting is an intrusion.

    No one is arguing that. What we are discussing is what constitutes adequate reason for detaining/searching a customer.

  155. like i said, ethan, i have no problem with complaining to the management/etc.

    i think the theatre aspect of making a scene with security/receipt checkers is just lame.

    i also assume he knew the policy before buying his costco membership , but that IS an assumption.

    i need to read my contract for costco also, and see if they mention it

  156. Nope, refusing to show your receipt is not basis for a reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The suspicion has to have some basis in the act, and getting a receipt occurs after the fact. Of course, nobody gets into this analysis when the person detained is actually guilty. I suspect store owners pay less in insurance because false imprisonment cases occur rarely, while theft happens on a daily basis.

  157. lamar, you are correct, and of course, store cannot detain based on RS only (cops can).

    most store security operate under the assumption that it is better to let a shoplifter get away (if u didn’t see him take the items, etc.) than to detain based on less than “in fact committed” and then get slapped with a massive lawsuit

    private security does not have the transactional immunity that LEO’s have

  158. When I was a teenager, I worked at F&M, a discount drug store. One evening, a group of pre-teen boys ran out of the store with a box of condoms. A customer chased them down, tackled one of them in the parking lot and dragged him back into the store. We called the boy’s father who rounded up the other two boys and dragged them into the store for a group apology.

    I guess that helpful customer would be the anti-David Pelfrey.

    (Damn fool, that guy was, too. He could have got himself in a ton of trouble.)

  159. Rc, you are correct. i was referring to the laws in the three states i have resided. of course, laws vary by jurisdiction, and i failed to take that into account

    good post.

    btw, texas has lots of weird laws. my favorite is “misprision of a felony”

    iirc

    of course, Mass had a law called “malicious mischief in an orchard on a sunday” last i checked

  160. I guess that helpful customer would be the anti-David Pelfrey.

    I don’t know. I think that the customer’s attitude of not just doing what everyone else would do is something Pelfrey would applaud. Also, Pelfrey doesn’t seem “anti-helpful” as much as he is “anti-nonsense.”

  161. whit, you might want to learn the meaning of trespass. When I read your messages using the verb with a human being as its object, I get a nasty mental picture of the complaining shopper, prone, with a security guard walking all over him. It could get worse. I suppose an intrusive search could be a trespass.

    I think the word more commonly used for what a merchant does in this situation is “ban.” Remember when Seinfeld‘s Kramer was banned from Joe’s grocery? (The Mango)

    Of course, if where you are, “presented a trespass warning” has been jargoned into the shorter “trespass”, well, I understand, but, damn, that’s ugly!

    Kevin

    {Has some new species of server rodent evolved to plague H&R? This is my third try at posting this.}

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