Cynical Synapse

Thu, 20 Sep 2007

Why Stores Love to Force You to Show Your Receipt

Filed under: Behavior, Civil liberties, Oppression — cynicalsynapse @ 9:56 pm

Retailers would have you believe checking your receipt deters theft. Comments on this post, however, cast doubt on the claim, especially in view of experiences where the receipt is barely even glanced at. Rather, several commentors see the practice as a violation of good customer service, at best, and a violation of individual rights, at worst.

The Receipt Nazis are more ominous than the masses appreciate. Deejayqueue eloquently summarized the key points of the issue with showing your receipt:

-Sure, if the store isn’t busy it only takes a second to get a tick or a punch in the receipt and be on your way, but what if the store is busy, like during Back To School or Xmas, or any other holiday? Take 30 people already waiting to get their receipt checked and stand behind them, watch 5 seconds become 5 minutes, and then it’s a waste of time.

-It doesn’t do anything to discourage shoplifting, it doesn’t help verify that you got what you paid for, and it doesn’t help inventory control. If it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing, then what’s the point of compliance? Stupid rules don’t have to be followed, especially when they’re made by stupid companies.

-It’s the top of a slippery slope. First it’s checking your receipt at the door, then it’s checking your shopping bag, then comes checking your personal bags, then comes pat downs, then more invasive searches; all in the name of lower prices and better service for all. If you bow down and let them take the power away from you, they’ll keep taking till you push back. Stop it before it starts.

-Some people use things like the little bit of confrontation between customer and LP staff as a venue for venting about other common retail frustration. You can’t change the price, you can’t get better service, but you can sure stick it to that schmuck who has the nerve to ask to see a receipt. Plus, like another commenter said, If the stores are using the confrontation to make thieves uncomfortable, then why can’t we use the confrontation to make the staff uncomfortable?

-I don’t like being treated like I might have stolen something. Asking for a receipt is tantamount to saying “We think you may be a criminal, mind if we make sure you’re not?” If they can’t figure out whether I stole something without my help, they’re not doing it right. Catch thieves some other way.

As did Plorry a little later on:

Most anyone who has worked in retail knows what they can and can’t do with respect to shoplifters. Only if you see them take an item and watch them to see that they attempt to leave without paying for the item can you approach them and say, “Excuse me, I think you forgot to pay for [[#variable product]].” Or something of the sort.
The important thing is, if you did not watch them take something, you cannot detain them or charge them with shoplifting.
I recognize that we’re entitled to our own views on this matter, and that a company has to do something to protect itself against loss, but assuming that we agree that the above is true (as I’m sure you’ll find it is), let me ask:

Do you think that employees of retail stores should have the power to stop and search people who they suspect are shoplifters, despite not having actually seen them shoplift?

Do you think that people should just do what authorities ask, even when they have the constitutionally protected right to act otherwise, just because it will avoid conflict?

Do you think people should only be allowed to exercise their rights when they have a good reason to? If so, who determines good reason?

If a person in front of you tries to leave a store without showing a receipt, and they are stopped, holding up the line of people who don’t want to leave until their receipt has been checked, who are you annoyed with: The person acting within their rights to leave a store as they please, or the guard who is illegally detaining said person? While it’s true that the customer could end the conflict simply by showing the receipt, it’s also true that the guard could end it simply by letting the person go. The difference is, what the guard is doing is illegal.

And if it’s the case that a person chooses not to show their receipt, and it results in no innocent customers being held up and prevented from leaving, wouldn’t you rest easier just respecting that they’re free to do things their way and you’re free to do things your way?

Well said, folks!

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