Can a Store Legally Check Your Bags and Make You Show Your Receipt?
You just went through the checkout line or self-checkout. You grab your bags and your receipt and head to the door. You're about to leave the store and you get stopped. Someone is asking to see your receipt. What do you do?
I believe that most people would stop without any problem and show their receipt but, is it required legally? It's happened to me before and I truly didn't think anything of it. I showed my receipt and moved on. Nothing to hide, nothing to see, but do stores have the legal authority to stop you when you're leaving to check your bag or receipt? I've seen the question pop up on social media this week, so I was curious to find some answers.
First off, I already know that some of the "membership big box stores" have this in their terms of service agreements. It's expected when you leave to pull out your receipt and have it checked. They check every single customer, so there are truly no surprises.
This is a little different. What if you're leaving and are singled out? For me, nothing to hide so look inside. But, I understand that it can also make someone feel like by asking, you're being accused. When you've done nothing wrong.
If someone was looking to steal on the other hand, sometimes the signs are there. I managed a music store back in my 20s' and was trained on how to spot, handle and treat a possible thief. It's not a fun part of the job for anyone.
It's a tough balance. When people steal, we ALL pay the price. Stores go out of business, prices go up...you get it. It's a tightrope for employees when making those split decisions. But, back to the question at hand. Do you legally have to show the receipt? I found out that it's much easier to comply, but you don't legally have to.
CAN A STORE LEGAL CHECK YOUR CART & RECEIPT?
I went to Legal Definitions to pose the question, and they shared some good advice on the matter of whether you must show a receipt.
"The short answer is no. At most retailers, an employee can’t force you to show them your receipt or allow them to search your bag.
In certain circumstances, store employees are justified in holding you until the police arrive. Known as the Shopkeeper’s Privilege, the store employee can stop you from leaving if they believe that you shoplifted. In order to hold you, the employee must have probable cause to believe you are a shoplifter. This suspicion must be supported by specific facts. This could be anything from the employee witnessing you pocketing merchandise without paying and then leaving the store.
Whether you paid for your items with cash or a gift card, the potential hassle of complying with a door greeter’s request probably won’t outweigh the hassle of refusing. Sure, you have the right to refuse. But in most cases, flashing your receipt takes a matter of seconds."
SHOPKEEPER'S PRIVILEGE DEFINED
I hope this information helps, but remember if you refuse to comply a store has the right to ban you from the premises or they can revoke your club membership. The business 100% has the legal right to do that. To me, it's just not worth it! What do you think?