geoffrey gauchet

Stop Whining and Show Your Receipt

I read Consumerist every day. It's a great resource on consumer rights and product and business disasters. Sometimes I wonder if they take consumer rights a bit far.

No doubt you've gone a store like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy and made a purchase and were asked to see your receipt on the way out and the employee just glances at the receipt. No big deal, right? If you know the store does this and you keep the receipt out after your purchase, it takes all of 3 seconds and you're on your way. Now, there is currently no law in place that requires you to show your receipt when you're leaving these stores. Just because a blue shirt at Best Buy asks to see your receipt on exit doesn't mean you legally have to since you've legally purchased the items in your bag and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Lately though, Consumerist has been posting a lot of reader stories about their refusal to show their receipt in stores and how the employees then got all ornery about it. The gist of these stories is this: Reader walks into a store they've been to 100 times before and makes a purchase. Reader then goes to leave store and an employee at the the door asks to see Reader's receipt. Reader says "No, thank you." and keeps walking. Employee and/or security then approaches Reader and demands to see the receipt. Sometimes Reader starts being an ass and yelling about their civil rights and other times the employees get irked and start yelling at Reader.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am 100% a believer in the US Constitution. I believe wholeheartedly that our Forefathers wrote the document with purpose and that every word holds true today. Any disgrace of the Constitution is a disgrace to the Country and the American people should continue to fight for the Constitution.

However, not showing your receipt at Wal-Mart isnotcivil disobedience! It's a waste of the $6/hr employee's time. It's a waste of the line of people behind you's time. It's a waste ofyourtime. I'm pretty sure Rosa Parks would have shown her receipt at Best Buy.

The argument that Consumerist commenters always throw out is "There is no law that says this!" and "It's against privacy laws!" Granted, there is no law, but this is store policy. Entering the store and making a transaction is your agreement that you will abide by store policy. If you do not like the store's policies, then you should not enter the store. There is no law that says men must wear a shirt at all times, however, it is Best Buy's policy that everyone must where a shirt and if you try to enter the store without a shirt, you will be asked to leave. Sure, there's no law saying you HAVE to wear a shirt, but it is their policy and if you don't like their policies, you don't have to shop there.

As for privacy, who ever said you had privacyin a public place?This comment on their most recent article got me:

It's called Privacy. Some people value it.

It's none of the dude's GD business what I bought or for how much, nor do I appreciate being treated as a criminal every time I walk out of the store.

Um, what about the cashier? Did you tell them to close their eyes while they swiped your item? Did you then ask them to place your items in a dark black, opaque bag? When you were walking around the store making your selections, did you hide the items so no one could see what you were holding? If you are making a purchase in a public store in person, what you are buyingis not privateno matter how much you want it to be. If you're worried about people seeing what you buy, go online and buy everything.

And the only way you get treated like a criminal every time you walk out of a store is if you act like a jackass every time they ask for your receipt. Look, I could understand if a random customer asked to see your receipt. It isn't any of their business. However, as an employee of the store where you just made a purchase and you are walking out of the store with items from that store, it is very much that employees business to check if you actually paid for the stuff you're leaving with. Now, some will argue that because the glance at the receipt is so half-assed usually that this isn't cutting down on theft. And maybe it isn't. But as a retail outlet, every store has the right to make sure they aren't losing out on money or merchandise. It is also their right to refuse service to anyone. As much as I don't like Best Buy, I plead to them that they make a registry of every idiot that whines about showing their receipt and refuses their entry into the store on the grounds that they have refused to abide by store policy.

This comment is gold too:

You and the other sheeple can surrender your collective rights all you want; I on the other hand will defend mine vigorously, and will not alter my shopping needs based on silly corporate policy.

If it's a store's policy to charge $15 for a CD, but it's another store's policy to charge $10 for a CD, you cannot walk into the first store and demand to only pay $10 for a CD. If you don't like their policy of CD costs, go to another store that has policies more in line with your beliefs.

Now, I will admit that the Best Buy employee in the article I linked to was way out of line by telling the customer to "Just shut up." No matter how ridiculous a customer is being, employees should never talk to them like that.

My overall feelings towards the Receipt Crusaders: you're all idiots. Your refusal to show your receipt is not going to make any difference in the world, except maybe making the percentage of self-righteous morons a bit higher. These Receipt Crusaders are the people that set their Facebook statuses to their bra color to raise breast cancer awareness, or have online "moments of silence" for the Haiti earthquake victims. These are the people that claim they're doing charity and fighting for human rights but never get off their asses and do anything about it. They've never written to Congress to fight for Gay Rights, or push for Net Neutrality. They've never donated money to the Susan G. Komen foundation or ladled soup for the homeless.

Talk is cheap, guys. So shut up and do something.

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