Tue
Sep 4 2007
07:33 pm

Joe Powell brings an interesting case to our attention.

They used to do this at the CompUSA in West Knoxville, and I would always give them a hard time about it. After reading Joe's post, it occurs to me that the appropriate response is to walk right back inside and return everything you just bought.

112
like
Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

Best Buy

Best Buy used to do this consistently, but recently it seems to have become a hit-or-miss thing. There might have been a backlash from customers, but I rather doubt it.

To me, the more disturbing part of that story is the cop demanding to see the guy's ID, when he was under no suspicion of having committed a crime.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." -- Brett Butler

R. Neal's picture

To me, the more disturbing

To me, the more disturbing part of that story is the cop demanding to see the guy's ID, when he was under no suspicion of having committed a crime.

Yeah, I was wondering about that, too. I didn't think there was any law requiring anyone to produce any kind of ID on demand, unless you're buying alcohol or an airline ticket, and even then you have a choice not to buy. (But I'm not a lawyer.)

Stan G's picture

Regarding a Similar Matter

Does anyone -- Martin Pleasant for instance -- know whether or not the case of the fellow from Bulls Gap who spent two nights in jail for not moving from the spot on Market Square where he was to have met his wife has gone to the grand jury? If so, what was the outcome?

Joe P.'s picture

comments

in large numbers at the Boing Boing link in the post discuss varying laws which might apply in the case and are well worth reading. And i thought it worth mentioning he was charged with obstructing the officer's attempt to 'fulfill his duties'. I'd say the court case which follows will be most illuminating.

Moccasin Hollow's picture

We must sacrifice...

some of our freedoms for lower prices.

talidapali's picture

One more store I will never set foot in again.

Haven't been in a Wal-Mart in four years now...don't miss it a bit. Won't miss Circuit City either...they have crappy products and customer service to begin with.

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

Sam's picture

I get annoyed at having to

show my receipt. Sometimes it is just inconvenient. I once told a Walmart Employee, Sorry my hands are full. He kept insisting he had to see the receipt. I made him dig it out of the bag amiss his protests.

Last week I went to the Knox County Clerk office to buy the license renew with the 2 copies you get in the mail. The clerk said to me if you are going to write a check, we need two forms of id and two phone numbers.She said and put your driving license number on the check.

I laugh out loud and said "Don't you trust us, I know we don't trust you.

Paul Witt's picture

It's my understanding that

It's my understanding that stores can't stop you from leaving unless they know you're shoplifting. Anything else is illegal detention. The only thing they can do is refuse to do business with you later. I refuse to get checked at Best Buy and had their checker guy follow me into the parking lot once. He was smart enough not to lay his hands on me or try to block my exit though.

It may be urban myth but I've heard stories of people suing for that and winning a decent settlement.

Regardless, once the cop showed up he should've shown his drivers license. Remember that court case a few years ago with the guy in Montana (or Wyoming... one of those mountain-west states) where he was standing by his truck on the side of the road and arguing with his daughter? The police showed up and he refused to show ID. I'm pretty sure that the outcome of that case was not on the side of personal liberty. Yes, we are now required to "show our papers" to law enforcement whenever they demand them. Aren't you glad we won the Cold War?

So I'm guessing that the court will side with the cop and this guy is gonna end up with a fat check from Circuit City. I don't think that employee of theirs is going to be around too much longer either.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Reciepts

I don't see a problem with asking to see reciepts. I think it makes good business sense. Especially if it's done on a truly random basis and people aren't being harassed for SWB or something.

___________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Bizzy's picture

Circuit City

Could better use their time answering the PHONE. The endless loop of options on their automated system is ridiculous. I once spent twenty minutes on the loop trying to get to the department that sold fax machines and ended up right back where I started. It takes less time to get in the car and drive to the store than to call. Thanks, I feel better now.

cafkia's picture

It seems to me that a sign

It seems to me that a sign in the front of the store and perhaps printed on one's receipt saying something to the effect of "Agreeing to a transaction here is also an agreement that we be allowed to check your bag on the event of your departure. It is an effort to keep prices down by reducing theft and the more people we check, whether we suspect them of anything or not, the more success we will see. We appreciate your understanding but, if this is a problem, we apologize but another store may be a better option for you." They might also have the cashiers say some version of that. If you've been warned a few times and you still choose to shop there, than it should not surprise you.

As to the cop issue, that sucks and it is stupid and counter productive. Let's say that I am in debt, perhaps some old credit card stuff or a defaulted loan, and I witness a violent crime. Instead of calling the cops and clueing them in, I know that the only criminal likely to be caught is me. The violent criminal might never be brought to justice but, my effort to redeem myself as a citizen is likely to result in my punishment. Most likely in that scenario, I choose to shut up. In the days of pay phones I could possibly find one and call things in but, in this day and age, if I don't want to be caught, I have to keep quiet. I can see this sort of shit biting us (the nation) in the ass.

But then, my personal motto is "In all things, paranoia".

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

talidapali's picture

Nope...

Once I have paid for my purchases, their right to search me has ceased to exist. If it is store policy, then they don't need my money that badly.

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

frenchharp's picture

Malls

I believe Malls can ask people to leave if they display political expressions. There probably are protections based on race, religion, ethnicity, etc. for shopping but I don't think the constitution applies on private property. You can ask anyone to leave your property for any reason.

SammySkull's picture

malls too, some

Aren't malls private property of the corporate entity that owns the mall itself? Is a mall just a concept around which stores are arranged? There's probably some legal definition, and I could see that somehow granting them all sorts of privileges.

As far as my bags being checked, I think I'd be the guy hating it while giving in to keep the drama to a minimum. I don't think anyone should ever get to bother you without probable cause, whether it's the nice old lady in front of Wal Mart or the demanding young fellow at Circuit City. If you think I stole something, then you should do something about it, but our society has gotten to a place where people routinely take the easy way out to the point where we aren't surprised when we have to prove our innocence. Just let him/her check your bag. If you're innocent you don't have anything to worry about. It's not a great way to be free.

Factchecker's picture

Yes, we are now required to

Yes, we are now required to "show our papers" to law enforcement whenever they demand them. Aren't you glad we won the Cold War?

In the days of pay phones I could possibly find one and call things in but, in this day and age, if I don't want to be caught, I have to keep quiet. I can see this sort of shit biting us (the nation) in the ass.

...to the point where we aren't surprised when we have to prove our innocence. Just let him/her check your bag. If you're innocent you don't have anything to worry about. It's not a great way to be free.

This thread illustrates why I disagreed with Bill Lyons about our freedoms being better than ever today (or however he put it). Not to drag him into this, it's just that the opposite is clearly the case. When these situations start getting out of hand to the point of victimizing those who say they have nothing to hide and think they are safer because of such mass paranoia spilling into our laws and courts, maybe they too will start to see we've jumped the shark. Unfortunately, some of these incidents may escalate into more violence first.

Most sheeple just keep assimilating, though, while these practices have gone way beyond the basic freedoms and liberties "guaranteed" by the founders.

There I go sounding like a libertarian again.

Factchecker's picture

Malls and such

Some think that these are merely rules of private companies that apparently should be exempt from laws, but that's one reason I try to avoid ever going to a mall. You might as well be in another country, as for your rights. Ditto cruise ships and the like.

R. Neal's picture

Going back to Frenchharp's

Going back to Frenchharp's note, sure you can ask anybody to leave private property. Once you do and they don't it's trespassing, and there are plenty of laws on the books for that.

But this is about searching them. The 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable search, but it has been interpreted to apply only to government officials or those acting on behalf of the government. Corporations are exempt. But should they be?

They certainly want protections provided by the Constitution, such as freedom of speech to advertise and advocate for political policy through PACs and lobbyists. They want (and indeed enjoy) status as a "person", to be able to enter into contracts, have protections under the law, and for tax and other purposes, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that provides for this status and you can't send a corporation to jail.

They also want (and enjoy) 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable or warrantless search of their business records and operations, but apparently they don't want to extend that to their customers and employees.

It's confusing territory. But corporations are assuming more and more government-like authority and powers over their employees and their operations and customers, such as private security forces, drug testing, lie-detector testing, surveillance monitoring, searches, etc. So maybe there should be some basic civil rights protections for employees and customers.

talidapali's picture

Corporations are considered to be the same...

as private individuals for the purposes of the law as I understand it.

I can tell you right now, if some private individual comes up to me and tries to perform a search of my person or belongings, he's gonna draw back a nub.

Nobody has the right to search me except a police officer IF he has a reasonable suspicion that I have committed a crime.

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

WhitesCreek's picture

This seems to sum up the

This seems to sum up the situation.

It's a bit different from what has been said so far. Essentially, a store has the right to search you if they have reason to believe you stole something. That reason may not simply be your refusal to be searched. it may be another customer's statement, an employee's statement, or a security device's alarm going off.

Also interesting was the law on posting a sign saying by entering the store you agree to be searched. Such signs have no legal validity. The example I found was: "Suppose there was a sign that said by entering the store you agree to be shot?"

R. Neal's picture

That seems reasonable.

That seems reasonable. Searching the bags of every person leaving the store without any specific reason does not.

R. Neal's picture

Here's the law in Tennessee,

Here's the law in Tennessee, emphasis mine. Shopping in a store would not seem to create probable cause that a crime has occurred.

40-7-116. Theft — Detention of suspect by merchant or peace officer. —

(a) A merchant, a merchant's employee, or agent or a peace officer who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed or is attempting to commit the offense of theft, as defined in § 39-14-103, may detain that person on or off the premises of the mercantile establishment if the detention is done for any or all of the following purposes:

(1) To question the person, investigate the surrounding circumstances, obtain a statement, or any combination thereof;

(2) To request or verify identification, or both;

(3) To inform a peace officer of the detention of that person, or surrender that person to the custody of a peace officer, or both;

(4) To inform a peace officer, the parent or parents, guardian or other private person interested in the welfare of a minor of the detention and to surrender the minor to the custody of that person; or

(5) To institute criminal proceedings against the person.

(b) Probable cause to suspect that a person has committed or is attempting to commit the offense of theft may be based on, but not limited to:

(1) Personal observation, including observation via closed circuit television or other visual device;

(2) Report of personal observation from another merchant;

(3) Activation of an electronic or other type of mechanical device designed to detect theft; or

(4) Personal observation of dressing rooms, including observation via closed circuit television, two-way mirrors, or other visual devices, shall be limited to observation by a person of the same sex as the person being observed. No observation shall be lawful unless notices are posted in the dressing rooms that monitoring may occur.

(c) A merchant, a merchant's employee or agent, or a peace officer who detains, questions or causes the arrest of any person suspected of theft shall not be criminally or civilly liable for any legal action relating to the detention, questioning or arrest if the merchant, merchant's employee or agent, or peace officer:

(1) Has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has committed or is attempting to commit theft;

(2) Acts in a reasonable manner under the circumstances; and

(3) Detains the suspected person for a reasonable period of time.

(d) The merchant may use a reasonable amount of force necessary to protect the merchant, to prevent escape of the person detained, or to prevent the loss or destruction of property.

(e) A reasonable period of time, for the purposes of this section, is a period of time long enough to accomplish the purpose set forth in this section, and shall include any time spent awaiting the arrival of a law enforcement officer or the parents or guardian of a juvenile suspect, if the merchant or the merchant's employee or agent has summoned a law enforcement officer, the parents or a guardian.

[Acts 1957, ch. 164, §§ 1, 3; T.C.A., §§ 40-824, 40-826; Acts 1983, ch. 326, § 2; 1990, ch. 1030, § 17.]

Andy Axel's picture

I'd probably march right

I'd probably march right back into the store and ask to see the floor manager to discuss the "problem."

And then I'd very vocally get into the customer service line and very vocally return every friggin' item I'd just bought. "Whoop, there's my receipt with the date and time! This may be the shortest sale on record!"

I typically don't go to a Circuit City/Best Buy unless I plan on spending at least $100, if not $500. That's more than one of those loss prevention jackholes makes in a week, I suspect.

____________________________

I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

CBT's picture

I find this thread somewhat

I find this thread somewhat amazing. If I was asked to show a receipt for something in my shopping bag, I would show it. No big deal. I don't view it as some invasion of my rights. Other than Sam's, where everyone has to show a receipt to leave, I've never been asked to show a receipt. So, based on my experience it's a very rare problem.

I don't feel like I'm in a foreign country in a shopping mall (this also assumes being in a foreign country is somehow a bad thing). I've never been asked to show a receipt or had any issue regarding my privacy (other than the one kiosk where the salesman desperately wants to show me how great his product is, I do hate those). I also understand I'm not free to do anything I please in a mall, in Mast General or any other place owned and operated by someone else. I'm a guest.

The same laws are not applied to government and corporations for a reason. You don't have any choice as to who takes your taxes. You do have a choice where to shop or do business. If a store harrasses customers, provides an inferior product or doesn't have good service, customers will go elsewhere. The store will go out of business. Not so for government. In fact, it appears government often grows as a result of inefficiencies, poor service and a bad 'products'.

I just don't see being asked to show a receipt as a big deal. Maybe I'm just getting along with 'the man' and not creating a protest at every perceived slight.

Andy Axel's picture

If I was asked to show a

If I was asked to show a receipt for something in my shopping bag, I would show it. No big deal.

I think that if you were rudely confronted by a store employee and you were followed out to your vehicle, you'd probably see it differently.

Not so for government. In fact, it appears government often grows as a result of inefficiencies, poor service and a bad 'products'.

Even under (gasp!) Republican administrations...

...customers would rather shop where they aren't treated like criminals.

That may explain the burgeoning appeal of shopping online.

____________________________

I'm a guy in a Reagan mask -- and I'm running for President!

zoomfactor's picture

The "choices" are becoming fewer and fewer while we sleep

You do have a choice where to shop or do business. If a store harrasses customers, provides an inferior product or doesn't have good service, customers will go elsewhere. The store will go out of business.

But what if "elsewhere" no longer exists? Places like Knoxville's Computer King still hang on as an alternative to crappy Dell computers, but the fact that CK's cost $50 or $100 more is enough to keep people supporting unethical companies like Circuit City - who bolster their bottom line by some minute percentage by firing all their long-term managers to replace them with unknowledgable, churning, underpaid workers. Meanwhile, the Panama Canal is being widened so more crap can be shipped in from China with no quality control whatsoever, and we applaud, without any irony, all the news reports gloating that now, "the price of consumer goods will be lower on the East Coast" as a result. (Follow the money to who is really funding this project.) Christ, how much low-priced crap do we really need, and how much production capacity will the US ultimately outsource, until we are finally satisfied? All I can say is, beware when processed food starts being shipped in from China - maybe people will wake up, then.

R. Neal's picture

For me it's not so much

For me it's not so much about privacy. You are, after all, in a public place. For me, it's more about being treated like a criminal when I haven't done anything wrong.

Treating your customers like criminals, as you note, is just not good business or a smart customer relations practice. And it also appears to be outside of Tennessee law.

The only place it has ever happened to me was at CompUSA. I continued to shop there only because it was the only store where I could get what I needed off the shelf that day without having to order it. I wouldn't go out of my way to shop there for something I could get somewhere else or for something I could order and wait a couple of days for.

I don't think they do it any more, though. Maybe because there's more competition from office supply and big box electronics stores and they realized customers would rather shop where they aren't treated like criminals.

Factchecker's picture

I don't feel like I'm in a

I don't feel like I'm in a foreign country in a shopping mall (this also assumes being in a foreign country is somehow a bad thing).

No it doesn't, but just remember that normal law enforcement, for example, isn't in charge. There was a story on 60 minutes (I think) some years back about a slack-jawed security guard or two in a mall who put a choke hold on a customer too slow to leave a Dillard's at closing time. The customer died and there was nothing the family could do about it. Dillard's lied and covered it up, as I recall.

If malls can enforce their own secret laws where my rights under normal laws don't apply, I'd rather not play along. There are plenty of other reasons I hate malls (driving there, parking, crappy stores I don't care about, seeing a parade of phone-yakking, tatooed and mutilated freaks, etc.).

I also understand I'm not free to do anything I please in a mall, in Mast General or any other place owned and operated by someone else. I'm a guest.

Of course, but it's nice when respecting customers are treated like guests.

SammySkull's picture

uuhhhh . . .

tatooed and mutilated freaks, etc.)

Do you mean just the tattooed and mutilated freaks that go to the mall, or do you mean tattooed and mutilated freaks in general. Tattooed I get, but what constitutes mutilated?

CBT's picture

crappy stores I don't care

crappy stores I don't care about

Some describe downtown Knoxville this way. I'm not a big mall fan, but to each his own.

seeing a parade of phone-yakking, tatooed and mutilated freaks

Geez, I've seen these same people at Mast General Store. They're everywhere!

I would be interested to know more about the Dillard's incident. I just couldn't fathom 60 Minutes sensationalizing a story to get more viewers.

I take it the Dillard's incident was not local. I've never heard of any issue with local private security officer. Security companies are bonded and insured. Likewise for the mall owner and/or management company who hired them. Malls thankfully provide added security, mostly to watch over parking lots and cars. The local police still has jurisdiction over crimes (look for the patrol car near the mall entrance when shoplifters are caught).

While mistakes can be made with the best of intentions, the last thing Dillards or any other store wants to do is make customers mad.

Terry Troll's picture

ID to buy something?

When Circuit City asked me for an ID to let me use my debit card they got a $300 monitor back and (dang it) Wally World got the sale. That was a couple of years ago and I haven't been back.

SammySkull's picture

I much prefer to be asked to

I much prefer to be asked to show ID when using my debit card, and rather than signing the back I've written "See ID." I'd like to think store employees can help a little and make sure the person handing them the card is the person whose card it is. Of course, I don't remember, outside of a restaurant, the last time I didn't just swipe the card myself making my point almost moot, but there's still restaurants.

zoomfactor's picture

Of course, I don't remember,

Of course, I don't remember, outside of a restaurant, the last time I didn't just swipe the card myself making my point almost moot, but there's still restaurants.

You can write a credit card number on a scrap piece of paper, with the expiration date, and go to any restaurant in town and charge a $500 dinner. They don't care if it is not legit; the credit card company eats it if the charge is challenged by the rightful owner. I learned this tidbit during my 18-month stint as a federal grand juror.

Pam Strickland's picture

The Dillard's incident was

The Dillard's incident was not here. It wasn't in Little Rock (Dillard's HQ), as best I remember. I think it was in Oklahoma or Texas. And I think they ended up paying out, but please don't hold me to that.

As for showing the receipt, CompUSA doesn't do it anymore, but they do plenty of other irritating things. I did buy there about a year ago when my old 7-year-old iMac died just before the Apple store opened, and they were good to me at the time. But I was in their recently looking for a digital recorder and they were rude and inefficient. Yes, it was a teenaged clerk, but there's no excuse. In my retail years, I was also expected to be polite and respectful to customers.

I think that Target in LR, used to periodically asked to see everyone's receipt and checked the buggy to see if it matched but it was far from all the time. I think just when the volumne was high.

I too think it's not so much a privacy thing as it is a respect thing. And, I wouldn't hesitate to speak to a manager if an employee was rude. If the manager doesn't respond appropriately, I ask for phone numbers for who ever is next inline.

But if you shop mostly local, then you usually get polite respect and you don't have to deal with all that nonsense.

Pam

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Factchecker's picture

I would be interested to

I would be interested to know more about the Dillard's incident. I just couldn't fathom 60 Minutes sensationalizing a story to get more viewers.

Yet you probably watch Fox Noise "religiously." Here ya go. EDIT: I haven't shopped at Dillard's since, needless to say, the bastards. I used to buy shoes there.

phone-yakking, tatooed and mutilated freaks

Mutilated is my term for body pierced. True, that was a general old fogey's whine about people everywhere, but the volume of traffic is usually higher in a mall (or used to be). I used to like to people watch, but now it just grosses me out. I know, I'm an old fart.

SammySkull's picture

meh

I sort of figured as much. I'm not really mutilated, just some large gauge ear rings and a growing assortment of tattoos. I do sometimes make fun of bad tattoos or cringe over poorly done work, for whatever that's worth.

talidapali's picture

pffft...

I'm an old fart too, but I LIKE my piercings...LOL

SmileyCentral.com

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

Mark Shetterly's picture

This is so ridiculous! If

This is so ridiculous! If the door-dweeb wants to check your receipt at Walmart/Circuit City/Best Buy etc. just show your damned receipt! Big deal! Do you really have to get all pissy like your civil rights are being violated somehow? And if a cop asks you for I.D. and you refuse, I HOPE he/she arrests you! I'll be the one pointing and laughing.

(link...)

(link...)

SammySkull's picture

You miss the point entirely.

You miss the point entirely. I don't have to prove I'm innocent unless you are willing to make an open accusation. Isn't that one of the founding tenets of our nation? Isn't that one of the basic facets of freedom, to be from being searched without probable cause?

talidapali's picture

I don't have to prove...

I'm innocent period.

It's up to the state to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I'm guilty. The burden of proof is on the accuser...not the accused. Innocent until PROVEN guilty.

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

zoomfactor's picture

karma and all that

Be careful for what you wish for! The rules are constantly changing and you might find yourself being pointed at and ridiculed one day. It is not too hard to visualize ways in which corporations could step up their justification for violating citizens' rights as we now understand them, as private companies become more and more entrenched in dictating US governmental policy.

Factchecker's picture

No offense intended, Sammy.

No offense intended, Sammy. I can't legitimately denounce what I don't understand, I suppose. That kind of thing just doesn't do anything for me, and to be honest it is something I don't enjoy seeing. But I know it's not about me and to many nowadays, my view is old fashioned and irrelevant. I'm from the school where piercing is fine, but just for women's earrings.

P.S. Sorry about the "freaks" comment too, but FWIW in high school I hung out in a circle of friends who enjoyed being called freaks, though it was just because they (we?) had long hair. AKA "hippies."

Peace.

Joe328's picture

I agree with Sammy

When I see someone getting their bags searched or the alarm goes off, I assume they may be guilty. Sometimes I put the receipt in a pocket and it's difficult to find, or I drop change and keys while looking for receipt. The cashier who sold and bagged the merchandise, confirmed the transaction. With no merchandise between the cash register and exit, why should I be searched?

WhitesCreek's picture

To understand

To understand some of the above posts it might help to read what John Dean has to say about that.

You may, then, understand why these people don't have a clue as to why it's a problem for some us to have a Walmart security person violate the Constitution.

"Show them your receipt"... "If you haven't done anything wrong, why should you mind if they wiretap your phone?"..."Papers! I must see your papers!"

The current Republican party has been taken over by authoritarians.

It's about America.

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