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Some posters on Internet sites said they had refused to allow a receipt check in the past and had been asked not to return to a store.
are complaints about incidents at Best Buy, Wal Mart, Target, Costco and more. People claim they've been treated like criminals by the businesses they've patronized. They rant, they rave and they get lots of reactions.
Mr. Righi received hundreds of e mails with other Web sites quickly linking to the story about his arrest Sept. 1 in Brooklyn, Ohio.
Retailers woo consumers with sales and ads and new merchandise. Then, after money has changed hands, the staff sometimes wants another look. Maybe it's because the sale happened at the back of the store, but sometimes the request comes just a few feet from the checkout. And the doors already are guarded by sensor detecting devices. Excuse me?
The last line of defense may be the front door. If putting one or two employees in between the merchandise and the parking lot cuts down losses, many retailers are willing to give it a try.
A Circuit City spokesman reached last week declined to get into specifics on this case but said organized theft rings often target consumer electronics retailers. The company assigns associates to check bags and receipts when stores, such as the one in Brooklyn, Ohio, experience high theft rates.
Retailers check receipts at front door to combat losses from theft
Mass merchants and big box stores have cut back on amenities and staff in order to keep prices low. Fewer employees means fewer people keeping an eye on the merchandise. "That help on the floor is what used to keep losses down," said Mr. McGoey.
When stores demand customers adhere to certain policies, they have to be careful how they enforce those rules, said Bruce A. Antkowiak, a professor in the law school at Duquesne University. This is a case of a private business and a private citizen doing business together.
Unless a request to check someone's receipt is handled smoothly admittedly a challenge the exchange unmasks an element of distrust in a relationship that had been all about seduction.
"Stores do have the ability to set their policies," said Nils Frederiksen, deputy press secretary in the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. Private businesses can have a policy of asking to see customers' receipts, he said. They should make those policies clear to consumers and then apply them fairly. If they are only checking the receipts of, say, certain minorities, that might open up other legal issues.
Mr. Antkowiak's advice Miu Miu Iphone Case 6 for those who don't like such practices: Let market forces go to work. "If a store has that policy, don't shop there. I tell you, if enough people did that, they'd change the policy."
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Mr. Righi's case may not be one that resolves the consumer/retailer relationship problem since his arrest came after he left the store and the police officer involved ended up charging him with obstruction. His lawyer said yesterday the criminal matter had been resolved and charges would be dismissed.
The reality is nobody's really happy about the situation, said Chris E. "Retailers hate doing this," he said. "It's bad for business. They know it's bad customer relations."
Warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam's Club warn in the membership policy that they will be double checking at the door. Other retailers put up signs, often discreet ones, to minimize the unpleasantness. Or they may just have someone hovering around ready to swoop in.
Even if politeness and cooperation seem to be the norm as receipts are examined, customers still may be resentful. No matter how much retailers argue that everyone pays the price for those who steal, few enjoy being inconvenienced by someone else's crime.
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There are good reasons for caution. Some customers shoplift. Some employees do undercharge people, even slipping items into friends' bags. Employee theft alone totaled $19.5 billion last year, according to the retail federation. Receipt reviews can be effective, said Mr. McGoey. "It works. It definitely works."
The standoff at the front door has a lot to do with changes inside retail stores.
In addition, many retailers have taken merchandise such as expensive tools or perfumes that once were kept inside cases and put them out where customers can touch. Sales may improve but it also makes goods easier to walk off with. And those sensors at the doors have enough quirks that they can be foiled or even ignored by a staff tired of hearing them go off all day.
Then there were those like the contributor who used the user ID "Required." "I'm not going to candy coat this. You are an idiot. You're on PRIVATE PROPERTY in a store which sells lots of expensive stuff. They didn't demand a strip search, they wanted to SEE YOUR RECEIPT AND LOOK IN YOUR BAG."
Indignation spurted up on the blogosphere when Michael Righi, a young Pittsburgh entrepreneur, published a tale of woe that began when he refused a Circuit City employee's request to check his receipt on the way out the door.
"If you owned the store, what would you tell your security guard to do if someone said, 'No, I'm not showing you anything?' Grab them?" he asked. That kind of response likely would trigger lawsuits.
most consumers understand this," wrote spokesman Jim Babb in an e mailed response.
a mixed response from online readers.
But at what cost? "I'm in the business and it offends me," he admitted.
Yet, as in Mr. Righi's case, the jury of their shopping peers seems split. Are consumers being bullied or being unreasonable? Do privacy rights extend into a private business? Are retailers stopping thieves or just making people mad?
Turns out the nerve he struck was already pretty sensitive. Over the years, more than one upset shopper has gone to the Web to question techniques stores use to combat losses from theft and fraud that the National Retail Federation estimated hit $41.6 billion last year.
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