A decade ago, the practice of comparing a customer's receipt to what they had in their bags was basically unheard of.  These days, however, it is very common.  In fact, some major chains have an employee permanently assigned to the task of checking receipts.

A few weeks ago, I had a mild panic attack when, as I approached the person checking receipts, I realized that I had told the cashier that I did not need the receipt.  Fortunately, the receipt checker just told me to have a good day as I walked past.

That incident got me thinking about whether or not a customer legally has to show the employees their receipt.  I did some digging to come up with the answer.

Google Maps / Simon Kadula / Unsplash
Google Maps / Simon Kadula / Unsplash

Why do stores ask to see your receipt?

The answer to this question should be pretty obvious.  They ask to see your receipt to insure that you are not taking things.

Sadly, over the last few years, thefts have become such an issue that it has caused some retailers to close certain, theft-prone, locations.  A Business Insider article says that Target estimated they would lose as much as $1 billion to theft in 2023.

Do you legally need to show store staff your receipt?

According to an article on Business Insider, you are not required to show store employees your receipt.  As of 2024, you have no legal obligation to show them your receipt.

However, you should just do as they ask.  Yes, it is a pain in the butt, but there are numerous reasons to comply.

First, if you paid for the items in your bags, you have nothing to worry about.  Additionally, denying them the opportunity to see your receipt could lead to you being detained by the store.  Even though you won't face any legal consequences from this detainment, it will still be a big waste of your time.

On top of that, you need to remember that these employees are just doing the task that they have been assigned to do.  There is no reason to take your annoyance out on the employees.

On the plus side, some retailers are testing out new AI-driven scanners that would take the place of these receipt-checkers.  In fact, Sam's Club is hoping to roll these scanners out to all of their locations by the end of 2024.

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