Dear PoPville – Safeway Checking Receipts Before Allowing One to Exit

“Dear PoPville,

You may have already covered this with the SW Safeway, but the receipt checking has been rolled out at the L Street location too (Sexy Safeway, if one goes by the nicknames to identify the location). Ed. Note: CityVista Safeway

I’m through this location frequently, since I walk past it going home most nights and usually run in at least twice a week to pick up something random that I need for dinner that night or an item that I forgot. So usually 1-4 items picked up, and I’m usually quick to get in and get out so I can get home as early as possible. They just began their receipt checking in maybe the last week or so. The first time I smiled and said no thank you when she asked to see my receipt. She said–nicely–after me, “ok, next time then.” The second time, I did the same. Smiled and politely said no thank you, to which the checker snapped that it was store policy. I told her I wasn’t required to show her anything and kept walking. Seems they’re trying to get more aggressive at this point, but they still allow me to proceed no problem with just a quick, no thank you.

Last night I show up and it looks like a border crossing. They have at least 4 employees posted in the area between the starbucks and the elevators. There is a whole line of products that divide the area in two and people are being funneled into the narrower passage along the elevator wall so that it’s nearly impossible to exit without being physically blocked by the receipt checkers. I notice a distracted receipt checker on the side closest to the starbucks, the area they seemed to have designated as the entrance to the store, and walk right past. I glance out of the corner of my eye as I walk out the door to see the guy trying to wave me back and saying something although I’m out of ear shot at that point. I can see that they’re going to make it extremely difficult for anyone to pass without getting into an altercation, and they have no right to do so. They may ask me for my receipt, but I have every right to decline.

I’ve emailed the general customer service email and they’ve told me they’ve forwarded my complaint to the store manager and the district manager. I’ve also sent their twitter account a quick note since that method seems to get faster responses for other companies. I explained that it’s my personal property after I’ve paid, that I don’t need to stand in line for someone to glance at my receipt, and that I don’t appreciate being treated like a criminal whenever I shop at safeway.

If they’re concerned about shoplifting, then they need to redirect their resources in a way that will actually prevent shoplifting, not in a way that harasses every single customer who walks through their doors. I can see the situation escalating to the point where they block me (or anyone else who refuses this ‘policy’) or lay a hand on me to prevent me from leaving. It’s interesting that the instituted this policy here only after the Giant closed down. It’s gotten crowded enough in this location that I really don’t need to wait on yet another line for someone to search my bags before leaving the store. They’ll lose a customer fast (and I’m sure many others) if they continue this policy.”

Do you guys think the receipt checking is unreasonable? I think they do it at the Rhode Island Ave Home Depot as well. Would you stop shopping at a store that required you to show a receipt before leaving?

197 Comment

  • whats the big deal?

  • I’m cool with it at costco, maybe because it’s always been that way. I could see that being really annoying at a grocery store, especially if it slows down your exit.

    • At Costco, when you join, part of your membership agreement is that they can check your reciept. At Safeway, you have no membership agreement, and they cannot force you to show your reciept.

      You are absolutely in your legal right to refuse to show your reciept. You paid for it, it is your property, and that is that.

      • I’ll admit I’m no expert on this, but perhaps the fact that you’re on private property allows the store to check your receipt? It’s their store, can’t they set the policies as they see fit? If you had a back pack that a employee thought had a stolen good in it they’d be able to ask you to open it, right? I’ve often had my bags checked at Urban Outfitters and other stores in China Town, I’ve never had an issue with it, it’s their store and they’re letting me shop in it.

        • They could ask, you could also refuse, but then they could ask you to leave. And unless their pattern of asking was somehow discriminatory (against a protected group), it should be on the up and up.

  • The big deal is that he is being harassed about his property (he paid for it). The big deal is that he is being slowed down. The big deal is that it’s his business what things of his he is carrying, not the store’s.

    Incidentally, does anyone know the actual legal issues around this? Is he fully within his legal rights to refuse to show receipt? Can the store create trouble for him (i.e. detain him or ban him) if he does refuse to show receipt?

    • First, assuming you’re detained by a store employee and not a cop, the 4th amendment doesn’t apply (as most people think it does).

      The typical remedy for something like this is false imprisonment (if they detain/prevent you from leaving), however there is an exception when the store has reasonable belief (similar to probable cause) that you were shoplifting (i.e., they need to see you take something and leave the store without paying). Refusing to show a receipt is not sufficient. If they put their hands on you, it is likely assault and battery.

      When you’re dealing with police officers, they need probable cause for a search or reasonable suspicion (a lower standard) for a stop. Violations here are rooted in the fourth amendment.

      Keep in mind that Costco is completely different. Part of the member agreement is that you consent to a stop AND a search.

      • me

        T, I will take your response with a grain of salt and not as legal advice, but a hypothetical for you (since you seem to know way more than I do about it all)- say, I’m walking out, they ask to see my receipt, I either ignore them or say “No, sorry” and continue to walk out. The guy checking receipts jumps up to grab on to my arm to get me to stop. That would really be assault/battery? That just seems so extreme to me. This is an honest question, I seriously don’t know.

        • Yes, it’s an assault and battery. At its most basic level, a battery is an intentional, unwanted touching of another person or something attached to that person. Assault, basically, is reasonable apprehension of battery.

          The upshot: you could sue. The downshot: not much for damages.

          • Are all of you out of your minds? The store has EVERY right to search every single bag on the way out of the store. From the moment you enter til the moment you leave they can search your bag or check your receipt. It’s private property. This is an area people have sued before. In higher crime areas and in stores that have frequent theft and shoplifting the courts have always sided with the stores. 2 minutes of your time won’t kill you and if you can’t wait 2 minutes for them to check your receipt you will just get to enjoy going out of your way to another store when this one closes due to shoplifting.

          • You sound a bit defensive, Idaho Ave.

          • @ Idaho Ave:

            I think you’re missing the point. It’s not the request to see a receipt or search a bag that’s illegal, it’s what happens when someone refuses. Forcibly detaining or searching someone who refuses — without a reasonable belief that the person stole something (the shopkeeper’s privilege noted elsewhere) — is illegal and can lead to liability for assault, battery, unlawful imprisonment, mopery, etc.

            Personally, I don’t get too worked up about it, unless there’s a line to leave the store. Then I just walk by and say “No thanks.” Once a security guard followed me out of the RI Home Depot. I politely but firmly said that I don’t have time for this and it’s illegal to stop me unless he thinks I stole something. That was the end of it and I haven’t stopped shopping there.

          • Didn’t mean to sound harsh or defensive. It just seems so obvious that they do have the right to ask to see your receipt.It is also very obvious the checks are not to accuse people of stealing but rather because those that are stealing will show face at this moment. Its a deterent against those that may want to commit the crime. So I guess the OP did make me sound defensive because Im tired of people that can’t think for 2 seconds and come to a logical conclusion where they would realize its only for their own good and obviously they are not going to “detain” anyone. thats just crazy talk (much like the Tea Party and radical right calling the Occupy Wall St marxists trying to take down america). They aren’t trying to bring the country down any more so than the receipt checker is trying to accuse you of theft.

    • Agreed on all counts. You shouldn’t be harrassed about things you already paid for. This is why the last time I parked in the garage of that Safeway, I got my ticket validated when I paid for my groceries, got in my car, and just crashed through the lift-gate at the exit. Can you believe the *nerve* of that exit machine, wanting me to insert my validation ticket in order to let me leave?! I hate being treated like some criminal who is trying to park without shopping there, so I said “no, thank you,” and crashed right through the gate and out on to the street.

  • I smaile and say thank you and walk on by. I’ve always heard at Home Depot it was to keep employees from stealing. They never seem to actually look at my items and compare it to the reciept anyway.

    As far as I’m concerned I have completed my transaction and if they wish to chase me through the parking lot, have at it.

    • em

      The SW Safeway doesn’t actually do anything to compare the receipt with the goods (nor do they actually ever look atht goods, ask to see into a bag, etc.) – they just make a check mark on the receipt itself. In theory, this is so that people can’t show the receipt again after coming in to “shop” for more goods.

      It takes a few seconds for the employee to make the mark, they smile, I smile, and everyone is on their way.

  • I shop at Soviet Safeway. What I don’t get is that they just check the receipts, not the bag, which is what Costco does. So I could buy a few things and stick some more things in the bag and it wouldn’t matter. What is the purpose of only checking the receipt and not the goods?

    The OP is right to compain to management. I still show them my receipt because I don’t want to get in trouble because the police usually hang out at that corner.

  • I was at the City Vista Safeway over the weekend and noticed that they had implemented this policy as well. I don’t find it particularly intrusive. The inspector just glanced at my receipt and off I went. It’s not like anyone was doing an item-by-item analysis of my purchases. The Home Depot on Rhode Island Avenue has been doing the same thing for years. What I find amusing about these policies is that studies show that employee theft is a far greater source of loss than customer theft. So who’s inspecting the inspectors?

  • They do it at the Home Depot up here in Philly, but Lowe’s right down the street doesn’t. I e-mailed Home Depot and told them they lost me as a customer because I feel like I’m being treated as a criminal, and the woman at the door is a raging bitch with a massive superiority complex. The part that REALLY gets me? This chick sees me pay, watches the cashier hand me my bags, and still stops me at the door.

    It’s not like they even check anything, they just put their stupid little highlighter mark on the receipt.

    • ah

      Putting the highlighter on it prevents you from reusing the receipt later to double up on all the items you purchased.

    • That “chick” at the door is getting paid, like, 8 bucks an hour, and they tell her that the policy is to check every customer’s receipt. So she asks everyone, like her bosses told her to do, even if she saw them pay. Give her a break.

  • I always politely refuse, and continue to my car, as I’ve already paid my property and the transaction between the merchant is complete. As the transaction is complete, I owe the merchant nothing, including showing proof that I’m not a criminal.

  • It amazes me that people give a shit about this. If you want nice things, sometimes you have to weed out the bad apples. If checking receipts at the exit reduces the amount of shoplifting at a store, then I am all for it.

    It literally takes like 10 seconds usually. They just glance at your receipt to see if it appears consistent with the load of stuff you have in your cart. It’s not like they actually cross-check every single item in your cart to see if it is listed on the receipt.

    • Agreed.

      I can see how this could be a hassle if there were an actual _line_ for receipt-checking, though.

      Other than that, I don’t see why this would be perceived as a big deal.

    • Agreed…

      Does this really bother you to spend a whopping 4.5 seconds of your time at the door so the person can do a cursory glance at your receipt? The only people with a problem are folks who steal, or the self obsessed who think they are more important than everyone else and trying to make a “point”.

      Stores do this because their customers, especially at these two locations, rob them blind. Not just the sterotypical DC school skipping teens with their pants around their ankles, but supposed employed adults as well.

      I am sorry that a store protecting itself offends you guys so much, perhaps you should shop elsewhere.

      Or Safeway could simply start rolling the cost of the stock loss into the prices at each individual store, raising everyones prices.

      • This actual deters me from shopping at these stores.

        I generally do my grocery shopping in two parts: first I go to the Farmers Market, and then I head immediately to a supermarket to pick up whatever other items I need.

        So I’m walking around the supermarket with a bag of produce, meats etc. Celery and tomatoes aren’t exactly marked with the seller’s name, nor do most farmers issue receipts when you are paying cash.

        So what happens when they ask to see my receipt and it shows I’ve purchased olive oil, two lemons, some black beans and a roll of toilet paper and I have a bag stuffed with cilantro, lettuce, eggplant, garlic etc?

        Hence I don’t do grocery shopping at stores with this policy. I think it’s unreasonable to assume that people will enter your place of business not carrying items on their person that could also be purchased there.

    • I’m glad that other people on here feel the same way as I do! Wow, such a long write up for such a small problem. Who cares if they look over your reciept? I have never thought twice about it!

      • Because its symptomatic of larger issues. It not only makes you pause, but it implies distrust. In addition, its pure security theater. I never stop for the checkers.

        • you’re such a maverick.

        • i wouldn’t say it “implies” distrust — it flat out screams it. which is because people steal from them all the time. all the time.

          like others i have no problem with the policy as long as it does not seriously delay my exit.

      • Seriously. In the time it took to write the email about this, the OP could have waited to make it through the receipt check line 10 or 15 times. I don’t understand why people feel the need to make such a big deal about the little things.

      • Seriously, you spent more time complaining about this then I have in the 100 times I’ve had my receipt checked. Try getting up in arms about a topic that actually matters next time instead of being a whiner for the sheer sake of it. They have a right to check your receipt just like you have the right to shop at a different store if you don’t like it. Get over yourself.

    • I agree. I don’t think anyone should take it personally that the store needs to check your receipt. It’s designed to discourage shoplifters, not to tick off the customers. Just do your part to support the business’ efforts to stay in business.

    • “It amazes me that people give a shit about this.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • Thank you. I’m kind of surprised that so many commenters are being such prats about it. In my experience so far at safeway, it doesn’t even take 10 seconds, it’s more like 2.

      As far as all the whining that it’s inefficient and people can still conceal things in their bags or jackets — feel free to run your grocery chain differently.

    • If you want nice things…shop somewhere other than safeway.

  • Worked a few years in retail. The best active theft prevention is providing quality customer service within the store by offering to help customers. Checking a receipt will not tell you how many products a dude has stuffed in his puffy jacket. This is inefficient: a waste of staff hours which leads to empty shelves and unmanned check out counters, and a waste of staff dollars, which leads to higher food prices.

  • if you’re not doing anything wrong, what’s the problem?

  • Seems like a small price to pay, given that the Safeway is a brand new store plunked down in a dodgy area. Although as others have pointed out, it may have a negligible effect on shoplifting…

  • So don’t shop there anymore and quit being such an ass! If you don’t want your receipt checked then go elsewhere. You clearly have too much time on your hands or need a different hobby. The, “it’s my personal property” claim in BS and you’re looking for an altercation. If you dind’t steal naything you have nothing to hide. Get a life.

    • +1 OP seems like a bit of an @hole.

      • I don’t agree with the OP at all, and he/she does come across as sounding entitled/overbearing… but must you call him/her an @hole??

    • So the same logic applies on the street, right? You’re OK being stopped and searched by a copy if you’re walking through a dodgy area? Where’s the line?

      It’s a slippery slope here. OP has a valid point.

      • well, i’ve lived in dc a long time and lots of places have checked receipts since i’ve been here. i’ve not noticed this slippery slope escalating.

        so no, thats bullshit.

      • Your analogy is not even close. In public you could only be stopped by the police, which would bring the 4th Amendment in. The 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to private entities.

  • Anonymous
    What about the big deal for me? If theft is a problem, I have to pay higher prices. if a quick check of the receipt helps prevent theft and it dosn’t slow things down too much, which at COstco it doesn’t, I am fine with it.

  • Doing it at the 17th St Safeway too. I cannot remember the nickname of the store. It would be different if I knew it was going to happen instead of already stuffing the receipt in a pocket or a bag or somewhere, having to find it again and being made to feel like I have done something wrong. I totally agree that checking the receipt is pointless if the bags are not checked as well.

  • Do people really care about this? Do you complain when they check your baggage claim ticket at the airport, too?

  • Man up and show your receipt… such BS that people get all worked up over this. Guess what, if you are law abiding the policy helps you. It is a deterent to shoplifters, keeps prices more reasonable and quite honestly the theives will go elsewhere. If you want nice things at a reasonable price, then let the business protect its bottom line by making sure asshats aren’t walking out with handfuls of stolen swag.

    • Yup. The indignant complaints above likely aren’t from people who steal. That they fight policies designed to make the store safer/cheaper for them and other law-abiders is completely lost on them. They’d rather make life more difficult/expensive on other law abiders rather than give up their immature obsession with railing against “the man.”

  • Definitely a big deal, and I will never shop there. There is no way I am going to wait in a second line to get out of the store after I’ve just waited in line to pay.

    At Home Depot, it is absurd. You pay and then walk 10 feet to a guard who then looks at your receipt after watching you leave the checkstand. They don’t look in the bags. If they want to stop shoplifting, how about stopping the people who HAVEN’T paid? This is one of the reasons I avoid Home Depot.

    • KenyonDweller is right on the money here. If you don’t like the retailer’s policies, don’t shop there.
      But if you choose to shop there, put up with it.

  • Unless the OP is Warren Buffet, their time is not that valuable. Get over yourself and show your receipt. It may take all of 60 seconds.

    You are such a rebel trying to sneak out the unchecked door!

  • Relax and let them check the receipt. Do you throw a hissy every time they check your receipt at Costco? We need to slow down and not get so uptight about our precious 5 extra seconds. If you have paid for everything then you should be fine

    • How about if they want to check your bag too? Your girlfriend’s purse?

      It only takes an extra 5 seconds. Just open it up and show them the contents. If you paid for everything you should be fine.

      • i show people my bags when i enter a government building in dc.

        have you ever been asked to open up your bag when leaving safeway? i haven’t. you can fear monger or you can live in reality.

      • I wouldn’t have an issue showing the contents of my purse either. I have nothing to hide. Plus I have to do that every time I attend a concert or a sporting event anyway. Not a big deal.

    • You sign an agreement with Costco when you get your membership card that allows them to check your bag. I have signed no such agreement with Safeway.

  • What’s next pat downs and cavity searches?

  • MOM!! Make ’em stop looking at my receipt!!! MMMOOOOoooMMMM!!

    j/k. I guess a second line is annoying, but your patronage is your vote… stop going if you’re so bothered by it.

  • Maybe you are shoplifting and scared to show a receipt?

  • I’m also a frequent shopper at the CityVista Safeway and noticed this new policy the last time I was there. It comes on the heals of closing the entrance at the other side of the store, which I was told was done to cut down on shoplifting.

    I understand the challenges the store is facing — shoplifting is apparently a huge problem at this location — but I don’t think it gives them a right to search private property. It seems to me that without probable cause, a term that I think applies to police, not Safeway rent-a-cops, there’s no reason to submit to their search.

    In short, I think it’s OK for them to ask to see your receipt, but I also think it’s OK to politely decline to show it.

    I’ve read in a few places that stores have a right to search you while you’re on their private property, but I haven’t seen a legal explanation for this. I’d be interested to know if there is one…

    • You’re correct- shopkeeper’s priviledge (common law right of merchants to detain suspected shoplifters) requires that they have reasonable suspicious that you shoplifted.

      A merchant, without actually witnessing shoplifting, has no right to detain you. Preventing someone from leaving freely, under DC code, is considered kidnapping.

      As you said, they can always ask, but you certainly have the right to refuse and continue without delay. I usually just walk by the line of people waiting to have their receipts checked at Home Depot.

  • I believe this is a byproduct of the “bring your own” bag thing. Anyone can walk around the store and put stuff into their personal shopping bag and then walk out.

    Stores did not have to worry about this when you had to put your items in one of their clearly identified bags.

  • It wouldnt bother me if it was an effective tactic to prevent shoplifting. But it isnt. There is no actual check. They just glance at your receipt… I’ve never seen ANYONE actually stopped by these people. They arent looking at security cameras. They arent really paying attention. This just isnt effective and it just makes law abiding customers feel like they’re suspects. I always submit to the search, but I may stop, just to see what happens.

    • Yep. This is just another useless hassle. The “security” officers who conduct these checks are more often than not sending texts on their phones, not trying to stop shoplifting.

  • you have the right to shop somewhere else

  • I agree completely with the OP. It’s offensive to feel like a suspect after spending your money and I will not comply. If they make me feel uncomfortable I will take my business elsewhere.

    Just because many of you will tolerate this doesn’t make the OP (or me) wrong. I put it in the same category as being asked by a cop to show ID for no apparent reason. There is always the “if you didn’t do anything wrong what’s the problem?” crowd. And to all of you I use the old WaPo catchphrase: If you don’t get it you don’t get it.

    Safeway can bite me.

      • serious question, can you return your groceries for a full refund if you opt not to have them check your receipt? “Occupy SW Safeway” mount up!

    • -1

      I have to imagine it’s incredibly difficult for you to make it through the rigors pf daily life if you find someone taking a 5 second cursory glance of your receipt as offensive and like a suspect.

      Of all the inane, first world problems people have written into PoP over the years, this has to be the crowning achievement.

    • “Just because many of you will tolerate this doesn’t make the OP (or me) wrong.” You’re right, it doesn’t make you wrong. It does, however, make you whiny snots who lookign for a confrontation and masking it with righteous indignation.

  • Relax and take off your jacket and show them you have nothing hiding in the inside pockets. Turn your pants pockets inside out and show them there’s nothing in there either. Open your handbag and let them rifle through it — you have a receipt for that chapstick, right?

    We need to slow down and not get so uptight about our precious 5 extra seconds. If you have paid for everything, then you should be fine.

  • I live in the building so go to the Safeway all the time.

    I believe that the system is annoying for a couple of reasons. At some times during the day, there is a line to get past the receipt checkers plus it blocks people getting in. Also, the people who they have contracted with to do the checking are extremely rude and yell at you no matter what happens. Especially if you walk in and walk out without buying anything, they still harass you for the receipt.

    While I understand everyone saying “why is it a big deal” I also understand the OP frustration. It makes going to the grocery (already not my favorite activity) even more frustrating. The other day, there was someone urinating outside on the door and no one at the store seemed to care even after I tried to tell the manager, yet they can have 2 people checking receipts?

    Plus they don’t even look at what you bought – they circle the time. I always use my gym bag to carry stuff home so they have no idea what else I have in there. It just seems pointless.

    • Thank you, this comment was much more useful than the other 99% of comments on this post.

    • austindc

      Well the urinating thing makes sense. Safeway is now checking urine to see if maybe you drank anything inside the store.

      The receipt checking thing never bothered me, but now I see why some folks wouldn’t like it. Maybe we should ask them precisely why they are checking and what they are looking for? For example, I know of a store where they just want to see the receipt to make sure the date and time matches. I think the folks at that store were just trying to make sure you actually just made a purchase and weren’t heading out with a bag full of stolen crap (their merchandise was crap). They didn’t check every item or open your bags, but maybe they assumed that few people would buy some stuff and then steal some other stuff. Made sense to me, after all it was a big store and it would be easy for such shenanigans to happen.

      Anyway, it still doesn’t bother me that much, but I am always stoked when people let stores know when they don’t like something, so have at it!

  • “How dare you find me suspect ?”

    You might feel differently if you had a retail shop you struggled, saved and risked all you had to open, paid to well stock your store and got tired month after month of the losses incurred from unaccounted inventory without taking measures within your control because law enforcement and society has degenerated so to the point that shoplifting is seen as a minor tolerable offense.

    Shoplifting is not some petty common loss, it’s a private detrimental loss.

    It’s theft. It’s stealing.

  • People in this City are too entitled. Show them your receipt and get over yourself. Find bigger things to direct your energy towards.

  • Amazed, really? Everyone has a different limit for the behavior they find intrusive and are willing to tolerate. The store has to strike a balance between alienating consumers and deterring crime; I’m sure they realize the door check policy will piss some off and lose some customers. Personally I do feel put out by these door checks, but try to remain polite and not take it out on the door personnel. If you keep moving with a polite refusal, that seems to work.

    • How does this deter crime? They check your receipt not your bag, and you can still — thankfully — leave the store without a receipt if you didn’t “buy” anything…

  • If people put this much effort behind cleaning up the streets, community service etc. we would be so much better off.

  • Lots of self-important folks in this thread. C’mon guys! These folks are receipt checkers/cashiers. At a grocery store. Working for practically nothing. Chances are they lives already suck. Is it really worth it to give them shit to make yourself feel better and save maybe five seconds? Get over yourselves. You’re free to shop elsewhere.

    • Few people here are advocating “giving them shit.” But I am suggesting it is important for people to KNOW they have the option to say “no thank you.”

      • People also have the option to shop somewhere else. And you can justify brushing them off by pre-empting it with “no thank you” all you want. But you are still being flippant to someone for no good reason other than you think your time is more valuable and you’re suffering some unjust persecution.

        • I will certainly say “no thank you” and it’s not being “flippant”. I have no axe to grind with employees just doing what they are told so I have no reason to be rude, but I will not comply with their request. It also has nothing to do with my time being more valuable.

          I simply don’t like having to prove my innocence every time I go grocery shopping. If it seems minor to you and you don’t mind sacrificing small liberties so the store doesn’t have to figure out a better security system, no problem. Handle it any way you wish, but don’t tell me I’m wrong.

          Because I’m not.

          So there.

          • Hope you never have to get on an airplane.

          • There are no such thing as “small liberties.” Liberties are liberties. No doubt you would bend over like the rest of us at the airport instead of taking a principled stand. You can take that stand at a Safeway because it’s just some minimum wage punk, right? I’d like to see you say “no thanks” to Gropey McGroperson, TSA Agent Extrodonaire.

        • ^^^^ this

  • Agreed!!! This is a very “Little Thing” If you don’t like the “inconvenience” of flashing your receipt than find another grocery store or move back out to the burbs. It’s the City! Love it or leave it!

  • I love the “private property” thing. I mean, yes, technically it is your private property. But c’mon, it’s groceries in a bag that you haven’t even carried home yet. It’s not like they’re asking you to let them in your house and have a look around.

    They’ve been doing this at SW Safeway forever. If you’re a frequent shopper, you know to expect it, so you know to keep your receipt in hand until you leave the store. It takes two seconds and you’re out of there with your “private property.” There are a million other little inconveniences in our lives that we learn to just build in time for. Build in time for a quick receipt check or build in time to travel to a less convenient grocery store.

  • This seems like a little inconvenience to me. Hardly worth taking a principled stand on this one, IMO.

    • +1 million. People in this town are indignant about every f*cking little thing. Like their sh*t is made of gold and their hearts are made of diamonds.

      There’s a healthy questioning of authority and then there’s being unreasonable.

      My advice: Understand efficient outcomes and don’t be a self-righteous ass.

      • Just so you know it isn’t only people in this town, a thread on this topic had 395 comments. I haven’t read them all, but I assume a good many agree that this is in fact an invasion of privacy, and they choose not to participate.

        • Okay I’m exhausted. I give up.

          Maybe it isn’t only people in this town, I’m only speaking to what I know. I don’t want to be presumptuous.

          It is a little sickening though to see people get indignant about this. As if this is a real problem, as if they’ve genuinely been hurt in some way by this.

          How arrogant are we? That we would lament this. That isn’t to say that we don’t face genuine problems in our lives. But this? Come now.

          Can we not appreciate the luxury and insulation we live in? I hear someone audibly sighing at the reading of this.

          • So you get indignant about other people expressing their opinion that they find this to be rude and an abbrogation (sp?) of their rights.

            That sign you here is mine.

      • “Like their sh*t is made of gold and their hearts are made of diamonds.”

        That was awesome.

  • A very nice store inside btw. Unless of course you are a gay man and like to be verbally assaulted and threatened by cashiers. Other than that, a nice place.

  • If the receipt checker is nice, and there is no line, I generally don’t have a problem with them checking. However, I won’t wait in line, and I certainly won’t stop if the employee is rude/obnoxious. there is zero legal requirement for me to stop and they can’t stop anyone for shoplifting at that point in the process, and if they do it’s unlawful detainment.

    Bottom line: once the merchant accepts payment (usually accompanied by a receipt), the property transfers to YOU, even if you are still in the store. The store has no legal right whatsoever to stop you at that point, to demand to see a receipt, or even take the items back. It is as much mine as the clothes I wore walking into the store to buy the goods.

    They can ask, but you don’t have to stop. Period. You also don’t have to stop if you set off the alarms for stores using those devices, since setting off the alarm by itself does not constitute probable cause to detain someone for shoplifting. They can try to intimidate people all they want but you don’t have to stop for them.

    I know why stores do it — to deter shoplifters, and generally less shoplifting should translate into lower costs and thus lower prices for me. However, I am under no obligation to assist them in their anti-shoplifting efforts, even if it’s in my best interest.

    • Where do you have to be in such a hurry that you can’t wait in line? If you were in such a rush, perhaps going grocery shopping was not the best idea.

      • Oh, definitely, people in a hurry shouldn’t stop for groceries. It’s not like food is important.

      • That’s a pretty ridiculous statement. There are plenty of reasons to go to the grocery store when you’re in a hurry.

    • Letter v. spirit of the law. It’s not like this is a slippery slope or that your civil rights are being violated. Just show them the receipt and get on with your life.

      Christ. This isn’t world peace we’re talking about.

      • Let me guess, you’re a Republican?

        • Really? Because I’m trying to get people here to snap out of it I’m just all about Bachman and Cain and Perry? Look out for George W. He’s checking our receipts!

          Wow, I mean I thought this was a town of open minds. I mean… Do you reeeeeally feel that this is an infringement of your rights?

          Are you just arguing this because you don’t like my posts? That I can understand, then you just don’t like me, that’s fine. But please tell me you have a healthy idea of what is worth fighting for and what isn’t. Please.

  • I work near there and prior to Safeway starting their new policy, they had out flyers to customers explaining the new policy of checking receipts and the purpose behind it – to cut down on shoplifting. I am not sure that checking receipts in fact cuts down on shoplifting, as noone is physically inspecting the contents of grocery or work bag, but perhaps just knowing that someone is keeping an eye on those leaving the store is enough to deter some. Not once since this new policy was instituted have I had to wait for than a few seconds to leave the store on account of receipt checking. Not once have I encountered a rude clerk (perhaps because I am patient and could care less about whether this new policy is violating some constitutional right so I happily hand over my receipt and cheerfully say have a nice day).

    In any event, I do not see the big deal. Shoplifting costs stores countless dollars a year and those losses are passed off to customers with higher food prices. Safeway isn’t the first store in the District to institute this policy and it certainly won’t be the last. Does the OP find it offensive that he/she must walk through an alarm system to exit Macy’s or the Library? Does he/she get mad that City Sports employees carry purchasers’ shoes to the front register? Target doesn’t let you leave the store with large items unless you turn over a receipt . . . even if the clerk that sold you the item is with you. If you have a problem with the policy, don’t shop there. If you continue to shop there, stop complaining.

  • Shaw Giant closes.
    City Vista Safeway starts doing receipt checks.

  • has tons and tons of blog posts about this issue.

  • Psh. People being asked to prove they purchased the products they have on their person. Oh the humanity!

    Think about this way, maybe it will discourage people from coming in their for the wrong reasons.

    I’m playing the smallest violin for people who clearly have major authority issues and seem to think its everyone else’s problem.

    • Poster child for “if you don’t get it you don’t get it”…

    • But I usually CANNOT prove that I purchased the majority of the products on my person.

      So it makes me uneasy.

      On any given day in my purse I have an apple, a Clif bar, a couple of drugstore products like deodorant or chapstick, one of those little individual tissue packs, etc. I can’t prove I bought any of those things. And I don’t think I have to. So I will avoid any store with this type of policy because I don’t want to be accused of stealing something I bought there two weeks ago and have been carrying around every since.

      • Good lord,

        You desperately need to go to a developing country. Get some perspective on what is important.

        • Yeah, OK. I guess you get to decide what’s important?

          • Wow,

            I mean this is an exercise in triviality. It’s no wonder our economic prospects are grim.

            If we can’t agree that this is the slightest of inconveniences then clearly we’ve all lost perspective.

            If you think these people are Mussolini because they’re asking you to present a receipt then clearly your issues with authority venture into the clinical realm (And you also belong in this town. Congrats!).

            This just further fuels the idea that no one arguing against this has ever truly seen or felt sustained suffering.

            Come on. Seriously?

          • BW said: “I mean this is an exercise in triviality. It’s no wonder our economic prospects are grim.”

            That’s a pretty hilarious conclusion that you’ve drawn, especially considering that I’m a small business owner and a capitalist by any measure.

            How does this “trivial” inconvenience differ from being asked to show an ID by police without probable cause? It only takes a second. And while you’re at it would you mind emptying your pockets? It’s only a few more seconds.

            Is the receipt thing a minor inconvenience? Certainly. Does that mean we should roll over and do whatever we’re told? No, not to me (but you are welcome to). And besides, my objection has NOTHING to do with whether the inconvenience is minor or major.

          • Wow. You are all correct! It’s totally a slippery slope. I should question whenever someone asks me to do anything. I have that right, and by goodness I’m going to use it. It doesn’t matter if it slows everyone else down, it makes the receipt checker feel awkward, it doesn’t impact my life in any meaningful way, it acts as a deterrent to crime, I can surely explain in a reasonable way if I have other items, chances of adverse situations are miniscule.

            Nooo Nooo you must exercise this right! And if people have a problem or happen to get away with shoplifting because of it so be it!

            I don’t know if Mommy or Daddy or whomever treated you poorly, or if they weren’t there. But if you have a problem with this then what authority is acceptable to you?

            But no I’m sorry, you’re right. Exercise your right!

        • LOL. I actually spend ~40% of my time in developing countries and have lived in three of them, one of which is a frequent contender for the bottom spot on the UNDP HDI.

          It inconveniences me very little to avoid these stores. It would inconvenience me more to be accused of shoplifting and therefore have to deal with that. Ergo I choose the more convenient path. It takes very little effort and hardly any thought.

          I fail to see what that has to do with a lack of perspective.

          • Bingo! Something I completely agree with. If you feel inconvenienced by this (apparently displaying the internal fortitude of a house cat) then you don’t have to go.

            But writing to a Blog complaining about it?


          • How many posts have you made on this topic, BW? It really irks you that some people consider these kinds of liberties important, doesn’t it? Why is that? I will refuse to show my receipt. What do you care?

            You can make your snarky “Mommy and Daddy” comments, and I’ll respond with how I think you’re a mindless sheep, but so what ? How does it affect you that so many disagree with you.

            (And by the way, I don’t know who’s in the majority but this is clearly an important issue for many. Try googling it: (33 million results)

  • What is annoying to me about this is the number of times cashiers have neglected to ring up all my items…I don’t always notice till I get home…so then what happens if I get stopped? I’m a shop lifter?

    • austindc

      I wouldn’t worry. Worse comes to worse, they will go check the security tapes and see that you put it on the belt at the checkout. Then they will unhandcuff you and release you from the dungeon filled with snakes.

    • Strictly speaking, no, because the crime of shoplifting requires a show of intent.

  • I agree that there doesn’t seem to be an actual purpose in checking your receipt with just a cursory glance, but I believe what they are trying to do is to have a standard policy for everyone so that they can do more in-depth checking on people they actually suspect of stealing (e.g. teens). I think it just covers themselves so they aren’t seen as picking on a specific group of people.

  • What’s the alternative here? Do you want them to put soap, razors, and other popular theft items locked up like CVS does so you have to flag down an employee to unlock the item for you? That will take 3-4 minutes for each item rather than the 5 seconds to show a receipt.

    I’m more pissed at the people who shoplift driving it to this than the store’s response.

  • Go to Harris Teeter, no bag or receipt checks, and the people are actually friendly there!!

  • Why are the most useless questions the most popular? This is such a non-issue and yet it causes so much debate. I think the biggest crime is that people are trying to label this Safeway the “Sexy Safeway.” Nice try. The other Safeway names described the locations or conditions in the store. This name is just wishful thinking.

  • I guess I don’t get the consequence of complying with the policy. What will happen to the customer that is so terrible that justifies fighting such a (commonly used) tactic to deter shoplifting?

  • In February Safeway said this policy was not about shoplifting (yeah right) and that they won’t attempt to stop anyone who declines to show a receipt (good, because I won’t).

    • Emmaleigh504

      Quality Assurance, give me a break! Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle explains:

      “Just making sure people got what they came for,” he says. “It’s not as if we’re going through the bags. … It’s not to that degree. But honestly, someone might forget something, and it provides an opportunity for a customer to realize that.”

  • Had a similar experience at DC USA Target last year where my friend and I had our hands full and didn’t want to show a receipt. Target security called over a police officer who detained us. She (moronically) stated that the fact that we didn’t want to show a receipt was probable cause that we committed a crime. Eventually the manager was called and we told him we didn’t want to show the receipt (out of principle at this point) and he allowed us to leave. Called Target corporate and they were very apologetic.

  • Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle confirms that customers who decline to show a receipt will not be stopped. “If someone were to refuse, there’s no commotion made or anything like that,” he says. “They’re able to go.” Muckle maintains that the employees manning the door are not security guards; in fact, he says that the new receipt-checking policy is not a security measure at all.

    From 2/11 when they started doing this in the SW store.

  • First world problem.
    If you disagree with the policy shop elsewhere. Vote with your feet.
    I don’t mind it all. It takes two seconds. If it deters would be shoplifters which keeps prices down then so be it.

    • It’s OK if you don’t value your liberties the way I do, I guess. So I (and many, many others) will just disagree with you. Please keep in mind that “voting with your feet” is not always easy when it comes to supermarkets in the city. If Safeway is the only one remotely close to where you live and you don’t have a car it is still a real problem, “1st world” or not.

      I am very impressed by how international you are, though.

  • pennyworth

    I don’t mind at all! one of the receipt checkers at the waterfront safeway is gorgeous! #googly-eyes also, i don’t steal so …

  • One word: peapod

  • This is why I shop in Virginia.

    • my receipt gets checked at the costco in virginia.

      never had my receipt checked at the whole foods trader joes, harris teeter or a giant in dc.

  • They aren’t checking receipts at the Georgetown Safeway. Can you imagine if they tried? I live across the street from the CityVista Safeway and have had numerous issues with them over the last 18 months or so including massive lines, poor stock management, high prices and lack of certain basic products. This mild inconvenience (and lack of customer trust) is just another in a long list of reasons I will take my business to the Harris Teeter in NoMa, the latest being the fact that they no longer carry my toothpaste.

  • This store has had a huge issue with shoplifting and i am happy to see that they are taking action to show that they will not tolerate it. If it means that i show them my receipt and get held up for an extra 10 seconds, then no big deal. I don’t want theft in my neighborhood and i’m happy that Safeway is sending that message as well. I will send a message to their store GM thanking them for getting tough on crime.

  • I shop at the Soviet Safeway as well. I was asked on one of their first dates of implementation of this policy (around Sept 29th?) to show my receipt, but was also there the last two nights around 7pm and no one was checking.

  • The transaction is complete at the register. They have no right, and you are under no obligation to show them your receipt or your purchases. Tell them to piss off and get out of your way or you’ll sue for false imprisonment.

    • Yes. Tell the person who’s been assigned this task by management to “Piss off!” because they jumped at the chance to take this duty.

      The best course of action is to transfer your indignation from this perceived slight to a person who doesn’t care..

  • I will not shop at such an establishment.

    This is treating all customers like criminals. And yet, the crowd says “What is the big deal.”. For people asking what the big deal is: I value my liberties.
    Society is sad.

  • Shopkeeper’s privilege under common law, people:'s_privilege

      • You MUST be a safeway manager.

        How many times have you replied in this thread?

        This really gets to you don’t it – that people would find this annoying, insulting and that a blog post was written about it?

        • No kidding. BW has said repeatedly that it’s no big deal! We’re making too much of a minor issue! And yet he can’t go away. Maybe he/she thinks if he/she says enough times that liberty doesn’t matter it will make it true.

          But it won’t.

          And by the way, BW, per your Wikipedia link, “shopkeepers privilege only extends to the degree that the “shopkeeper has cause to believe that the person detained in fact committed, or attempted to commit, theft of store property.”

          Walking from the register to the door with your purchased goods doesn’t remotely begin to approach that.

  • Good grief, people! Get over it and shop somewhere else.

    • No. I won’t “get over it.” The next closest supermarket for me is almost two miles away. And I have no car.

      Besides, I prefer to make them adhere to the law. Sue me.

      Or better yet, I’ll sue themTHEM for false imprisonment when they try stop me from leaving without showing my receipt.

  • em

    I often go to the garden an pick chard, okra, etc. on my way to SW Safeway. No one has ever bothered me about having extra produce. It is a non-issue.

  • I don’t deserve to feel like a criminal whenever I go into Safeway. They should institute a system where I can drop the cash for my purchases in a bucket on the way out. I promise it will all be there. Coupons included. Trust me.

  • This reminds me of the time I tried to enter the Whole Food through the parking garage during a heavy rain storm. The security guard there wouldn’t let me walk down the ramp and tried to say they were closed, but then I reminded him it’s a free country. America.

  • Funny. The Safeway on Georgia Ave in Brightwood has been doing this forever. I guess it’s only when this kind of inconvenience moves to the high rent district that it becomes a big deal.
    I find the bulletproof carryouts in my neighborhood insulting so I don’t shop at them. If you don’t like the atmosphere of your Safeway and your calls for change go unanswered, shop somewhere else. Or suck it up. It really is that simple.
    And by the way, it’s only your personal property after you’ve paid for it IF IN FACT you actually paid for it – which is the reason why they are checking your receipt in the first place.

    • Exactly. Big chain stores have different tiers of stores depending on the average expected customer and overall business. When this Safeway opened, we talked to the wine manager, who told us they were trying the store out for the top tier designation. It’s pretty clear from changes in the wine aisles and other product changes, plus the receipt checking, that this Safeway has, let’s say, “adjusted its expectations” about the average customer at this store. Annoying, but not surprising (did they really think 5th and L was Georgetown II?). Even more annoying are the empty vegetable and fruit bins during busy times and the long check out lines. Plus the prices are pretty high. The store is not a really pleasant place to shop, so maybe if they had more competition downtown they’d care more about customers’ experiences. In any event, when I need toilet paper on my way home from work, I need toilet paper and figure out how to deal with all the unpleasantries. When I need to fill my pantry once a month, that’s the last place I’d go for all of the reasons above.

  • Autumn greetings.

    What I find disappointing is how today our basic American honor system, deficient personal integrities, and simply relating to one another as merchant and consumer has not kept up with our modern day efficient technologies in retail.

    In our grandfather’s time, grocers, here in this very city of Washington, stocked, provided, and sold groceries and dry goods on credit kept on paper ledgers.

    You left the store for your home with items you had not paid for.

    It was civil, urbane,

    and it worked,

    for decades and decades.

    Also, the fact that we are now approaching 200 commentaries on this subject does affirm as a previous commenter wrote that we do indeed live insulated lives of luxury and comfort.

    -insulation and comfort many of our grandparents never dreamed of.

    How indignant is that ?

  • I have shopped at CityVista four times since the receipt checking policy was implemented. The check has never taken more than a few seconds and I have never waited in line – even on Columbus Day when the store was packed.

    To me, the most interesting aspect of this is that the attitude of the checkers has changed in the short period of time they have worked there. The first days, they were all smiles and asked if I had had my parking ticket validated and punched the elevator button for me. Now, the smiles are gone and there are no extra courtesies offered.How quickly a low paying, thankless job can wear on an employee!!!

  • As a rule, I don’t shop at stores that treat me like a thief.

  • You are under no obligation to produce a receipt for your purchased items at Giant, Safeway, or any of the big grocery chains.

    Producing your receipt is not a condition of purchase, and store employees have no right whatsoever to search you. You do not surrender your rights when you enter a store. There is a limited exception known as the shopkeeper’s privilege but it is a very narrow exception.

    Costco can check receipts because doing so is a specific contractual duty – i.e. you agree to show your receipt when you sign the contract to join.

    I’m happy to show my receipt at Costco, partly because I already to do so, but grocery stores have no right to see my receipt.

    I’d just shop somewhere else. Safeway is a ripoff anyway.

  • Receipt checking encourages me to shoplift. It’s almost like a dare. It’s not like they are checking my bags. What a thrill, an adrenaline rush it is when I have my receipt checked by Shaniqua or Tyrone for my 5 apples and Seventeen Magazine, when there is a watermelon in my bookbag, a can of soup in my bra and string cheese up my vagina.

  • OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!! this is the biggest white wine i have heard in a while.

  • I am very fortunate to have a choice to do my shopping at stores that value me as a customer. On the very rare times I shop at the SW Safeway I simply put on my “cranky old man, just ask me to see my receipt” face. The result is that both checkers will suddenly become involved in a very deep conversation about baby mommas and will ignore my presence.
    SW Safeway’ s latest policy failure is to not only to ban those under 15 from entrance without a parent, but to ban the sale of cups of ice to those future customers under 18. Children generally rise to the expectations set for them and Safeway is expecting them to shoplift.
    One of the root causes is really the poor layout of the stores. Come on, considering the location ,who designs a store with cash registers not even remotely located near the exit door?

  • I apologize. I was having a bad day that day, so I wrote perhaps more than I should have.

    In the end though you can call me a mindless sheep for showing a receipt. Doesn’t change the fact that you all have lost perspective on what is worth fighting for.

    Last one I promise 🙂

  • Well, you see the thing that happens is that after years and years of so many people stealing from the store – eventually Safeway will close that store because they can no longer afford to cover the price of the thefts. Then everyone will have to go to a grocery store farther from their neighborhood. I understand people’s frustations but Safeway has to protect its interests. Obviously, that location must have a serious problem with theft or they wouldn’t be doing this. I’m sure the store employees don’t like to pester customers over receipts either. But, I mean, when you fly everyone has to take off their shoes, get frisked, all of your belongings get x-rayed. It’s kind of the same thing.

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