Wal-Mart arrests, bans for refusal to show
receipt; No apology or Compensation
arrests me for refusing to show receipt, bans me, unbans me, and does not
apologize, offer compensation for wasting my time, or admit wrongdoing. I now
shop across the street and lose nothing more than the time they also lost.
- 11/16/2007 10:28 AM Moved note about Tom's work number from incident log to preface, added AM/PM to updates
- 11/15/2007 7:07 PM Added note about alarm system to morality section and Tom's refusal to answer my question about said system.
- 11/15/2007 6:10 PM Fixed incorrect date from 2004 to 2007, changed fonts, added note about EST
- All times EST
- Wal-Mart customer service direct-to-human: 1-800-925-6278 1-4-3-3
- I have refused to show my receipt at Wal-Mart many times,
however this is the first time that the police have gotten involved and the
first time I have been banned.
- I am using the dictionary definition of arrest, not the legal definition.
- I chose to leave Tom's phone number in the recording and the police report because
it is listed as his work number.
This is my (Charlie Hayes’) honest recollection as to the
events that ensued.
This incident occurred between approximately 6:40 and 7:20
PM on 10/3/2007 at Wal-Mart #2426 in Columbus OH on Hilliard Rome Road.
Purchased crackers and DVD at Wal-Mart at the self checkout closest to the door
with my credit card.
machine asked me to wipe my items on the scanner to demagnetize them; I vigorously
wiped them on the stickers labeled ‘wipe here’ and confirmed on the machine
that I was finished wiping.
proceeded to walk out of the store with my items (not in a bag).
alarm went off and the greeter, Leanerd (sp?), asked to see my receipt.
refused to show it to him.
continued asking for it.
asked to speak to his manager.
self-proclaimed grandson harassed me from this point until the policeman took
me away, stating ‘You’re really ticking me off.’ and ‘Just try me’ and asking questions like ‘What
are you trying to prove?’, ‘Why are you disrespecting this man?’, and ‘Why
don’t you just show them your receipt?’.
store’s assistant manager, Tom, arrived and asked to see my receipt.
refused to show Tom my receipt.
proceeded to call the police.
physically and forcefully detained me from leaving the store.
refused to give me a business card and when I asked for his name he proudly
turned over his nametag so that his name was showing, which said Tom, and
stated “Tom, and that’s all you need to know” in a fairly disrespectful voice.
He refused to tell me his last name. He also refused to tell me how often the
alarm system gives false-positives.
police arrived at Wal-Mart after approximately twenty minutes.
explained to the police what had happened. The policeman asked me if everything
he said was true and I agreed. The explanation included items 9 through 13 and
policeman asked if I had a receipt and I said yes. He did not ask to see it at
policeman took the crackers and DVD, asked to search me (I replied
affirmatively) searched me, and put hand cuffs on me (arrested me). The
policeman awkwardly directed me to the security room at Wal-Mart through the
store while many people watched. The policeman did this on purpose, admittedly
to embarrass me. I asked the policeman to be more gentile with the cuffs as he
directed, to which he refused.
the security room the policeman asked for my driver’s license. I told him it
was in my back pocket. He asked if he could remove it and I said yes.
policeman told me he could take me to jail for three separate reasons,
including ‘probable cause’ (the alarm going off) and ‘reasonable intent’ but had
chosen not to do so.
described me to the policeman as a ‘jerk’ as to ensure this was stated in the
report. Tom also claimed that Leanerd and Leanerd’s son would also agree that I
was a ‘jerk’. I asked Tom why he thought I was a jerk explaining that I have
conducted myself politely and that I have complied with every request except
showing my receipt to which he replied ‘you are a jerk because you did not show
policeman asked to see my receipt which I told him was in my pocket. He removed
the receipt from my pocket.
verified the receipt’s authenticity.
and the policeman required me to sign a trespassing form which allegedly made
it illegal for me to be on any Wal-Mart property in the nation. They refused to
give me a copy and told me that it would be part of the public record.
and the policeman required me to look into a camera and say “thank you”.
refused to let me return the items I had purchased despite Wal-Mart’s return
policy stating that it would be trespassing.
asked if everything I said was recorded and I was told that the police would
have a recording of what was said on file as public record.
- I asked Tom how he could treat an extremely
frequent customer of theirs like this, to which his reply was that Wal-Mart has
millions of customers and makes billions of dollars and that losing just once
customer will not impact Wal-Mart. I have
receipts showing that I have shopped at this Wal-Mart at least seven times and
have spent at least $573.68 between 8/11/2007 and 9/3/2007.
policeman left me without any record of the incident. I asked for a copy of anything
they could give me and was denied.
and the policeman required me to leave the store.
whole ordeal took approximately forty minutes.
complied with every request given by the policeman and store employees except
showing my receipt to the store employees.
never once gave any reason to consider myself a security or flight risk.
the whole incident, Tom refused to answer any questions of mine, such as the
failure rate of the security system or if they had anything of what I did
recorded. Tom maintained a proud and superior attitude the entire time.
that evening I went to Meijer to purchase the same DVD, bringing with me the
DVD from Wal-Mart and my Wal-Mart receipt to price match against. On the way in
the DVD set off the alarm. The greeter requested to de-magnetize it. I allowed
her to do so. She vigorously used a handheld wand to de-magnetize the DVD. On
the way out of Meijer, the DVD set off the alarm again! A supervisor
demagnetized the DVD again and it did not set off the alarm as I left.
called Wal-Mart’s customer service explaining that I intended to return the
items I had purchased and would like record to show said intentions have been
filed before the return policy would forbid returning the merchandise. I
explained that I am going to forgo returning the items until I seek legal
counsel. I was told that the call-taker could not do anything for me and that
someone that could would call me within three business days.
called customer service (number listed above) and was told a manager would get
in touch with me within three days. I never received a missed call or
events before this were on October 3rd 2007)
called back on October 8th. I was told that the manager of the store
had called me on October 5th. I verified they had the correct
number, which they did. I asked to speak to a manager there.
I was transferred to Alicia. She had no
concern to remedy the situation. She gave me the address to ‘beg’ (my word) Wal-Mart
to have me back as a customer:
Recovery Team - 0815
702 Southwest 8th Street
Bentonville AR 72716-0815
After my prodding, she offered to escalate
this to upper management. I was told I could send my log using the contact us
form on Walmart.com. She gave me a ticket number #17349850 to use for reference
and guaranteed me that what I sent on their website would meet up with the
ticket being escalated to upper management.
9 at 4PM EST I received a call from Audrey from the Market office
(district office) Georgesville Road store, 614-308-1702. She first sounded
upset at me that maybe some how she is being reprimanded for my actions. She
frequently interrupted me and talked over me. She eventually seemed to
sympathize with me and the tone of her voice became more customer-friendly. She acknowledged the point of her call was to
get hear my side of the story. I explained to her the calls I have made so far
to see where in the chain she was laid. She said she had not received the log I
sent but later on it sounded like she did. I offered to send it to here but she
said she did not have internet access. She asked what she could do for me, to
which I replied: I would like an apology from Tom, and if manageable, the
policeman, the trespass to be revoked, and compensation for my 40 minutes which
I suggested $25. She promised a call back by the end of October 12.
called Audrey on October 17 at 12:08PM EST She said that the Market
Asset Protection Manager is the one who would be calling me back and must have
been busy. She told me that he would “have the answers [I] am looking for”. She
told me that he will contact me soon.
17at 1:50 PM EST Ed The assistant manager at Hilliard Rome Road
office, 614-876-7850. Called to see if I was contacted by the district office.
Claims new store manager Ken starts Monday.
29, 2007. Called Audrey again. Carla Slater answered and told me that Audrey
was on vacation and that she had not seen the Market Asset Protection Manager
in a few days. She refused to give me his contact information but told me she
would call him and let him know he needs to contact me as soon as possible. I
gave her my name and phone number.
29, 2007 I talked to the Asset Protection Manager.
He said Wal-Mart has the right to ask for
customers receipts and to detain and have customers arrested for walking out of
the store without a bag.
He repeatedly expressed how much time would
have been saved if I volunteered my receipt but refused to acknowledge that the
same could be said, and even more, if they did not ask to see it in the first
place or if they did not take it further after I refused to show it.
He said that Wal-Mart has the right to ask
every single customer to see their receipt, ignoring the required probable
cause. I told him that according to Ohio revised code, Wal-Mart cannot detain
customers without probable cause. He joked with me asking if the law really
made reference to Wal-Mart specifically. He then acknowledged that he did not have the laws in front of him and
could not comment.
He stated that Wal-Mart owes it to their
share holders to protect their assets. He explained how this specific Wal-Mart
had lost millions of dollars this past year due to theft. I asked him what the
sales were and he refused to tell me saying that it doesn’t matter. I said it
does matter because if the sales were many orders of magnitude higher, the
losses would be insignificant. He said that a million dollars would be a
significant loss to any business (so clearly it does matter). I asked him if shareholders would be
interested in not losing a very good customer for life, a customer who spends
many hundreds of dollars every month in their store to potentially save $20 (And
in this case 0), to which he had no reply. I asked him how the shareholders
would feel about him portraying Wal-Mart as an uncaring huge company that makes
every attempt to dominate its customers, to which he had no reply. I told him I
would be taking my business across the street to Meijer and would save the same
amount of money and would NOT be arrested. He showed no interest.
He asked me many times if there was
anything he could do. I stated over-and-over that he can do whatever he wants
to do, which may include ‘making it right’. The outcome consisted entirely of
releasing the ban. He offered no compensation, no apology, and did not admit
any wrong doing.
I told him that I would be posting this log
in its entirety no matter the outcome, and that whatever he does or does not do
will be posted along with it. He threatened to personally sue me for liable if
it was at all inaccurate. He claimed he had two people writing down what he was
saying over the phone.
During the conversation he often interrupted
me and talked over me. He kept steering the conversation in the same direction,
refusing to acknowledge anything I was saying.
The following is a list of alternative scenarios in order of
customer satisfaction, highest to lowest. This is to compare Wal-Mart's actual policies
and actions to their alternitives and to Wal-Mart's competition.
Key: Ideal, Worst, What
actually happened, Wal-Mart’s Competition
Scenario 1, Magnetic alarm
does not make use of an alarm system
- Merchant does not require customer to deactivate merchandise
- Merchant does
require customer to deactivate merchandise for alarms and equipment does not
- Merchant does require customer
to deactivate merchandise for alarms and equipment fails
Scenario 2, Bags
- Merchant allows customer
without bags to leave the store freely
- Merchant inquires customer without bags and then allows
customer to leave store
- Merchant stops customer without bags from leaving the store
Scenario 3, Receipt check
never asks to see customer receipts
- Merchant asks to
see receipts but does not inquire further upon refusal
- Merchant asks to see receipts and upon refusal let’s customer leave freely and investigates
further on its own by checking cameras and registers
- Merchant asks to see receipts and upon refusal detains customer while
it investigates on its own
- Merchant asks to see receipts and upon refusal detains customer
and has them arrested
Scenario 4, customer found innocent
apologizes and compensates customer for time on the spot
- Merchant demands customer leave store
- Merchant bans customer from store
- Merchant bans customer from stores nation-wide
- Merchant bans customer from stores nation-wide and refuses
to allow customer to return goods
- Merchant bans customer from stores nation-wide, refuses to
allow customer to return goods, and eventually apologizes, compensates for
time, and releases ban
- Merchant bans customer from stores nation-wide, refuses
to allow customer to return goods, and eventually admits no wrongdoing,
does not compensate, but releases ban
bans customer from stores nation-wide, refuses to allow customer to return
goods, and eventually admits no wrongdoing, does not compensate, and never
Scenario 5, Communication with customer
- Merchant communicates with customer with a
positive and joyful tone
communicates with customer in a purely professional tone
- Merchant communicates with customer in an arrogant and demeaning
actually happened turned out to be the worst case every time except once where
it was the second worst case. Compare this to Meijer across the street. Meijer clearly has
better policies. A study about the impact on business of these scenerios would be
interesting to see.
+ 0 + 0 + 14 + 0)/5 = 3%
(25 + 100 + 75 + 50)/4 = 62% Winner!
Outcome and Economic Analysis
Walmart had a few options when I left the store. Here I compare their options and their
possible outcomes along with the outcome of what actually happened from my perspective.
Key: What actually happened
chooses to shop across the street at store with same prices and better customer
does not stop single thief and loses company $20 on stolen DVD and crackers.
single thief and saves company from losing $20 on stolen DVD and crackers.
No win or loss
loses at least one really good customer for life, missing out on approximately
$300,000 of income from said customer, and does not save company $20 on lost
DVD and crackers.
Cost: $300,000 over 50 years
loses many really good customers for life, missing out on many millions of
dollars of income from said customers, and does not save company $20 on lost
DVD and crackers.
Let customer go: $-20
Arrest customer: $-300,000 or $-Millions
customer to hopefully prevent loss of $20 and then consequentially anger
customer and lose $300,000 without saving anything. Brilliant!
Ethics and Morality
To those who
oppose my decision:
could have saved a lot of time and energy just by showing my receipt. Please
consider the reason I refused to.
The moment I
trade money for goods, paying for the DVD and crackers at the register, those
goods become my personal property. I have the inalienable right as a human
being to own personal property, thus I should not be required to prove I own
said personal property. Forcing me to show my receipt is the same thing as
forcing me to prove that I own my personal property. This is unequivocally
unacceptable. Arguing that the alarm is probable cause is a pretty big stretch.
I have personally seen these alarms go off many times for people that have not
actually stolen anything. It has gone off on me at least four times. I have never
once seen it go off legitimately. Considering the sample space and its apparently
large false-positive rate, I would hardly consider the alarm going off probable
the consequences of unwittingly proving ownership of one’s personal property
when asked to do so: one is setting precedence that it is acceptable to demand
one prove ownership of one’s personal property. Keep in mind that the burden of
proof lies on the merchant to prove theft and not on the customer to prove
ownership. Theft is not an excuse to violate the rights of a human being; it is
a cost of business.
If said precedence becomes large enough, nothing
would stop a merchant from demanding proof of ownership of goods not purchased
in said merchant’s establishment upon exit. If demands to prove ownership of
goods not purchased in the merchant’s establishment continue to set even more
precedence, nothing would stop a merchant from demanding proof of ownership of
goods outside said merchant’s establishment. At such point, the difference between a merchant asking to prove
ownership outside his or her establishment is not far from any arbitrary person
(including a government official) demanding one to prove ownership within one’s
merchant checking receipts is a far cry from the government demanding proof of
ownership within one’s own home. However, the slippery-slope society creates by
succumbing to these ridiculous demands is a much larger threat than is
It is a
merchant’s decision to alienate its customers by taking advantage of ridiculous
theft-deterrent systems such as receipt checking and malfunctioning alarms.
Choose to be alienated instead of the merchant’s antitheft tool. It is not just
my personal freedom that is at risk, it is yours as well.
Police call by Tom: