Can Walmart Legally Stop You to Look at Your Receipt?

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Updated: 6 February 2020

There is an update to this question, which I found on the Legal Definitions site that better explains this question.

Can Walmart Legally Stop You to Look at Your Receipt?

Bottom-line: The greeter has no right to check your receipt without probable cause. However, if asked randomly and you refuse, the store has the right to ban you as a customer. See explanation below:

First and foremost, stores like Walmart are private property. Sure, you have a right to refuse to show your receipt. But the store has the right to ban you from the premises. What’s more, some retailers like Costco require their cardmembers to comply with receipt checks as a part of the cardmember agreement. Does this mean you’ve waived your legal protection against false imprisonment? No. But if you don’t comply with their rules, you can expect to lose your Costco membership.


Original Post: 2 February 2020

Q: Can Walmart Legally Stop You to Look at Your Receipt?
This is a question that appeared in my Quora newsfeed a few weeks ago. It immediately caught my attention because I noticed during a recent Walmart shopping experience that the greeter was asking to see my receipt on the way out the door.

I found this to be a bit odd but offered up my receipt as asked.

However, after reading the main response to this question on Quora, I am now confused as to whether you have to actually show your receipt, and the implications should you refuse.

Here's the response on Quora:

Christopher Doyle, Creative Director/Toddler Sensei Updated Aug 6 · Upvoted by Eamon O'Kelly, Over two decades practicing law in U.S. courts. and Irene Spitz, former Department Manager at Walmart (2006-2008)

AThe short answer, no. Absolutely not.

The long answer is this: If I smash a beer bottle over your head I will be charged with assault and probably various other things.

If you invite me to smash a beer bottle over your head and refuse to press charges, I will be charged with nothing.

Honestly, the second part of that response makes no sense to me. What does smashing a bottle over someone's head have to do with the question of,

Can Walmart Legally Stop You to Look at Your Receipt?

Is he saying that asking for my receipt is an invitation for confrontation and that that confrontation “could” become physical should I decline not to produce the receipt?

Perhaps I am not smart enough to understand this explanation.

However, I do understand Walmart's policy on checking receipts at the door. I did my own due diligence to research it, and this is what Walmart has to say:

According to Walmart, in 2016 they “moved greeters from action alley back to the front door, and introduced a brand-new position: customer host, an associate who greets customers, but also checks receipts where appropriate, assists with returns and helps keep entrances clean and safe” (Ibbotson, 2016).

When is checking a receipt appropriate?

As a government employee, we are subject to search when entering/exiting military installations and areas deemed sensitive. These physical security checks are often referred to as Random Antiterrorism Measures (RAM).

RAM, as indicated by its name, is RANDOM. Sometimes it's the fifth vehicle or person that is checked, and other times it may be the tenth. It's purely random.

Is that the case with Walmart and their checks on receipts?

How does Walmart determine what is appropriate?

Like at military bases, is there a sign posted that says, you're subject to unwarranted search as a patron of the store?

I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on the Internet; however, I almost guarantee there isn't a RAM policy or any signage at the exit of the store mandating or alerting customers that you must produce a receipt if stopped by one of Walmart's customer hosts. I never saw anything on my way in (or out) the store.

To be honest with you, I believe they use the eyeball test in most cases.

eyeball test
To scan over something or someone quickly; to measure without using any tools other than the naked eye; guessing; approximating. A term often used in sports scouting to see if a player or team passes muster without looking at any metrics.

Source: Urban Dictionary

So, if there is no official policy, who gets stopped — This guy?

Now this is just my opinion…

But I think that using the eyeball test, this guy (or someone of similar appearance) gets stopped nine times out of ten.


Firstly, because he is a black man in America!

The criminal stereotype of African Americans in the United States is an ethnic stereotype according to which African American males in particular are stereotyped to be dangerous criminals.

Source: Criminal stereotype of African Americans / Wikipedia


because this joker allegedly stole an airsoft gun from Walmart!

I know, I know.. it takes away from my original argument — to a certain extent. Well, not really… It's a fact that young black men are often falsely accused of crimes they did not commit.

Dirone Taylor, Mekhi Lee and Eric Rogers II said they were shopping on Thursday at a Nordstrom Rack in Brentwood, near St. Louis, when store employees called the police on them and accused them of shoplifting.The police showed up but determined there was no crime.

Source: Nordstrom Rack president apologizes after 3 African-American teens falsely accused of stealing. /

I have personally been in a situation much like the three young boys mentioned in the above story. I have been followed around stores by employees who feared I was going to steal something, or they figured I couldn't afford to purchase any of the items in the store.

This was common when I was a kid, and apparently, it is still an issue today.


I Digress!

Back to the question at hand: Can Walmart Legally Stop You to Look at Your Receipt?

I really don't know the answer to that question. Perhaps one day I will go there, refuse to show my receipt and then find out what happens. LOL

Then again, maybe not. It would probably not turn out well for me.

But you, on the other hand, maybe you can give it a go and then come back and share your experience.

What do you think?

Regardless of the outcome, this has been a fun story to explore and share with you. I ask that you now share your personal experiences or provide feedback on this topic.

Well, that's My Opinion. What Are Your Thoughts?

Should Walmart be able to stop you to look at your receipt?

Barry Canada

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