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By Contributed photo
BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist
Dear Action Line: I went into a discount department store yesterday. I bought a few things and when I was leaving the store, a security guard asked to see my receipt. I told him no and he followed me and demanded that I show him my receipt and what I bought. I felt like he was accusing me of shoplifting. Is that legal? Can they really do this?
Dear reader: Most consumers have probably experienced just what you described. Do you have to give them your receipt? Please understand that we are not a legal agency and this appears to be a legal question. But, there is the California Penal Code that gives us the law. Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/k8dll9c.
Chapter 5 of the California Penal Code addresses the topic of larceny. For legal interpretation, it is always best to consult with an attorney. If you do not already have an attorney, you can check with the Better Business Bureau for a Business Review and you should always check with the California State Bar to make sure the attorney you have chosen is able to practice law in the state of California, http://calbar.ca.gov.
Here are some possibilities that could play out depending on how you might choose to handle this situation:
* Simply show the receipt.
* If you decline, decline with a simple, quiet no and keep going.
* If you decline, you could ruffle some feathers. You could be detained.
* If you are detained, you could refuse politely again and call the police
* If you are detained, you could possibly be arrested.
Some people feel very strongly about their rights. If you are dissatisfied with your treatment, contact the store and speak to someone in authority. Ask for the owner or manager. If it is a large corporation, contact the corporate office and let it know about your experience. If that does not produce the results you are wanting, you can contact your local district attorney, or the Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov, and you can always consult with an attorney.
Retailers are taking to this increasingly popular method to combat loss. For businesses that use this loss prevention method, please check with your attorney and/or human resources consultant to make sure that you have trained your employees properly when dealing with consumers.
Consumers, if you are shopping at a big box membership store, you may have agreed to those terms in your membership agreement. Here, again, is another reminder to make sure you read the fine print before you sign any document.
Blair Looney is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or email@example.com.