Wednesday, May 14, 2008

$%@( Walmart!

One of the many reasons I LOATH Walmart--besides its degradation of the environment, its treatment of employees, and its importing of goods from countries where children and prisoners are used as labor--is because someone routinely stops me on the way out to check my receipt, or at least someone did when I used to shop there. The last time it happened I told the very nice little old lady who asked if she could see my receipt "No, but thank you for asking" and walked away, receipt unchecked, never to return. David Pelfrey of Birmingham's Black & White City Paper wrote about the insulting and degrading practice of treating every customer as a suspected criminal this week and has some useful advice:

Here’s a scenario that is familiar to anyone who has ever set foot in Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite-Aid, or any of a dozen other major retailers. After you have made a purchase, collected your bags, or packed everything into a shopping cart, you head for the exit. Just as you approach freedom an alarm sounds (usually a sequence of ugly, electronic grunts) and a robotic voice (always female) announces: “Please return to the checkout.” Other customers immediately look in your direction, and an employee begins to approach you. What’s your next move?

If you possess an ounce of personal pride or perhaps two ounces of fortitude, then the 100 percent correct move is to proceed immediately out the door. Why? There are many reasons, chief among them being that rational adults should not instantly obey mechanical voices (unless that voice instructs us to exit a burning aircraft). Also, if you haven’t stolen anything and therefore do not require interrogation, there is absolutely nothing that should compel you to linger post-transaction. It’s depressing enough simply being there in the first place. Another good reason to make a quick exit is that you aren’t being paid to assist some giant retailer with its security measures. You aren’t part of the team, and you didn’t clock in. The clearest reason for leaving the store, however, is that there exists absolutely no legal obligation to remain there, and the store has no right to detain you.

OK, so that part is about those annoying anti-theft alarm systems, but I wanted to get across that the store personnel have no right to detain you if you have not committed a crime despite the assumption that we don't remain private citizens with our rights entact once we step though the automatic sliding glass doors. Read the original piece at or at Stand Up to

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