Random Thoughts

I Am Tired Of Being Treated Like A Criminal

When I buy gasoline from you, I do not want to park my car, lock my door, walk into your store, wait in line, pay for my gas, walk back to my car, unlock my door, pop my gas tank cover, and put gasoline in my tank.  I know that people buy gas and then driveaway, but I do not.  I want to pull up to the tank, pop my gas tank cover, fill my tank up (without having to guess how much gasoline I might need), lock my door, walk inside, pay you, go to my car, and then leave.  In other words, I want to pump and then pay.

After waiting in line – in one of two lines that are actually open out of an available thirty – and paying for my own groceries (with my own money which I actually earned), I do not want to hand my receipt to a salesperson at the doorway, as I am trying to make my way out with my packages.  I understand that you want to stop people from picking up old receipts, bringing them into the store, and stealing your stuff.  That, however, is not my problem.  I just paid for my stuff, and now I want to leave.  In other words, don’t bother me between the cash register and my car.

I have a new baby girl, and I need to buy baby formula for her.  I buy the good stuff, Similac Isomil Advance, and it is expensive.  I do not want to go to the front (or back) of your store, or stand in a special (read: cigarette) line, so that I can ask you to get me a can of formula from behind lock-and-key.  I know that people steal baby formula.  Prosecute them, but don’t treat me like I’m a thief, simply because I like to buy quality baby formula for my child.  In other words, put the formula on a regular shelf, or I’m not shopping at your store anymore.

Today’s rant is brough to you by NCN, who just wanted to buy some groceries for his family, put some gasoline in his car, and leave a store without being harassed.  We’ll now return you to your regular schedule of positive articilse about saving money and getting out of debt.

37 thoughts on “I Am Tired Of Being Treated Like A Criminal

  1. Regarding stopping at the door to show your receipt… (at least in California, and I believe throughout the US) in a standard retail store, it’s totally voluntary.You don’t have to stop at all. They also are in the wrong if they try to stop you, follow you out to your car, or call the police.

    If it’s a membership club (like Costco), you do have to stop, because you signed a contract that requires it.

  2. Maybe these things are new in your area, but they have been done my whole life where I live. I don’t consider paying before you claim your merchandise (gasoline, here) is being treated like a criminal – it is the norm to pay first for any sort of merchandise. Receipt checking, just don’t put your receipt away when you leave the register and it should be all of a 5 second stop to hand it to the person at the door on your way out. Prosecute criminals but don’t put any preventative measures in place? Is baby formula the only thing, along with cigarettes, that they lock away there? What about pricey electronics or alcohol? It’s not about treating you like a thief, it’s about reducing theft in their stores – which is NOT the same thing.

    I don’t see how any of these things are you being treated like a criminal. They are a part of life and not really that difficult to deal with.

  3. @Kym You prove my point. Why should we accept these things? I don’t drink or smoke, and I don’t want my kids to see me at that counter… So, I’m not going to shop at that store.

    @LAL From time to time, I do, but I prefer to use the envelope system and pay cash. Either way, I shouldn’t have to guess how much gasoline I’m going to need to “fill up”.

    These small encroachments, these “no big deals”… they are beginning to add up, where CUSTOMERS feel like CATTLE… and I hate it…

  4. NCN, while I totally understand your frustration, I disagree. Gas stations and stores faced with drive-away or shrinkage problems can’t just sit around and hope that their consumer base will be as upstanding as you are. And their theft prevention measures may be saving you money in the long run, since when stores face shoplifting problems they often have to charge more to make up for the lost/stolen revenue.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Even more examples of the transgressions of a few bad apples spoiling things for the rest of us. If you look even deeper, you’ll find that more often than not, the price you pay for every product you buy is artificially inflated to compensate for the retailer’s loss due to theft, to pay the salary of the “loss-prevention” specialist, and to pay for the security measures they have to implement. Sad.

  6. I chose to live in lower income neighborhoods with higher crime rates. I can afford my mortgage for my home in these neighborhoods. I realize that part of the price of having a small house payment is that the stores in my neighborhood are going to be far more protective of their wares. Similarly, I need to be far more protective of my home. I don’t find these actions to be impositions. I have neighbors all around me with whom I am on a first named basis. I can walk to shops and food venues (and if I wanted to, my place of employment). I have money in savings. Some of my neighbors are gamey. Some of the stores keep everything behind glass. I still wouldn’t trade my neighborhood for anything. I know where the upscale stores are with all of the samples out for my enjoyment. Sometimes, that’s the right answer as well.

    Just thoughts.

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more! I do stop at the wholesale clubs, but will not stop in another store when they ask for the receipt.

    Prepaying gas doesn’t bother me a whole lot, however. I use my debit card. Many clerks in convenience stores are so rude anyways, that I would just as soon not see or deal with anyone.

  8. Wow, just wow. Three more reasons why I like living in Australia. We sometimes have to prepay for petrol after 10pm I think, and even then I can;t think of a time when I’ve actually had to do that.

    We also have scanners at supermarkets so they can tell if you haven’t paid for anything as you leave the registers, so that solves that issue.

    We also don’t lock up our formula, but I don’t have kids so I could be wrong there, but I doubt it. Cigarettes & prepaid phone cards are behind a counter, but not locked up.

  9. I don’t mind stores doing this, don’t blame the stores, blame the people that make them do it. By doing this, it keeps prices down for all of us. If they didn’t do it we’d be paying more for our items just for the luxury of being able to get in & out quicker. If people in this country were a little more respectfuly of others’ property we wouldn’t even have to do it at all and things would be cheaper.

  10. I couldn’t agree more. While, like you, I understand why they do these things, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

    While I was waiting for an associate to open the formula case for me this week I actually found out that they lock them up because in ’03 (?) there was a scare with tampering and poisoning of baby formula so some places still keep their stuff locked up (Walgreens for instance).

  11. I know it sucks to pay before and all, but let me give you another perspective – all those employees (and I used to be one of them) that got stuck with that job and had people drive off on them on their shift got treated like criminals because their registers are short that amount of money…. and some get fired due to those drive offs. So it’s not just you…. the other innocent party also could lose their job over it. I don’t know of any other type of product you can put in your car before you pay, so why should gas be different?

    A company loses hundreds of dollars a week at times from a single store due to drive offs – even though you (out of hundreds of customers) pay for your gas, some do not. And with the gas prices now (this was back when it was 1 buckish a gallon) then it would be way more than that.

  12. NCN SAID >> In other words, put the formula on a regular shelf, or I’m not shopping at your store anymore.

    somehow i doubt that. you strike me as someone who is always looking for the lowest price. paying the absolute, rock bottom price is often a trade off – in this case, you lose a personal, one-to-one service relationship. discounter retailers (walmart, costco, sam’s club, etc.) sell to the masses, and the masses include thieves. theft prevention mechanisms are geared toward the lowest common denominator.

    if you don’t like standing in a special line to purchase your favorite high-theft item, try shopping at your local drugstore. you’ll pay a higher price for the item (read: the service that comes along with it), but you won’t be treated like a head of cattle, which you obviously find so insulting. treating all people in a uniform and impersonal way is exactly the way discount retailers are able to offer such low prices.

  13. @eddie actually, this WAS at a small, local retailer… (the formula)… walmart and kroger have it right there on the shelf… the manager said, “people steal it, so we have to keep it locked up here”.. which is perfectly w/ in his right… but, I’m not going to shop in a place where I have to stand near the cigarettes and wait in a special line, just to get baby formula, regardless of price… in fact, i paid four dollars more at this place, trying to give the local guy my business… and, i don’t care how big or small a store is, the customer should come first… i’ve worked in all kinds of situations, and i always treated each person as if they were important…. i think that, since i’m “voting” w/ my money, i should demand the same from the businesses w/ which i do business…

  14. About the gas, and the paying with a debit card at the pump.

    There are quite a few stations around here (very large stations I might add, that get more business than any others) that require you to go in and prepay for your gas. These stores have card readers on every pump, but they have them disabled. First of all, like you said, I don’t want to guess how much gas I might need, I want to be able to fill my tank up completely. Secondly, with how much business they get, all that this seems to me to do is to make it take much longer, as you have to park and wait in line to get to the pump anyways, and the people aren’t at their cars for up to five minutes or more while they wait in lines inside with people who aren’t even buying gas so they can walk back out to get their gas.

    Sure, you can argue that by making you go inside they increase the likelihood of people buying other things impulsively while they’re in there, and I do realize that most of the money some stations make is from things besides gas. The problem with this model though, is that I just skip these stations entirely and go to one that may cost a few cents more, but I won’t have to wait or waste time going inside. My time is worth more than the couple of cents saved at the other station.

  15. Sure, none of us ‘honest’ people like these things, but complaining doesn’t do anything about it. Don’t like the way they do things? Don’t shop there. Or better yet, open up your own store, don’t check receipts, let people get gas before paying, unlock the formula etc., and see how well that works out for you. Until then, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

  16. I think your complaint about the gas is a little nit picky. I don’t see the problem in paying for gas first.

    However, the formula thing is a lot like stores putting razors behind glass cases. It’s always a pain trying to find someone to open the case for you, and by putting stuff behind glass you practically make browsing impossible. I don’t like that.

  17. @Nick As a customer, and a consumer, I can vote w/ my dollars… and I’m allowed to voice my disagreement w/ certain store policies. It bothers me, greatly, that we, as a society, have gotten so afraid of crime that we are willing to put up with these, and dozens of other, daily inconveniences. It’s as if we are all criminals… guilty just b/c we shop in a certain place or want to purchase a certain item… and it just bugs me. As far as having a leg to stand on – I’ve worked in retail, and when I did, I always thought that I should show respect to the customer, and always assume that he was honest, unless he actually did something to prove otherwise. And, in a capitalist society, every store has the right to set its own policies… just as I have the right to disapprove of those policies and do my shopping elsewhere, which is what I’ve done as a result of the above mentioned inconveniences. My fear, however, is that these policies will become “standard” practice, b/c consumers kept silent, and we’ll all just have to live with them – just like we live w/ cameras in every store and every parking lot, security badges on items of clothing, and other ‘security’ measures. I can’t tell if I am mad at the owners for implementing these policies – or frustrated that so many accept a society where these policies are (or appear to be) necessary…

  18. If the formula thing bothers you can buy it online. Amazon has great prices on those kinds of things.

    I don’t accept that kind of society. My neighborhood is nothing like that. If yours is, I guess you can refuse to accept it by moving.

  19. I refuse to have my receipt checked anywhere but Costco. If they ask for my receipt, I just respond with a no thank you and keep walking. Never had a problem. I try to stay out of stores that have that policy as well.

    I use a debit card at the pump, so I haven’t experienced the pay before you pump. Also, we bought our formula at costco or the stores had it out. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it locked up.

  20. In the UK, you have a five second wait for the system to authorise your registration number (front plate), and then you can pump fuel.

    Once you have finished filling, to what ever level you decide, you then go into the store and pay for the fuel, maybe even picking up a chocolate bar and bottle of coke.

    I have never ‘got’ the pre-pay system when driving in America. How do I know how much fuel I want, I fill the tank to the brim most times, and its a different value each time, especially with changing fuel prices. Also, how can you guarantee what amount at fuel is left in the tank, fuel gauges’ are non linear, and can’t be trusted, and how has the weather, or where, or how you’ve driven affected your mileage.

    Pay at pump is the way forward, you authorize your card, insert you pin number, and then the pump gives you a sort of credit limit, lets say, you have £70 limit, and you only need £10 worth, you fill to £10, and pay £10. This allows my local Asda supermarket to have 24 hour fuel avaliable, and staff on only during the day.

    America seems such a nanny state sometimes.

  21. While you know that you don’t pump your gas and then drive away, the store doesn’t. Innocent till proven guilty is only applicable in a court of law – these gas stations lose a lot of money from drive-offs, and that loss gets passed on to the rest of us via higher prices. If the gas station can halt this problem by requiring cash customers to go inside and pay ahead, more power to them. If you don’t want to pre-pay, use a card.

    I don’t understand getting so worked up about these things. They’re minor inconveniences which might help groceries and other stores combat theft and keep prices low.

  22. I dont have a problem with pre paying gas or with costco checking my receipt, but I do hate it when everyday items are behind lock and key. The rite aid downtown lost my business cause they keep things like batteries behind glass. Then you have to go get someone, who won’t help you but will page someone to aisle 6, where you wait for 10 minutes. No one shows so you go again to ask for help…. I’d shop there cause it’s right next to work but they make it so inconvenient.

  23. I know it’s unfortunate that we all have to be inconvenienced for the sake of a few bad apples. But I’d rather pay an inconvenience than my wallet. These extra steps – however annoying – keep our prices down in the long run.

  24. If you want to “use the envelop system” with you gas why not get a prepaid debit card from someplace like Walmart (plus they will give you 3 cents a gallon off) then you can put your budgeted amount for gas on it each month?

  25. If everyone is suspect, and suspect of criminal activity, everyone is being treated like a criminal. It does not matter if they have a seemingly good reason to do it, because if you’re getting the same treatment as a potential thief you’re being treated like a criminal.

    I really felt a need to clear that up for those who don’t get it.

    I would also like to point out that NCN didn’t make this point to get ideas on how to cope. He made this post because it is ridiculous behavior on the part of merchants. Not one of your suggestions is going to change the way merchants are treating law abiding citizens.

    When they’re locking up the baby formula, there is a problem!

    Here is my suggestion. Put a sock in the mouths of all these bleeding heart liberals and PROSECUTE. If there are no thieves on the streets we can go to our neighborhood stores and be treated with dignity and respect. It’s my money, and if I’m ever treated this way it will stay my money. The end.

    ~Daymon steps off the soap box

  26. I am also tired of being followed around in stores. This happened to me just Sunday when I went to check out a few sale items at the Kmart. I did not take a cart- I just wanted to see what their toy department was looking like these days and do some comparison price shopping and get a start on Xmas shopping. Everywhere I went, I was followed by a more than obvious plain clothes rent a cop.

    Is it not enough that cameras are everywhere that I need to made conspicuous to others as well?

    Not stopping there again!

  27. On a humorous note, it’s interesting that you expect your gas station to trust you-someone from the neighborhood, whom they don’t know-but you note in your first sentence that you don’t trust anyone else in the neighborhood enough to leave your car unlocked at the very same gas station. Interesting.

    While I understand your frustration, and have certainly felt it, myself, over the years, I think that several commenters have made the point that you may be getting unreasonably worked up over what is to be expected. With the exception of sit-down restaurants, I can think of few business establishments that allow you to take possession (e.g. gas in your gas tank) of goods without asking you to pay for it, first. Certainly you don’t load your groceries in your car and then pay for them when you return your cart?

    I think we are no longer the everyone-knows-everyone small town America that may have once been. The proprietor of your gas station(s) doesn’t know you, your mother, father, brother, and wife, nor do you know his. That kind of familiarity has been replaced with a guarantee of identity and payment-in the form of credit and debit cards. You have chosen to eschew the use of these modern means of payment identification, so I’m not sure it’s quite fair of you to be as worked up as you indicate.

    I’ve rarely been to a jewelry store that doesn’t use locked cases for its displays, and vaults for overnight storage…have you? Any time a merchant is selling a high-value, easily transported item, I think you should expect them to take appropriate security precautions.

    As Nick (#20) pointed out, you might feel differently if you were the merchant…as I noted, you wrote that you lock your car door, and I would assume you take other precautions to protect your interests like locking your home.

    I’d be interested to know how you feel about gun control?

  28. Also, I do not want to enter a store with my tote bag or backpack and be told to leave it at the cash while I do my shopping, Gee thanks, consider me a potential criminal the moment I walk in the door! I want to keep my belongings with me… who says I can trust you with them anyway. I have my other bags with me because I don’t have a car to leave them in. I am not a criminal, I am a middle class professional earning a decent salary. If you see me while I’m in your store and you have reason to believe I might be slipping merchandise into my bag, by all means feel free to search it. Until then, leave me be! Or I may not return to your store, since I am made to feel unwelcome as soon as I enter.

  29. I completely agree. I refuse to buy my baby formula from stores that lock it up. The same store will have aisles and aisles of expensive liquor on display (as well as batteries..which is the 2nd most stolen item) but they lock up baby formula? Hm? What? If someone is desperate enough to STEAL baby formula, the store can afford to lose a few bucks to feed a starving child. They can obviously afford to lose money on people stealing bottles of booze. Walgreens makes customers wait 10-15 minutes for someone to find a key for the baby formula. It is ridiculous. I was told formula is locked up to keep the prices down for the consumer. That is total crap because the price has continued to rise. I also dislike having to prove I paid for my items with a receipt at the door. Isn’t that why they installed the sensors? And finally….I refuse to shop at Sam’s Club or Costco. They are charging you an admission fee to shop? No thanks. Americans are stupid. I’ve compared prices and they are not that different. Either a store wants your business or they don’t. Simple. I would never pay an admission fee to shop somewhere.

  30. I hear ya, best buy asks to check my receipt when I leave the store… its the same as the store accusing me of stealing… I don’t shop there anymore because of that. Now I order all my electronics through tiger direct… also I love how Walmart locks everything then has no staff in that department and you have to wait 20 minutes for them to find someone to send over…. and I am talking just to buy Gillette razors…

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