The shoplifting problem is fraying nerves in stores nationwide. We're all paying more because of increased thefts. One of the reasons for the increase in shoplifting is all the self-checkouts.

According to data from major retailers, losses from theft at locations with self-checkout kiosks are nearly double the industry average.  Rather than eliminate self-checkouts, which many studies show anger many customers, major stores like Target and Walmart are doubling down.

It is also motivating some store locations to be even more determined to check customers when they leave the store. In some cases, it might be argued that over-zealous security personnel are going too far.

A social media post may be proof of one glaring example.

As of today, A TikTok user named Travis Lee Ragan has racked up 31 million views. The video shows Travis trying to leave a Walmart store in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A Walmart employee named Chuck refuses to let Travis leave the store, even after he offers to show his receipt.

Travis Ragan claims in the original video that Chuck violates his rights. In the follow-up, he says the Walmart employee actually refused to let him move. Even after asking for a manager, the stalemate continued for quite a while. During that time, Chuck, actually allowed other people to leave the store without checking their receipts.

The comments on Travis' post reflect a large range of views. Legally, in Texas, a store can detain you for a reasonable amount of time.  This is called Shopkeeper's Privilege".  What is reasonable?

A decision of the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that 10-15 minutes is acceptable. But, if the store lacks incriminating evidence they must let you go at once. During the time you are detained, you have the right not to incriminate yourself.

Was Ragan's detention in this case reasonable? The fact that Walmart/Chuck was not able to present specific facts to back their suspicions and a subsequent check of Ragan's bags and receipt by another store security officer showed nothing inappropriate, it could be argued that this detection was not reasonable under the law.

This whole incident is worrying. Walmart should not seek retribution from innocent customers for a mistake they made.  The fact that Walmart is losing money because they chose to install self-checkouts and force their customers to use them, despite research showing that customers don't like them, should not cause them to abuse shopkeeper's privilege.

Let's hope we don't see more videos on social media, like Travis Ragan's. Ultimately, the power to change even big retailers like Walmart and Target rests in the customers' hands.  If enough of us stop shopping there, they may have no choice but to finally honor the time-honored tradition that the customer is always right.

 

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