Receipt checkers aren't there to catch shoplifters

Originally published at:


It’s useful to remember that everything is not only worse than you think it is, but in ways you haven’t yet considered.

The 21st century is going to be a doozy.


But it doesn’t improve my experience as a shopper!

I’m one of those people who gets anxious about holding up lines, so as soon as I’ve paid, I want to get out of the way, so I have a very sophisticated system for dealing with receipts in that I crumple them up and shove them in my pocket. So then I’m heading toward the door and have to fish it out of my pocket, drop my keys, and then try to uncrumple it while wheeling the cart one-handed toward the door and trying not to run into any small children - my own or somebody else’s.


Interesting how the tone of this article is the exact opposite of the tone of the original article (check Lifehacker.)

In-store Gestapo, my ass. They’ve caught overcharges on my bill that I would have never caught myself TWICE.


It IS interesting to me that an article so bland it smacks of paid content advertising for Costco could be then reblogged here in a way that made me curious.
Also, taking a completely different tone from someone who wrote,

“If they deter someone from stealing roasted chicken in the process, well, that’s just a bonus”

is for the best.



During the time I spent receipt checking I probably caught well over $1000 in overcharges.

The horror. Gestapo!


The person who said, “Trust me, we’re not loss prevention” must not have paid attention during training. Checking cashier accuracy certainly is loss prevention, and a very big part of it, too. In big retail the largest cause of loss is internal errors and/or internal theft.

edit: a word and a ‘/’.


Yes, but in Rob we have the best narrator for our tragicomic dystopian death spiral.


I wonder what the ratio of over-charging to under-charging is. Naively I’d expect more of the former. Cashiers are looking for a visual and audio clue when they swipe, usually, but since there’s a lot of scanning multiple items there won’t be alerts for a double scan. Certainly whenever I’ve had disparities in a receipt they’ve always seemed to be over, not under-charges.


Uh, no. If it were all about customer service you would see receipt checkers in high end department stores. But that isn’t the case because it is about loss prevention in low margin discount stores like costco.



Yeah nothing says high class like checking rich people’s receipts.


I live in a small foreign country where every checkout cashier is instructed to ask the customer whether they want to have a receipt or not… in order to save the environment.

Up to now, I had never even heard of receipt checkers. It sounds like a nonsense job, just like bagger.


Quite. If they are QA, that seems like a good thing.

But it is BS that they aren’t loss prevention at all. If I have a backpack they ask to see in it when I leave. That ain’t to check if I was overcharged.


We frequently have the opposite. The cashiers at some stores arerequired to offer you a receipt for every transaction as a protection against the cashier stealing money by not logging the transaction at all and just keeping the money. Some stores offer customers a reward if the cashiers do not offer a receipt. It is a lazy (and possibly ineffective) method of auditing the cashiers.


If I ever go to a Costco and see a receipt checker with mouths for eyes I am going to freak the fuck out!


Note I was careful not to say illustrator. :wink:


One time when I was about seven, we came home from Vons and Mom discovered she’d been charged for about $15 worth of items she hadn’t put in the cart (or brought home, for that matter). This was at a time when 1) $15 was worth a good deal more than now and 2) our household finances were a bit tight anyway. I don’t know what tipped her off to check that first time, but she immediately assumed that this was not a one-off occurrence. From then on, every shopping trip included a post-mortem audit. I think over the next couple of years, we caught a couple of $2-$5 overages - just enough to convince her to keep checking every time.

She would have LOVED the idea of a store employee checking the receipt against the cart. I’m not sure why Rob is convinced that this is a horrible dystopian practice; personally, knowing that I got what I paid for and I paid for what I got makes me like Costco more, not less.


I went to a farm for a Halloween season thing and they checked everyone AGAIN on the way OUT to make sure their hands were, indeed, stamped. I wonder how many people sneak in, spend the day, think they got away with it, and get busted on the way out.

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Is the whole “store Gestapo” thing supposed to be ironic exaggeration, like when people call grammar nitpickers Nazis? Because it seems to me that it’s entirely reasonable when you’ve got a store where people buy huge amounts in bulk a lot of the time to make sure customers are being charged correctly. Presumably they don’t fire cashiers over a single error or anything like that, or we’d hear a lot less about how great a place it is to work.


There’s also that thermal-printing receipt papers are commonly made with BPA or BPS (known to be hazardous), which is especially of concern to the cashiers who have to handle them many times a day. (More detailed info in this article from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, especially in the “Toolkit” section.)

Where I am, some stores ask if you want a paper receipt or not. My co-op grocery store has switched to using the type of paper that’s made with ascorbic acid instead of BPA/BPS.

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