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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    11

    Angry Accused of Stealing when Attempting to Exchange a Product

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: Arizona

    Hello,

    I was at Fry's Food Store and purchased some gourmet coffee and organic chocolate milk. Went thru self-checkout, scanned both items and paid with my debit card. On my way out of the store, I had to use the restroom so I went in the restroom and while washing my hands, I noticed that I accidentally bought decaffeinated coffee instead of caffeinated so after exiting the restroom, I went directly to customer service and asked to exchange it for regular. The clerk asked me if I had my receipt so I reached into the bag to get it but it wasn't in there. I told him I just bought it maybe 10 minutes ago, maybe I forgot to grab the receipt when it printed out since I was in the self checkout line. He asked me to hold on and called a manager over the intercom.

    A woman arrived and he handed her the coffee and said I wanted to return it but didn't have my receipt. I intervened and said I just wanted to exchange it, not return it because I had accidentally bought decaf but neither of them acknowledged that statement. The woman scanned the item and then said since it was $10.99 she would need the receipt. I explained to her that I had just purchased it and pointed over towards the self checkout lanes. She asked me how long ago and I told her maybe 10-15 minutes. She told me to wait there while she checked on something and said she would be right back.

    About 5 minutes later, from the other side of the store, she called out for me to "come here" and waved her arm at me so I walked over to her. When I got up to her she had my coffee in one hand and a hand held scanning device in the other and said verbatim "You did not buy this coffee, none of this coffee has been sold in this store in 29 days, you need to leave the store right now or I am calling the police" and told me she was keeping my coffee! I was shocked and extremely embarrassed and told her that is not true! I did too pay for the coffee and I wasn't leaving without it and to please give it back to me! She refused and told me to leave the store immediately or she was going to call security and the police would be called. I told her to go ahead, because I didn't steal that coffee, I just paid for it and it is mine! She warned me, "Fine, come with me, you think I'm playing?"

    I again told her that I paid for the coffee and didn't appreciate her accusations of me stealing it and wasn't leaving without MY coffee. She held up the scanner and said "Look, there's no way you paid for this coffee, none of this brand of coffee has been sold at this store in 29 days, you're not being truthful so we'll just call the authorities and it'll be in their hands since you're refusing to leave" She escorted me into a room in the back of the store and told me to have a seat, which I did. I told her she was making a mistake, that her equipment must be faulty and when she finds that I did in fact pay for it, I wanted an apology.

    She told me that wasn't going to happen because she knows for a fact I didn't pay for it and that I was lying. She then picked up the phone and asked for someone from loss prevention to come view the security tape, that a customer was trying to return an item that they picked up off the shelf and didn't pay for but are saying they had and also requested someone to come in the office where I was being detained while she and the loss prevention person go view the security tape.

    I reminded her again that she was mistaken and that I did in fact pay for it, she demanded I show her a receipt and I told her I didn't know where it was, that I may have forgot it at the printer, or left it in the bathroom, I didn't know, I couldn't find it but I was looking again in my purse and checking my pockets trying to find it. She told me to wait there and picked up the coffee off the desk and proceeded to walk out. I said, "Excuse me, that is my coffee, I paid for it, you can't just take it from me, can you leave it here please? she said no, it was not my coffee, I didn't pay for it and she will prove it and walked out.

    At this point, I turned on my phones video recorder because I was highly upset and felt humiliated and insulted. I was not going to leave without my coffee, decaf or not, I paid for that coffee, and I'll be damned if I'm just gonna let her take it from me and accuse me of stealing it! I explain what is going on in the video, how I was being accused of stealing and that I was waiting for her to find out I did in fact pay for it. I sat in their office very upset, and after about 5 minutes, I started looking thru my purse again for the receipt, because my friend was out in the car waiting for me and was probably wondering what was taking me so long.

    I emptied out my purse so I could better see the contents, and in the side pocket on the inside of my purse, I found my receipt! I waited a little longer for her to return, but thought, forget this nonsense! I don't have to sit here and be ridiculed, and I got up and walked out of their office and proceeded to one of the check out lanes that was manned by a clerk and went up to him and asked where the woman was (I gave a brief description of her but he didn't seem to know who it was)

    I said, "The woman who just accused me of not paying for the coffee I just bought" and he said "Oh, Tanya!" and paged her over the intercom. I stood there by his check stand, humiliated and other customers were giving me strange looks, I just wanted to crawl under a rock I was so embarrassed. Suddenly, from out of a door behind the customer service booth, a different lady emerges and approaches me and asks what she can do for me? I told her the situation, that I was accused of not paying for coffee, but I did in fact pay for it and here is my receipt and that I wanted my coffee back as well as an apology from my accuser!

    She started walking back towards the door she came out of and I followed her and she told me to hang on, and went back where she just came from. I was waiting for the other woman to come out, but nobody came, I waited and waited, and I started to get a little irritated that they were just leaving me hanging so I walked back over to the check stand and asked the guy what's taking so long? Its one thing to falsely accuse me of stealing, but then when I find my receipt and prove that I paid for it, I am just left hanging to wait even longer?

    I would've just walked out but I wanted my coffee! The man told me he didn't know what was taking so long (the video is recording still...) suddenly the woman comes out with my coffee and her faulty hand held scanner and starts telling me "You didn't tell me what check stand you bought it on so I couldn't find your receipt" I held up my receipt and told her I had found it and she said "Oh good" and just walked away! I said, "HEY! give me back my coffee!" and she turned around and walked back over to me and handed me the coffee and I said, "Now I want an apology, I told you I paid for it, but you insisted I didn't!" to which she says, "I stand by what I said, the scanner shows it wasn't purchased. i AM SORRY that the scanner is not correct, but I am not sorry for thinking you didn't pay for it" I told her that was unacceptable, that it is NOT my problem for their faulty equipment, that is the STORES problem and has nothing to do with me!

    I said, "here is my receipt, it says I purchased the coffee about 30 minutes ago, i thought you said none has been sold in 29 days"? she said, "AND IT STILL SAYS THAT!" and I told her, "well, obviously that is not correct, and I want an apology, and she turns around and very up close to the camera, which she may or may not knew was recording, and said "I AM NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE, I AM NOT GOING TO SAY I'M SORRY!" and turned around and walked away, I hollered out "I want your name!" and she turned around and held up her name tag and said in a real cocky tone, "TATYIANA" and then flung her name tag back around and just stormed off!

    I was not only humiliated, but now, I was ultimately insulted and denied what I had a right to, an apology! not for just the false accusation, but for threatening me with the police, insisting I was lying, for keeping me at the store for over 30 minutes and for making me miss my ride home because my friend had no idea where I was, she came in the store and looked for me but didn't see me, and her phone was dead so she couldn't call me, so she left! While still in the store, I looked over and noticed that one of the supervisors from my job was grocery shopping and who knows what she heard or didn't hear. Now I have to explain myself in case she thinks I was caught stealing there! I am SO embarrassed! how is this legal? Is it MY fault their equipment is faulty and doesn't correctly track their inventory? WHY wouldn't this woman apologize? I was clearly owed an apology, WHY did she refuse to give me one? All that happened was bad enough, but to add insult to injury and refuse to apologize was just the absolute topper!

    This whole ordeal caused me to be late to my storage and the gate closed and I was unable to access my personal belongings which consisted of some very important documents that I needed for a meeting the next day and I had to call for a cab ride home, all because this b*** thought I stole a bag of coffee! which by the way, I never did get to exchange and now I am stuck with decaf which I do not drink nor like! Yes, I have my receipt, but I have such a bad taste in my mouth the thought of even going back in that store to exchange it after that entire ordeal is just grueling!

    Although I would like nothing more than to see this woman get in trouble for the way she treated me, I really do not want to see her get fired. That could cause a hardship on her family if she has children and they shouldn't have to suffer just because their mother is an idiot who's too proud to admit she made a mistake. I think she should at least be reprimanded, written up, or even suspended for a couple of days, but most of all, if she wants to keep her job, they should MAKE her apologize!! I deserve at LEAST that!

    Don't I ??

    (sorry for the lengthy rant, but I am furious over this whole fiasco!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,497

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    Sorry, I stopped reading after the first couple of paragraphs.

    Try condensing to just facts and leave out the rant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    695

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    No, you don't have a "right" to an apology.

    You have the right to have the items you paid for and nothing else.

    You choose to remain in the store and that caused you to miss your other appointments. You were not kidnapped, nor forced to remain. You could have left the store, found the reciept and returned at a different time to resolve the matter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    Ok, basically. I bought some decaf coffee by mistake. Before I left the store I noticed this and went to customer service and asked to exchange it for regular. They asked for my receipt, I went to get it from the bag but it wasn't there. I thought maybe I forgot it at the printer because I went thru self checkout. The clerk called a manager and she said she'd be right back. Cam,e back and told me The inventory shows this coffee hasnt been purchased in 29 days and to leave the store immediately or she's going to call the police! I refused to leave. She tried to not give me my coffee back. I told her I wasn't leaving without my coffee, she said fine, She's calling security and took me to the office in the back where she called loss prevention and said she was going to view the security tape. I kept insisting i paid for it, she insisted I did not and basically told me I was lying. I was back there for quite some time, so I started recording at this point with my phone. I finally found my receipt in the inside pocket of my purse and went out into the store because she never came back. I went to the cashier showed him my receipt asked for my coffee, and was left waiting another 10 minutes. She came out with my coffee told me the scanner was faulty and walked away. I asked for my coffee and an apology, which she gave me my coffee, but refused to apologize saying it wasnt her fault the scanner was incorrect. I demanded an apology to which she looks right into the camera and says "NO! I AM NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE BECAUSE I AM NOT SORRY!" I have the recording which begins with me being detained in their office for 30 minutes being accused of a thief and a liar.

    - - - Updated - - -

    wow really? so I don't have a vehicle right now. I have to be inconvenienced just because they won't give me back the items I paid for? what if it were over the counter medication that I bought and maybe gotten the wrong kind, but still needed it, just needed to exchange it for the right one. What if it were my kid that was sick and needed the medicine today not in a couple of days or whenever I could find a ride back down there. What if I never found the receipt? what if I accidentally threw it away in the bathroom, or it fell in the toilet or something? then what? that's acceptable behavior on behalf of this clerk?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    695

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    You are only entitled to the items you purchased. If the store employee is relying on their equipment, that is a reasonable action and there is not intent to defraud you of anything. You are not legally entitled to an apology and you can't sue someone to get one. It is also not the stores responsability to keep track of your reciept. I'm sorry that it took you so long to find it, but that is your fault, not theirs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    ok, so i don't see any difference in them following me out of the store and accusing me of stealing something I did not. They could have looked up the transaction via the checkstand I checked out on couldn't they? And WHAT good is a device whose sole purpose is to keep track of inventory if it's not going to accurately do that? Not only were they refusing to give me back the item that I paid for, they were accusing me of stealing and lying. Obviously they were wrong because their equipment was giving wrong information. How does that not warrant an apology?

    What if the opportunity to leave the store wasn't an option? What if they would have just called the police and detained me and had me arrested because they believed I shoplifted? That very well could have been the case because she said I was lucky she was giving me the chance to leave the store but she could've just detained me and called the police. When I refused to leave without my coffee, she did detain me at that point and called security/loss prevention, leaving on my own at that point wasn't an option. I don't think the average person would have just left the store without the item they purchased had they accidentally thrown their receipt away. And I doubt it would have been acceptable to them if they were told their equipment shows they were lying about buying it. It's not unreasonable to expect an apology and it shouldn't be unreasonable for her to give me one. Especially after she found that I hadn't stolen it!

    Since you agree with their handling of the matter, I'm obviously not going to gain your sympathy and therefore I accept that this forum isn't going to give me any satisfactory resolution, but I thank you for your time and your input anyway. I appreciate it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    You are not owed an apology.

    Your co-worker/supervisor/whatever can do a background check on you. It will not show up as an arrest. So no harm...

    If you really want that apology that bad....you can consult with a local lawyer, but I doubt you will get anything more than a pat on the back and a "have a nice day".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    wow, whatever happened to common decency? Ok, so maybe i'm not "owed" anything, but I'm a decent human being and didn't deserve the demeaning treatment I was given by this person. I guess people who don't find the way i was treated offensive are probably of the same caliber that this person is. Just plain mean. So it really shouldn't surprise me that nobody here agrees with me on this. I suppose Indecent recognizes and condones Indecent, which shouldn't surprise me either, but since I am a decent person, it does and it's a little disheartening. But what can I do? nothing, obviously.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Bought an Item then Needed to Exchange It but Was Accused of Stealing It and Deta

    Quote Quoting antrc170
    View Post
    No, you don't have a "right" to an apology.
    Unfortunately, that's how life is. You can't make somebody apologize. When an employee gives bad customer service, you can complain to their manager. If the manager gives bad customer service you can complaint to the owner or regional manager, etc.
    Quote Quoting antrc170
    You choose to remain in the store and that caused you to miss your other appointments. You were not kidnapped, nor forced to remain. You could have left the store, found the reciept and returned at a different time to resolve the matter.
    Although coffee is at the softer end of things, there's ample case law in which holding somebody's property was deemed tantamount to detention because you know that people aren't apt to abandon their property. In a more clear-cut case, that might be holding somebody's driver's license or purse, but it's not as clear cut as "you could have departed without your property."
    Quote Quoting gettup
    View Post
    what if I accidentally threw it away in the bathroom, or it fell in the toilet or something? then what? that's acceptable behavior on behalf of this clerk?
    Would you do something like that? Seriously? If so, don't. Because shoplifters use bathrooms to do things like remove tags, switch labels, put stolen items under their clothes, etc., as a matter of routine. It would be foolish to choose to dispose of your receipt before you leave a store with your merchandise. You should, as a matter of routine, expect that you will be asked to produce your receipt when returning merchandise, and as you now clearly understand being able to produce it simply to establish that you purchased all of the items in your cart can also be a good thing.
    Quote Quoting antrc170
    View Post
    You are only entitled to the items you purchased. If the store employee is relying on their equipment, that is a reasonable action and there is not intent to defraud you of anything.
    It's only reasonable if the equipment works. If the employee (or their employer) knew or should have known that the equipment was faulty, or that verification of a sale depended upon knowing exactly what register was used yet failed to take appropriate steps to identify the correct register, that's negligence.
    Quote Quoting gettup
    View Post
    How does that not warrant an apology?
    Whether or not the store or employee should apologize is a matter of manners, not law. Nobody is saying that they shouldn't apologize - just that you can't compel them to apologize.
    Quote Quoting gettup
    What if the opportunity to leave the store wasn't an option? What if they would have just called the police and detained me and had me arrested because they believed I shoplifted?
    Had the police arrived and found probable cause to arrest you, the store would arguably be in a stronger position than it is in right now, because the police would have essentially reinforced that there was reasonable cause for them to detain you.
    Quote Quoting gettup
    When I refused to leave without my coffee, she did detain me at that point and called security/loss prevention, leaving on my own at that point wasn't an option.
    We weren't there; your prior posts suggest that you still could have chosen to leave without the coffee; but see my prior comments on that.
    Quote Quoting PandorasBox
    View Post
    If you really want that apology that bad....you can consult with a local lawyer, but I doubt you will get anything more than a pat on the back and a "have a nice day".
    For an apology, I would start working up the corporate chain. Money damages are not likely to be significant.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Accused of Stealing when Attempting to Exchange a Product

    Have you ever heard the adage "If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it probably is a duck?" Put yourself on the other side of this story? You were in a store, in possession of store merchandise, beyond the registers. Truthfully, you could have passed the coffee you scanned to another person in the bathroom and attempted to return the one you surreptitiously knock off the shelf into your bag. Lets look at this from the legal standpoint. Those coffees have two different bar codes. Which one does your receipt say you purchased?

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