Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Security Theater: Checking a receipt

This isn't a technical post, just something I noticed when I was in a Sam's club recently (if you don't know, it's basically CostCo).

To shop in Sam's club (and take advantage of their super savings) you have to purchase a membership. They check your card at the register to make sure you're a member. Makes sense, it's their business strategy.

But then, as you're leaving, they check you're receipt. Consider why they do that. Here are the possibilities I can come up with:

1. Make sure you have a valid member number

Ridiculous. They already checked your card at the register. There's no way to pay without a valid card.

2. Make sure you aren't stealing the cart.

Also silly. The carts are oversized. The merchandise is in bulk. Unless you can teleport, shrink the cart, or decide to knock out the employee at the door, there's no way to steal a cart full of groceries.

3. Make sure you didn't add some items to your cart you didn't pay for.

This one makes the most sense, but still isn't legit. The employees don't look through every item in your cart to know what you are leaving the store with, nor do they read your receipt fully to know what you paid for.

Conclusion: Sam's club pays an employee to stand at the exit, and slows you down from leaving their store to put on a good show.