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Bag check guidelines 

Bag checks are often carried out by retailers in an attempt to control theft. In fact, if they choose to, retailers can make bag checking a condition of entry to their shops. A set of principles called the Bagcheck guidelines have been developed which shoppers need to know.

Your rights as a customer 

As a customer entering a shop, you have rights when it comes to bag checking. They are:

  • You have the right to know before entry that a shop conducts bag checks. Signage must be clearly displayed at the entrance/s to the shop.
  • Store personnel are only allowed to look in your bag; they are not allowed to touch the contents of your bag. However, if you are asked to remove an object in your bag so they can see inside properly you are expected to cooperate.
  • Personal handbags the size of a sheet of A4 paper or smaller should not be checked, unless the shopkeeper is certain the handbag contains goods from that shop which have not been paid for.
  • A shopkeeper is only allowed to detain you and call the police in situations where they are sure an offence has been committed.
  • If shop staff forcibly detain or search you and you have not committed an offence, you are entitled to make a complaint to the police, the store management or Privacy NSW.

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Your responsibilities as a customer  

Although you have rights as a customer, you must also be aware of the guidelines that exist to protect the shopkeeper. They are:

  • By entering a shop which has clearly displayed signs that bag checks are conducted, you accept the shopkeeper’s right to ask you to open your bags for checking. 
  • The shopkeeper’s right to check your bags also includes checking cartons, parcels or any other container you are carrying that could reasonably conceal goods.
  • If you refuse to allow shop staff to check your bags you can be asked to leave the shop and not return.

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Enquiries about the operation of the bag check guidelines 

The Australian Retailers Association NSW (ARA) will endeavour to resolve any issues arising from retailers in respect of the bag check guidelines. For retailers, enquiries should be directed to:

Australian Retailers Association NSW
Telephone: 1300 368 041

NSW Fair Trading will endeavour to resolve any issues and any complaints arising from consumers who feel that the bag check guidelines have been breached. For consumers, enquiries should be directed to:

NSW Fair Trading
Telephone: 13 32 20

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