Many shops and public venues have a bag checking policy as a security measure and to prevent theft.
This page outlines your rights when a business representative asks to check you bag.
"Bag checks are voluntary. Retailers can only conduct a bag check if you agree. However, if you refuse to allow a check, you may be asked to leave the shop and not return until you agree to a bag check."`
Your rights as a customer
- 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 inside. However, if you are asked to remove an object in your bag so they can see inside properly, you are expected to cooperate.
- All bags can be checked however, small handbags (the size of A4 paper or smaller) should not be unless the retailer is certain they contain goods from that shop which have not been paid for.
- A retailer 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 store management, the police, or the NSW Information and Privacy Commission.
Although you have rights as a customer, you should be aware of the guidelines that protect the retailer. They are:
- If you enter a store with signage clearly advising bag checks as a condition of entry, you are agreeing to this condition of entry and therefore, a bag check.
- The retailer’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.
- Consumers can call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.
- Retailers can call the Australian Retailers Association on 1300 368 041 for more information.
Bag check guidelines
Bag check guidelines have been developed by the Australian Retailers Association and endorsed by NSW Fair Trading. The guidelines outline customer and retailer rights and responsibilities as determined by the general law of contract (as the customer entering a shop does so ‘under licence’ from the retailer). They do not form a part of Australian Consumer Law.
Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?
The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- NSW Fair Trading, and
- other State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.