Bag checks can be done at stores to control theft. Businesses can also make bag checking a condition of entry to their shops. A set of principles called the bag check guidelines has been developed to make sure shoppers know their rights.
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.
Your responsibilities as a customer
Although you have rights as a customer, you should be aware of the guidelines that 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.
Need more information?
For retailers, enquiries should be directed to:
Australian Retailers Association NSW
Telephone: 1300 368 041
For consumers, enquiries should be directed to:
NSW Fair Trading
Telephone: 13 32 20