CHOICE membership

Refusing inspection when leaving Bunnings



No. It was Coles and the peel was in front of, and on top of. the banana display stand.

Woolies have their “free fruit for kids” on a dedicated display stand.


Guessing this is the place?


… made me chuckle - admittedly it is their head office and distribution centre, so you’d probably not expect it to be open on weekends, but poor positioning choice to place the head office at the top of the list of locations when the whole page screams ‘7 welcome days open’ or something like that :rofl::joy:

Given they are a grocer, I’d specifically avoid taking anything into the store that could be questioned, or do my shopping there first before defaulting to Woolies for example … (just like I wouldn’t take a new power drill into Bunnings and try buying drill bits …)

I still feel they are overstepping their authority in the actions they promise and the aggressiveness of the sign, but …


The (fake brand) home brand scenario is the easiest.

Or take the goods bought in the first store back to the car before visiting the second store.


From experience while living alone and working in Brisbane (and going home on the weekends, it can be difficult shopping at more than one store.

If you rely on public transport, as I did but reside near a major shopping area imagine the following.

You get off the bus, walk first past the butcher and choose a select item from the counter, cut to suit meals for one. It gets wrapped in the same white paper Woolies choose. Into the green or blue reusable bag you carried in your work backpack.

Next comes the local F&V where you can hand pick select genuinely fresh vegetables and fruit. They are still in the growers boxes with source and packed dates visible if there are doubts. They go in poly bags just like Woolies were using at the time. Then into the bag with the meat.

But you need some milk, oats and bread for toast. Do you now go into Woolies as you head passed it on the way home on foot, or come back for a second load? All after a ten hour day and 60min commute each way! It can prove challenging, especially when you use the same bag for the next few items.

Rule one is to never use the self service area. Fortunately enough of the local Woolies staff seemed to spot minor differences or saw a run down victim of a long work day. I was often asked if the xyz came from the F&V shop, and always accepted. Perhaps the Woolies staff also knew what real fresh F&V looked like, so no need to ask any more?

Some of us have grown up in a world of public transport. Hour long tram or bus trips into the city to buy all sorts of things with the grownups. Ladies wearing hats and toting bundles of string bags full of shopping, or the pull along shopping trolley. We were simply advised to be sure to keep all the receipts just in case someone asked. No more, no less.

Has the law really changed?


This afternoon I witnessed a very unpleasant incident: going in one of the smaller Safeway supermarket the entry was blocked by a few men: a security guard, the store manager, and a wild looking man being escorted out. I heard the security guard say that there were cameras around and the man turned back and stood within inches of his face accusing him of incest and repeatedly daring to ‘touch’ him, and then they ‘ would see about the cameras’.
I admire the security guard’s restraint but he looked visibly upset.


An amusing story about a young boy who wanted a Bunnings themed birthday party.

I wonder if they had a bag inspection at the exit?



There’s no provision under Australian Consumer Law for goods to be confiscated. That is theft, plain and simple. All a store can do if you fail to comply with its wishes is to demand you leave


Despite the notice on display when you enter a store, you can refuse to allow a bag check when you leave. The only remedy available to the store is to ask you to leave, and possibly deny you entry in the future, unless the store believes the police should be called, but even then, store staff cannot apprehend you, or even impede your departure, otherwise they could be hit with an assault charge.


Not quite as one can make a citizen arrest (for Qld), and only if the force to restrain was reasonable. The challenge is what is reasonable force as this is only likely to be determined after the event. The second challenge is knowing a offence/theft has occurred.


It’s quite interesting - if one knows one is innocent, then does one simply give in to the citizens arrest, or does one treat it like assault. Personally, if I was allowed the opportunity to either present evidence or receipts in my defence, or see allegedly damning surveillance and address it, then I’d do so - if not, I’d defend myself - simple as that. This happened to me recently, when a barely literate security guard approached me in a vague and incomprehensible way - I was actually quite confused as to what the hell he was on about, initially thinking he was being helpful that I’d scanned something twice accidentally, but when it became clear I called him on it - in the meantime the register is binging at me with a “do you want to continue with this transaction” message on the screen …

I don’t know why companies put juniors and/or people who don’t have a good command of the English language in these positions - it’s unfair on them, and unfair on customers. I have nothing against either - but if I need to spend a couple of minutes trying to work out what someone is saying, then there is a problem …

I do feel for the staff, but who is holding the companies to account? K-Mart with their insane ‘middle of the store’ checkouts is a classic example of ‘what the hell were you thinking?’. The lass at the exit asks “do you have a receipt” and the angry man in front of me responds “yes, its in my wallet” and keeps walking …


And in other States and Territories you can make a Citizen’s Arrest, but as you said you need to be sure the crime has taken place and to be aware of duty of care and reasonable force requirements. For a simple bag check they cannot make that arrest lawfully but if they ask before you purchase goods and you refuse they can ask you to leave without allowing you to purchase the goods.

At times at Woolworths, Coles, and ALDI before we complete our purchases they ask to inspect our remaining bags (as they do for most customers with lots of shopping bags). If we refused they do have the right to no longer provide the shopping service to us and so we would have to leave without buying what we wanted there and could be banned from further entry to a store. The task to allow inspection is not particularly onerous, is fairly non invasive, and for the most part cursory and quickly over with.


I seem to remember a Dr Karl podcast a while ago that discussed the viscosity of banana peels. Apparently, while they are certainly popular slapstick props they are not the most slippery material one could step on/in. (I can’t remember what scored more highly - it was more than a year ago.)

Edit: @draughtrider is so quick with the links! Yes, that’s the article below - and it appears that my memory has once again failed me… bananas are incredibly slippery. But not as slippery as lemons - or politicians.



Edited to add: The scientists at Bunnings head office would probably have us believe bbq’s onions are slipperier … Other slippery things you might find in low places are lawyers, bankers, politicians and insurers …


Something that has been forgotten here is that shops are not public places, they are actually private property. As such a store owner can place whatever restrictions they choose on entry to those premises which you/we as the customer accept on entry or don’t enter.

Even going into shops like Big W your bags are checked on entry and again on exit and you must offer up your bags if asked to do so.

There are some things a store owner cannot do because it would be against the law such as locking you in a room for example, but asking about and checking purchases is not one of them.


That as much as anything else is what this discussion is about.

What is against the law? (We should know our rights.)

What should be against the law? (Should Choice or we or anyone else be advocating for change?)

This establishes boundaries so that

isn’t correct.

In theory we can let the market decide. If the store owner imposes utterly unreasonable conditions (mandatory body cavity search on exit, anyone?) then noone will visit the store, the store will go out of business, problem solved.

However history is replete with examples of market failure, where the government has to step in. Stores are usually more subtle in their unreasonableness than the above though.

One example arises where the store has market dominance, so that consumers can’t reasonably exercise a choice not to enter. In any case it is recognised that there is a power imbalance between an individual consumer and a large corporation, so that unreasonable conditions might have to be knocked out, rather than the consumer simply not entering.

Even on private property, there are restrictions on what you can do. For example, in the context of this discussion, in many jurisdictions it is illegal to install surveillance cameras in toilets, bathrooms or fitting rooms with a view to controlling theft.


The feds have a handy fact sheet - there’s plenty out there but this is one of the clearer ones …

… it does however reference refusing customers entry with their own bags … I don’t recall the last time I entered a supermarket not carrying my own bags. I’m sure this isn’t what they are intending, but it is ambiguous, especially when supermarkets promote reusable bags.

Another point is that conditions of entry are prominently displayed - interpretation of the term ‘prominently’ seems to vary quite a lot. The level of accountability in the case of someone being banned will probably come down to a few factors, size of the store, the actual event that took place, what evidence exists to support any action, whether a regional manager can override a local store manager, even as @person suggested - market dominance or choice etc. If you upset the only store in town, that could be bad … what then?

While a store is private property, I’d imagine advertising and offering products for sale constitutes an invitation to enter - so that balanced with how prominent the conditions are displayed on entry might be a factor - indeed many supermarkets do not display these signs at every potential point of ingress, though often these are unintended points of ingress (checkouts for example that exit directly into a mall rather than a standalone building with entry and exit doors). Things have probably deteriorated to a fairly sad place if dialogue with a store gets to this … :wink:


An amazing article regarding a grub stealing a chainsaw fron a store in the USA by hiding it under his clothing.

Perhaps Bunnings and other stores could develop an app whereby the RFID security sticker can start the chainsaw.



Who else is old enough to remember when stores employed people to serve customers because goods were not set out for “self serve” or “help yourself”? Instead of employing door watchers and security teams the stores employed sales staff :grinning: and the goods were mostly behind counters.
This also meant goods didn’t need to be sealed in bomb-proof plastic packaging by the manufacturer (which was a cost saving which was passed on to the consumer, and better for the environment).


Yes, but it’s a very distant memory of better times :wink:

… trays where you could load your product into a paper bag - sold by weight or number depending on what it was, or buy a cardboard box full if you wanted a lot.

Now we just force feed the masses with the amount the corporation determines, with a side salad of plastic and a dressing of marketing … both indigestible …


An article regarding a Woollies shoplifter who did not get away.

“That’s why he picks woollies”.