Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Life

Pay First, Eat Later

A pregnant woman and her husband got the scare of their lives last week when police arrested them for shoplifting and took their 2-year-old daughter away.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the shoplifting charge came after they opened and consumed a sandwich in a grocery store chain before paying for it. They claim they then forgot to pay for the sandwich.

Charges have since been dropped and the store has apologized for the incident everyone seems to agree escalated to an absurd level when Child Welfare Services stepped in to take custody of their daughter.

The woman says she grew up in a small town where eating something you haven’t yet paid for isn’t seen as stealing.

I don’t know what else it’d be called: if you’re consuming something that you don’t own, that’s theft.

A University of Hawaii marketing professor claims it’d be bad customer relations for a store to crack down, then compares the practice of a customer eating before paying to dropping a jar of peanut butter, but still not being forced to pay for it.

He couldn’t be more wrong. The two have nothing to do with each other: dropping a product and destroying it by accident results in neither party being able to use the product. The store writes it off as a loss and may be able to at least recoup the cost of the product, depending on the manufacturer’s policy.

But consuming a product before you pay results in the customer using the product and then possibly forgetting to pay. The store can’t recoup the loss for something that was taken in that manner.

Many shoplifters will place an item in their pocket without any intention of paying, yet it is generally accepted that an arrest can’t be made until they’re outside the store without a sales receipt. But if they leave the store with the product without paying, that’s a crime.

Granted, I’d agree that police shouldn’t have been called for a sandwich. But this is a case where both sides were in the wrong. Even if the store has no stated policy against customers eating products before they actually own them, the customer still has the responsibility to pay for the items.

Both sides could have been spared a lot of aggravation and embarrassment if only they’d have paid first, then eaten. If they were that hungry, fast food might have been a better option. (Just try having a burger at a fast food restaurant without handing over any cash!)

Have you ever eaten any part of a product in a grocery store before actually buying it? Do you think it’s okay to do so?

6 Comments

  1. I’ve never done this, and it pisses me off when I see others doing it because you know perfectly well that the vast majority of people ditch the label and don’t pay for it, which means the rest of us end up footing the bill.

  2. We’ve done this with drinks. We’ll pickup a drink at the front and consume it while we shop and then pay for the empty bottle at check out. It’s not a big deal to us or the store. As long as they get paid, they really don’t care.

    1. @TedtheThird Just curious, Ted: Would you have a problem with a store posting a sign that indicated that you couldn’t open a product until after it was paid for? Would you continue to shop there if you saw such a change?

      1. @patricksplace I don’t think it would impact us much. We would still shop there because of all the other reasons we like doing our shopping there. But honestly, for all the money I pump into [large grocery store chain], they really shouldn’t give a rip about a sode that probably cost them about 60 cents.

      2. @patricksplace I don’t think it would impact us much. We would still shop there because of all the other reasons we like doing our shopping there. But honestly, for all the money I pump into [large grocery store chain], they really shouldn’t give a rip about a soda that probably cost them about 60 cents.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.