By Colin MacLean
Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - When Christine Carter walked into the Amherst Wal-Mart on Dec. 22, she was in a hurry to find one last Christmas gift.
She never imagined she would be asked to go into a store washroom to inspect her clothing and potentially have to hand over her pants.
The request was made after the door scanner alarms went off as she was walking into the store. She said she was approached by a staff member and asked if she had anything on her person that she had purchased recently at Wal-Mart.
She replied: "Yes I purchased these jeans here two or three weeks ago. But they've been through the wash a couple of times since then."
It was then she says she was asked to go into the washroom and inspect her pants for any tags she might have missed. Concerned, she asked what would happen if she did find something.
She was told that her pants would have to be taken and scanned in order to deactivate the magnetic strip that was causing the alarm and she couldn't enter the store unless she complied.
"I've never in my life encountered something like this.
"I don't think it's an appropriate thing to ask somebody to do. To take their cloths off in a public washroom," she said.
Carter refused and has only been back to Wal-Mart once since the incident - to drop off a letter to the manager.
Her husband spoke with management right after the incident. And was told that it was regrettable they were offended, but it was store policy.
"I'm glad he backed his employee, but at the same time it's a very stupid policy," said Carter.
Whether the customer is coming in or going out, the focus is finding tags and deactivating them, said Kevin Groh, director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada.
"We offer to deactivate the tag as a courtesy and also to eliminate any confusion on their way out."
The incident is being investigated and it does sound inconsistent with the company's approach, he said.
As for Carter, after leaving Wal-Mart she decided to go to another store to pick up her gift.
Unfortunately she also set off the door alarms in that store, but after a quick explanation the staff there let her into the store.
"They didn't ask me to go take clothing off."
By Colin MacLean
Geographic location: AmherstTop of page