The real reason Sam's Club looks over your receipt before you leave

The stock at Sam's Club may change and move around a lot, but there is one constant we can expect at the warehouse club — the "exit greeter," a person who hovers near the door, waiting to check our receipts before we head to our cars. 

You might think the men and women who say goodbye are there because the store doesn't trust shoppers and is trying to prevent theft. But at Sam's Club, that isn't exactly what exit greeters are doing when they ask you to stop. "Having an exit greeter is a great opportunity to have another chance to connect with the customer before they leave," Laura Ladd Poff, senior manager of corporate communications for Sam's Club, explained to Cooking Light. "It's an opportunity to ask them if they found everything they were looking for, and if they have everything they need..."

Sam's Club exit greeters don't think you're a thief

As one Redditor, who once held the job of exit greeter at a big-box store explained, contrary to popular belief the receipt check is not necessarily a loss prevention tactic. " Trust me, we're not loss prevention, we have loss prevention in the store and that's not us. We're literally just trying to make sure our cashiers do the job right, and when we DO catch it, all the information gets stored. Who did it, what time, etc... and those cashiers get spoken to. This is not to benefit anyone but the member to improve the experience overall."

The employee shed some more light on the process, saying, "If a receipt shows under 20 items, we count. It's a very quick count to 20. Most people who work at the exit are actually counting your cart before you even hand the receipt over. So by the time the receipt is in your hands... they already know there's 15 items in your buggy. They look at the receipt for a split second, see the 15 at the bottom, mark it and hand it back. Easy," they explained. "Now, for carts with over 20 items... even packed with 100 items. The main things we check for are stuff on the bottom. Cases of water, TP, pop cases, etc. All those extra things that maybe a cashier misses. We're not gonna catch EVERYTHING and that's fine, we also don't want to keep you there all day long. Ideally the people at the register are doing their jobs right, sadly that's not always the case. 99 percent of the time, it's not due to theft."

And, as the exit greeter pointed out, if a shopper was really looking to steal something, he or she probably wouldn't just leave it in plain sight in the cart. 

Checking your receipt at the door has other benefits

Another good reason for checking the receipt? The Redditor explained that they're also checking to make sure members have received all the goods they paid for, like gift cards. When purchasing gift cards at big box store, you often have to retrieve them from someone other than the cashier once you've paid, and the exit greeters check to ensure you didn't forget. Nice of them, right? 

The exit checkers at Sam's Club might be able to fill you in on some inside scoop, too. "Taking a moment to check the receipt also offers us another opportunity to engage that member further. It's not uncommon for the greeter to say, 'Hey! Swing back on Saturday for a special sale on these items," Poff says (via Cooking Light).

Can Sam's Club legally check your receipt?

The question on most shoppers' minds after "Why?" tends to be "Is this practice actually legal?" According to Lawyers.com it is. While most stores would need to have some sort of reasonable suspicion of shoplifting to actually stop a shopper on their way out the door, that's not the case with stores like Costco and Sam's Club. "Membership stores are different, though," the site explains. "The chances are that when you purchased a club membership, you also signed a contract agreeing to allow the store to check your receipt before you leave. Under the terms of your agreement, the store doesn't need to suspect that you engaged in shoplifting to detain you at the door."

So, the next time you're asked for your receipt as you're pushing your cart out, put your mind at ease. No one suspects you're up to no good, and it's probably in the terms of the agreement (that you didn't bother to read) when you signed up anyway.