Checking your customers' bags

Bag checks may include checks of:

  • bags and parcels
  • containers
  • prams or trolleys.

Many retail shops choose to do bag checks to prevent theft.

We can give you some general information on bag checks. You should get independent legal advice if you want to know how this applies to your business.

The Australian Consumer Law does not specifically cover bag checks. However, you do have a right to put reasonable conditions on entering your shop. This is because a customer who enters a shop does so 'under licence' from you.

Conditions of entry

If you intend to do bag checks, make sure you set this out as a condition of entry. You must let customers know these conditions before they enter your shop.

This means you must:

  • write your conditions on a sign
  • display this sign at every entrance.

Your conditions of entry must apply to all customers equally.

Remember—bag checks are voluntary. You may only do them if the customer agrees. If you display your sign correctly, the customer is agreeing to the conditions by entering your premises.

Doing the check

When doing a bag check:

  • don’t touch the bag or any items in it
  • ask the customer to move items in their bag to help you see inside easily.

If a customer refuses to allow a check, you can ask them to:

  • leave the shop
  • not return until they agree to follow your conditions of entry.

You cannot forcibly check a customer’s bag.

A customer might bring an item into the shop with them that is similar to items that you stock. They may have proof of purchase from the business they bought it from, but this won’t always be the case. You should set out a policy for this situation in your conditions of entry.

More information

Talk to your industry association if you have any issues with bag checks.