The Director of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading has approved a new Bag Check Code of Conduct (the Code) which applies to checking the bags of customers who enter a retail store.
The Code has been developed as an industry standard in Tasmania after consultation with the retail industry.
The Code removes the requirement for retail staff to hold a security agent licence before carrying out a bag check.
All staff conducting bag checks must be 18 years or older.
The Code provides greater protection and certainty for consumers. All retail staff must comply with the Code, which sets out clearly what they can and cannot do when conducting a bag check.
Consumers and bag checks
- Customers have the right to know before entering a store that bag checks are a condition of entry
- If you enter a store knowing that bag checks are done, you have accepted the store's right to ask you to open your bags for checking
- You can say 'no' to a bag check
- If you do this you can be asked to leave the store and not return unless you are prepared to comply with the store's conditions of entry
Retailers and bag checks
- As a retailer, you can set conditions of entry into your store. This includes asking a customer to show bags, cartons, parcels and containers for checking.
- You cannot check personal handbags unless:
- they are larger than an A4 sheet of paper (297mm x 210mm) or
- you are certain a smaller sized handbag contains unpaid goods belonging to you
You cannot forcibly conduct a bag check against a customer's will or forcibly detain a customer. You may be liable for assault.
Signage relating to bag checks
So that you can carry out a bag check, you must tell consumers of this condition of entry, by displaying signs at the entry to your store.
The signs should say:
- agreeing to a bag check is a condition of entry, and
- checks are done on bags, parcels, cartons and containers
Extra signage should tell customers of your store's commitment to the Tasmanian Bag Check Code of Conduct, in particular about checking personal handbags.
Avoiding disputes over bag checks
The key to avoiding disputes is to give the consumer as much information as possible before they enter your store. We suggest:
- signs should refer to the Tasmanian Bag Check Code of Conduct (if possible)
- in suburbs with a large non-English speaking population you consider displaying translated signs and Summary Statements
- you provide extra signs displaying the Summary Statement or have it readily available.
Conducting a bag check
- Be polite and courteous to minimise the degree of intrusion
- Employees and shopkeepers can ask the customer to open their bag
- There should be no direct physical interference by an employee or shopkeeper - look but do not touch
- Do not try to forcibly restrain a customer or interfere with their bag/s
- If the view of a bag is obstructed (for example by a large parcel, coat or similar item), the employee or shopkeeper can ask the consumer to remove the item. Do not touch the obstructing item
- If a dispute happens, an employee should call for the store manager
- If the customer again refuses the bag check, the manager can:
- ask the customer to leave the store and not return
- call the police
Training staff to do bag checks
Anyone involved in retail should read and understand the rights and responsibilities of conducting a bag check.
Retailers can decide the most effective and efficient way of training staff. This can include:
- Dedicated section in an induction course
- Special training sessions for staff 18 years or older
- Internal memoranda
- Displaying the Tasmanian Bag Check Code of Conduct or appropriate staff instructions on notice boards
- Giving a copy of the Code to all staff
It is a requirement of the Code that staff trained and authorised to conduct bag checks wear visual identification.
Retailers should consider extra security measures such as:
- Surveillance cameras
- Electronically sensitised price tags
- Security guards