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Handbag checks: Legally legitimate or privacy invasion?

Does a shop have the right to check your personal bags?

That’s the question Neil Mitchell is asking this morning, after being contacted by a listener who refused to open her handbag at a supermarket and was subsequently refused service.

Laurette Clarke was at Aldi Fountain Gate yesterday when a checkout attendant asked to see inside her small handbag.

Laurette, a retired police officer, showed the woman inside her shopping bags but refused to open her personal bag.

“She said, ‘Well we have to it’s our policy’,” Laurette said.

“And I said, ‘You have no right to look in my handbag, if you think I’ve stolen something by all means arrest me and get the police here and we’ll have a look’.”

The attendant then took the items back off Laurette and gave her money back to her.

“The has to be a balance between customer service and an invasion of privacy,” she said.

“Aldi has taken the position of you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full details

Program legal advisor David Galbally AM QC from Madgwicks lawyers told Neil no store has a legal right to look in a personal handbag.

“They’ve got no right at all to do that,” Mr Galbally said.

“They can make it as a condition of entry and say before you enter this store it’s a condition that we have the right to check your bag.

“They can do it according to the contract they enter in with you entering the store, but they have to give you due notice that they’re going to do it.”

Aldi provided 3AW Mornings with the below statement:

Bags, parcels and containers may be inspected by one of our staff members at the checkout in our stores. Our staff explain and undertake the policy in a considerate and friendly way that respects the
customer’s time and privacy. This policy, which is outlined on a sign at the main entrance of the store, has been put in place as a measure to reduce theft.

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