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Customer calls out Walmart's selective receipt checking as discrimination

'I wouldn't even call this racism, it's called ignorance. Discriminating a person based on how they dress, walk, or whatever it is — that's a problem,' says customer
Senti Rasa says he was targeted by Walmart staff in Orillia as a potential shoplifter, which he is calling an insult to his character.

A Walmart customer says he feels discriminated against following an incident in Orillia earlier this week.

Senti Rasa, an Oro-Medonte real-estate investor, was with his 18-year-old son on Monday afternoon to purchase a television at Walmart for $344. He took it to a cashier, who called for help to get an anti-theft device removed from the packaging.

As Rasa, 52, was heading for the door after making his purchase, he was asked by the door greeter to show his receipt.

"I asked what do you need to see my receipt for, I've already paid for it, you can ask the (cashier)," he recalled. "I kept walking and suddenly another greeter got in my face and was holding my buggy and said I wasn't leaving, holding me hostage."

Rasa, a native of Sri Lanka, says a store manager, along with four to five other employees, then approached him saying it's the store policy to check the receipt, as is done at Costco.

"Costco checks consistently," he said. "Everybody gets checked, it doesn't matter if you are black, white, purple, or brown."

The manager reiterated to Rasa that it's policy for cashiers to instruct customers to have their receipts highlighted before they leave the store.

"None of those things happened," Rasa said. "They were lying to my face because I've shopped at Walmart before with my wife and that's never happened."

Rasa feels he was discriminated against and targeted as a shoplifter.  

"If they checked every single customer, I would gladly show my receipt and walk away," he said. "They randomly ran to me and asked to check my receipt, which shows that they are not educated and very ignorant."

Rasa says he was wearing dirty work pants, a sweatshirt, and toque at the time of his Walmart visit, but that shouldn't make it OK to "judge a book by its cover."

"That's not the way you do customer service," Rasa said. "They should never do that to anybody. It was an insult to my character, which bothers me the most."  

Rasa, who immigrated to Canada when he was 18, says he's not "playing the race card" and he's not looking for sympathy because of the colour of his skin.

"I wouldn't even call this racism, it's called ignorance," he said. "Discriminating a person based on how they dress, walk, or whatever it is — that's a problem."

Rasa, who complained to Walmart Canada's head office about the incident, says he's "not looking for a free coupon." He just wants the company to treat all customers equally and for staff to be properly trained and educated on how to treat customers respectfully.

"If somebody looks different, you don't run after them to say they are stealing," he said. "Every customer should be treated equally and with respect."

Rasa says Walmart has lost him as a customer because of the incident.

"It was like I killed somebody and was running away," he said. "That's exactly how they treated me."

Rasa, awaiting a response from Walmart Canada, says he will speak to his lawyer about the incident.

Felicia Fefer, manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada Corp., said in a written statement the company is "aware" of Rasa's experience and they "will continue to look into it." 

"Respect is a core value at Walmart Canada, and we are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our associates and our customers," she said. 

Fefer adds, "There are occasions when associates may ask customers to show their receipts," but she didn't specify any exact policy. 

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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