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The Southwest Safeway is part of a test program for quality assurance.

Stop by the Safeway on 4th Street SW, and prepare to show some paper. Employees are now inspecting customers’ receipts on the way out of the store—part of a “quality assurance” initiative from Safeway’s upper management that’s been soundly greeted with distaste.

The blog Southwest…the Little Quadrant That Could reports that at a Monday meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, commissioners questioned Safeway representatives and called the move degrading—arguing that it is less about customer service than keeping watch for shoplifting. A nearly unanimous commission then voted to send a letter to Safeway management “expressing their dismay with the new policy,” according to the blog; the letter also requests that Safeway institute the initiative at a “non-urban store.”

Reached by City Desk, Craig Muckle, a Safeway manager for public affairs and government relations, explains that the Waterfront Station store was chosen for the program—which Muckle stresses is a pilot program—because of its strong management team. Also, the branch has the highest volume of customers in the District. “If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere,” Muckle says. Well, not quite anywhere: Muckle says that if the program is successful, Safeway hopes to expand it to other municipalities that have a bag tax. (Which for now, is just D.C. and, if the state passes such a law, Maryland.)

As for the complaints? “We’ve heard several complains and it’s been minimal. I know because we have ways of checking our records,” Muckle asserts.

He may be right: It seems not everyone feels disrespected by the receipt checks. One commenter on Southwest…the Little Quadrant That Could writes:

I was one of the original posters who voiced my strong opposition to the receipt check – before I even stepped foot in the store. After a few visits I really don’t mind. The receipt checkers are extremely friendly and approachable. Lastly, it’s nice to hear “have a blessed day” upon leaving.

Photo by Flickr user Mr T. in D.C., Attribution-No Derivative 2.0 Generic license.