Walmart customer says employee 'held him hostage' and accused him of stealing

@travisleeragan/TikTok kevin brine/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘First, they remove bags and now they refuse to let you leave after you pay?’: Walmart customer says employee ‘held him hostage,’ accused him of stealing

'Walmart needs to train employees better.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Jan 15, 2023   Updated on Jan 17, 2023, 8:28 am CST

A user on TikTok has gone viral after posting an altercation they had with a Walmart employee.

In a video with over 31 million views as of Sunday, TikTok user Travis Lee Ragan (@travisleeragan) shows himself trying to leave a Walmart location in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A Walmart employee, identified as Chuck, allegedly refuses to let him leave, even after Travis offers to show Chuck his receipt. Travis also claims that Chuck physically removed the cart from his hands.

@travisleeragan Walmart employee on Powers and Palmer Park holds me hostage after I paid for my stuff. First they remove bags and now they refuse to let you leave after you pay for stuff? Dude watched me pay for my stuff and still acted as if I was stealing. #coloradosprings #travislee #hostagesituation #walmart #colorado #badservice #customerservice ♬ original sound – Travis Lee

“Walmart employee on Powers and Palmer Park holds me hostage after I paid for my stuff. First they remove bags and now they refuse to let you leave after you pay for stuff?” writes Ragan in the caption. “Dude watched me pay for my stuff and still acted as if I was stealing.”

In a follow-up video, Ragan provided more context regarding what happened in the video.

According to Ragan, he had purchased “diesel exhaust fluid and 4 gallons of windshield wiper fluid” from the Walmart location, opting to use the cashier-operated checkout in front of Chuck to pay. Ragan claims that he is certain Chuck saw him check out.

@travisleeragan Replying to @hectornavarro121 ♬ original sound – Travis Lee

Throughout all of this, Ragan says he is on the phone and in a rush to leave. As he is leaving, Chuck asks to see his receipt.

“I tell Chuck, ‘Thank you, I just don’t have time today,’ and I tried to walk past him,” Ragan recalls, gesturing as though he simply flashed Chuck the receipt rather than allowing him a full inspection.

As a Walmart shopper, you are not actually required to allow your receipt to be inspected.

“You are not legally bound to show your receipt to a Walmart associate while leaving the store,” writes Aisle of Shame. “You can ignore the greeter and walk on if you want to. If the greeter stops you or forces you to show the receipt, they may violate your rights.”

Ragan claims in the original video that Chuck did, in fact, violate his rights.

In the follow-up, Ragan says Chuck got in front of his cart and refused to let him move. Ragan asked him to get out of the way, which Chuck did not do. Ragan then began recording and asked Chuck to get his manager, to which Chuck responded that Ragan could get his manager.

“He said, ‘No, you go get a manager,’” Ragan recalls. “That’s not my job. I don’t know who the manager is. Why would I go get a manager for you?”

Ragan claims that this stalemate continued for some time, with Chuck allowing other people to leave the store without checking their receipts during the process — something Ragan claims is “not right.”

Ragan then says “Chuck cannot detain you.”

The legal truth of this is a little more complicated. 

“Under common law, Shopkeepers Privilege refers to the right of a shopkeeper to detain a suspected shoplifter for a given time. A shopkeeper may do this if they have reason to believe that the detainee committed or tried to commit theft in the store,” explains Aisle of Shame. “Walmart may use shopkeepers’ privilege to detain you if they suspect you have shoplifted an item in the store.”

That said, Walmart or any other store cannot detain a shopper for no reason, and there are specific rules that must be followed in order for a customer to be lawfully detained — rules that Ragan believes Chuck broke.

While detaining a customer, “they cannot use unreasonable force or coercion – a Walmart employee is not allowed to force you to comply with their request. If an employee uses force to detain you, you may claim false imprisonment against the store, which is a civil violation,” details Aisle of Shame.

Furthermore, “the retailer should present specific facts – Walmart should present specific facts to back their suspicion. Otherwise, they cannot hold you under the shopkeeper’s privilege law.” It does not appear that specific facts were presented in this case.

Eventually, Ragan says his receipt was checked by another employee and he was allowed to leave. He then followed up with the Walmart location, who informed him that Chuck got a “level red warning” but is still allowed to work the door.

“I didn’t want him to lose his job, but I also don’t feel as though he should be working the door where this could happen to somebody’s grandma or grandpa, sister, brother, kid,” Ragan details. “Something really bad could happen from this, and I hope it doesn’t.”

We’ve reached out to Walmart via media contact form and Ragan via Instagram direct message.

Update 8:25am CT January 17: In an Instagram DM exchange with Daily Dot, Travis claimed that a manager at Walmart told him that Chuck had been fired, but that the manager had been told he could not contact Travis beyond what he already said.

“Someone above him said he can’t speak with me any more,” Travis wrote. “I never received full resolution.”

“I think it’s important for people to understand their rights as Americans and the laws that protect them,” Travis stated. “They also need to understand that these major corporations really do not care about their customers or their employees.”

“What Chuck did was illegal,” he continued. “Rather than contacting me as the customer to apologize they sent out a mass email saying that by shopping at Walmart, you’re giving up any right to arbitration. That’s basically saying that they can get away with ever they want and not allow you as the customer to sue them for anything that they do wrong.”

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*First Published: Jan 15, 2023, 10:00 am CST