Man talking(l+r), Target logo(c)

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock @nickfromohio/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘You’re getting this upset over a $4 item?’: Target customer says secret shopper forced him to check out immediately after picking up toothpaste

'This secret shopper really had the audacity to say THAT to me.'


Stacy Fernandez


Posted on May 15, 2024   Updated on May 14, 2024, 3:31 pm CDT

We’ve heard of retail store employees profiling Black and brown customers and following them through stores. This time they targeted a white guy instead. Here’s why.

In a viral video with nearly 400,000 views, Nick (@nickfromohio) explains what led to the uncomfortable situation while shopping at Target.

“I got followed by a secret shopper this morning at the store. They were pretty rude to me. Also, I don’t think I’m ever going to beat the homeless allegations,” Nick starts.

Target’s loss prevention

Nick explains that he had walked into Target to pick up a single tube of toothpaste, but it was Target, so he wasn’t going to just pick up his item and leave. Instead, he decided to roam the store a bit and see what else he might need.

As he walked around with his headphones in, Nick noticed the same person following him. He initially thought it was a coincidence, but as he started trying to evade the guy to see if they were following him, he soon figured out that it was likely a secret shopper, AKA a worker from loss prevention.

“OK, they’re following me, but I literally have like one item in my hand that’s like $4. I don’t think I’m a concern at the moment,” Nick recalls thinking.

Here’s where things go awry.

Needing his hands free to pick something up, Nick, without really thinking about it, put the toothpaste in his hoodie pocket. That’s when the guy came up to him and asked if he was going to pay for the item. Nick explained that he had every intention of paying but just put it in his pocket to free his hands.

Nick went back and forth with the loss prevention person, who said they had a lot of theft at their location, so they needed him to go pay right away. Nick, still in the middle of shopping, didn’t want to do that.

“I can either escort you out of the store, or you can go and check out right now. I’m not playing games,” the secret shopper allegedly told him.

“You’re getting this upset over like a $4 item?” Nick responded.

“I don’t know if you can afford it,” the man said, leaving Nick absolutely shook.

Nick, not wanting to make the issue bigger than it was already becoming, went to checkout, and the man stood by him the whole time and watched him physically leave the store.

Rising theft and secret shoppers

It seems shoplifting and organized retail crime (like using stolen receipts to return merchandise for a profit or switching item labels) is on the rise. By this time last year, nine states passed new laws cracking down on theft. Some make it easier to charge offenders, while others impose harsher penalties and sentences, CNBC reported.

Experts say the new laws may not actually achieve their goals of reducing crime and could instead disproportionately affect people from marginalized groups, including those living with mental illness or addiction.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillion warned that if shoplifting isn’t harshly addressed, it could lead to store closures and higher pricing. Target announced it would close nine stores in four states last year due to organized retail crime and theft, per PBS. This comes at the same time that retailers like Walmart, Target, and CVS have begun locking up more and more merchandise as an anti-theft measure.

@nickfromohio This secret shopper really had the audacity to say THAT to me #fyp #secretshopper #shopping #poor #steal #story #foryoupage ♬ original sound – RANTS FROM THE SHOWER

The Daily Dot reached out to Nick for comment via Instagram direct message and to Target via email.

Commenters on Nick’s video had mixed reactions.

“You were wrong to put it in your pocket,” a person argued.

“That secret shopper would of gotten a huge argument out of me. Aint no one gunna do me like that lol,” another wrote.

“Moving forward put it on the floor or shelf while you grab something else or grab a basket. Don’t put it in your pocket,” a commenter suggested.

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*First Published: May 15, 2024, 3:00 am CDT