A TikTok user said he was asked to pay 11 cents for a bag after completing a purchase for over $3,000 worth of merchandise at a Best Buy location in Kentucky. The claim sparked a debate on TikTok.
Plastic bag taxes have been introduced around the world to curb the use of single-use plastic.
Kentucky, where TikToker Matt (@mattplapp) is based, doesn’t have a statewide tax, but the city of Louisville introduced a one-way bag tax this year. In addition, Best Buy recently announced it would introduce its own 10-cent fee for plastic bags.
It’s unclear where Matt made his purchase. Still, trying to charge him for a bag didn’t suit him.
“What do you do to provide your customers with a less than stellar experience?” he asked in the video’s caption, turning to Best Buy. The video currently has over 376,000 views.
One-way pocket taxes have had some success. After California enacted a plastic bag tax, the number of plastic bags given to customers dropped by 85% and the number of paper bags dropped by 61%, according to the Surfrider Foundation.
A similar tax in Chicago resulted in less use of plastic bags and more use of reusable bags.
However, there have also been failures.
In an email to the Daily Dot, Matt says the point of his video was misinterpreted and that his real point was how the policy was put in place.
“I have no problem with them charging for bags,” he wrote. “I pay for bags in stores all the time. My point was that it was only mentioned after we had already paid for the 5 items, which I don’t draw at this point [credit card] out of my pocket to buy an 11 cent bag.
“The second point is, if someone is spending $3,200 for 5 items, having the cashier hand them a bag anyway should be part of their business practice,” Matt added.
Disposable bag fees have encountered other problems nationwide.
After city officials banned lightweight plastic bags in Austin, Texas in 2013, customers turned to bags made from heavier plastic — which is less environmentally friendly.
“Turns out Austin residents were buying (and discarding) trash bags now that they weren’t getting plastic bags for free,” Lucy Bayly wrote for NBC News.
Back on TikTok, some users supported Matt in his anger over the baggage fee.
“I don’t care how much I buy at Best Buy, I also don’t pay for a bag,” wrote one user.
“I’m not paying the 11 cents either,” agreed another. “It’s the principle that counts, not the price.”
However, many users said that Matt’s decision to forgo the bag proved the effectiveness of the idea.
“I think it worked!” shouted one commenter. “That is literally the whole point of the regulation. You didn’t take a bag you didn’t need.”
“So the system is working, you’re using fewer bags???” echoed a second.
“They bought $3,200 worth of gear and they put the line at 11 cents,” noted a third.
The Daily Dot contacted Best Buy via email.
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*Initial publication: November 24, 2022 at 1:10 pm CST
Braden Bjella is a culture writer. His work can be found in Mixmag, Electronic Beats, Schön! magazine and more.