I'm sure we've mostly all noticed some "not cold" items like drinks and stuff in stores that are on display, but not readily chilled.

Given that I grab it and hide/tuck it in one of the store's freezers for a short while before buying it, would this be suspicious? Bad? Immoral? A crime? A policy? Some other apprehensible or questionable move that would socially scorn me?

I mean assuming the store does not carry it already chilled, what does the law say about using the store's resources to chill it beforehand/before buying it, obviously assuming I am going to buy it before drinking it once chilled? It sounds innocent enough but also a bit sly...

I've never heard once of anyone facing any scorn or major issues/legal problems from this.....

2 Answers 2


There are two kinds of laws that I am aware of that govern the chilling of products before they are sold.

One is that some alcohol licensing regimes prohibit the sale of pre-chilled alcohol in order to discourage people from drinking it until they get home and put it in their own fridge. This is primarily an anti-drunken driving oriented regulation although it is broader than that.

In a situation like that, the alcohol vendor should refuse to sell the alcohol to you if you do that, and may ban you from their store for trying to cause them to have a violation of their license.

The other kind of regulation requires that certain products be chilled until sold, but that doesn't seem to apply here.

In the absence of such laws, the only issue is the policies of the vendor. If you violate the policies of the vendor they don't have to do business with you, could order you to leave, and conceivably could even ask that vandalism charges be pressed against you if chilling the item either caused harm to them by putting a display of goods into disarray at an expense to them, or impaired their ability to sell the good.

No definitive answer is possible, however, because laws are not uniform in all places and the question doesn't specify which jurisdiction's laws are at issue.

  • 1
    I think there are two additional arguments to be made: that this is a trespass or a theft of services. Both too trivial to likely result in any legal action, but theoretically feasible.
    – bdb484
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 16:56

You haven't mentioned a jurisdiction but this is legal. As you describe at least.

Theft laws typically require an intent to deprive the owner of the item in question. You are not doing so here. Nor is there any damage caused or unjust enrichment. You're fine. Even if you were to leave it in the freezer and forget about it, the damage done is so small it's unlikely any action will be taken.

I will point out a fact that you've missed. Freezing liquids can expand. This can break bottles and rupture cans. Still probably not going to cause enough damage for anyone to care- worse case you ruin a stack of ready meals and someone has to clean it up. Just use the fridge please.

It's worth noting that in most places a store can eject and ban you for any reason (barring certain discrimination).

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