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ie, does the returning side know exactly when you originally left the country?
First they'd have to keep that information, which I'm not sure they do, and then share it with the other country's border guards. Seems unlikely to do for every single person crossing every day.
Personal exemption limits (for bringing back goods purchased on the other side) are based on how long you're away for - and I'm wondering if they already know how much time that is, or it's purely based on what answer they get from asking. *
*and in that case, aren't they expecting people to lie all the time and always claim the max limit of $700 for being away for a week? OR, how does a person prove they were indeed away for X amount of time if doubted?