3 On Your Side: Gift Receipt Return Problem Happens Again At Walmart

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a big retailer with a big problem, customers getting short-changed at the register. Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan first warned you about this over a year ago and once again 3-On Your Side goes undercover and found it still seems to be happening.

Walmart’s slogan is save money, live better. But they may want to add a tag line that says it depends on your receipt! That’s because the retail giant may be still short-changing some customers who return items using gift receipts. It happened to us!

Instead of getting the original purchase price, which is Walmart’s policy. We got a refund based on the item’s price at the time of return. So if an item is on sale when you make a return, watch out! Our return involved a Vizio 32-inch TV. It was purchased for $248 plus tax before Christmas. When we returned it this week using a gift receipt we got back $228 plus tax in the form of a gift card. Walmart pocketed the $20 difference.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. “I knew I spent $15 and I wasn’t going to take less,” says Walmart shopper David Schmitz. 3 On Your Side first met Schmitz well over a year ago after he tried to return a make-up kit using a gift receipt. Walmart tried to give back only half his purchase price. “The average person isn’t going to know,” says Schmitz.

CBS 3 has brought this problem to Walmart’s attention multiple times. In May of 2011 the company issued a video statement that said in part, “We learned that there may be confusion on how to process gift receipts.” At that time the company blamed its cashiers for failing to follow the proper refund process.
In that same video statement Walmart said, “We have sent a high priority notification to all store management.”

But 3 On Your Side kept checking. We returned items over a period of several months, and every time we got short-changed. In November of 2011 Walmart offered the same excuse in yet another video statement which in part said, “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

So what does Walmart have to say this time? The company tells us that changes were made after our initial reports and they’ve “streamlined” the process to make it more efficient. A spokesperson tells 3 On Your Side that this was an isolated case of cashier error and the company’s return policy is to refund the original purchase price.

If you think you’ve been short-changed when returning an item using a gift receipt at Walmart or any other store for that matter, let us know about it. You can email us at 3OnYourSide@CBS3.com

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