Back in May, an investigation by CBS Sacramento found that a number of Walmart stores were short-changing customers with gift receipts when they tried to make returns or exchanges. And though the nation’s largest retailer said at the time that this was not store policy and it would “be communicating with our store associates to reinforce our practice,” it appears as if this message hasn’t gotten through.
In the original report, undercover shoppers in California and New Jersey attempted to make returns with gift receipts at Walmart to see if they were given back the full, original price of the item or the current, lower price. Of course, they were given the lower amount back.
When asked for an explanation, the shoppers were told that, without the original receipt, the cashier can only refund the price that shows up on the register at the time of the return. Except that is not Walmart policy.
To see if this issue had been resolved, CBS Sacramento and a station in Texas recently repeated the experiment. And while only one out of three stores it investigated in California shorted shoppers on gift receipt returns, the Texas store failed twice.
“Whatever the machine shows, that’s it, that’s all I can give you on this kind of receipt,” a Walmart staffer at the Dallas store explained on hidden camera.
Obviously, Walmart HQ’s message isn’t getting through. When reached for comment, the retailer tells CBS’s Kurtis Ming:
Our expectation is when an associate processes a refund for an item with a gift receipt, the customer receives a full refund based on the original price. Clearly, we’re disappointed this didn’t happen in this particular instance. We will continue to work with our associates to make sure they understand the process.
California Senator Barbara Boxer, who wrote to the Federal Trade Commission following the initial investigation wasn’t too thrilled about the results of the latest story: “These new reports suggest that Walmart’s practice of not refunding customers the full purchase price is not a one-time thing but part of a disturbing pattern. It looks more and more like it’s the company’s policy and it’s got to stop immediately.”
An attorney in Sacramento has filed a class-action suit against Walmart over the issue.