It’s been six months since reporters in California first caught several Walmart stores offering insufficient refunds on items returned with gift receipts. And then they confirmed two months ago that it was still going at Walmart’s across the country. In spite of all this evidence that the nation’s largest retailer needs to fix its gift receipt system, customers are still being screwed over when they try to return a gift.
Shellie Bailey-Shah, a reporter for KATU in Portland (the one on the left of the map) recently did some gift shopping at her nearby Walmart, Target and Fred Meyer stores.
When she went to return the purchases using gift receipts, the reporter had no problem getting the full amount back at both Target and Fred Meyer. Walmart was a very different story:
The cashier at the return counter tried repeatedly to scan each of the 10 gift receipts. She told Bailey-Shah that gift receipts “never work,” and that the “system always has trouble with them,” a statement Walmart has since disputed.
So instead, the clerk scanned the products’ bar codes which brought up the sale price of each item. She told Bailey-Shah that she’d have to manually make adjustments, but somehow Bailey-Shah still didn’t end up with all her money. She spent $92.69 but was refunded $79.21. Walmart pocketed $13.48.
This is the identical issue that was reported by the California reporters and confirmed by news stations in Texas and New Jersey earlier this year. And Walmart’s response has been the same:
There appeared to be a scanning issue that required our associate to process the return differently. We take these matters seriously and apologize for any inconvenience… It’s our expectation to refund the original purchase price when returning an item with a gift receipt… We are reviewing that process to look for ways to make it more efficient and reliable for our customers.
We think it’s safe to say that this isn’t a simple scanning issue but a serious systemic problem with Walmart’s receipt-scanning process, one that the retailer doesn’t seem to care much about fixing. Even if it is employee error at the stores where customers have been having this problem, that just means that Walmart is not training its staffers properly.
Thus, while we’re not going to tell you to not do any holiday shopping at Walmart, we do advise that you keep the actual receipt for any gifts you purchase there, and if a gift’s recipient is thinking about returning the present, you should probably make them aware of the problems that Walmart has been having with gift-receipt returns.