Was I Wrong To Profit From Returning An Online Purchase To Walmart?

A frequent reader who we’ll call M. wrote in to offer his post-holiday moral dilemma. Well, it’s not so much a dilemma, since he he’s already done it. He bought a Microsoft Kinect controller online, but wanted to return it after the holidays were over. Too lazy to package the controller and mail it back, he instead took it to his local Walmart and returned it for store credit. $50 more than he originally paid for the device.

After Christmas I found myself with a Kinect Controller I didn’t need that I had purchased from an online retailer for $99. On an earlier trip to Walmart I had noticed that they had the same Kinect package for $149. Figuring that rather then go through the hassle of sending the kinect back to the online retailer I would take it into Walmart and see if I could get store credit for it. The person at the return counter didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea, but I ended up getting a Walmart gift card for $149! I made $50 profit!

Was I wrong to do this? Or is this simply the cost of doing business for Walmart

If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins. But just because something is possible, that doesn’t mean that it’s ethical. Return shenanigans like this are what leads retailers to tighten up their return policies and require receipts and scans of our driver’s licenses.



Comments

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  1. Hedgy2136 says:

    If he didn’t but it from Wal-Mart (even on-line), it is fraud to return it to them. This isn’t some moral grey area. It is fraud!

    • unpolloloco says:

      I disagree about the online thing. Walmart online = walmart in-store. That said, if the price is different, bringing in the online receipt when returning in-store is the right thing to do.

      • DariusC says:

        “An online retailer” Doesn’t state walmart specifically. I say why not, only because he got in-store credit rather than cash. If it was cash, I would say fraud. If it’s in-store credit, they can just cancel it if they feel it’s fraud and if they don’t it isn’t the OP’s fault.

        • Me - now with more humidity says:

          Bulls%!t. It’s still fraud. And the OP knows ti or he/she wouldn’t have to ask.

          • Clyde Barrow says:

            @Me – now with more New Year cheer; I agree and what many seem to miss is that his intent was to do this before he got to the store so he had time to conjure up this entire event knowing well in advance what he was going to do. I call it theft and lying. He could use a lawyer to defend him too.

          • kujospam says:

            It’s not fraud. Walmart knowingly has this service, but limits it to 3 items a year. It’s a customer service and a way they can potentially make money. When you return the item, they can still sell that item usually for full price. So they don’t lose money there. Then you get a gift card that you then spend there, and which normally you will spend more then the gift card.

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        He didn’t buy it at Walmart, online or otherwise.

        • Hedgy2136 says:

          I think I was misunderstood. I know the OP didn’t buy it from Wal-Mart. I guess what I meant was that if the OP bought it from Wal-Mart on-line, it would be okay to return it to the store and accept whatever they offered. If he did not buy it from Wal-Mart, it’s fraud to return it to them.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        OP said it was bought from an online retailer. If he mean’t walmart online I’m sure he would have said so to prevent obvious bashing that would follow.

      • pwm_av8r says:

        Actually, Walmart online is quite different from in-store. I found this out when I recently made a purchase for Christmas. I was there to purchase a set of speakers, but noticed that Walmart.com was advertising them for $20 cheaper than the store itself was. I took it to customer service and was told that Walmart stores will NOT match their own website when it comes to prices. The clerk then proceeded to tell me that it was actually considered a different entity / business and showed me a highlighted printout that clearly stated that they will not price match their own website.

        The weird part was that I could order it online for the cheaper price, have it shipped to the store for free, and pick it up there. But I couldn’t buy it there for the same price or even buy it online and walk out with the one I had in hand. I had to actually wait for a shipping confirmation…

        • LocalH says:

          You should inquire about “Pick Up Today”. If that Walmart offers it, you can buy the item online then pick it up at your local Walmart that same day, and it comes out of their stock (not sure what backend juggling Walmart does to make everything work out).

        • menty666 says:

          Here’s the thing I don’t understand….

          Back in the Ritz Camera days, I think the reason was that the physical and web versions of the stores were separate for tax reasons, likely positive tax reasons on the retailer’s side, not the consumer.

          But the sales tax rules (where applicable) generally say if your store has a physical presence in the state, they have to collect sales tax. OK, but what happened to them being different companies? If I order from walmart.com they don’t have a physical location here in MA; there’s a separate company called Wal*mart that has stores here in MA, yet I’m required to pay sales tax on walmart.com purchases. That certainly implies (duh) that they are the same company after all.

          Further, they muddy thing things by providing shipping to the B&M locations, further bringing the companies together. If they weren’t, then I could certainly have something from Sears delivered to a Wal*mart, no?

          So in short, the whole “separate entities” thing is a cart of horse muffins.

  2. valkyrievf2x says:

    Hmmm, Walmart has been caught numerous times giving the wrong (lesser) amount to people with valid gift receipts, so eh, it seems fair, lol. Besides, at the end of the day, THEY decided to take it back. They could have just said no.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Two wrongs make a right?

      • valkyrievf2x says:

        Ok, probably not. My bad there.
        However, Walmart STILL took it. If they had issues with the transaction, they could have stopped him cold in his tracks. Seems like they shot themselves in the foot there. So ,yeah, it is fraud on his behalf, but Walmart could have followed whatever policies it had and protected itself. The guy is just an opportunist, not a pro at fraud.

        Besides, he got his $$ back in Walmart bucks. Not sure if that is really a profit… lol

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          It’s just plain dishonest. Even though the Wal-Mart cashier made the mistake, it wasn’t right for the OP to take his merchandise to a different store entirely.

        • maxhobbs says:

          By that logic, anyone that breaks the law is ok so long as they don’t get caught.

      • Costner says:

        No… but three rights make a left!

    • powdered beefmeat says:

      So if someone sold you a brick and said it was a speaker, it’s ok because you said “yes”

      • pawnblue says:

        He didn’t sell them a brick. He asked if they would give him store credit for it. They agreed to. If they had said no, he would have simply left.

        I don’t see how this hurts Wal-Mart at all. They get a device they valued at $150. They profit on that sale. They are also able to build loyalty. It makes me want to shop there. I’d never go there. But a return policy that adds value to a store makes improves my image of the store enough to put up with receipt checks and long checkout lines.

        This might be a net win for Wal-Mart, even if they don’t win 100% on this deal.

        • Farleyboy007 says:

          They don’t profit at all from this. He got $150 in store credit for the item, they sell the item for $150, it’s a wash for WalMart unless you count the cost of processing the return/reshelving the item, etc, etc. It’s certainly not along the lines of returning a block of wood in the kinect box, but it’s still not kosher.

          • zerogspacecow says:

            I think he means that the $150 in store credit is what gives them the profit.

            If they could sell his returned Kinect for $150, and the items he purchased with the store credit cost Walmart less than what they sell it for, and that difference is greater than operating costs (pay for the stocker, etc.), then they would have made a profit.

            However, I doubt all of those things are the case. A used/opened Kinect will never be worth what a new one is ($150). And their profit margins are so low that I doubt they would cover both the loss on the Kinect and the operating costs.

            It’s possible a returned Kinect just gets returned to Microsoft and Walmart gets a replacement, but then you’re just passing the loss on to Microsoft.

            So, most likely they did not make a profit.

        • maxhobbs says:

          You really don’t understand anything about running a business, do you?

        • Jawaka says:

          So how does Walmart profit by purchasing at item worth $149 for $149. At the very best they break even.

    • spf1971 says:

      Because it’s ok for the OP to cheat Walmart, it’s ok for Walmart to cheat others?

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      BINGO. Fark ‘em, if he had bought it online for $149 and tried to return without reciept when the price was now $99, he’d be out the $50.

      • spf1971 says:

        Bullshit, you’re an idiot. Return policies are clear; don’t have a receipt and you get the lowest recent price. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there or keep your receipt.

    • Jawaka says:

      Bullshit, you’re just trying to justify fraud.

      You can’t demand that Walmart (and other retailers) treat us fairly and then pull these kinds of schemes and not be one big hypocrite.

  3. Preyfar says:

    I’m going to with “fraud” as much as I hate and loathe Walmart. The poster doesn’t give us all the facts, but if they were told they’d be getting back $149.99 when they knew they only paid $99.99, but DIDN’T say anything to the cashier… then yeah. Fraud.

    It sounds to me like they knew the refund was wrong, but didn’t say anything about it at the time and were happy to snag the $50. Now feel guilty over it.

    If they had told the cashier of the error, and the cashier shrugged it off and said “Keep it”, then that’s on the cashier and the store. But that doesn’t quite sound like what happened.

    • inadequatewife says:

      I agree that it’s fraud. Wal-Mart isn’t EBay.

      I don’t have a problem with someone buying something cheap and reselling at a higher price on EBay or Craigslist, if that’s what the supply/demand or whatever will accept.

      But using a store to fund your “buy low, sell high” ventures is just wrong. Dishonesty is what has led us to tighter refund/exchange policies and receipt checkers at the door.

    • msbask says:

      He didn’t even buy it at Walmart!

    • whgt says:

      What about the sales tax he gained as well? He either:
      a) didn’t pay sales tax from the online retailer
      b) only paid tax on $99.99

      What he got back from Walmart would be:
      c) sales tax on $149.99.

      So he either gained all sales tax on $149.99 or just on $50.00. That is STRAIGHT THEFT from the state. That’s even worse than the screwing Walmart over part.

  4. The Fake Fake Steve Jobs says:

    Fraud. Two wrongs do not make a right (though three lefts do).

  5. suez says:

    The fact the OP is asking already implies he knows it’s wrong–he’s just asking for people to approve so he can justify it.

    • powdered beefmeat says:

      You are so correct.

    • suez says:

      It’s this same sort of excuse that people use to justify stealing music and movies online–call it sharing or sticking it to the Man or whatever, it’s still stealing. Period. Whether or not you like Walmart or their business practices does not excuse you from doing the right thing–in fact, by deliberately defrauding them like this, you lower yourselves to their level. Stop making excuses and start being a responsible adult.

  6. Straspey says:

    He essentially stole $149 from Wal-Mart.

    That’s a crime, for which he could be arrested and prosecuted.

    I’m surprised though that the Wal-Mart clerk did not ask to see his reseipt for the original purchase -

    Perhaps he was afraid that he might get punched in the face…

    Oh – wait…

  7. Rebecca K-S says:

    Of course it was wrong. And I can’t believe Walmart gave a $150 return without a receipt.

    • Yacko says:

      This is exactly the problem. Why did Walmart take this “return”?

      • rdm says:

        Seriously. I can barely return anything to Walmart even with a valid receipt. It’s always a total hassle.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It’s a problem, but the OP is in the wrong for attempting it in the first place. Stores make mistakes. It seems to me that the employee was hesitant, and if he’s not willing to print a return shipping label and take a box to the post office, he wouldn’t want to drive to Wal-Mart to leave empty handed, either. It’s not a stretch to say maybe he convinced the cashier to give him the store credit.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      I think they do it a lot. One of my coworkers says from time to time when he uses a code from a game he borrowed from work he just takes the game to walmart and says the disc doesnt play but he doesn’t have a receipt. They exchange it out and now he has a copy with the code to give back to work. I’m shocked Walmart lets him do this without a receipt. We can’t at the store we work at unless it’s totally obvious it came from our store.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      As far as I know (from my experience), Walmart will take returns on any product they sell without a receipt. The catch is they will only give you store credit. To get cash back (or to have it refunded to your credit card), you need a receipt.

    • Jawaka says:

      They and most companies are flexible for like two weeks after Christmas if the product is unopened.

  8. chargerRT says:

    I ought to confess, I may have hastened Ward’s demise by doing something similar about 15 years ago. Someone gave me a lame (even for its day) Sharp electronic organizer dealy. I didn’t have a gift receipt, but on a trip to Ward’s, I noticed they sold the same item. So, no questions asked, they got another Sharp electronic organizer, and I left with a 10-pack of Signature 2000 blank VHS tapes. (OK, I can sleep soundly now.)

    Anyway, it’s blatantly wrong when you buy something at one place and return it somewhere else. It’s only a gray area–but bordering on WRONG–if it was a gift and you don’t know where it came from. Is it too rude to ask the gift giver? Oooh, this could be a whole new Consumerist survey.

    • chiieddy says:

      I think when it’s a gift and you can’t be sure on a return where it came from, it’s okay to take your chances and try to return it to a store you know sells the item. I did this with a set of towels I received for my wedding (they had holes in them). I searched the manufacturer online and found they were sold at Kohl’s. I’m not sure they were actually from Kohl’s but based on who gave them to me, I’m not surprised if they were. I received store credit and got a scale instead (I didn’t need more towels anyhow)

  9. The Black Bird says:

    Most definitely fraud. The OP knows it. I doubt he’s having remorse. I believe he is gloating.

    Let’s look at this another way. Many, if not all, of us would be ticked off at Wal*Mart if the OP told us he bought the item from them for $149.00 and they only wanted to give him a $99.00 refund. This is no different. THE OP IS A THIEF!

  10. Darkneuro says:

    Instead of ‘No, screw WalMart’, the answer should be ‘No, WalMart screwed itself’.

    Someone will always return ItemX because StoreY is so far away or it’s online and it’s a hassle and WalMart is right there. And if the item is identical and the person returning said item is OK with store credit for return without a receipt and the store is ok with store credit for return without a receipt, then I say WalMart screwed itself.

  11. Ouze says:

    Yes, it was wrong, and you already knew it, too. That Walmart does other bad things is totally irrelevant to the poor moral choice you made.

  12. fadetoblack says:

    Let’s see.

    You saw a higher price at Walmart and, knowing about their return policies, lied to the customer service person to get $50 more from them than you would have gotten had you used the return policy of the retailer where you actually spent your money.

    If you have to lie (even by omission) for your plan to work, it’s fraudulent.

  13. Bsamm09 says:

    “If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins.”

    Is this a serious statement? If so, tell me how Wal-Mart wins. They purchased a product at retail to sell at retail. Plus, it takes up space and manpower to actually sell the item. These costs make this a loss to Wal-Mart.

    • dgm says:

      They gave him store credit, not cash. They don’t have the same value. Whatever he buys with his $149 store credit will constitute a profit for Wal Mart, and potentially a greater profit than they would make on the Kinect, given the razor-thin margins on electronics.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        If you purchase something from Wal-Mart and return it without a receipt and get store credit, Wal-Mart made the profit on the original sale which it gets to keep. When they sell you items for the $150 in store credit, they make profit on those items as well.

        This guy didn’t make his purchase at Wal-Mart so they do not get that initial profit no matter how slim.

        Now they have to put the kinect back into inventory which incurs additional costs. When they sell it, even if they sell it for $149, they lose money. All for an item they they didn’t purchase in the first place.

        So how does the potential profit you speak of in any way mean that Walmart wins in this transaction?

  14. andsowouldi says:

    If he doesn’t use the full $149 store credit, Wal-Mart comes out ahead. If he does, they break even (give or take based on the mark-up of different items I guess).

    Why is this so wrong?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Because Wal-Mart didn’t owe him a refund. He didn’t buy it from Wal-Mart, and so when he took it there, Wal-Mart gave him $149 he wasn’t entitled to.

    • backinpgh says:

      Because Walmart doesn’t sell things to break even, they sell things to make a profit. Whatever profit they would have made by selling that Kinect is lost.

    • Jawaka says:

      I guess you just can’t teach morals to someone. You either get it or you don’t.

      • andsowouldi says:

        Not really arguing the morality of it. Arguing that Wal-Mart doesn’t lose on giving store credit. If he spends EXACTLY $149 there, they might lose out. If he spends less, they gain money (they sell for $150, he only spends $100…$50 profit). If he spends less, they gain money from him. Really seems profitable to me in almost all cases. Plus, you want customers in your store.

        I think Wal-Mart could offer store credit on most items KNOWING they come from somewhere else and still come out ahead.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      How do they break even? Even if they’re able to get it on the shelf at $150 again, they’re still going to lose money. It costs money to repackage and restock it. It costs money to pay the employee who took the return. I really doubt their profit margins are high enough to make up for that.

  15. powdered beefmeat says:

    If one has to ask the question then one is trying to justify his or her actions. Yes, of course it’s wrong. There are two different merchants’, two separate inventories. Wal-Mart cannot “re-sell” it; they cannot even get a credit back from Microsoft. It’s going in trash.

  16. parabellum2000 says:

    I say no problem because Walmart has built part of their brand on their generous return policy. He has store credit, not cash. He will purchase from Walmart again and again and they will make 100%-1000% on every transaction.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The keywords are “return policy.” OP wasn’t returning anything. He didn’t buy it from Wal-Mart, but since he tried to return it to Wal-Mart, he was accepting money he never gave to Wal-Mart to begin with.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      “He will purchase from Walmart again and again and they will make 100%-1000% on every transaction.”

      You seriously think they make a 100%-1000% on every transaction? Per their P&L on yahoo finance they have a 25% Gross margin.

    • Broke_Daddy says:

      It’s impossible to make 100% profit on anything unless the seller obtains it for nothing. Margin is figured Retail minus Cost divided by Retail. So buy it for $.50 and sell it for $1.00. 100-50=50
      50/100=50% margin.

  17. Thyme for an edit button says:

    So you didn’t buy this device at Walmart, but you returned it to Walmart?

    Sounds like you scammed Walmart out of $149.

    Yeah, you were wrong to do this.

  18. Bionic Data Drop says:

    “If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins.”

    I didn’t know Wal-Mart was in the business of buying and selling things for the same price. No, Wal-Mart doesn’t win in this situation, but it is their fault this happened. This is why stores are tightening up their return policies. The OP was fully aware of what he was doing.

  19. Kaleey says:

    I don’t like Wal-Mart at all, but this is just wrong. It wasn’t bought there, so you shouldn’t return it there.

    He noticed the price was higher than he paid, so he took it back, probably hoping a) he wouldn’t get caught, b) he’d get more money back than was originally paid for the product. I doubt this was just a “happy accident.”

    It’s people like this that make for awful, difficult, frusdtrating return policies for the rest of us (honest) folk. Of course, if he tried to give the gift card back with an explanation, no one will be able to do anything about it. Find out if a local shelter or charity will take the gift card, and if not, buy goods and donate them. If the controller ahd come from wal-mart (or wal-mart.com) I’d say at least keep the original purchase amount, but not in this case.

  20. odarkshineo says:

    dbags like this raise prices for everyone.

  21. Dallas_shopper says:

    Yes, what he did was wrong.

    I think he can make it less wrong by buying goods from Wal-Mart in the same amount as his profit from the fraud and donating those items to charity. At least then he PERSONALLY won’t be benefiting from his fraud.

  22. Costner says:

    I’m simply amazed, and somewhat disappointed that approximately 40% of those who have taken the poll have said “screw Walmart”.

    Listen – if you didn’t buy the product from them in the first place, it is unethical and even illegal to return the product to them. This is not a gray area – it is blatant fraud. In some cases it could also be considered theft by deception.

    Second, just because Walmart has taken advantage of others in the past is no excuse to do the same to them in return. Doing so pretty much invalidates any complaint you ever had towards Walmart since you are no better than they are.

    Third, even though it was at the wrong store, the OP knew they were given back $50 more than they originally spent… which again adds to the whole fraud issue.

    If you don’t like Walmart then by all means don’t shop there, but don’t use their past transgressions as some sort of an excuse to commit fraud against them. The whole idea of racing to the bottom rarely ends well.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree. I don’t like Wal-Mart and haven’t purchased anything from there in years, but I don’t think people can be let off the hook when they do wrong things.

  23. philpm says:

    Fraud. If he didn’t buy it at WalMart (and it apparently was not a gift), he shouldn’t have returned it there. This one is fully deserving of a “bad customer” tag.

  24. tundey says:

    The part I find wrong is that he bought it somewhere else and returned it to Walmart. I would have no problem if he had bought it on Walmart.com and returned it to the store. The policy, in most retail store, is no receipt gets you the current price. If you are lucky and the price is trending up, that’s good for you.

    • Misha says:

      It is? The policy I’ve more often seen is that without receipt, you get the lowest price the item was sold for in the last X days (usually 30-60).

  25. Bladerunner says:

    I missed the part of the article where the OP says “An online retailer”. Too bad I can’t change my vote. If it was Wal-Mart, I’d say “meh”, since they decided to do it that way, but if it was someplace else, the whole thing was return fraud.

  26. noretreat says:

    Walmart is crazy if they would have a problem with this. He got a gift card, which means he has to spend that $149 at Walmart. Walmart got a item they will have no problem selling at $149. So Walmart gained a $149 sale and likely some customer loyalty. If he got cash which he then took to Target, yes I’d have a problem with it. But as it is, I have a hard time seeing it as anything but a win win.

    • backinpgh says:

      You are bad at math. They gave OP $150 in free money to spend there. When he uses that money, Walmart will NOT make any profit from it because THEY gave him the money. They basically let him take $150 of merch off their shelves for free.

      When they sell that Kinect, they will basically be making back the $150 they donated to the OP. They will only break even. That is clearly not what Walmart is in business for.

      • ovalseven says:

        No. Walmart breaks even when they sell the controller for $150. Then, when M spends his gift card, they profit from the items he buys.

        Look at this way: If I sell you a controller for $150 and you sell it to someone else for $150, you break even. Right? If I then take my $150 and buy your Wii that you got for $100. Do you make any money?

        • Bsamm09 says:

          Looking at it that way is an incorrect way to view what happened.

          The problem with your rationalization is that the first transaction is only though of as a sale by the selling party. The other party thinks they are refunding money already spent and getting their merchandise back.

          The problem here is:

          1) You lie and tell me you purchased an item from me for $150 and want to return it (or sell it, which is false). If item had a COGS of $125, you have stolen $25 of profit from me.

          2) In order to sell it for no loss at $150 another buyer would have to come in instantly and purchase it since there are a lot more costs involved in sales than price of the item sold. Too numerous to list but let us say $1

          3) You then buy a Wii for $150 which costs me $100. I make a $50 dollar profit.

          In your scenario, I make a net profit of $24. $50-1-25

          In a legit return scenario, I earn $25 from the kinect sale when I resell it plus $50 on the Wii. Minus $1 for inventory costs on the return and I have $74 profit.

          • ovalseven says:

            “In your scenario, I make a net profit of $24. $50-1-25″.

            How does this dispute my claim that Walmart does more than break even? It was the only point I was trying to make.

            • Bsamm09 says:

              I’m sorry. My new point is that you are a dumb fuck who doesn’t understand business. Happy?

              • ovalseven says:

                What’s up with the hostility? I never argued your point or said it was wrong. I simply argued the comment above that said Walmart made no profit. I’m sorry you disagree with they way I presented it, but I thought it best to give a very simple example rather than an economics lesson.

                • Farleyboy007 says:

                  He’s talking oppurtunity cost i think. If they sell the item you fraudulently returned, they lose the $50 profit they would have made on the unit they bought wholesale. Basically, their profit margin gets screwed up. However, it could go in their favor if he buys something with an even higher markup that he would NOT have purchased otherwise.

                  • ovalseven says:

                    Yes. I get all of that.

                    backinpgh said that the best Walmart could do is break even. We seem to agree that Walmart can make a profit from this and it all I was trying to say.

        • theduckay says:

          No. Walmart gave away $150 to him for the purpose of buying something. They will only recoup that lost money when the controller is sold for $150, therefore breaking even. Unless the OP buys something for over the giftcard amount, they aren’t making any profits here. Companies don’t profit when consumers use gift cards…they profit when the gift card is originally purchased from them which, in this case, never happened. Common sense.

          • ovalseven says:

            What? Give me a $100 gift card in exchange for my laptop that you’ll sell for the same price. After you sell it, you’ll break even.

            I’ll then take that gift card and spend it all on an item that cost you less than $100. Do you make any money on this deal?

      • dgm says:

        You are missing the fact that whatever the OP buys for the $149 will have cost Wal-Mart a lot less than $149. They will still make a profit.

        The people making stupid statements like “He stole $149 from Wal Mart!” are the ones who are bad at math.

  27. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I have a cousin who used to do a similar thing with Borders all the time…he frequently got comic book trade paperbacks as gifts, and regardless of who bought them where he’d just go to Borders with them and trade them in when he didn’t want them. They simply took anything and everything and gave store credit with a smile.

  28. balderdashed says:

    There are potentially two issues here. If he didn’t buy the item at Walmart (online) but represented that he did, that’s fraud. However, if it was a Walmart purchase and Walmart credited him for $50 more than he paid, I see no fraud. And in that case, I’d even quarrel with the writer’s characterization of this event as a “return shenanigan.” In good old capitalism, a product is worth what a seller chooses to charge and a buyer is willing to pay. And that works both ways. If I bought at item at Walmart (it’s now my property) and I choose to return it to Walmart (i.e., to allow Walmart to purchase it back from me), if Walmart wants to buy it back for twice what I paid, I’d likely agree. And if Walmart later concludes that it made an error at some point in calculating what to pay me, assuming no deception on my part, that’s not my problem. The fact is, who’s to say that a product purchased for $99 one day is not worth either less, or more, the next day? It often is — and in this case, it’s worth whatever Walmart wants to pay me for it.

    • PunditGuy says:

      So if I buy it at $150, and return it when it happens to be on sale for $99, you’re saying that I’m entitled to just the $99?

      • balderdashed says:

        Not necessarily. If Walmart offers you $99 for it and you want to take that, you sure can. It is likely, however, that Walmart agreed when it sold you the item that you could bring it back within a certain period of time, and receive your full $150 back. Walmart should be bound by those terms, and shouldn’t be able to force you to take $99. You’re “entitled” to the $150 Walmart originally agreed to in any case — but Walmart is entitled to offer you more if it wishes, and you’re entitled to take it.

  29. sendbillmoney says:

    If the $50 discrepancy was in Walmart’s favor, would the OP fail to call it to Walmart’s attention?

  30. maxhobbs says:

    What OP didn’t state was how much fast talking he did with the service person to get this return. I’m quite sure it isn’t as innocent as it seems. I’m sure he laid it on thick with Christmas, lost his receipt, etc….

  31. Farleyboy007 says:

    If he returned the item, and only got $100, wal mart would be making a $50 profit when they sold the thing. i don’t know what the margin is on a kinect, i’m assuming more than $50 if that other place can afford to sell it for $99.

    Was it right? no. Was it wrong? i dunno, doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. WalMart isn’t hurt, the place he originally bought it from isn’t hurt, who cares?

    • Bsamm09 says:

      “doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. WalMart isn’t hurt, the place he originally bought it from isn’t hurt, who cares?”

      Please show me how Wal-Mart isn’t hurt even if they sell it for $150. I hope you don’t ever run your own business because you will soon be bankrupt.

      • Farleyboy007 says:

        It’s a wash for them, unless you count the minimal cost to put an unopened item back on the shelf. Obviously, it’s not good business practice to take returns that you didn’t sell in general, but they gave him store credit. They dont lose any money, provided they sell the kinect at $150. if it’s unopened as the writer mentioned, i don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to. Aside from their metrics being a bit wonky, show me how they are hurt?

        • Farleyboy007 says:

          PS i am not taking the oppurtunity cost of selling this returned unit over another unit they got wholesale into account. I’m assuming they are able to unload their entire stock of Kinects.

    • LocalH says:

      He returned the item and got $150. Walmart’s eating the cost of that item.

      Looks like more such items need to be tracked through the POS system by serial number (similar to TVs, videogame systems, etc). Then the system would recognize “um, this s/n was not sold by Walmart, tell them to piss off”.

  32. Cat says:

    Really? He has to ASK?

  33. RobS says:

    Of course it’s stealing. The arguments saying it isn’t are based on bad assumptions. 1) “They can still sell it for $150″. But that would be at $0 profit instead of selling the one they purchased from the manufacturer for much less. 2) “He has to spend that $149 at Walmart.” True, but he probably will use that gift card for a purchase he would have made already.

    Walmart is essentially out the profit they would have made on the next Kinect they sold; instead they have to sell it for no profit. They also got stuck with the effort logistics of inspecting, restocking, and reselling.

  34. backinpgh says:

    This is exactly why honest consumers have a hard time returning things without a receipt as more and more retailers change their return policies. Thanks!

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      That’s what I’m thinking. This is why there are time limits and restocking fees. I’ve also heard stories that if you return too many items at a store they cut you off after a certain point. This is also why many stores want to swipe your driver license.

      The OP probably has at least one entry in a blacklist file.

  35. mothy5000 says:

    The process of trade is trade. Walmart is an entity that choses to be in the business of trade. They trade money for goods and then trade those goods for money. Since Walmart is not an individual, then they have to chose to have a person at their returns counter to be the one in charge of negotiating the trade with “M”. Go to India and try to buy something on the street, India’s market place. You will see the same transactions. “Store policy” is only the vehicle in which Walmart has decided to inform the public how they want to trade. If Walmart’s return policy included the ability to repurchase online goods from others as they did with “M”, then where’s your ethics question? They problem is not “M” and not the transaction. It is the authority of the cashier who decided that it was in Walmarts best interest to go through with this trade of money for goods.

  36. AldisCabango says:

    Does not matter how big a company is wrong is wrong and not everyone winds. Walmart is still out the 50 bucks they returned above the purchase price.

  37. kenboy says:

    This is no different than grabbing an item off the shelf and walking to the return desk with it to “return” it for store credit, and only marginally better than the scam a friend of mine used to run when we were in middle school: buy an Atari 2600 game at Kay-Bee, remove the circuit board from the cartridge, and return the empty case to them for an exchange for a different game. Repeat as needed at other stores. He was 13; what’s OP’s excuse?

  38. TomClements says:

    I recently lost $0.23 on a return of a gift with receipt to Wal-mart. The store it was purchased at and the store it was returned to have different sales tax %.

  39. Robert Nagel says:

    How does Wal-Mart “win”. If they pay him a $150.00 store credit and sell the item for the same amount they have no profit. No business can stay in business selling at the same price as they purchase. This is fraud, enabled by the lie told to the customer service employee. Shame on you.

  40. superml says:

    If it’s not from wal-mart in the first place…how did he even return it?

  41. Outrun1986 says:

    Yes, this is blatant return fraud and you could be punished by law for this. However, most of the general public does not think of it as that and they try to get away with it anyways. Walmart also accepted the return, so I put some of the blame on them, they could have refused to simply take back the item.

    Also if you are doing this one-time only, or only once a year, there is a very small chance that you will be caught, especially if you make only one return over the holidays.

    I don’t know if this holds for this story, but over here whenever you do a non-receipt return they take your driver’s license or equivalent ID and scan it into the system, no ID to scan then no return. I am surprised this person did not mention this.

  42. monsieurlee says:

    The only reason that people even arguing about this and not more people are voting fraud is because the “victim” in question is Walmart. If it had been one of the “good” retailers everyone would be outraged.

    Which retailer this person shafted has absolutely no bearing in this case. The OP is trying to milk the Walmart hate to name him feel better for committing fraud.

  43. spf1971 says:

    I really hate when people use the Bullshit argument “If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins”. Overhead has to come from somewhere. Store don’t pay shelf cost for their products. The difference between what they pay and what they sell for, pay for their overhead.

  44. Cerne says:

    “If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins.”

    Does Laura not understand how stupid that statement is? Walmart doesn’t pay retail for the products it sells, this means they would LOOSE money selling that Kinect.

  45. MyTQuinn says:

    “If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins. “

    Incorrect. *IF* the item was unopened, Walmart has essentially bought the item for $149, when their normal purchase price is likely to be significantly lower. When they sell the item, their profit will be ZERO, instead of their normal profit. Walmart LOST money.

  46. alaron says:

    These recent “Was I Wrong to” series is BS. Unless the OP is planning to undo their actions should the crowd vote them wrong. Otherwise this isn’t consumer protection, it’s just ego boosting.

  47. twitch201 says:

    I think one thing no one has mentioned (i didnt go through all 95 comments) is that Wal-Mart’s return policy allows people to return items that were not purchased at their stores, without a receipt, and often times they give cash. I have heard many people do this, and it is a common place for thieves to return things to.

  48. ap0 says:

    Though it probably is fraud, it’s Walmart’s fault for accepting the return without a receipt. I wouldn’t be proud of the achievement but I certainly wouldn’t feel bad about it. Walmart generally has pretty poor prices on electronics (by that I mean non-Walmart-only ones, like a Linksys router I bought there because mine died early on a Sunday morning and I needed Internet and didn’t want to wait til Tuesday, so I shelled out $80 instead of $50 online).

    • Bsamm09 says:

      You paid $30 to not have to wait until Tuesday. Apparently you value your two days of internet porn surfing at $15 a day.

  49. ARP says:

    Maybe it was just a computer error on his part, that caused him to return it to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has the same sorts of computer errors that always benefit them.

    But for reals- this was wrong to do, despite how much I hate Wal-Mart.

    Of course, this is the problem. Wal-Mart ripping people off is a computer error and many look the other way or chalk it up to the complexities of running a stoe. People ripping off Wal-Mart is morally wrong. If corporations are people- then Wal-Mart should be held to the same moral standards.

  50. cyberpenguin says:

    The OP sounds like “wwebsite as on the internet”

  51. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    This is the reason we require receipts and an ID, so when shitheads like the OP try and do this to us we can flag them in the system and/or get the police involved. Just did this a week ago actually.

  52. FCAlive says:

    F-ck Walmart.

    If Walmart had a chance to get $5 for stabbing this dude to death with a rusty fork, it would jump at the opportunity.

  53. thrillho says:

    Who cares if someone screws Walmart? If I kick Voldemort in the dick is it wrong? Good work by the OP, I’d do it 100 times in 100 opportunities. Walmart would screw you if given the opportunity.

  54. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Whether you think it’s fair to stick Walmart for it or not, it’s not right to return it to them when you didn’t purchase it there. It’s your own fault you’re too lazy to pack it up and return it to the place you got it. If you have to ask if you’re wrong, then you are. Pay attention to Jiminy Cricket next time and do the right thing.

  55. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Whether you think it’s fair to stick Walmart for it or not, it’s not right to return it to them when you didn’t purchase it there. It’s your own fault you’re too lazy to pack it up and return it to the place you got it. If you have to ask if you’re wrong, then you are. Pay attention to Jiminy Cricket next time and do the right thing.

  56. Unicorn-Chaser says:

    I think he was wrong not to purchase as many of these online as possible then return them all in-store. But thats me…..my moral compass is off.

  57. balderdashed says:

    When it comes to dealing with Walmart or any other merchant, I don’t lie, cheat or steal. But nor do I consider it my job to watch out for a merchant’s bottom line, or help them compensate for poorly trained (and probably, poorly paid) staff. There’s a certain major office supply store near my house that once employed a very incompetent clerk. Chairs were sold in packs of three for about $129, or individually for $49. However, if you bought and later returned one chair, she’d credit you for the pack of three. Do the math: buy a chair, return it, and you’ve instantly made $80. I’ll admit I bought and returned more than a few chairs that summer. Did I feel guilty? Not a bit. I did absolutely nothing to defraud or deceive anyone — it’s not my fault that the store had poor hiring and/or training policies — I simply chose not to argue when the store insisted on giving me back more money than I’d paid. I suspect the clerk lost her job eventually, but not before almost literally “giving away the store.” I just wish I knew where she was working now — I could really use some more chairs.

  58. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    There should have been a “Yes, it’s return fraud, but screw Wal-Mart” option.

  59. maynurd says:

    Walmart screwed itself. They have the legal right to refuse any return.

  60. galligator says:

    OP is getting a 150$ gift card that can only be used at walmart. If walmart was reasonable in its pricing, they would be making roughly the same profit margin on all the items the OP bought with that 150$ gift card. However, walmart put a 50%+ markup on this product, they will not.

    If walmart charged a reasonable price on the kinnect, this would not be an issue

  61. Cyfun says:

    It’s Walmart’s fault for stupidly having different prices online and in-store. If they weren’t trying to rape the in-store shoppers by inflating the price, this wouldn’t have happened. And it’s perfectly legitimate to order something online and then return it to their store. Most stores advertise this ability. And consider how many dumb bastards bought that Kinect in-store instead of online and lost $50 to Walmart.

    Having said that, Walmart is an evil company and I applaud anything that causes them to lose money.

  62. thebt1 says:

    technically, it might have been fraudulent, though difficult to prosecute. that being said, I wouldn’t worry about poor walmart, so I honestly don’t care whether its right or wrong.

  63. mdoneil says:

    It is a felony, let me know who M is and I will prosecute him.

    Oh, wait you don’t have to tell me, the subpoena duces tecum will compel you to turn over the records.

    Is this criminal behavior something Consumerist wishes to condone?

  64. dollym100 says:

    It is Walmart, the evil empire of the retail world. Of course it is OK to profit from their mistake. In fact, such action should be mandatory.

    However, if you really see the need to deal with your conscience (an alien concept in the world of Walmart) you could give the money to one of those underpaid store greeters that seem to be working well into their retirement years. I always feel that they must need the money really badly when they should be enjoying their retirement.