Some Walmarts Still Short-Changing Customers On Gift Receipt Returns

Nearly two years after Walmart stores were first caught short-changing customers who returned items using gift receipts, and following numerous later reports that the practice was continuing, it looks like some Walmarts have just not gotten the message.

When you return something with a gift receipt, Walmart is supposed to refund you the amount paid by the purchaser, which may be higher than the price that item is currently selling for.

But as was found in May 2011, and then again in September and November of that same year, Walmarts around the country were insisting on only refunding the current price of the returned item.

Each time, Walmart insisted that its policy is to refund the full price, and that it would make sure to educate employees on this issue.

So CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming, whose investigation kicked off all these reports those many months ago, recently decided to see if Walmart had improved by spot-checking three area stores.

The first store failed, telling the undercover producer that the store could only refund $2.69 for a $10 purchase because the producer didn’t have the original receipt.

“Without the original, that’s what I can give you,” the cashier explained.

Ming’s second stop showed better results, though still indicates there’s a systemic problem at play. In this case, the cashier at first only offered to refund $2.70 on a $10.83 purchase, but after the producer pointed out that the original price was much higher, a full refund was given. However, the cashier did have to override what the register told her to refund to the customer.

And finally, the third Walmart, where that $10.83 purchase resulted in a refund of… $10.83!

“If gift recipients would have returned the bath sets without knowing how much we paid, out of the $32.33 we spent, they would have received just $16.22. Walmart would have kept $16.11 of our money,” explains Ming.

Back in January, the CBS affiliate here in Philadelphia reported on a customer who was short-changed $20 on a TV return with a gift receipt. Again, Walmart HQ insisted it was an isolated incident of employee error.

In response to the latest CBS Sacramento report, Walmart issued the following statement:

“We continue to take this matter seriously and are committed to satisfying our customers. It’s our expectation to refund the original purchase price when returning an item with a gift receipt. Clearly, we’re disappointed this didn’t happen in this particular instance. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customer.

“We recently streamlined our gift receipt return process to make it more efficient and reliable for our customers.If customers have questions regarding a gift receipt, we encourage them to speak with a member of management at their local store.”

Meanwhile, Senator Barbara Boxer of California says she has passed on these reports to the Federal Trade Commission.

“I have confidence that the FTC will pursue this matter given that Walmart has not kept its promise to fix this egregious problem,” says Boxer.