Walmart Sends Me 4 Extra iPods, Doesn’t Want Them Back

There are so few honest people in the world that retailers are simply unable to deal with it. That’s the only conclusion we can reach from Jessica’s experience after she ordered one iPod Touch and Walmart sent her five. She was happy to send the extras back, but Walmart didn’t know how to deal with that transaction.

She ordered one iPod Touch. One. “When I opened the box, I found five. This has never happened before, and the packing slip says only one was shipped,” she wrote to Consumerist. “Should I contact them and tell them about the error or keep them since its within my legal right to?”

Good questions. While this may have never happened to Jessica before, it’s certainly not without precedent among Consumerist readers. Back during the 2012 holiday season, Best Buy sent out crates of iPads to customers who were only supposed to receive one. There may have been more, but we only know of three cases where this happened.

As far as we know, you are legally within your rights to keep duplicate items when a company sends them to you in error. Before you hand out iPods to everyone you know, make sure there is nothing in the company’s terms and conditions that explicitly addresses this topic. Otherwise, Federal Trade Commission rules on unordered merchandise apply. You have to contact the company and let them know about the error, preferably in writing instead of speaking to only one low-level customer service representative, and give them 30 days to respond.

The more important question is whether you’re morally within your rights to keep the extra items if the company makes no effort to get them back. That’s entirely up to you. What we do know is that you shouldn’t have to fight with the company if you decide to send the unordered merchandise back.

Consumerist contacted Walmart media relations to find out what they want customers to do in this situation, and that’s where things started to get confusing. Yes, even more confusing than four extra iPods on your doorstep. A spokesperson explained to us that among the options for returning an item on Walmart.com is “duplicate item,” and that Jessica could use that to generate a return label and send back the extra iPods. Fab!

We took that information back to Jessica, and she told us that it didn’t work. “The person online is telling me I have to print out a return receipt and send back 4 of the 5 iPods but [the website is] telling me I can’t mail the order back due to some regulations,” she explained. Fine, so she called up her local Walmart store: surely they have no regulations that would prevent a customer from bringing back an iPod.

The first woman she spoke to on the phone simply asked Jessica why she would want to give the four extra iPods back. Nice. The second person told her that the store would only be be able to accept one iPod back, since she officially ordered only one, and there’s only one iPod listed on the receipt and packing slip.

Ultimately, Jessica was able to sort it out with Walmart.com representatives, and they generated a UPS label to send the iPods back. It’s good that this is an unusual situation, but since it doesn’t happen every day, employees end up arguing with customers about whether it happened or not. That isn’t cool.

PREVIOUSLY:
My Mom Ordered One iPad And Best Buy Sent Five

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  1. dullard8 says:

    The FTC rule would seem to be aimed at those who send unsolicited matter and want the recipient to pay for it or return it at their own expense. It doesn’t seem to be aimed at honest shipping errors.

    It would seem that, if the FTC rules were to be followed, the OP must give Walmart an opportunity to retrieve the extra iPods.

    “Q. What should I do if the unordered merchandise I received was the result of an honest shipping error?
    A. Write the seller and offer to return the merchandise, provided the seller pays for postage and handling. Give the seller a specific and reasonable amount of time (say 30 days) to pick up the merchandise or arrange to have it returned at no expense to you. Tell the seller that you reserve the right to keep the merchandise or dispose of it after the specified time has passed.”

  2. Liberal says:

    Walmart and a lot of retailers are just not setup to do things like that. Its happened to me several time. Walmart stores do not have something to scan. .com refunded me a spray can and told me to keep it because if I returned it the store would not know what to do with it. Once they refunded a small item and said it would cost to much to mess with it and they did not even want to write a check so they said stop by your walmart next time you are in and tell them to refund the $2.50. They flipped out. Then they said we will just give you the $2.50. I said no if you do that they will send me a check for $2.50 because it will not be recorded on their end. So I told them I would just wait for the automatic process because I was not looking to get paid twice. I understood. I appreciated the fact that they took care of me. They are just huge. I like my walmart.