Walmart Sells Refurb TVs As New?

Walmart takes TVs people return and sells them as new, according to this unverified report we received.

Planning on buying a brand new TV from Wal-Mart? Don’t count on it. The TV in that probably slightly shipping-distressed box might be having it’s second time around the block already. But don’t expect to get any breaks – you still get to pay full price for the privilege of buying the TV somebody else returned as defective.

I’m one of the hapless minions of Wal-Mart, a position I like to think of as “Floor Monkey”. In this capacity, being that I’m more-or-less physically fit and capable of performing heavy labors, I’m often called upon to carry out things like treadmills, swingsets, and TVs. That last part is the one to pay attention to.

As I prepared to assist in the “disassembly” and sale of a floor model TV set, it came up in conversation with one of our longtime Electronics associates that when someone returns a TV as defective, it does not just go back to the manufacturer. Indeed, it goes back, gets whatever is wrong with it fixed, and then the same store gets it back to sell again….

Everyday low prices, indeed…

In effect, Wal-Mart is selling refurbished products with neither acknowledgment nor reduction in price to reflect the true status of the product.

My informant has been at this for a pretty long time, and has learned over the years some of the darker secret practices of everybody’s favorite retail giant. At least as far as what they do with electronic merchandise.

This practice isn’t just limited to TVs, either. I know first hand that when a bike is returned (which mind you they’re kind of not supposed to be to start with) they get taken to the back, where an associate will inspect and usually repair the bike, adding a new barcode label to it if necessary, and sending it back out to the rack for sale again. Also without any price reduction or indication that this is in reality a used item, unless it happens to have gotten visible signs of this from the previous owner’s use. Examples can be as simple as dirty tires (Quick tip, if the tires on that bike aren’t more or less evenly black, odds are someone’s taken it for a spin already), or less overt like scuffed chrome parts. This is actually much worse than the TVs, since those are sent to a factory where someone more likely to be trained in the service of the appliance will attend to it. There is no guarantee of any kind that the associate who takes charge of the bikes has any qualifications to repair a potentially defective bicycle. The bikes may be distinguishable visibly, but there’s no way at all to know with the TVs, since they’ll be factory sealed all over again like they rolled fresh off the line.

Wal-Mart is truly its own special little world. Where else could the word “new” actually mean “previously owned”?

Maybe that kid who had to return three different Xboxes to Walmart was actually a victim of this “rejuvenation” policy. — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: Clean Wal-Mart)