Circuit City Credits Wrong Card For $130 Return, Sends You Away With Nothing

UPDATE: Man Finally Gets His $130 Back From Circuit City

Sean writes:

I returned a product [yesterday] to the Appleton, WI Circuit City with a gift receipt. The clerk accepted the returned product, but mistakenly credited the original purchaser’s credit card (I am not the original purchaser) for the return. After informing me of this, I told her that I did not purchase this product, it was given to me (thus, the gift receipt) and that I intended to return it for store credit so I could purchase a different product. I was told that since the return had been processed and credited to the original purchaser’s credit card, nothing could be done. I was advised to contact the original purchaser and try to collect the money myself.

After much debate with the clerk, the supervisor, and the operations manager, I was told there was nothing that could be done, and the only option I had was to go back to the person who bought it, and ask for the money. This is unacceptable.

I entered the store in possession of a product (my property, I was the owner). I gave the product and gift receipt to the clerk to process a return. The clerk accepted my return and gave my money (the monetary value of the product – the original purchase price) to the wrong person (someone other than me). I left the store without my property or the monetary value of the property.

I would like either my property (the original product – a Logitech Harmony remote control) returned to me or store credit (gift card) for the orignal purchase price (approximately $130) of the product.

That’s the letter Sean sent to Circuit City’s customer service department, although Seans says he has yet to hear back from them. He adds, “What can I do? Isn’t this illegal? They accept my returned product and mistakenly give the money to someone else, and then refuse to give me either the product or the money (store credit)? Isn’t this theft of some sort? Should I contact the police?”

What do you guys think? Will the police take his report seriously? This certainly sounds like the definition of theft to us.

In the meantime, Sean, you may want to send that same letter to these Circuit City executive email addresses. What happened to you sounds to us like a fireable offense for that supervisor, and you need to make sure your story reaches the people who can see to it that you’re compensated.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. PixiePerson says:

    Sounds like theft to me. They took his money and gave it to someone else. How is that not theft?

    • Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

      But at least he got ripped off for the same price in the store or online!

    • drdom says:


      What Circuit City did sucks. But police will not investigate this as a theft, as it is at best a civil matter here in Wisconsin. This really is an unfortunate mistake for which Circuit City refuses to make right. And the do have the means to reverse the improperly credited money, despite what they say.
      What if, instead of crediting the person who gave the gift, they credited someone completely unknown to the PR.
      This one is a slam dunk in small claims court though, with additional costs tacked on for expenses & legal fees. It’s too bad it may have to come to that.

      I’d try contacting the consumer reporter at the Appleton Cresent Post, and tell them your story. I’ll bet that resolves it quickly.

      Anyway, below is the law which applies to this matter, so that no one thinks I pulled this out of my hat. In particular see 939.23 (4)

      943.20(1)(a) THEFT
      (a) Intentionally takes and carries away, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.

      Under WI 943.20, theft requires intent. There was no criminal intent here. WI 939.23 (1) through (4) defines intent.

      (1) When criminal intent is an element of a crime in chs. 939 to 951, such intent is indicated by the term “intentionally”, the phrase “with intent to”, the phrase “with intent that”, or some form of the verbs “know” or “believe”.
      (3) “Intentionally” means that the actor either has a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified, or is aware that his or her conduct is practically certain to cause that result. In addition, except as provided in sub. (6), the actor must have knowledge of those facts which are necessary to make his or her conduct criminal and which are set forth after the word “intentionally”.

      (4) “With intent to” or “with intent that” means that the actor either has a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified, or is aware that his or her conduct is practically certain to cause that result.

      • flidget says:

        @drdom: “What if, instead of crediting the person who gave the gift, they credited someone completely unknown to the PR.”

        That wouldn’t be possible – the receipt is used to pull up the specific transaction, with the option to credit the purchasing card.

        • INTPLibrarian says:

          @flidget: It’s not necessary to know someone in order to receive a gift from them.

        • drdom says:

          Not to belabor the point, but it is possible. I won’t go into details, so as to avoid educating scammers, however in a recent case I investigated, it was done.
          Consider that it could have been something that was “re-gifted”? Then the gift recipient may not know the owner of the card. There are hundreds of variations… but the bottom line in all of this, is that it’s Circuit City’s screw up, and they are responsible for fixing it.

          • ohenry says:

            @drdom: Yeah, small claims court would be a good way to go. In Wisconsin, you can get triple damages, so their $130 blunder could turn into $390 plus court costs.

      • WraithSama says:


        It may not qualify as theft, but I imagine you might be able to use the tort of conversion. They’re preventing you from enjoying the use of your property by not giving it back to you. They didn’t give you, the owner, any money so an exchange never took place.

      • EmperorOfCanada says:


        In my opinion, until he receives his money back for the item, the item is still his property.. and from your own post defining theft.. they WERE intentionally depriving him of his property.

    • Optimistic Prime says:

      @PixiePerson: “They took his money and gave it to someone else.” Yet when the government does it, it’s called either “welfare” or “bailout.”

      /rant (sorry, had to get that off my chest)

  2. JohnDeere says:

    sounds like theft to me. with a side of stupidity.

  3. Zanorfes says:

    There goes Circuit City at its best. Screwing the customer. You know, I’m beginning to think they are being quite creative. I think business schools should make case studies out of the numerous ways their incompetent staff manages to come up with a new way to screw their customers. How much longer before they are gone for good?……….

  4. tc4b says:

    One day soon, some really smart company will swoop in and steal customers like this. Think about it, what would happen to this guy’s loyalty if Best Buy very publicly gave him a $130 BB gift card?

    I’m crazy, I know. Still, it would make BB money in the long run, I think.

  5. mabus says:

    its theft. try the EECB tactic first, and failing that, do a police report and take them to small claims court. sure, you’ll have to pay to file in small claims, but it will get their attention. in some states you can sue to recover the filing fee too.

    • Optimistic Prime says:

      @mabus: File the police report soon, it almost seems that there’s a time limit to file them. File a complaint with the FTC as well.

    • FloraDemophon says:

      @mabus: “Theft” is the act of intentionally removing the property of a person or business without their express consent. That being said, this has happened to me before at Home Depot, and would have been too much of a hassle for a $25 item, so I dropped the matter. I was pissed, and I still think the CC staff were wrong, factually and morally, but their initial intent was not to deprive Sean of his property. Their furtherance of the issue (refusing to correct the credit) also isn’t a crime, though I imagine he has a solid standing in Civil Court. In California, he would be entitled to ask the Court to award him the full $130, plus court costs (ranging from $300 to $500), plus any money he lost by taking the day (of the court hearing) off of work, plus any legal consult fees.

  6. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    It doesn’t sound intentional, sortof an “accidental theft”

    However, if I was in their store with a $130 item I hadn’t paid for, and absent-mindedly walked out of the store without intentionally stealing — I’d still be going to jail.

    • Jesse says:


      Intent is the key word in many crimes.

      If you removed the item from the store, caught the error and returned it, I doubt they could say you had the intent to steal. However, if you took the item, realized you didn’t pay for it, and didn’t return it, then that would be theft.

      • Sean Salisbury Steak says:


        In that scenario, you assume that you are able to get out of the store without being caught. Most of the time some alarm would go off because of some security device in the product; if you were “unintentionally” removing an item from the store you would surely not remove this device. I would assume that employees wouldn’t find your “no intent to steal” defense too credible, as anyone who is actually trying to steal could just use that defense and, according to your logic, get away scot-free.

      • akacrash says:

        @Jesse: Then the same argument could be made for what CC did. They didn’t originally intend to steal his money, but when they refused to return it, then it became so.

      • INTPLibrarian says:

        @Jesse: For what it’s worth, I’ve done this before. I was carrying two ties with me throughout the store to find a shirt to go with them. I couldn’t find a shirt I liked, so I left. With the two ties still in my hand. I didn’t even notice until I was in another store and went to grab something. When I went back to the store, *that* time the security alarm went off. I explained what had happened and the security guard just laughed and thanked me for returning the ties.

  7. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    They’re the modern day Robin Hood I tells ya!

  8. kathyl says:

    Oh MAN, they’re idiots.

    Nighty-night, Circuit City. I think you’re just circling the drain now. (Not that the competition is much better, but whatcha gonna do?)

  9. morganlh85 says:

    Every store I’ve worked at has had the ability to post-void a transaction. They obviously didn’t feel like, or didn’t know how to do this.

    • djsyndrome says:

      @morganlh85: they can void the transaction, but not the credit card refund. The original purchaser’s card would have to be charged, which is not possible if the card is not present.

      • parad0x360 says:

        @djsyndrome: They could post void it. The reason is all Credit Card transactions are processed after the store closes. When you buy something they put a hold on funds with your CC company but dont take the money till after the store counts out at the end of the day.

        When doing a refund it contacts the credit card company to validate the number but then does nothing with the money until store closing. That way all transactions are done in one fell swoop.

        They could have easily post voided a refund, I’ve seen it done.

        • Citron says:

          Oh yes. It’s easily done. Either the CSR was new, or extraordinarily lazy. It could be either, considering they failed to recognize a gift receipt.

          At any rate, did Sean contact the store manager? I didn’t see any mention. That would have been the first thing I would have done.

  10. jtheletter says:

    What would CC have done if the clerk punched in the wrong credit card number and returned the money to a totally unrelated third party? They must have a process in place for that, to say that they can do nothing is pure laziness on their part. They are relying on Sean’s relationship with the gift giver to do the work for them. And Sean’s right, the simplified story is he went in with something and came out with nothing because of CC’s actions, that’s theft.

    • B says:

      @jtheletter: I don’t think it’s a matter of punching in a CC number, when the return was processed, the money was automatically refunded to the purchasing credit card. Usually, when a store processes a return, the cashier will have to chose if it’s going as store credit or refunding the credit card, there’s no way to refund the money to a credit card that wasn’t used in the original transaction. The cashier evidently refunded the credit card without asking if Sean wanted store credit or not.

      • BrianDaBrain says:

        @B: That doesn’t excuse the fact that CC refused to correct the issue. Every billing system I’ve ever worked with had fail-safes to prevent idiots from mucking things up. The designers of these applications seem to expect the people who are using the software to be incompetent. I guarantee you there is a way to reverse the refund and issue store credit, and I’d might even go so far as to say the management that Sean spoke to knew it (though it’s possible that they’re idiots too).

        This, Circuit City, is why you’re going to go out of business: piss-poor customer service. Are you paying attention to this at all?

  11. noscamsplease says:

    they very easily could have cancelled the last transaction. they do it all the time when they’ve made a mistake (and actually acknowledge it) and need to stop a transaction from going through. the clerk was an idiot who really could have cared less.

    • Jesse says:


      I don’t see how this could easily happen. Credit cards are coded a certain way that would prevent most miskey transactions from going through (they use check digits, etc).

      • YasashikuAstypalaea says:

        @Jesse: The Luhn hash is better than nothing, but it’s not even close to infallible.

      • krn says:

        @Jesse: I’m pretty sure they never would have had to type in the card number… I seriously doubt that CC prints those on their gift receipts. No doubt they just scanned a bar code on the receipt and the card number was automatically picked up. Although I would hope that their computer system would know the appropriate options for dealing with a gift receipt, even when the store clerk doesn’t.

        • katoninetales says:

          @krn: Not necessarily. If I swipe the bar code on a gift receipt and hit “credit card” as the return tender, it’s going back on the original card. Still, not doing it as a store credit in the first place is either a mistake or a stupid policy, and CC should have had a way to easily fix it.

  12. OldJohnRobinson says:

    Shouldn’t the supervisor have been able to do some kind of “postvoid” on the original transaction, which would have canceled the return to the original purchasers CC and added value to the gift card? Shirley if that wasn’t an option the supervision should have funded a $130 gift card for the customer and taken care of the paperwork during the next day’s audit cycle.

  13. BoomerFive says:

    They absolutely could have rescinded the transaction. This is incredible stupidity on their part.

  14. acidfreeze says:

    From Circuit City’s online in store policy:
    “If you return your merchandise to one of our stores, a credit will be issued to the credit card used for the original purchase.”

    Given that he used a gift receipt, it seems likely that the original card was credited with the amount, as per company policy.

    • Amethyst02 says:

      @acidfreeze: I can’t imagine that’s company policy when the item is returned with a gift receipt. Obviously they aren’t in possession of the original card.

      It could have easily been post-voided. This is laziness or stupidity on CC’s part.

    • Joeyjojo says:


      Well, this is certainly plausible. I had inane issues with returning items at CC and ‘store policy’ as well.

      Enough bitching got the manager to fix it, and I walked out never to return to CC.

      CC are really ugly stores with rather unknowledgeable staff and useless managers. It’s a miracle they’ve staid in business this long.

  15. FrasierKingfisher says:

    I think there is more to this story. Who is the originally purchase and why can’t he speak to that party?

    Further more he should have asked to have it as a store credit knowing that he wasn’t the original purchaser.
    Most return policies on the back of the receipt say that any returns are processed back to the original form of payment.

    • xip says:


      He can probably talk to the third party, but it would seem tacky. Would you want to go to one of your relatives who bought you a gift and say “Hey, I was returning the gift that you bought me and they accidentally credited it back to your card. So… can I have a check for $130?” I would be uncomfortable with that.

      Also, if I bring a gift receipt to a store, I wouldn’t even think to ask for store credit. The whole point of a gift receipt is to be able to exchange something you don’t want for something you do want. It’s not for giving the gift back to the giver in some roundabout way.

    • DanaM says:

      @FrasierKingfisher: He was trying to return it for store credit-it says so in the article. Regardless, once a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient, not the giver. The refund, be it cash or credit, belongs to him as well. It’s not like they’d have mailed cash to the original purchaser if that person had paid in cash, after all.

  16. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Just out of curiousity, was a gift recipt the only one give to the CC clerk? Then it must be pretty obvious that it shouldn’t be credit back to the original card. So regardless of them being able to fix the mistake or not, it seems like a mistake that CC should be held accountable for. I could see if maybe the customer handed them the regular and gift recipt, they might get mixed up…but I don’t think that happened.

  17. mefinney says:

    Why not just go back to the store shelves, locate the exact remote they stole from you, and steal it back? I know it’s not the right way to handle it, but it would have forced action on Circuit City’s behalf.

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @mefinney: I think it’s too late now for that to work, but i was definitely thinking at the time of the screw-up I would have asked to take another look at that remote, then pick up the gift receipt off the counter and walked away with the item and receipt. Then walk right out and if they dare call the cops on you, you have a receipt and the product that you are on camera walking IN with, and they admit they didn’t give you any form of refund for it. Seems the cops wouldn’t be willing to do anything about that one.

  18. Norcross says:

    isn’t that the point of gift receipts to begin with? I would have called the police right then and there.

  19. backbroken says:

    This is why many (most?) stores require you to show the card you purchased the item with before they will put the money back on the card.

    Of course, folks complain about that practice too.

  20. legwork says:

    That’s one stubborn poo. Flush again, please.

  21. BigBoat says:

    Go back to the manager, right now, and tell them you’ll be filing a police report immediately if things aren’t resolved. And if they’re not, call the cops. Every day you wait on something like that makes it harder to get your positive result.

    Of course you can hope the EECB deal works, often they do. Your call, but if you’re going to go the cop route get started on it.

  22. failurate says:

    They screwed up, but not in a criminal sort of way (unless of course they conspired with the original gift giver), since they didn’t intend to or benefit from giving away your money.

    I would expect that once this hits the eyes of the right executive, this will be taken care of. One would hope at least.

  23. Jesse says:

    My question is why can’t the original purchaser just go to the gift giver and ask for a new gift or a gift card? I’m at a loss here to see which of the parties has actually suffered any damage. It seems that everyone is back where they started.

    If Circuit City allowed their stores to take a loss by giving away merchandise or cash after an erroneous return like this, it would potentially open up a new avenue of fraud. Someone could just take a stolen Circuit City receipt along with a shoplifted (or eBayed) item, return it, allow the return to be credited then say that it was a gift and demand that they receive compensation.

    • y2julio says:

      @Jesse: Because the gift receiver didn’t like what the gift giver gave him and doesn’t want the gift giver to know about it.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Jesse: Okay, imagine yourself being that person, and going to your friend and saying “I returned the item you got me and they credited it back to your credit card, would you be able to buy me a gift card so I can buy a new gift, or buy me something else?”

      Go on, say that out loud. Listen to how rude and tacky that sounds.

    • Citron says:

      @Jesse: Sean also shouldn’t be punished by being inconvenienced by something that is absolutely not his fault.

    • Geekybiker says:

      @Jesse: Let imagine for a second that the 3rd party is someone he doesn’t know. Say he bought it off ebay and they gave him a gift receipt for it. That 3rd party would be well within their rights to tell him to take a walk if he came to them asking for a gift card. Never mind how tacky it is to do it to a friend. CC screwed up. This is between CC and the guy, not between the guy and the gift giver. CC took his product and gave the money to someone else. This guy should be walking out of the store with his item, or his money. If someone has to take a loss here, its CC’s problem.

  24. Canino says:

    This is not theft as far as penal code is concerned. There was no intent. Calling the police would have gotten him nowhere and would have just wasted the officers’ time. Besides, this was just a clerk mistake. Who would the officer arrest? The clerk who can’t get the computer to do what he wants? The manager who didn’t make the mistake? He can’t arrest a store. Think, people.

    The reason the credit couldn’t be rescended is very simple. It would result in a charge to a credit card. That would require the credit card number or an actual swipe of the card. The credit card number, while present in a database and tied to the receipt bar code, is not accessible by anyone at the store, so it would be impossible to charge it again. In any case, the cardholder could easily dispute any subsequent charge because he was not present, the card was not swiped and there was no signature.

    Call the state Attorney General’s office. They’re the only authority that might be able to get something done.

    • dakker says:

      thats where they should have run the return again giving the OP store credit and contacting their Loss Prevention department to process a post void if it wasn’t able to be done on a store level

  25. hills says:

    Sounds like the cashier didn’t understand that the customer wanted a gift card/credit, and not a credit to the charge card….

  26. Lance Uppercut says:

    I wouldn’t call it theft since CC gained nothing. It’s just stupidity on their part that they could have fixed by voiding the transaction.

    Meijer did the exact same thing with a gift my parents bought for my daughter. I wanted a store credit, but they put it back on my parent’s card. Instead of overreacting and accusing them of theft I simply explained to my parents what happened and they got another gift.

  27. Adisharr says:

    Just one more reason to stay away from Circuit City. Their days are numbered.

  28. MayorBee says:

    I’m going to have to join the masses saying that CC should have been able to void out the transaction. Credit card transactions (purchases and returns) are processed as batches. This means that if this particular store (or register, however they have it set up) does $10,000 in credit transactions, when they close out the batch, the entire list of data is sent to their transaction processor. Authorizations happen real-time. When the clerk swipes the card, the computer checks with your bank to make sure you have the amount, but you’re not technically “charged” until the batch is processed. This is also why refunds take a few days to show up to your account. Merchants don’t have to get an authorization to refund money to a card, so the first time your bank will know about it is after the batch is closed out.

  29. Corporate_guy says:

    I had autozone do this to me and it really made me mad. I took an item in to exchange that I had bought on a debit card that I currently did not have with me nor did I have any cash. The idiot runs it as a return instead of an exchange and immediately scans the replacement(all one transaction within seconds). Then asks me for payment. I said it was an exchange. He told me he credited my card. No matter what I said, he was not going to undo the transaction. I left partless. It was a large inconvenience. I wonder why stores are so against voiding transactions, especially when it needs to be done to fix the stores mistake.

  30. ShadowFalls says:

    Sure Circuit City did something stupid, but can we all be grown-up about it and realize it was a mistake? Just go to the person who bought it and ask if they can give you the money… Say it wasn’t your fault.

    Circuit City can not recharge the credit card, that is a whole different authorization to begin with. It is odd though, ever time I returned something at Circuit City, the system made me swipe my card…

    The whole thing is a stupid mess made by underpaid employees, write a letter to the CEO and just collect your money from the person it was refunded to. If Circuit City cares to respond to you reasonably, great. If they do not, you know where to not take your money next time and spread the word around.

    • humphrmi says:


      just collect your money from the person it was refunded to

      I think the OP’s resistance here goes something like this:

      OP: Hey, buddy… remember that great Osterizer you gave me for my birthday?

      Giver: Yeah, I figured you’d like it, we enjoy making frappes every Friday night!

      OP: Yeah, about that, um… so I returned it to CC, and the darned clerk put the money on *your* credit card, so…

      Giver: So you want me to make you a frappe now?

      …hilarity ensues…

      • floraposte says:

        @humphrmi: Yes, even if there weren’t a principle here, the OP understandably doesn’t want to be so rude as to tell somebody who already gave him a gift to fork over cash.

        I agree, though, that this is a matter for the AG/State’s Attorney rather than the police.

  31. vastrightwing says:

    A variation on a theme: Comcast (my favorite) decided I was responsible for returning a stolen cable modem I purchased from Craigslist. Their logic is like this: The modem is ours no matter what. The last person we find with it is liable. Therefore, I should sell it to someone else and then inform them of who now owns the modem. In reality, I no longer will be their customer and as a gift, I will donate it to them free!

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      @vastrightwing: I think this is a little different…it’s pretty standard that if you come up with stolen goods – even if you didn’t know they were stolen when you purchased them – you have to fork it over. Though you *should* make Comcast file a police report, so the police can go after the guy who sold it to you, knowing it was stolen.

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      @johnnya2: Um, when you get a gift receipt, you get a *real* receipt, too, so you would probably exchange/return with the itemized, full receipt you were given in addition to the gift receipt.

  32. glennski says:

    I wouldn’t give the money to a friend or relative if they came to me with that story. Sorry bout your luck feller, take it up with CC. I did my part and provided the obligatory gift. What you, or circuit city decided to do after that is out of my hands. I would provide them with the number for customer service though.

    • Amethyst02 says:

      @glennski: Wow that’s harsh. Technically the money doesn’t belong to you anymore. If they can prove it, it’s their money. Glad I’m not your relative.

  33. Mr.SithNinja says:

    It was a huge mistake on the part of the cashier and CC should have given her a gift card for compensation but there was no way that they could of “voided” or “reversed” the transaction like a lot of you seem to think. Once a credit has been made back to a card that is it. There is no taking it back. They would be commiting credit card fraud if they tried to “re-charge” the original purchaser’s card without their permission.

    It was a bad situation that CC made worse by telling the customer to “take it up with the card holder”.

    • Lance Uppercut says:

      @Mr.SithNinja: That’s not completely true. I can’t speak for CC, but where I work at we can void any transaction (return or sale) that occured that day and it’s like it never happened.

      It doesn’t re-charge the original card.

      • LiC says:

        @dabrown: Word, yo. Same thing where we happened – card numbers got approved, but we didn’t send the charges off to get processed until sometime in the night.

    • OldJohnRobinson says:


      That is rubbish. It is entirely possible depending on Circuit City’s system. Back in my retail days for a major company, we could easily post-void any transaction after the fact as long as it was done that day prior to the nightly closing of the system that controlled the cash registers. Credit card purchases were not uploaded to their respective card companies until sometime about 2am on the east coast after the Hawaii stores had time to close. A post-voided transaction would be taken out of the data dump for that night’s purchases as if it never existed. I am under the impression that most retail cash systems work that way, so it is more than likely that Circuit had the option to do that.

      That would take the refund off of the original card (and no, it would not be credit card fraud because you were taking a credit off of a card that shouldn’t have been there in the first place, thus correcting a mistake”). If it didn’t refund the gift card, the supervisor should have funded one as customer service and taken care of the paperwork in the next day’s audit cycle. End of.

    • schweetzy says:

      @Mr.SithNinja: Exactly. I work for a retailer that does not have the option to perform post-voids at the store level. I’m the cashier trainer for the entire SoCal region. I find it puzzling that so many people deny that a company that does not have a post-void option in their POS system exists.

      I also think it’s rather silly to suggest cashier oversight. Either you have a post-void option or you don’t, and the option to post-void is almost always at the discretion of management or above–not a cashier.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      @Mr.SithNinja: I develop ecommerce software, and ALL credit card transactions can be voided the same day, and will never show on a statement.

      Of course now they have lost that option.

  34. twophrasebark says:

    I think the OP is not giving us the whole story. He is intentionally oblique on who gave the gift. I don’t think he knows who gave the gift. Or this is some kind of eBay thing.

    Something’s not completely right about this story.

    • kathyl says:

      @twophrasebark: No, I think the OP is expecting the concept that the store would force you to go to a person who gave you a $130 gift and tell them that you hated it and tried to return it and the idiot clerk credited the money back to the giver’s card instead of giving the giftee store credit…is unspeakably RUDE.

      This is the whole reasoning behind gift receipts, so that if the recipient of a gift decides to return it, it can be done without bothering (insulting, and embarrassing) the gift giver.

  35. loueloui says:

    Right. His name is probably Cliff Yablonski.

  36. Jnetty says:

    I had a similar issue with circuit city about 2 years ago. I got a $50 American Express gift card for Christmas. I bought something and then returned it to circuit city. When I bought I didnt notice that the CC agent took my gift card and i guess put in the trash. When i return the product the refund was sent back to the American Express Gift card. CC tried to talk with American Express and I also talked to them, but they could not do anything. I was told to contact the person that gave me the card. In this case though, the person that gave me the card, bought the card at a store and he no record of it either. So there still a American Express card number in cyberspace with about $50 minus the yearly fee.

  37. Amelia Subverxin says:

    Circuit City shouldn’t have let it go this far. Most point-of-sale systems allow you to have a manager void a transaction as long as they do it on the same day. If I was handling a return that one of my cashiers botched, I’d simply void and re-ring it.

    At this point, it’s too late. If I were Circuit City, I would just give him the gift card.

  38. jscott73 says:

    Maybe we should all agree to stop giving “stuff” as gifts, including gift cards, and switching to money as gifts. When did it become impolite to offer cash as a present? I love getting cash, who doesn’t, yet why is there this stupid stigma about giving cash as a present?

    A whole lot of problems reported here on consumerist and elsewhere would be eliminated if we all took a collective stance to stop filling the coffers of retailers every time a present is needed and just gave the person a $20, $50 or $100 instead. Problem Solved.

    • Lance Uppercut says:

      @jscott73: I personally hate getting cash as a gift. Not because it’s impresonal, but because I don’t like using it. I charge everything.

      When I have cash I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t like depositing it at an ATM and I also don’t want to carry it around. I usually end up sticking it somewhere to save until there’s something that I have to use cash for like toll roads or the BMV.

  39. SuneetiHoi says:

    I had a problem with this same store a few years ago. I went to college in Stevens Point, WI and the closest Circuit city at the time was the one in Appleton. I had a problem with my laptop, and had to drive almost an 1 1/2 to the store to get it fixed (since it was under warranty). When I gave them the laptop, I asked if they needed the power cord (since the the problem was the laptop not getting any power when plugged in) and she said no. about a week later, and called to see if it was ready since they had to send it to Chicago to get repaired. They said no, because they needed the power cord. So I had to make a 3-hour roundtrip, just to drop off the cord. I waited 2 more weeks until it was repaired, and then had to drive another 3-hours to finally pick up my laptop. over all, I had to wait almost a month for it to be repaired, and over 9 hours of driving time. for a college student this was a lot. sorry to hear about your problem Sean!

  40. rbf2000 says:

    This was definitely an innocent, if not careless and lazy, mistake. It’s much easier to refund back to the original credit card that was used (refunding back a different payment type, at least when I used to work there, required a manager’s override). Customer Service people get so used to their routine of returning and refunding that when something different comes up like an exchange, they don’t bother to get out of their flow.

    Calling this theft is just plain silly. I don’t want to defend the CC associate here, because I can very easily imagine them being stupid and/or lazy, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the customer said that he wanted to return the item, thinking that meant the same thing as exchange.

    Circuit City associates and managers don’t have a way to void credit card transactions. Think of how easily that could be abused:

    The CSR could refund the amount, wait for the customer to leave and cancel the transaction. Then they could issue themselves a gift card for the amount of the transaction.

    • MayorBee says:

      @rbf2000: Seriously? You think that managers can’t void a credit card transaction? Yes, it requires a manager to override the system, because clerks can’t do it, but it can be done. Also, your example of easy abuse is even more easily traced.

      The manager reverses a transaction, then refunds the same item to a gift card. Then he spends the gift card. The customer who has a refund receipt doesn’t see the refund in the 4-7 day timeframe and comes back to complain. Whoever is in charge that day looks up the transaction number in the computer and sees that manager Joe Schmoe voided that transaction. Now Joe has to explain why he canceled the transaction and risks losing his job.

      • Amethyst02 says:

        @MayorBee is getting what plants crave: It’s even more than that, where I work there is a daily report on post voids, who ran the transaction and who approved the void. The supervisor looks it over and questions any suspicious transactions. And that same paperwork moves up the chain in audit meetings.

        Also a manager or head cashier must approve the transaction in the first place, and even then they cannot approve their own transactions. So the fraud theory doesn’t hold water.

    • Guitarist970 says:

      @rbf2000: Ding ding ding! rbf2000 is absolutely correct. A Circuit City manager can not void this kind of credit card transaction. It would require a re-charge of the original card, which they did not have in their possession, nor did they have the card owner’s permission to do so.

      In addition Circuit City’s return policy is very clearly advertised, any refunds will be credited to the original form of payment, with the exception of cash over $300, that is re-payed by check if my memory serves.

      Was it a stupid mistake…yes. However I have a feeling that the customer may be at fault here as well by not making the situation completely clear to the clerk. When you process as many returns as a CSA it becomes routine and unless you’re told this return is special you’re going to do it the same was as you did all the others. However this is just speculation, I have no evidence to prove the previous statement.

      Either way what happened wasn’t theft, it was a mistake. As far as my credibility for the previous statements, I was employed by Circuit City for 4 years in a variety of positions, including CSA.

  41. ZukeZuke says:

    They could and should have reversed the transaction and then gave him his credit/giftcard.

    They batch-process these transactions at night when they do their closing and reconcile sales, so it’s not like the credit occurred real-time and was a done deal. I think it was just laziness on that CC’s part, hoping he’d just go away.

  42. natsirt says:

    I had the same thing happen to me at a Circuit City in Olympia, Washington. I would have created a huge stink about it but the cashier struck me as untrained and I knew that the person who purchased the gift would have no problem fixing the mistake.

  43. ZukeZuke says:

    p.s. I wouldn’t generalize and say this is typical of Circuit City as a whole. I’ve had good customer service on returns/credits at my local CC.

  44. PrimaveraBizzle says:

    I’m not totally on the side of Circuit City with this one but I think there was some miscommunication. When a gift receipt is entered or scanned into the system, it pulls up the same screen as if the actual receipt had been used. Now if the op went and said “I want to return this,” the customer service rep is going to instinctively think, return the money back to the card used for purchase. If the op had said “I would like to exchange this,” the rep is going to know, right off the bat, that this involves getting another product or store credit.
    Yes, the rep should have seen the gift receipt and used their brain a little more to figure out it should have been an exchange and not a return.
    The customer service reps eventually space out a bit and run on cruise control. Product is sealed, customer asks for return, take receipt, scan it, tell the system to return/charge back to card, done.

  45. johnnya2 says:

    First off, just because something is a gift receipt does not make it obvious where the money should go. What if I bought it as a gift and realized it wasn’t right or it was 100’s cheaper somewhere else. I would want that credited to my card. Did you say, i want to return this, or I need to exchange it for something else, or how did you present it.
    It is not theft, because CC was not enriched in any way. The person who has a contract with CC was the purchaser, and they received money back. CC did not get a dime out of the transaction, so go ahead and call the police or sue them in small claims. The burden of proof is on you to prove the property was yours to begin with, and if you couldn’t explain the situation to the gift giver i am guessing hauling their ass to court wouldn’t be the best way they find out.

    • InThrees says:


      Are you serious? There was no ‘contract with CC’ for the original purchaser in this instances, since they GAVE THE ITEM AS A GIFT. That sort of transfers ownership to the giftee, you know?

      Pretend it was a gift card, and instead of letting you buy $130 worth of merchandise, they accidently un-sold the gift card. Would you feel wronged? Hint: you should.

    • katoninetales says:

      @johnnya2: If you were the original purchaser, you should have the original receipt, and then they can return it to the CC. Getting a gift receipt doesn’t mean you don’t get the original receipt. It’s so that the other person can return it if they want while you keep the original itemized receipt and the other person, if the other person wants to keep the item, doesn’t see what you paid for it.

  46. Petra says:

    Most stores make returns via credit card if that’s how the item was originally purchased (the same if you used cash or a gift card). Unless Sean told them upfront that he was not the original purchaser and that he would be requiring either cash or store-credit, the mistake is justifiable. However, upon realizing this mistake, they immidiately should have canceled the refund to the card (which is NOT instantaneous…with store refunds, I’ve had to wait over a week before getting a refund to my credit card!) and offered to fix the mixup. Asking someone to go to the original gift-purchaser to ask for the money back is downright rude!

    On a side note, I certainly wouldn’t spend $130 on a friend unless I KNEW it would be something they’d actually enjoy and keep! Although I must admit, those Logitech Harmonies are very, VERY awesome…

    • dweebster says:

      @Petra: “Unless Sean told them upfront that he was not the original purchaser and that he would be requiring either cash or store-credit, the mistake is justifiable.”

      Clue, Sherlock Holmes: receipt says “GIFT”

  47. quagmire0 says:

    What boggles my mind is that it was a gift receipt, so you figure the clerk would scan it and it would automatically give them the only options someone with a gift receipt would get – store credit or cash (probably just store credit). Dumb.

  48. SusitaAngelfish says:

    I am sorry to inform you that the clerk, the supervisor, and the operations manager, at CC are morons. A credit, just like a debit operation, can be VOIDED if one finds out that it’s wrong. Especially since you found out right after it was done, VOIDING it is somewhat trivial and require a few keystrokes, and nothing wold show up on the holder of the card.
    I’ve been dealing with credit cards operations for 14 years now, terminals, POS, online, you name it, there’s no much difference, different interface to the same back-end.
    Those three people are guilty of laziness, incompetence, or both.


    • katoninetales says:

      @SusitaAngelfish: Exactly. At the chain bookstore where I work, it requires a supervisor or a head cashier, but so do returns, and it only takes a minute or so to do a post-void on the return transaction and return it to store credit.

    • OprahBabb says:


      I agree. No “credit” is instantaneous for situations such as this. There is usually a processing time (3-5 working days) before the funds are returned to whatever card they processed it to, so they CAN cancel that transaction and process back to the correct card.

      Why give a gift receipt otherwise? Jeez Circuit City, get it together. Sounds reminiscent of the Verizon Roadside Assistance story…I think redemption is on the way, albeit delayed a week or two.

      • SusmitaDadlet says:

        @OprahBabb: Unfortunately you are incorrect, there are a number of Point of Sales systems do not allow you to reverese a credit transaction once it has been tender, espically one like circuit citys were you cannot easily access the entire card number if it is not directly in front of you

        • SJActress says:

          You don’t need to reverse it. Just go to the reference # and change the credit amount to 0. Then give this guy his money.

          How do you think restaurants/bars adjust transactions for tips?

          I work on the most antiquated CC machine in the WORLD, and I can do this. I don’t need the card #, just the reference # of the transaction, which is printed right on the receipt. And if it somehow didn’t print a receipt, most machines will let you “review” your transactions, starting with the latest one…WHERE YOU WOULD FIND OUT WHAT THE REFERENCE # OF THE LAST TRANSACTION WAS.

          The batch isn’t sent in until the end of day/end of shift/batch is full. All of this info stays in limbo until the batch is deposited. There is ALWAYS a way to undo what you’ve done before a deposit.

  49. MrEvil says:

    I remember working the returns desk at Lowe’s several years ago that if the customer wanted merchandise credit, we could give it to them no problem. All we had to generally do was select the giftcard as tender and swipe a new giftcard. The only time the register picked for us was when we HAD to give the customer store credit due to either no receipt or a purchase by check that had not cleared.

    • dweebster says:

      @MrEvil: God, Lowes is the absolute worst – never thought ANYONE could make Home Depot look good but they have succeeded in spades.

      Lowe’s “No questions asked” warranty really means a whole LOT of questions, mandatory drivers license, etc. for **exchanging** a $5.00 STORE BRAND tool that failed. Stores appear to be run by a HAL9000 on a GOOD day. I’m no “loss prevention” expert – but why screw (nice pun, eh?) with a customer *exchanging* something with a “lifetime warranty” he can ONLY buy at your store for the *exact* same thing? And blatantly failing to honor written warranty terms like that is sadly unethical and illegal AFAIK.

      Apparently “lifetime warranty” and “no questions asked” is valid until Lowe’s has your money and you open the package. Bastards will be meeting up with some karmic class action suit very soon…

      • katoninetales says:

        @dweebster: Exchanging for the same thing? That’s crazy (of Lowe’s, not you). If it’s defective, and someone wants a new one, give them the new one and do the same damned thing you’d do with it if you found it defective in the store.

  50. mugsywwiii says:

    Why not just go to the person who gave you the remote? You don’t have to worry about offending them by returning the gift, that’s why they gave you the gift receipt.

    • Citron says:

      @mugsywwiii: Why should he be punished for something that wasn’t his fault? The store should be jumping to fix this, not forcing him to be further inconvenienced by having to go to his friend.

      It’s not so much that he couldn’t possibly do this, so much as Circuit City needs to learn that they’re handling this situation poorly so that it doesn’t happen again.

    • dweebster says:

      @mugsywwiii: Yeah, what’s the OP’s big problem? Sure, he probably spent a few minutes or hours plotting out a few candidate items to buy with that $130.00 that day. Maybe even waited until he “needed” it that day. So if Circuit City steals his property and says to go retrieve it from his uncle in Mexico City, it’s no big deal.

      Apparently, inconveniencing the customer is just “business as usual” at Circuit City?

  51. fett387 says:

    I would have walked out with my product since they didn’t give me the money for it. It would still belong to me because I never got my refund.

    It’s like me tossing a $500 Best Buy gift card to the Circuit City clerk as I was walking out with a TV and telling the clerk to go to Best Buy to get their money.

    Let them call the police on me for stealing. What would be their arguement? “We gave his refund to someone else so he can’t leave with that!”

    • dweebster says:

      1) Police know store managers VERY well due to shoplifting issues, and often pal around with them
      2) due to #1, police always or usually assume the customer is wrong in an incident like this
      3) Police carry firepower and other means of violence
      4) You never know if Officer Furman is having a bad day and not thinking well.

  52. InThrees says:

    This is just patently ridiculous.

    A person walks into a Circuit City store with $130 of merchandise that they own, and a little while later, walk out with nothing.

    CC, how is that NOT your fault?

  53. uberbitter says:

    A very similar thing happened to me at Best Buy almost three years ago, and it was what made me stop shopping there. A friend had bought me and my boyfriend 4 sticks of RAM as a gift that were supposed to be identical. When we went to install them, one was the wrong kind, even though the correct product was on the receipt.

    The idiot at the desk returned the wrong stick of RAM because he “didn’t want to mess up their inventory.” Except that he didn’t pay attention to our explanation and ended up screwing up their inventory even worse. All he had to do was take the wrong thing out of the bag and put the right thing in.

    Rob, the “customer service manager,” kept cutting us off time and time again and eventually we were escorted out of the store by the police because we made the guy cry (the police were sympathetic to us but had to ask us to leave, according to them).

    Many calls to corporate did not resolve the situation to our satisfaction, so we don’t spend a dime there and use them to check out products in person that we later buy online, and of course, to say “Hi!” to our good buddy Rob…

    • dweebster says:

      @uberbitter: Yup, the police know who they will be dealing with on a regular basis, and it ain’t the ones in the right.

      Shame on you for thinking the police are there to protect you. Quite often, they are not.

  54. tooki says:

    When I worked at a computer store (not CompUSA!), the point of sale system had no way to post-void a transaction, even for a store manager. As a normal-privileged employee, I could return to any payment method I wanted, including the original or a new credit card, but once a credit or debit card transaction had gone through, that was it. I spent three hours on the phone with BofA one time trying to get a card authorization cancelled after a cash register glitch. Unsuccessfully.

    Circuit City uses the same core point-of-sale system (Oracle, formerly 360commerce), so I wouldn’t be surprised if they, also, lack post-void functionality. See [] for other stores that use this software.

  55. mcrbpc says:

    same thing happened to me at CC a few years ago. Luckily it was only like $20 and I told my friend (the gift-giver) and he promised to buy me something pretty. Come to think of it, he never made good on that promise…oh well.

    CC is full of FAIL.

  56. EdnaLegume says:

    i’m confused. the money went back exactly where it came from. How is this theft? it’s not like CC kept the money and the item.

    Sure it sucks and they did it wrong, but CC hasnt’ stolen anything. They put the money back where it came from, albeit in error.

  57. Wolzard says:

    As Tooki said, CC can’t reverse or post-void a transaction as many of you are spewing, so please stop saying it’s that simple.

    Second, it more than likely was done as an innocent mistake, it’s very easily to accidently tender something through to the original paytype, especially if these is even a simple 2 second hangup in the register where you didn’t *think* it registered your keystroke, but it did.

    Last thing is, it could have been a misunderstanding on either end as well. In this case, it sounds like a mistake on the employee’s part, but I’ve processed returns myself, told customers where the money was going, only to have them come back 30 seconds later or when they come back to reality (or get off their cell phone) and ask where their cash/gift card is. At that point it’s way too late.

  58. gzusrox says:

    First of all he/she’s in Wisconsin. Nuff said.

  59. LorraineEgonon says:

    I run a sales office in our company, and every charge or return is spooled till the end of the day when the entire batch is then sent to the bank. It’s very simple to void a sale or a return before the end of the day when we post the batch.

  60. NadiaRuga says:

    I have worked in a Circuit City for three years and counting, and we use a computer system that is from the 80’s. There is no way to void the last transaction. That money is instantly removed from the account or charged to the credit card. The only way to reverse the transaction would be to “re-buy” the item with the original form of payment. The problem here is two-fold. One, the original purchaser was not present and circuit city has no right to charge someone’s card without them being present. Two, depending on the balance of the purchaser’s account this may not tender due to the fact that the refund takes a few days to process unlike the sale.

    The supervisor and manager are not to blame, there was nothing in their power to do. The customer service associate is at fault because she did not ask the customer if he was the purchaser, and also because she absolutely should never have processed a return to a credit account without asking for identification and the card itself.

    Just my two cents, if someone gives you a Harmony remote, you probably know them well enough to take care of it.

  61. crazydavythe1st says:

    Sorry guys, but it doesn’t work this way. Quoting the MasterCard Merchant Rules Manual, section 3-12:

    “If a card acceptor agrees to accept merchandise for return or to cancel services, the card acceptor must credit the same account used to purchase the merchandise or service.”


    I believe that Visa, Discover, and Amex also have provisions similar to this. It isn’t necessarily right, but I wouldn’t necessarily blaim CC.

  62. xip says:

    A lot of stores have a policy on crediting purchases made with credit cards back to the original card. It’s a common policy that makes sense in normal circumstances. However, following that policy for a gift receipt doesn’t make sense. The main purpose of a gift receipt is to allow you to exchange a gift you don’t want for a gift that you do want without having to go through the trouble of contacting the person who gave it to you and telling them that you didn’t like it. The purpose of a gift receipt is not to give the money back to the purchaser.

    In this case, the store screwed up and didn’t want to go through the trouble to fix the problem they created.

  63. Cliff_Donner says:

    Certainly the original purchaser and gift-giver will see the $130 credit on his credit card statement, and may well figure out what has happened. The idea of not offending the gift-giver by informing them that their gift has been returned is pretty much moot at this point.

    • dweebster says:


      1) Some people re-gift.
      2) Some people fall out of favor or touch with a gift giver,or they could be in another town or state or country.
      3) Some companies give gifts as prizes and such.
      4) Some credit card numbers change or are closed.
      5) Etc.

      CC stole his property that he had full title to. After you’ve been robbed before your eyes, it’s pretty ridiculous for the robber to claim he can’t figure out how to give your property back and that it’s your problem to pursue the “fence” he gave it to.

  64. Difdi says:

    If I were to be in the situation the OP describes, having returned an item but not been given money or store credit, I’d have grabbed the item and walked out. It’s not shoplifting if you own the item, and since they didn’t exchange value for value, it’s not theirs.

    • dweebster says:

      @Difdi: Problem is:

      1) It was probably out of reach.
      2) If the staff was so stupid they couldn’t fix this, it’s a sure bet they wouldn’t have a grasp of the fine points of the law and would have called the cops.
      3) The responding police, having built up a relationship with the store employees (because of shoplifting calls) would have automatically assumed their friends were “in the right” and worked from that framework.
      4) If the OP was in possession of his property that the CC would have illegally claimed was theirs, most police would have sided with their friends @ CC and busted a little OP head for dragging them out of the Dunkin’ Donuts to deal with this crap.

      Best course of action is to do what you can within the store framework, noting time, names, faces, etc. Maybe file a police report at the station if you have time for the humiliation and futility. But it’s really something that the corporate overlords will need to deal with properly – if not then sue the bastards.

      • Difdi says:

        @dweebster: What can they charge you with? Theft? It belongs to you. Shoplifting? Same problem. Disturbing the peace? Possible, but extremely shaky.

  65. lulfas says:

    Possible I missed it, but after double checking the story, I never see where he ASKED for to either exchange it or receive it on a gift card. I worked returns at K-Mart a lot of years ago, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to bring in the gift receipt because they had lost the real one. Perhaps the consumer should have said something instead of assuming the minimum wage worker to read his mind?

    • dweebster says:

      @lulfas: Don’t the “GIFT” receipts say “GIFT” in some readable form? I can understand the register monkey screwing up, but it’s pretty ridiculous for the customer to have to say he’s NOT the original purchaser and it’s a “G-I-F-T.”

      Anyone with self respect running the cash register may have a problem with a customer that tells them that the “GIFT” receipt means it was a “GIFT.” He told them afterward, but even the genius running the store couldn’t figure out how to void a transaction that the cashier screwed up.

  66. dweebster says:

    If the guy is presenting a “GIFT” receipt for a refund, isn’t basic competence as a cashier to know it’s probably a “GIFT”?

    I don’t know about everyone else here, but I’ve never bothered to save a “GIFT” receipt for a purchase I made for myself. If I present a “GIFT” receipt it’s a pretty good bet that I am not the original purchaser and it was given to me as a “GIFT.” It’s also likely that I want to handle the “GIFT” replacement myself and not need to bother the person who originally gave me that “GIFT.”

    CC screwed up here, they need to return this guy’s property plus a serious “we messed up and are sorry” gift card. Here’s where I’d focus my attention after failing at the store level:

    CEO: Philip Schoonover
    Address: 9950 Mayland Dr., Richmond, VA 23233
    Phone: 804-527-4000

  67. dweebster says:

    So, Circuit City’s incompetence basically turned away a guaranteed $130.00+ sale, AND made sure they disappointed said guaranteed customer. Nice work, assclowns – firing all those “experienced” staff is really helping your bottom line, eh?

    With geniuses like these operating the stores, it’s a pretty safe bet that they aren’t maximizing income for their investors. Throw away enough $130.00 sales and they’ll be joining Good Guys, The Wiz, Sharper Image, CompUSA, and the rest of the has-beens in the consumer electronics retailing wastebin.

  68. jimjones124 says:

    As per policy, money will be credited back to the original card used. So they did what they were supposed to do. What the customer should have done was ask for a gift card instead of a refund. But I have a feeling this guy is a cheapskate in the first place to return a gift and try to get the money. Scan of the receipt?

    Ohhh and please call the police and a lawyer, lets tie this up and make some money for you.. NOT.

  69. UnityAndreus says:

    I recently went to cc topick up some software my mom needed and to pick up a cd that was released that day. I had wanted to go to best buy since i had called earlier to confirm if was in stock, but cc was the only one who had microsoft live one or whatever. i walked in, could not find the cd i wanted. foound a salesperson, asked them for help… after 5 minutes of searching he couldnt find it and went to the back to locate it. i picked up another cd i wanted and headed to the software section. there was a group of 3-4 20 somethings huddled around a closed register. I asked for the software, and they told me to go up front and theyd bring the software to that register. So i head up to that register, and im informed they DONT have the cd i had originally come for. they arent the biggest band, so i bit my tongue, asked them to seperate the items and paid for the other cd in cash. they scanned the software and told me the total, at which point i handed over my moms debit card. they asked for id, i showed it. the sales person asked me if it was my mothers, i told her it was, and she said she couldnt take it. keep in mind we have the same last names, and i had paid for a cd which was obviously mine in cash. i stormed out pissed off as anything. the next day when my mother went to pick up the software, they didnt even ask for her id. laziness at the end of the night, ageism, or just stupidity aside, they will never get a dime of my money again.

  70. puyro {who was banned for "junk comments" what? says:

    Can’t post void with CC’s system. Sucks :( When you hit “Enter” when doing a return, it is automatically returned to the credit card originally used. It can be put on a gift card though but if you have to add the gift card for the amount and then continue processing the return.
    I would have asked if he wanted a gift card seeing it was a gift receipt…

  71. puyro {who was banned for "junk comments" what? says:

    Oh and Philip Schoonover is no longer the CEO of Circuit City.

  72. dakker says:

    I’m failry certain CC still has “Loss Prevention” or Sales auditors.
    i.e. the people you call when you have credit card issues and need someone to research transactions. THEY have the ability to post void transactions even if the function isn’t available at store level.
    The management team should have just created a 2nd return for the same item and given him store credit.
    then gone backwards and got someone with the power and means to correct the issue.

  73. AlinaElipticate says:

    As a matter of fact, if all you say is “I want to return this” then yeah, it will be returned to the original card, and no, once it has been tendered, the system does not allow it to be cancelled.

  74. billbobbins says:

    Sounds like my story that was posted here of when a rebate company sent my check to a family member and told me to go get my money from them. After explaining to them that I would take them to small claims court and they could explain to a judge how I should get my money froma 3rd party, they quickly sent me a check.

    In this case I would not have left the store without my property or a refund. If someone takes your property and gives you nothing in return (against your will), that is theft pure and simple. It is up to the thieves to prove that they paid for the property. I would have filed a police report in this case. These thieving companies must learn the hard way that this is not acceptable. This person was deprived of his property and that is theft. If this person had taken an item from the store without compensating them, you can be SURE they would have had them arrested. I say you have the store clerk arrested!

  75. VarunRhea says:

    So it sounds like an honest mistake happened. The Circuit City associate does not need the credit card number as it is saved in the system. The associate is unable to view the credit card number so it is safe from fraudulent associates as well. If you truely did get this as a gift just suck it up and ask the person for the $130. they are getting back anyways can’t imagine it would be a problem. Sure they made a big mistake but is it really necessary to complain about it this way. It’s unfortunate that people feel they can complain about any small mishap and think they are “owed” everything!!!

    • Difdi says:

      @VarunRhea: Returning a gift to the gift-giver is a rather nasty insult. Few things in life are quite so rude, in fact. About the only things I can think of that surpass it in rudeness are physically stomping the gift into the mud in front of the gift-giver and instantly offering payment for the gift. Any of those three things were, in more polite eras, grounds for bloodshed and killing.

      For a business to return a gift to a gift-giver for someone might well have ended a friendship, possibly permanently.

  76. FishingCrue says:


  77. Wolzard says:

    Fact: Whenever legal terms are used, suddenly 75% or more of Consumerist readers become experts on law and interpreting it. It’s been pretty well clarified that this isn’t theft so far in this thread.

    • Difdi says:

      @Wolzard: Hypothetical case: you buy an item from a store, decide you don’t want it, still have the receipt and return the item. The clerk hands the refunded money to someone other than you, and takes back the item. You now have neither item nor money. How has the clerk not stolen from you?

  78. schweetzy says:

    This situation sucks, but believe it or not there are retailers that cannot do post-voids. I’m a lead cashier for a major electronics retailer and we are unable to do post-voids. Simply not an option in our POS system. But if this were to happen to me in my store, I would cash out a gift card and let the store take the hit, or escalate the matter to store operations. Never would I let the customer simply leave without compensation.

  79. Wolzard says:

    I do feel it’s important to mention here that as a CSA myself, I have been handed gift receipts and had the customer become confused when I handed them a gift card back, only to find out that they thought the gift receipt WAS the sales receipt.

    This case was more than likely the CSA’s fault and probably an accident, but to repeatedly throw insults that this person could not read what “G-I-F-T” meant is uncalled for. To make that kind of generalization would be calling a solid share of consumers stupid as well. Accidents happen, both ways, suprisingly enough.

  80. ZeemanFuge says:

    I had this same experience with a Lowe’s home improvement store. I think it’s just laziness on their part. You could probably make a sound legal argument that it’s theft, but this is almost certainly a case where the police will just tell you it’s a civil matter to avoid having to do any actual work.

  81. TheBursar says:

    He should have taken a similar remote that is rightfully his. If they (CC) call the cops, they would have to explain why the remote does not belong to him and “We gave the money to someone else” does not seem like proof to me.

  82. edrebber says:

    I this case the gift receipient did not make the purchase from Circuit City and is not bound by any contractual agreement between the purchaser and Circuit City.

    The gift receipient has no legal standing with the card holder to recover the money.

    The card holder did not retain title to the item and had no right to a refund.

    I would contact the corporate headquaters and explain the situation. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the better business bureau and your state’s Attoryney Generals office. If they won’t refund your money, then file a police report. Lastly, you might have to sue in small claims court.

  83. bentcorner says:

    Contacting his local police would probably be a waste of time. I recommend that he takes the issue to his state’s attorney general’s office. Normally each state has a department just for consumer protection. In this person’s case (Wisconsin), it would be the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer protection.


    The above website has contact information, along with instructions on how to file a complaint online.

  84. superqueen23 says:

    It is interesting that the card didn’t have to be present to make a return on to it. Any time I returned something when I was Assistant Manger at a music/movie store, I had to swipe the card in order to return the product onto it. If people did not have the card, we had to give store credit (or cash if it was under $20). It seems like a bad idea to have it go automatically onto the card considering, not only was it a gift receipt, but also that it would require no proof of purchase and the individual could of found the receipt and picked up a new copy, impacting the bottom line of the retailer. A post void could of easily rectified this situation. Unless, the money never was destined to go back on the card after all?

  85. joellevand says:

    Am I the only person here who’s ever worked in retail?

    1: Many stores have a “credit to the original card or use as an exchange THE SAME DAY as the return” policy. Period. End of story. With or without the gift receipt. I’ve worked for stores like this in the past. I do not shop there, because I do not agree with company policy, but I know of a few stores that have this policy.

    2: Many more companies have a NO VOIDS rule. I can name about four retail stores I worked for in high school and college that had that policy. Voids would trigger an internal audit and usually resulted in demotion or firing of the manager who did them.

    Sorry, but a customer’s satisfaction isn’t worth my job. And no, you saying “But she did what I wanted!” isn’t going to save anyone’s job.

  86. vespolina says:

    I used to work for a large retail chain store, and they would not credit a return back to the credit card used to buy the item, unless the customer had the credit card in hand. It wasn’t because of situations like this – it was because the store didn’t HAVE the original credit card number.

    When customers would complain about not getting a credit because they didn’t bring the card with them, the manager would reply “I can’t give you a credit because we don’t know what your account number is. We don’t save the numbers. If we saved the number for your convenience, then we would be maintaining a giant database of credit card numbers, just waiting for a hacker to break in and steal them, like TJ Max. If we don’t ever have your number in our system, then you never have to worry about us misusing it or having it stolen.”

    The smarter customers would say “hmmm, good point.”

    So the point is – I’m not happy about the fact that Circuit City is saving credit card numbers, and has the ability to put credits (and possibly new charges?) on that card without the cardholder AND the actual card being there in the store. *Especially* if they appear to lack the ability to undo a transaction.

    • joellevand says:

      @vespolina: That’s a good point, which I hadn’t thought of. Come to think of it, I can’t ever remember processing a refund without having the original card on hand.

      Thing is, at least where I used to work (various places in NJ), there was a lot of cc fraud. Steal a card, buy lots of merch., then hand merch. off to a friend to return for cash or credit. If store credit, they could then ebay off the store credit for the same or more than the actual items would have brought. So most of the stores had a policy of only putting it back on the card. But you’re right — 99% of the time, we had to have the card present to do that. I didn’t think of that.

      Of course, I did work at Wilson’s Leather once, and they would give you CASH for a return, regardless of original payment type, if you had a gift receipt. Of course, now they’re going out of business, so maybe that wasn’t the best policy after all….

  87. fisherstudios says:

    Once the refund to the credit card is in the system it could be processed within seconds.

    And the company can’t re-charge the card because they don’t have the right to do so (no signature from the card holder!).

    Yes it was a stupid mistake on their part but at this point their hands are tied. There is no way in hell that they are going to give a $130 gift card or the same item to the person walking into the store, or else they are out $130 dollars worth of product. I’m sorry to say but most clients of circuit city only shop there once per 11 months with a zero or negative profit to the company after all is said and done. Simply put, that client is not worth $130 to retain as a customer.

  88. Raziya says:

    What might have happened here is when a refund goes through in the return policy time period, it automatically gets credited back to the original purchasers credit card and there is really nothing you can do about it. I work at Best Buy, and this is how are computers operate there. To make it go back as a store credit you have to trick the computer, by doing a no receipt return, which I have done before.

    CC is wrong in saying that there was nothing they could do – they could have easily post voided the transaction and done a no receipt return with the product to make it come back as store credit. Or whoever was returning could have just exchanged it for something right on the spot, avoiding this mess in the first place. :

    I always present people with a gift return with lots of different options, and it sounds like they didn’t.

  89. NoelIullus says:

    How do you prove that that item is your property if it’s a gift?

    What’s to stop someone from stealing all your Christmas presents and returning them to the stores for a credit?

    What’s to stop someone from laundering money by buying expensive items on one card, returning the items and putting the money onto another card?

    Or doing the same in order to juggle credit?

  90. GemmaKnujunkle says:

    My mother had the *exact* same thing happen to her at a Circuit City after Christmas last year. I gave her laptop bag with a gift receipt, which she tried to return. Surprise, they credited my credit card instead of giving her a store credit and she left the store empty-handed after being told the exact same thing that Sean reported.