Walmart Is Trying To Fill My Yard With Plastic Garbage Cans

Shantelle tells Consumerist that she ordered one garbage can from Walmart online. No one is entirely sure how, but she ended up with five cans instead. She could give them away or start a drum circle, but now she’s stuck with a dilemma: how does she return something to a store when she never bought it in the first place? Will Walmart ever catch up with her and charge her for the four additional cans…even though there’s no documentation that she ever received them?

While I hate shopping at Wal-mart IRL, I quite enjoy their online shopping. I can often find good deals and free shipping, their customer ratings are quite helpful, and if I have a problem with an item I can take it back to a store with no questions.

I am having an odd dilemma with my most recent order. I ordered four items, one of which was a tall plastic garbage can.

The box showed up, I opened it, and found FOUR tall plastic garbage cans. The other items were not there, although they were listed on the enclosed packing slip (along with a correct note of ONE garbage can).

I was all prepared to take the package to the store and deal with the mistake, when another box showed up.

I figured it was my missing items. It was. Along with ANOTHER tall plastic garbage can.

I’m not outraged, I’m not whining. I’m just worried that Wal-mart is going to figure out their mistake and bill me for these 4 cans. I’m an honest person, I don’t want to keep something that isn’t mine (plus who needs 5 garbage cans?) but I am also worried that if I return them to the store it won’t be noted in my account and they will then later bill me. How can they do a return for something I never bought?

Can anyone tell me how to get a hold of someone about this? I’ve scoured the orders area of the website and can’t seem to find any contact information.

Help! I’m drowning in garbage cans.

At the rate the local municipal trash collectors are destroying my garbage cans, I could use all four of Shantelle’s extras. But that doesn’t help.

I would return the four extra cans to a brick-and-mortar Walmart store and demand some kind of documentation of their return. Are there any shoppers out there with experience in this area, or knowledgeable Walmart employees (no, that’s not an oxymoron) who can help?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Smashville says:
    • shangyle says:

      OP here.

      Yep, I filled out their form and sent it into the void. No response yet but we’ll see.

  2. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    Most likely they were nested inside one another and the person packing the box just grabbed what they thought was one and dumped the stacked cans in the shipping box.

    Not only will the warehouse not charge you, but they will probably never notice the shortage until the next monthly inventory cycle.

    • Big Ant says:

      I don’t think this was the case because they were received in a separate shipping. Maybe they were addressed wrong or something.

  3. KillerBee says:

    I would ATTEMPT to return them. I suspect the employees won’t have any way to accept the return, and they will them Shantelle to keep them. I would them demand documentation that she was told to keep them, or a receipt for no charge… something like that.

  4. Marlin says:

    e-mail so that way you have a paper trail and also if they replay a e-mail stating what to do.

    But since you never ordered more than 1 trash can they can not charge you for something you did not order/request.

  5. temporaryscars says:

    Print out five copies of your receipt, return all five, one at a time. **Devilish grin**

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Why hasn’t she even talked to Wal-Mart to see whether it can send her a pre-paid shipping label for the four trashcans? She has all of the evidence to suggest that she purchased ONE trashcan and received FOUR. I get that scheduling a UPS or Fedex pickup or even taking them to the post office might be more hassle, but she was all set to take them to the Wal-Mart store so how is that any different?

    Since she didn’t want them and didn’t pay for them, she shouldn’t have to pay to ship them back and should try to talk to Wal-Mart about getting a pre-paid shipping label. If she’s just returning extra items she didn’t order, there’s no recourse.

  7. stebu says:

    Many Xmases ago, i ordered a gameboy color from amazon. I got six instead (they appear to be internally packages in six-packs). I emailed amazon three times about it, and was completely ignored.

    Many people were happy that xmas!

  8. psikic says:

    From the FTC’s website:

    *Unordered Merchandise*
    Whether or not the Rule is involved, in any approval or other sale you must obtain the customer’s prior express agreement to receive the merchandise. Otherwise the merchandise may be treated as unordered merchandise. It is unlawful to:

    Send any merchandise by any means without the express request of the recipient (unless the merchandise is clearly identified as a gift, free sample, or the like); or,
    Try to obtain payment for or the return of the unordered merchandise.
    Merchants who ship unordered merchandise with knowledge that it is unlawful to do so can be subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. *****Moreover, customers who receive unordered merchandise are legally entitled to treat the merchandise as a gift.***** Using the U.S. mails to ship unordered merchandise also violates the Postal laws.

    • ConsumerA says:

      Yep, it’s hers to keep, free and clear. Someone on Gizmodo was worried last week that they’d be charged for receiving unordered iPhones. I’d love to receive several unordered iPhones on my doorstep!

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “While I hate shopping at Wal-mart IRL, I quite enjoy their online shopping”

    Just own up, you like shopping at Walmart – because that’s exactly what you’re doing.

    • Jacquilynne says:

      Eh, it depends if she’s a moral highground “WalMart is the devil and ruining our economy, small-town values and apple pie” anti-WalMart person or a pragmatic “WalMarts are overcrowded, understaffed and annoying” anti-WalMart person. If she’s a moral highground person, then, yeah, shopping at is just as bad as shopping at WalMart, possibly worse. If she’s a pragmatist who doesn’t like the WalMart store experience, then shopping online is completely different.

    • shangyle says:

      OP here.

      Jacquilynne is right. I’m not morally opposed to shopping at Wal-mart. It’s just the one in metro Salt Lake totally sucks. 45 minutes to check out, regardless of the time of day or how many items you have. Completely disorganized and the inventory is varied and unpredictable. I would have to drive an hour to find a decent one, so I don’t bother.

    • coren says:

      I can’t speak for her, but sometimes actually going into the Walmart is the low pint of my day. Rude employees, annoying children, stupid receipt checking, all that jazz. Online shopping avoids all that.

  10. YamiNoSenshi says:

    They cannot charge you for them. If they ship you something you never ordered, it’s considered a gift and legally yours. You can try and return them, but there is no obligation to do so other than it being the right thing. And with how much business Walmart does, I doubt they care about four plastic garbage cans.

  11. Bob says:

    I found this goody on the FTC web site:

    Unordered Merchandise

    It is a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act to send unordered merchandise through the mail unless it is a free sample marked as such or is sent by a charitable organization asking for, but not requiring, a contribution. Most states treat unordered merchandise as a gift. Persons sending unordered merchandise through the mail are prohibited from demanding payment, and you have the right to keep the goods or to dispose of the goods in any manner you wish. Moreover, billing for unordered merchandise may constitute mail fraud and/or misrepresentation.

    So I guess she is off the hook since she ordered and paid for 1 garbage can and not 5.

    If you disagree please site a change or addendum in this mail fraud law.

  12. RandomHookup says:

    And we know it’s impossible to throw those things away…

    • Silverhawk says:

      I know you’re probably joking, but you have no idea how true that is. When I moved into our current house, the previous owners left behind a large collection of trash cans in the backyard, nearly all in poor shape. It took months to get the trash guys to actually TAKE the cans, leaving notes with variations on “please take this trash can”.

      Watching them discuss whether the note meant that the can was /filled/ with trash, or was trash itself was both amusing and infuriating.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I was both joking and serious. It is tough to get the trash guys to figure out you want to throw away a trash can (especially if English isn’t their first language). I think Bill Cosby did a routine on this, but I couldn’t find it online.

  13. kmw2 says:

    This happened to me one time – ordered one kitchen stool, ended up with two. Who needs two kitchen stools? After spending a couple hours on the phone with Walmart customer service reps disavowing all knowledge of the extra stool and insisting it didn’t exist, I gave up and gave the non-existent kitchen stool to my sister. It’s their profit margin, I guess.

  14. mocena says: This is what this reminds me of.

    • shangyle says:

      Ha! That was hilarious. Unfortunately I don’t think I have anything “more interesting in mind” for these garbage cans.

  15. lin says:

    A few years ago I ordered a memory card from and received a box of 50. I took one out, and returned the other 49 to my local Wal-Mart – I just explained what happened, showed them my receipt which showed how many I ordered, and they thanked me and took the rest. About a week later I received a Thank You card in the mail with a gift card inside.

  16. zodiastic says:

    Something similar happened to my mom years ago- black & decker shipped her a case of dustbusters instead of a dustbuster. When she called them, they told her to keep them because it would cost more to ship them back than it was worth to them.

  17. Npakaderm says:

    This happened to my dad, sort of. He ordered a Dell Inspriron Mini Netbook from Sam’s Club online. He was pleasantly surprised to receive TWO instead of one when the order arrived. However, the following day he got a phone call from Sam’s Club billing indicating they sent him a second netbook by mistake and that he would be charged if he didn’t ship it back in a few days. He opted to keep it and pay.

  18. J_Sch_1104 says:

    I once received a copy of a movie I didn’t order while we were part of the columbia house dvd club. I called to have them send a return label. They told me there was no record of it in there system and that I could keep it. I thought I should hold onto it and three months later it showed up on my bill. I returned it.
    Nothing is free, even their mistakes.

  19. DanGarion says:

    I know this is going to sound like an amazing concept, but how about contacting their customer service department via telephone…?

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:


      Either you have tried to contact Walmart CS by phone before, and that was meant as a sarcastic joke, or
      you have never tried to contact Walmart CS by phone, and you aren’t aware that that will be seen as a sarcastic joke.

  20. The Marionette says:

    I know this is the biggest dilemma that the consumerist has faced, but don’t you think it’ll just be a simple choice of either keeping them, or trying to return them? Other than that you’re just going into sub categories for the 2 choices.

  21. NumberSix says:

    Keep the cans. Move on with life.

  22. brianisthegreatest says:

    Load them up in the car or truck whatever you can. Take them to the Walmart parking lot. Unload. Leave. You’re done.

  23. strathmeyer says:

    Things like this seem to come up a lot. I don’t know why the article posters don’t seem to know about unsolicited goods laws.

  24. coren says:

    If this wasn’t one of those things like the Sterlite (sp) where you get six for whatever you pay,t hey were unsolicited, you keep them, sell them, whatever them, but they’re yours now

  25. OggJoshua says:

    Pfft, this was done ages ago, on Roseanne and All in the Family.

  26. Plasmafox says:

    morality dictates she try to return them, but under federal mail laws, they don’t have the right to sue or press charges.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Return them to the brick and mortar store, tell them you don’t have the receipt, and they’ll give you store credit. FTW!

  27. 89macrunner says:

    return them for store credit duh..

  28. czarrie says:

    Possible you just got someone else’s order by mistake, so someone else got billed for four trash cans that never showed up. I doubt it was a simple inventory mistake, since they wouldn’t have sent the second box — that means they caught it. I don’t think you’ll be billed for this but they might ask for the cans back if it is for someone else’s order.

  29. drburk says:

    Speaking of walmart when did they start opening stand alone grocery stores? and how do I get one near me?