Walmart Puts Defective Scooter I Returned Back On Shelf

After the electric scooter Eric bought for his son broke down three weeks after he bought it, he returned it to Walmart, only to see it pop back up on shelves for sale, ready to break another kid’s heart.

He writes about his wife’s reunion with the busted scooter:

In the course of her shopping today, she checked the scooter section since my son is still scooter-less. What does she see? A scooter in an unsealed box, obviously used. In fact, with shoe scuff marks identical to the ones my son nicely left on the scooter. The scooter that we had taken back, reported as “does not work”, and gotten our money back for about 3 days ago…

She says that next time she goes back, she’s taking a marker and writing “doesn’t work” on the box…

Does Walmart have some whiz-bang scooter repair department that we don’t know about? I guess it’s possible that they just replaced the batteries and now it works.

The marker idea probably isn’t legally sound, but the next would-be customer would thank her.


Edit Your Comment

  1. apd09 says:

    I guess it’s possible that they just replaced the batteries and now it works.

    not blaming the OP, but I wonder if Eric bothered to try and change the batteries. If the one he bought didn’t work and he returned it for a full refund then why not buy this and see if it works now.

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      I was thinking the same thing. When writing this letter, how does this guy not think: “..well..are they going to think i’m an idiot for not first checking the batteries before returning it as completely defective?”

      • aja175 says:

        Depends on the type of scooter. If it’s something big enough for a kid to ride it won’t be a readily available battery.
        Besides that, it’s a new scooter that doesn’t work. Is it really up to the consumer to troubleshoot and repair a device they just purchased?
        An interior panel fell off the door on my brand new car, I didn’t replace all the little barbs that hold it on myself, I took it to the place I got it to fix.

    • layton59 says:

      Yes, old batteries may be the problem.

      I am so old that I remember back in the early 1980’s that WalMart had some stores called BUD. One was in the Knoxville, Tennessee area. BUD stood for BROKEN-USED-DAMAGED. Was it also Sam Walton’s nickname? That was a fun store to shop at if you were handy at fixing broken items. Their prices were pretty cheap but it was always BUYER BEWARE, no refunds. I recently noticed that Goodwill Stores now sell their electronic items as “for parts only”. Makes it harder to return for a refund. “Sir you clearly got parts here.”

      • huadpe says:

        “For Parts Only” can also be useful as an accounting trick for businesses. If you buy a computer off the shelf, you can’t deduct the entire cost in one year, but have to spread it out. But if you buy parts + labour to have a computer built for you, you can deduct the parts same year, as well as the labour.

  2. ConsumerPop says:

    That is terrible…hopefully no one gets hurt on it to BBB? Or at least bring it up to the manager?

  3. jdmba says:

    Best Buy and Fry’s do this as well, and Best Buy will go the extra mile of re-shrink wrapping broken/returned items.

    • Bob Lu says:

      And add $75 for the “optimization”.

    • Laffy Daffy says:

      Fry’s at least will put a RETURNED sticker on the package and give a small price break

      • padarjohn says:

        If you tell Fry’s the item is defective they will mark it as such. I’ve watched them slap a big “Defective – return to manufacturer” sticker on things I’ve returned that didn’t work. I don’t think those make it back onto the shelf.

        • Azzizzi says:

          True, but not always. I’ve seen them re-wrap things I returned and put them right back on the shelf. I still shop in Fry’s, but I would never buy something that doesn’t have the original wrapper in tact.

          • byron says:

            Fry’s has re-wrapped two defective hard drives I bought as “open box” that, were likely defective and returned before me. I even told the department supervisor and she assured me they don’t do that, but I showed him the drive on the shelf after I returned it. I refuse to buy anymore of their open box items now.

        • Emperor Norton I says:

          Costco has big orange “Unsellable Merchandise” stickers they put on returns right at the front desk.

          And I once bought a light fixture at Home Depot. The first one had to be returned as the glass was broken. A neighbor saw it & liked it, so she went there & bought it. She came back with the broken one I had returned!

    • erciesielski says:

      I bought a “Refurbished” LG LCD TV from Best Buy once. No box, just a zip-loc freezer bag with the power cord, manual and remote. Foolish, yes. But it was 40% off!

      Anyway, I started having picture problems with it as soon as I got it home. I liked the TV and the price, so I called LG to come service it as it was still under warranty. LG said that this unit was returned as defective and Best Buy shouldn’t have resold it.

      I brought it back to Best Buy, the manager feigned embarrassment and said that someone must have made a mistake and put it on the sales floor. I picked a new TV, new for real this time, and left.

      The following week, I was back in the store for a video game. They had the exact same TV back out as “Open Box.” They did have a new accessory zip-loc though.

  4. Bob Lu says:

    It is a returned item, it is not food, OP can’t proof that the item is still not working, and Wal-Mart is clearly not disguising this item as a never-opened one.

    So how is putting it back on shelf not OK, and how come they think they have the right to write “not working”, which is a claim they don’t know to be true or not, on a box not belonging to them?

  5. Red Cat Linux says:

    No surprise. I bought a coin sorting machine at Wally World and after getting it home realised it wasn’t working. And was missing the paper coin rolls that were supposed to come in the box.

    After some fiddling, I managed to free the two quarters that were stuck in the mechanism and got it working. But I was still out the paper rolls, so I took it back.

    The employee at customer service was about as unsurprised as you could be at discovering that

    1) someone had purchased the item, used, then returned it
    2) without all the original parts
    3) and was then returned to the shelf to be subsequently re-purchased, damaged and incomplete by another customer
    4) who then returned it again. I, at least, made .50 on the deal.

    I do not doubt that it went right back on the shelf. So, to anyone who purchased a slightly flaky coin sorter from the WalMart in Columbia, MD, you have my sincere apologies.

  6. d0x360 says:

    Lots of stores do this. More often than not people return “defective” things that work just fine they just dont want them and they figure saying its defective is the least hassle way to get rid of it.

  7. Gravitational Eddy says:

    There’s also the possibility that the first owner didn’t bother to look at it and try to fix it. You know the type, they’ll return a brand new TV because the batteries that came with the TV’s remote control were DOA. ( “It just worked for a day and then the TV wouldn’t turn on!!” )
    Don’t laugh, I’ve seen this happen.
    We don’t have enough info about the product that was returned, but I kind of doubt it was anything major. Most likely a bad set of batteries like the above poster speculated…

  8. amd555 says:
  9. AstroWorn2010 says:

    When I worked at a nameless large video game retailer that ryhmes with Name Crop, when someone would return a game we would just seal it up and put it back on the shelf. At that time it was company policy, can’t speak for what they do now, but I imagine nothing has changed.

  10. TBGBoodler says:

    What I have done is slip a piece of paper in with the packaging that says “This item was returned as defective on [date].” That way, if the store bothers to look inside and perhaps fix the item, they will remove the slip of paper.

    Chances are better, though, that the folks at the return counter at Walmart threw the box right into the “reshelve” bin and never looked at it.

    If the slip of paper is in there, the folks who have to return the item (which is a pain, I agree) will at least know there was a problem that was not repaired or even looked at.

  11. injekted says:

    I used to work at Walmart in Colorado, and they had a full-time employee that put together new bicycles, and repaired bicycles and scooters that customers had problems with. Normally I don’t stick up for Walmart, but it seems feasible that the scooter may have been repaired before putting it back on the shelf.

    Although, buying a scooter that requires batteries seems kind of stupid, too. I remember when I was a kid, I actually had to push the scooter with my foot. It makes me sad how lazy kids have gotten.

    • mszabo says:

      Well I had the push scooter too, but I certainly remember being envious of the kid with the dirtbike. Only thing that changed is battery technology is far advanced from when we were kids so electric scooters are now possible and cheaper/easier to maintain than the gas ones.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Huh. I always wondering how all of those bikes got put together…I can’t even adjust something on a bike without breaking it…

  12. sheldonmoon69 says:

    We don’t know if it was tested before going back out or not, but this doesn’t surprise me. I bought a DVD player from walmart that was sealed up and looked like new. I got it home and it was someone’s old used DVD player. They exchanged it for me with a few approvals, but obviously Walmart’s liberal return policy really opens them up to scams and issues like this.

    Best Buy used to charge a restocking fee. I don’t know if they still do it, but it went over like a turd in a punchbowl back in the day. They were just trying to re-coop the expenses of returning, testing, and reselling a product to avoid issues like this. They used “RESEALED” tape and often sold it as clearance merchandise – losing money on it.

    • mszabo says:

      I worked at a retail store once and this wasn’t the case at least where I worked. The cost of a returned item was always passed back onto the manufacturer. If a returned item was sold on clearance in the store, wouldn’t that be in a negotiated deal between the manufacturer and Best Buy? So I wouldn’t normally expect best buy takes a loss in selling clearance items, any loss of value is probably passed on Sony etc.

  13. Scoobatz says:

    Yes, this happens. Although I’m still more frustrated with people who return items, knowing they are defective, and yet, tell no one. They carefully put the merchadise back into the original packaging, re-seal it, and pretend they never opened it.

  14. TacoDave says:

    I bought an electric, rechargeable floor sweeper at Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger’s) and took it home, only to find a few random parts from a completely different sweeper stuffed in the box with some newspaper.

    It was obvious that someone returned it “as new” and Fred Meyer gave them a refund. The customer service rep thought that *I* was trying to return it “as new” and took down my license number.


  15. ellemdee says:

    I handed a CVS cashier an expired, thawed (formerly) frozen chicken dinner in a crushed box I found sitting on a (non-refrigerated) shelf one day so it could be thrown out. She threw it in a basket behind the counter, I assumed at the time to be thrown away. A few weeks later, I stopped at that store again and guess what I saw sitting back in the the freezer case…eww…

  16. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    My son begged to buy fishing worms on the way to the lake this weekend. I relented and we bought a package of worms at Walmart. We got on the boat and my son went to get a worm and complained there weren’t any. I looked at it and I did find ONE! The package claimed 20. The dirt was dry and the worm didn’t seem alive (although it did start moving).

    A mishap later destroyed the package, but I was planning on returning it for a refund. I can only assume someone else returned this package, because there weren’t any dead worms in it.

  17. RayanneGraff says:

    Not surprising. You could return a half eaten ham to Wal-Mart & they’d try to resell it.

    Years ago my friend returned a pair of pantyhose that ripped when she tried to put them on. A few days later I was in the underwear section & what did I see? Yup- my friend’s worn, ripped pantyhose, the package taped up and back on the shelf for resale.

  18. layton59 says:

    I bought and returned a Magnavox DVD Recorder several years ago. It did not record as it should. I told them at the store that It was the worst piece of electronics I ever bought. However, my local WalMart put it back on the shelf for resale. I checked on it at the store every week. Over time, It had been returned so many times by other shoppers that the box was covered in clear tape. I was hoping that it was my local store only doing it . Later, when I had to return new Panasonic Detect 6.0 phones (Bad new batteries) I hid several secret notes in the box telling “To Whom It May Concern” what was wrong with this unit. Do Unto Others…

    • scoosdad says:

      Ha, I also returned a Magnavox (Funai) DVD recorder to Walmart earlier this year that stopped working about a week after I bought it. I never bothered to go back and check to see if it showed up on the shelves. It was a struggle in the first place to get them to process the return since it came from and the store couldn’t figure out how to refund the shipping charges I paid.

      I will say this though, someone in the store went the extra mile for me to remove a brand new DVD movie that was still inside it when the power supply died, and call me the next day to let me know they got it out for me.

      I also hide notes inside boxes of defective stuff I’ve returned to let anyone who happens to get it next that it was originally a return. And I mean HIDE. I put post-it notes on like the second or third page of the instructions to try to prevent the store from finding and removing it before putting it back on the shelf. I also put something obvious and semi-permanent on the outside of the box (like with a Sharpie) so that someone in the back of the store would be able to figure out what the problem with it was, if they cared.

  19. JixiLou says:

    A guy I was dating once bought an electric razor at Wal-Mart. When he opened up the box, he discovered it was covered in hair- it was very used. Ugh.

    • Scoobatz says:

      Same exact thing happened to me with hair clippers. At first, I didn’t notice it. Luckily, before I used it, it caught my eye that the hair clipper looked nothing like the one on the box. Then, I noticed the hair.

  20. sopmodm14 says:

    if the customer doesn’t know how to operate the product, and there’s nothing wrong with it mechanically/electrically, its sellable

    heck, foods have sell by date, not a consume by date (on some food stuffs at least)

  21. framitz says:

    Maybe the unit was repaired before putting back on the shelf.
    Maybe OP is over reacting.

  22. buckeyegoose says:

    What needs to happen is a law be passed that ALL returns are sent back to at least he regional/distribution warehouse for a determination to be made. I’ve noticed Best Buy is starting to put stickers that say PRC Product Return Center, on items that have been opened. At least this will keep stuff that is returned out of the local store’s stock/hands and the slim chance that it will either get RMA’d back to the MFG to be properly repaired/refurbed or at minimum someone will actualy verify whats in the box.

  23. Starfury says:

    Sounds like how Fry’s used to be…

  24. Sys Admn says:

    I’ve taken to warning future buyers who might get an item I’ve returned. You have to return the item in ‘like new condition’, so no Sharpie allowed. Try slipping a note into the battery compartment or sticking a piece of masking tape on the bottom of a defective item. I put the date, store, and problem – “Returned 9/2010 Target / Power button doesn’t work”.

  25. mk says:

    my local Walmart does this all the time, with all kind of goods.

  26. rcarlton says:

    was at a Wal-mart in rural Texas – travelled and needed some quick underwear.

    went into the men’s department and grabbed a package – and when i got to the register, realized that it’d been opened.

    went to customer service to ask about it, since i’m pretty sure that selling opened undergraments is illegal (maybe not in Texas?) – and she explained to me, in all seriousness – that they couldn’t keep prices so low if they didn’t resell opened products.

    even after i mentioned how i thought it might be illegal, she said that’s how Wal-marts operate everywhere.

    needless to say, i bought my gear elsewhere.

  27. flacoman954 says:

    Home Despot does that all the time … I’ve taken home boxes where the bad light bulb was carefully swapped into the new package. In another case , the box with the torch kit had the head removed , gave it to the clerk and it was back on the shelf the next day.

  28. MrTreoZ says:

    When I return a defective item I usually write “Defective” on the packaging with a Sharpie. I do the same to the instructions (that so many people never look at). I’m not sure if that’s an acceptable practice, but no store has given me grief yet.

  29. DraconWolfX says:

    The same exact thing happened to me recently at Wal-Mart except I was the 2nd buyer of a defective air compressor. You can imagine how happy I was lugging my new (very heavy) compressor to the register, putting it in my car, dragging it out of my car, and then unpacking it just to find out someone else repackaged it and returned it broken. Awesome.

  30. SGT. E. G. ROCK says:

    * Many winters ago, I purchased a new “high end” winter coat
    from one of The Consumerist’s favorite stores to give to a
    friend to obviously needed one.
    *Well, to my surprise, upon my friend trying it on for size when
    I gave it to him…. it had a dry cleaning tag firmly attached in
    the breast pocket. *
    * It would have been even more embarrassing if it wasn’t
    just a gift from the heart ! *

  31. Chaosium says:

    “She says that next time she goes back, she’s taking a marker and writing “doesn’t work” on the box… “

    Way to make it not returnable.