Walmart Said I Needed Wisconsin Driver's License To Buy With Credit Card

Matthew says a Wisconsin Walmart demanded not only an ID with his MasterCard purchase, but a Wisconsin state driver’s license. Because Matthew is from out of state, he was out of luck. Read on to see whether or not Matthew escaped the store with his munchies:

I was buying about $26 worth of merchandise, and everything rung up and then I used my Citi MasterCard to pay. I was told that I needed to show my card and ID. I gave the cashier my credit card, but not my ID, being aware that MasterCard rules state a signed card cannot have ID required. I told the cashier, the card was signed on the back, and got told I needed to show ID.

To make things worse, I was told that the ID needed to be a Wisconsin driver’s license. Since I just moved to the state, I don’t have one yet. Then she said she could “give me a break” but “bring a license next time.”

Frustrated with this, I took the stuff I bought to the return counter and returned everything but the bottle of soda that I had already opened and drank from.

He would have had to have returned that soda as “pop,” as we’re told the product is referred to in that region.


Edit Your Comment

  1. sufreak says:

    Good for you for returning everything. So how does Walmart handle out of state shoppers who are visiting?

    Talk with your wallet.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’re assuming that out of towners would willingly go to Wisconsin.

      • Hirayuki says:

        Or Walmart.

        • Emerald4me says:

          Yeah. To both.

        • hobochangbar says:

          Funny you say that. I live in IL but frequently go to S.E. Wisconsin. There is a Walmart there that I can actually tolerate. I found a parking area around back, near the tire shop and ALWAYS get a spot within 50′ of the door which is very near the few departments I would go to a Walmart for anyway. (sporting goods & occasionally I cave & take the kids shopping for a specific toy). I’m in & out in no time, register is never crowded back there.
          We’ll see if they ask for ID next time.

      • jason in boston says:

        Milwaukee. I would go back there in a heartbeat. If one isn’t having fun there, they are doing it wrong.

    • Admiral_John says:

      I visited my father in Missouri in July (I live in New York) and had no trouble at all using my debit card (I use it as credit, especially when I’m out of state); I was never once asked for ID.

    • user452 says:

      it’s a local store, for local people.

  2. eccsame says:

    Makes total sense. Walmart is probably aware that its Wisconsin employees can’t distinguish between a valid, out-of-state driver’s license and a piece of bread wrapped in a leaf.

    • UniComp says:

      Ah, I see you’re familiar with the Arkansas IDs

    • skategreen says:

      we love your comment. I read it and had to call my sister, (NY –> Seattle) ..and we just had a lovely hour chat after sharing this comment.

      “can’t distinguish between a valid, out-of-state driver’s license and a piece of bread wrapped in a leaf.”

      I pointed out that we share the planet with the person who came up with this, and she said, “I want to meet that person”.

      It’s our favorite thing for the day.

      “a piece of bread wrapped in a leaf”


    • skategreen says:

      we love your comment. I read it and had to call my sister, (NY –> Seattle) ..and we just had a lovely hour chat after sharing this comment.

      “can’t distinguish between a valid, out-of-state driver’s license and a piece of bread wrapped in a leaf.”

      I pointed out that we share the planet with the person who came up with this, and she said, “I want to meet that person”.

      It’s our favorite thing for the day.

      “a piece of bread wrapped in a leaf”


  3. DanRydell says:

    lol @ inconveniencing yourself out of spite

    • TechnicallySpeaking says:

      lol @ the robot who thinks shut up and do what you’re told is a great answer.

    • dolemite says:’s called taking a stand on an issue.

      • DanRydell says:

        lol @ taking a stand on such a silly, insignificant issue.

        You’re the man now dog!

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Are you incapable of typing “at”? I mean, is it really that hard?

          This isn’t a silly and inconvenient issue – the store should not have required ID, and it seems very strange that even if it did need ID for a legitimate reason, that it would not accept an out of state ID.

          Whenever someone says they’ll “give you a break” it’s borderline condescending – like “this is the policy because I say so, regardless of whether it actually is the policy or even the law. You insist on skirting my idea of what is correct and proper, but because I’m such a nice person I’ll let you skate by this one time.” The fact is, this is not proper policy. You don’t have to show ID and you shouldn’t have to have an in state ID (for the record, I have never had a problem like this anywhere, not even Europe). Why is the OP being silly if, on principle, he does not want to support a business that would behave this way toward him?

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Insignificant, not inconvenient. Edit button, please.

          • DanRydell says:

            lol @ caring about my abbrevs

          • webweazel says:

            “You don’t have to show ID”
            I think the deal is, you can be asked to show ID, but the transaction CANNOT BE DECLINED by the cashier solely if you choose not to show your ID. That is specifically against the rules, and not in the cashier’s scope of duty nor responsibility.
            The question next becomes, what about a big red flag? What if the customer is some huge, scary, homeless-looking guy, buying an expensive TV, who hands the cashier a card with the name of “Mary Elizabeth” on it? (suspected fraud) Would the cashier need to call security to make sure of legitimacy?

    • opticnrv says:

      lol @ the commenter who doesn’t believe one person can make a difference by standing up for what he believes is right.

      • Griking says:

        Does anyone really believe that the associate that was working the returns department could care less why he was returning his stuff?

    • kmw2 says:

      How inconvenienced is someone really by returning $26 worth of junk food they can buy at the gas station next door?

  4. kylere1 says:

    The simple solution is to stop supporting Walmart

    • Why is this on Consumerist? says:

      Agreed. Seriously, go to a real grocery store and get treated like a real person.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      Anyone who shops at Failmart gets exactly what he/she deserves.

      Want to see the next generation of Failmart workers? Go there after 10pm: they’re the toddlers whose parents are walking billboards for Unfit Parent of the Year.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    According to “soda” is much more common than “pop.”

    • Jachim says:

      Agreed. I grew up calling it soda. What a shock when I went to school in Michigan. :)

    • smashedpotats says:

      Milwaukee says soda, and there really isn’t anywhere else in Wisconsin that matters.

    • RecoveringFarmGirl says:

      As someone who grew up within spitting distance of that sign he’s standing in front of, I can confirm that it is indeed “pop”.

      When I moved to Milwaukee to go to college, I had a hell of a time ordering drinks for a while.

  6. lawnmowerdeth says:

    But did he drink from the ‘bubbler’?

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Maybe if he was 94 years old.

    • moyawyvern says:

      I was not aware that “bubbler” was a term used outside of New England. The people here in SC certainly have no idea what I am talking about when I say it.

      • levelone says:

        There are fountains in Portland, OR called Benson Bubblers. Benson was a teetotaler and wanted to keep his workers out of bars during the workday, so in 1912 he put up $10,000 to install 20 fountains in the city. They’re still a-bubblin’ away today. Google image search.

    • RecoveringFarmGirl says:

      I have never been told a good explanation why it is a “bubbler” in Milwaukee, especially when anywhere else in the state you will get very odd looks for using said label for a water fountain…

      • ranidan says:

        We call them bubblers in Aus as well.
        Had to pause for a second to work out what you meant by water fountain.

    • miss_chevious says:

      He didn’t have to drink from the bubbler–he had a soda!

      (Funniest moment of my fifth grade life — going to Florida on a trip and trying to explain what a “bubbler” was to the family I stayed with. “It’s, like, a fountain? That shoots out water into your mouth?” They thought I was mental until I showed them one at the mall.)

  7. Suburban Idiot says:

    He’s just lucky he didn’t get beaten with a pipe.

    • EmDeeEm says:

      that only applies to fraudulent pizza purchases.

      • Suburban Idiot says:

        Without I.D. that the clerk can verify, any attempted debut card purchase could be fraudulent.

        Otherwise, asking for the I.D. serves no purpose at all (other than to break the contract between MC and the store).

  8. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Did OP complain to management? It has been my experience that just one poorly trained employee can cause a world of problems until a customer brings up the issue with a manager. They can’t fix what they don’t know is broken.

    On the showing an ID side, I’ve seen policies where you need to show an in-state ID for check purchases, but I just don’t understand it for credit cards.

    Way to lose yourself some business there, Walmart.

    • AngryK9 says:

      Poor training starts at the top.

    • ecwis says:

      I’ve had all of my issues with Wal-mart resolved by talking to the managers or assistant managers. Always call 800-WAL-MART and request a callback from a STORE manager. Many people give up after talking to the Customer Service Manager but you must go all the way to the top.

  9. Macgyver says:

    Just show your damn I.D.
    And what was the point of returning it. If he didn’t want to show your ID, he could’ve have just walked out instead of paying for it, and the returning it.
    He already paid for it, why not just walk out with it.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Just show your damn I.D.

      You mean the non-existent Wisconsin driver’s license? The one the OP said he didn’t have because he’d just moved to the state? I’m pretty sure even a Wal-mart employee would want to see an ID that isn’t completely imaginary.

      • Lucky225 says:

        To the Just Show Your ID crowd, I have several cards in the name I used prior to marriage, I could order a new card for no apparent reason, or I could use them until they expire. Credit Cards are about convenience, waiting 7-10 days for a new card because Wally World wants ID in a name I don’t have is not convenient. Signing that I’ll pay, and taking a glance at the signature on the back of the card which validates my card as being valid, that’s convenient.

      • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

        If he didn’t have a driver’s license, how did he get to the Walmart to make this purchase? Don’t get me wrong, I never show ID when asked (or give in to receipt checkers, except at Costco), but I’m wondering how he drove to the store w/o a DL?


        • jezebelseven says:

          Bus? Bike? Walked? Scooter? Roller Skates? Friend drove him? Left his ID in another purse on accident and drove without noticing it was missing?

          Those are all the ways I’ve gotten to Walmart without a drivers license.

          Not that he did any of the above. The story does not say he drove there without one. He had an out of state license which he was told they would not accept, generally.

        • Conformist138 says:

          He has a DL, just not one from Wisconsin. Yes, he could have shown his out of state license, but that’s not what the cashier asked for- she specifically wanted a Wisconsin ID, which he could not show because that does not exist.

          Why do people get so upset when a customer doesn’t want to show ID? You act like somehow because we are asked for something, we must comply. No, not really. It doesn’t matter if you or anyone else doesn’t understand, the rules state that customers don’t have to show ID and are perfectly correct to turn down anyone who asks for it. It might seem silly to some people, but that doesn’t change who actually is in the right. But showing ID isn’t even the point- the point is that this cashier was so specific about wanting an in-state ID (which plenty of people just would not have) and then acted like somehow she was doing him a favor to “allow” the purchase- despite she being the one getting all the rules wrong to begin with.

          Returning the items doesn’t do anything, no, except it’s a vote with the wallet. The trick is other people also have to be willing to be inconvenienced before a real impact is made. But it seems that won’t happen, people are just too concerned with the easiest route. Still, doesn’t make those who do take a stand any less valid. The lack of effectiveness is on everyone else who isn’t doing the same thing.

    • Mom says:

      Did you even try to read the article? He did show his ID. It wasn’t a Wisconsin driver’s license.

      • Macgyver says:

        Did you read it. He says
        “I was buying about $26 worth of merchandise, and everything rung up and then I used my Citi MasterCard to pay. I was told that I needed to show my card and ID. I gave the cashier my credit card, but not my ID, being aware that MasterCard rules state a signed card cannot have ID required. I told the cashier, the card was signed on the back, and got told I needed to show ID.”

        Next time read correctly before you say anything.

        • pop top says:

          Yes, that’s what the beginning of the article said. Now continue reading to the part where they said they wouldn’t accept the ID he showed them.

          • johnrhoward says:

            It doesn’t say that anywhere.

          • George4478 says:

            They never say that. They tell him they’ll give him a break and accept it this time.

            I think the cashier is being ridiculous about needing Wisconsin ID, but she does not refuse to take his non-Wisconsin ID.

        • jamar0303 says:

          ” I was told that the ID needed to be a Wisconsin driver’s license.”

          Who’s not reading correctly NOW?

    • ChilisServer says:

      He did show his ID. The problem was that it was out of state.

  10. padrone says:

    Bubbler is right, regardless of age. As is ‘soda’ in lieu of pop. FYI, Wisconsin is a state, not a region. We apparently also talk funny and have imbecilic Wal-Mart cashiers, although that phrase may be redundant. Irregardless.

  11. JohnDeere says:

    down here in tennessee everything is called coke. dont matter if its made by pepsi or the dollar general, or if its black or pink, its still a coke. even waiters and waitresses know to ask what kind of coke do you want with your meal.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’ve spent some time in the South, and whenever I heard someone order “coke” and not mean Coca-Cola, I just wanted to scream “COKE IS A BRAND! YOU MEAN SODA!”

      Don’t get me started on pop, though. It’s not pop, it’s not Coke. It’s SODA.

      • pop top says:

        No, it’s pop. :p

      • satoru says:

        When I was in Japan in college if you ordered a ‘coke’ the waitresses always gave you these blank looks. You had to order ‘cola’ and they’d bring you a coke. Since Pepsi was pretty much non-existant in Japan except for a few cities, cola was pretty much venacular for coke.

        Also reminds me of when I accidentally left a tip for a waitress once. She came running after me like I had robbed the store, to give my money back. It was this weird exchange of someone trying to give money away, and the other person refusing it.

        I did once leave not enough money by accident. The manger ran out and looked like they were going to kill me. That date went really really bad :P

      • psm321 says:

        No, it’s POP. Get it right. //Michigander

    • CalicoGal says:

      That is so stupid.
      If I ordered a Coke, and the server asked me “what kind?” I’d say, “uhhhhh carbonated? What??”

      I get the “pop” vs. “soda” thing, its sorta like the sub, grinder, hoagie thing.
      But “coke” REALLY???

  12. GenXCub says:

    Actually, isn’t this something that’s being changed along with the allowance of minimum purchases (companies allowed to ask for ID)?

    • frank64 says:

      I read somewhere else where it is being changed, probably for Jan 11. But it is not changed now, so the rule is in affect. That will not change the desire for everyone to still complain after it does change though. I would rather they checked my ID, because I don’t feel inconvenienced, and think the chances of ID theft this way is very remote. At least compared to my card being used by someone else. It has happened twice to me.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I don’t know when that is supposed to be, but the flea market had a sign up that I had to buy $10 worth of stuff if I were going to use my debit/credit card. Which pissed me off, but then I was able to talk myself back into the little Nine West purse I had passed on.

  13. leprechaunshawn says:

    I’ve always wondered what kind of neighborhood these Walmarts are in when we read about these type of problems. I shop at a Walmart (in WI) about 4-5 times per month and have never run into any of these types of problems. Of course, this Walmart that I speak of is in a suburb and not serviced by any form of mass transit.

  14. satoru says:

    I wonder if he was buying either alcohol or tobacco. That might trigger some kind of state law.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I’ve read a few stories on where the employee has been instructed to only accept local IDs for alcohol, so apparently this is a thing.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t think the OP was buying anything that is commonly controlled by an age limit because it’s very common to show your ID when buying alcohol, and the OP would have had his ID at the ready. We’re conditioned to know that proving age is important when purchasing age-limited items.

      • satoru says:

        I dunno. I’ve seen a ton of women at the supermarket that seem to be under the impression that PAYING is optional. Because they stand there glossy eyed while the cashier scans all their junk. Then are shocked when they are given the total. Then proceeds a 2-5 minute digging through the black hole that is their purse, to find a wallet, then dig through the Constanza wallet for the right card or cash and finally pay. It would seem that ‘being prepared’ isn’t universal. Nothing against women, though they tend to do this a lot.

        Even for ID, some people still seem kinda fazed by it. If they’re young they fumble for it. If it’s older, they still seem shocked they need to show ID anyways.

  15. missiv says:

    Why was he at Walmart in the first place? Trouble began, when he acted on the thought of going there.

  16. sufreak says:

    I think, at the risk of getting flamed, asking for ID for purchases over $25-$50 isn’t such a bad idea. It might prevent some credit card fraud.

    Alot of places like Shoprite and Costco don’t require signatures for amounts under a certain number. ($25, $100, respectively).

    Maybe we can change the process, speed it up and reduce some fraud.

  17. flip says:

    Seriously, if all they require is to SHOW proof of ID, whats the big deal?
    Would you rather your card lost and used maliciously, while they arent asked to provide ID?

    also, do you really think they care that you returned 25 dollars worth of stuff ( assuming drink was 1.00)

    • Shadowfax says:

      Well, if they require you to show an ID that you do not have, because it’s Wisconsin and your driver license is not from Wisconsin. . .what then?

    • evnmorlo says:

      If your card is lost or stolen its almost 100% certain that thieves will use it to make some sort of internet and/or foreign purchase. If they are stupid enough to be buying crap at Walmart, after being turned away they will buy something good online.

    • kmw2 says:

      If my card is lost and used maliciously, my credit card company is responsible for that. Do you really want the liability shift that comes with ID checking, where suddenly they assume that since you obviously showed ID you’re responsible for whatever gets bought with your card?

    • physics2010 says:

      Actually the store is 100% responsible if someone uses your credit card without your consent. This is why stores ask for ID. The money comes out of their pocket if the charges are rejected. The stores just happen to be between a rock and a hard place due to the agreement they signed with the credit card companies. Perhaps Wal-mart will be big enough to take on the credit card companies one day.

    • chosmer says:

      The issue wasn’t that he had to show ID. It was that it had to be a Wisconsin ID. Yes probably just an uninformed employee.

      I like that people ask for my ID. I sign the back of my cards C.I.D So when they don’t ask, that’s what bugs me.

      I recall a time when my ex-wife went to cash a check at a local bank. They ask for an ID. She had no drivers license the time, but she had an office state ID that she obtained at the DMV. You have to present the same items to get a state ID as you do for a drivers license. Well they would not take her state ID, they said it was considered a secondary ID and she needed a drivers license or a major credit card. I think asking for a major credit card is ironic since you need to so ID for that as well. Seriously thou, what about someone who can’t drive like a blind person?

  18. mornon says:

    Walmart didn’t demand to see his ID, an ill-informed Walmart employee did.

    For future reference: Walmart trips often involve communicating with someone who is one or more of the following: insufficiently educated, of inadequate intellect, unintelligible, mute, rude, creepy… if you decide to shop there, just be prepared to roll with it.

    BTW – I don’t think the person asked for a WI ID because they thought it specifically had to be WI. I think they meant that they wanted to see some gov’t ID and it just didn’t occur to her that you may be from another state. And she did try to be nice by giving you a “break”, so even though she was wrong, she wasn’t totally obnoxious.

    • goller321 says:

      I had a WI WalMart cashier ask me for my DL… I refused and she got really snippy. We went back and forth, and she ended up checking backing off. As to the “just show your ID already”… we DON’T HAVE TOO… so we choose not to. It’s part of the contract THEY signed… if they don’t like it, they can stop accepting credit cards.

      • Lucky225 says:

        Or require ID on a CASH purchases (IF ID is required for EVERY purchase, then it’s not required for credit cards, it’s required for the purchase), the show your ID crowd seems to think credit cards are like checks and will bounce, credit cards don’t bounce, chargebacks happen. And if you can validate you received a good authorization and checked the security features of the card and the signature on the back you win the chargeback, if you say ‘We checked ID’, you loose the charge back. If you’re so ready to show ID, whip it out when you’re paying in cash, because it’s the same thing, and that’s why we don’t show ID.

    • Rose says:

      Despite what the Supreme Court may think, Wal-Mart is not a person. Wal-Mart requires real human beings to speak for them. By employing people to communicate with the public on their behalf, Wal-Mart, as a corporate entity is, in fact, communicating.

      In other words, Wal-Mart _did_ demand to see OP’s ID.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I don’t think the person asked for a WI ID because they thought it specifically had to be WI. I think they meant that they wanted to see some gov’t ID and it just didn’t occur to her that you may be from another state.

      I’d think that too if I hadn’t heard of people in other places being required to ask for ID from their state. It’s not commonplace, but it happens.

  19. daemonaquila says:

    I hope you had a word with MasterCard over Walmart’s policy. You may not be able to get them to comply with the contact, but MasterCard’s legal team will handle that nonsense really quickly.

    Just one more reason to boycott Walmart.

  20. tno says:

    There’s a lot of heat for people ragging on this guy. I think it’s worth recognizing that this is an isolated incident of an ignorant (literal definition, not calling this person dumb) cashier asking for something that makes no sense. Look at the post earlier about crazy tech support requests. These are the same people that work at Walmart. Heck, these are the same people that post on websites.

    Know a little, but not enough, and you’ll make a mistake like this. It’s true for all of us. But it’s no testament to the ichor and evils of Walmart. You can hate Walmart all you want, but if you don’t want to shop there because one cashier was ill informed, you probably don’t want to know how many politicians actually read the laws they pass/enforce.

  21. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I’ve run into this before. My husband is from Wisonsin and we go up about once a year to visit family and get cheese. I usually run into this at one of the roadside stands. I just tell them that I can always get California cheese instead if they don’t want to sell to me. That usually gets them to back off and I leave with my squeaky cheese (oooh, squeaky goodness).

    BTW, Mars Cheese Castle FTW for cheesy goodness.

    • Jachim says:

      Mars is good, but there’s lots better. Any local/small dairy where you can buy the curds fresh are the best!

      I once bought a bag of curds 5 seconds after they’d been brought out from the back in a little dairy in Rudolph (I think), WI. Salty, squeaky, cheesy goodness!

  22. Eli the Ice Man says:

    Been in Milwaukee on business from Ontario, Canada since July. Never had this happen to me yet.

  23. SkreanAme says:

    Something fishy about this story. People move FROM Wisconsin, not to Wisconsin.

  24. goller321 says:

    I beg to differ, as a life long Wisconsinite, people in WI do not refer to soda as “pop”…

  25. Mcshonky says:

    This is FACT, most cashiers cannot tell the difference between a real and fake ID from the state they are in.

    Don’t believe me, scan your license and edit data on it.
    Keep your name but change the birth date by 30 years.
    Change the font or the color of the font, etc.
    Now use a textured laminate to cover it after sandwiching a bit of cardboard between the back and front.
    Use that as your store ID and after the sale is approved point out the flaw in their show ID policy to the manager…….

  26. DanKelley98 says:

    It is pop.

  27. sopmodm14 says:

    i’d rather not buy anything…i’m soo0o0o confused

  28. sssster says:

    I used to get frustrated with Wal-Mart. No I just don’t go there. No more frustration.

  29. wenhaver says:

    Only parts of WI call it pop. Mostly the same parts that call a drinking fountain a bubbler. True facts.

  30. bohemond says:

    In Milwaukee and Madison, soda is ‘soda’, never ‘pop’. And water fountains are ‘bubblers’.

  31. primadj says:

    wow we need to work on our reading comprehension! Please read the FIRST sentence again stating that he had to show a Wisconson ID and he was out of state! He is not taking issue with them asking for an ID, but that they were asking for Wisconson only.
    I don’t think anyone will fault a store employee for asking for ID, but specific to that state seems odd to me. So much for travelling to the cheese state!

  32. user452 says:

    I’ve experienced similar things with walmart’s ID policy.

    They refused to accept both my passport and Department of Homeland Security ID card.

    If these forms of Id are good enough to get in and out of the country, why aren’t they good enough for walmart?

  33. chore22 says:

    I was told by a manager at Walmart’s (NJ) that the state would not permit the store to take returns on food products. Does anyone know anything about this? Is it true? And for what reason?