Was I Wrong To Profit From Returning An Online Purchase To Walmart?

A frequent reader who we’ll call M. wrote in to offer his post-holiday moral dilemma. Well, it’s not so much a dilemma, since he he’s already done it. He bought a Microsoft Kinect controller online, but wanted to return it after the holidays were over. Too lazy to package the controller and mail it back, he instead took it to his local Walmart and returned it for store credit. $50 more than he originally paid for the device.

After Christmas I found myself with a Kinect Controller I didn’t need that I had purchased from an online retailer for $99. On an earlier trip to Walmart I had noticed that they had the same Kinect package for $149. Figuring that rather then go through the hassle of sending the kinect back to the online retailer I would take it into Walmart and see if I could get store credit for it. The person at the return counter didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea, but I ended up getting a Walmart gift card for $149! I made $50 profit!

Was I wrong to do this? Or is this simply the cost of doing business for Walmart

If the device was unopened and Walmart can put it back on their shelf, selling it for $149, then everyone wins. But just because something is possible, that doesn’t mean that it’s ethical. Return shenanigans like this are what leads retailers to tighten up their return policies and require receipts and scans of our driver’s licenses.