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Customers Using Gift Receipts For Returns Say Wal-Mart Shortchanged Them

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Gift Receipts
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Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 6PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – If we’re buying someone a present, most of us think it’s a good idea to get a gift receipt incase they want to return it. But some consumers who have gift receipts from the nation’s largest retailer say Wal-Mart is shortchanging them. 

David Schmitz brought a gift back to Wal-Mart he never had the chance to give. He knew exactly what he had spent of the make up kit, but only had the gift receipt with him when he went to make the return.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

“They scanned the receipt itself, not the item, and it came up with $7.50 and I said, ‘that’s not right, I have the gift receipt.”

But that gift receipt didn’t protect him the way he thought it would. “They basically wanted to give me half the money.”

David was lucky because he know exactly what he had spent. The whole point of a gift receipt is that the recipient not find out exactly what you paid.

But an undercover camera captured Wal-Mart cashiers giving back less than the customer had originally paid. For example, a heated throw was returned with a gift receipt. The amount returned was only about $20 when the original purchase price was over $30. The cashier agreed that the original buyer had probably paid more but said she was restricted to what came up when the computer scanned the bar code on the receipt.

A selection of casual clothing yielded a similar result. Instead of getting back the original amount spent, $14, the undercover producer just got back $10 when she presented the gift receipt. When challenged about the amount, this cashier had a similar explanation. She said she could only return the amount the register indicated after reading the barcode. 

Edgar Dworsky of Consumerworld.org thinks this is crazy. “It certainly sounds beyond fishy.”

The barcode on the gift receipt “isn’t just a sticker put on an item that says Wal-Mart, This has the exact transaction date on it, so they can look up in the computer exactly what was paid for the item. There’s no reason to accept anything less,” said Dworsky.

In a statement, Wal-Mart said, “It is our practice to refund the original price paid to the customer when returning an item with a gift receipt. We will be communicating with our store associates to reinforce this practice.”

Schmitz said customers deserve nothing less. ”They should be entitled to the full amount of the money, not some arbitrary amount that Wal-Mart determines.”

 If you believe you are not getting the right amount back on a gift receipt, the best thing to do is make your case to the store manager.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to decide if you are willing to ask the person who gave you the gift if they still have the original receipt with the price printed on it.

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