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Walmart Caught Shortchanging Customers Using Gift Receipts

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Walmart’s slogan is save money; live better. But you could actually lose money if you return an item using a gift receipt.

That is exactly what happened to a CBS producer when she returned a television purchased for $248 shortly before Christmas. When she went back to the store to return the TV after the holiday, she was offered the sale price, $228. Walmart pocketed the $20 difference.

The producer even suggested to the clerk that the person who bought the gift paid a little bit more. The clerk insisted the computer would return the correct price. “It will just generate however much they paid for it,” she said.

This is not the first time this has happened.

A year ago, we told you about David Schmitz’s experience when he returned a make-up kit he bought for his daughter for Christmas.

Walmart tried to give him back only half of his purchase price. “I knew I had spent $15 and I wasn’t going to take less,” Schmitz said. “The average person isn’t going to know,” he added.

Somerville consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky agreed that gift receipts leave most people in the dark.

“The best scam is when you don’t even know you’ve been taken,” he said.

Dworsky doesn’t believe Walmart is intentionally ripping off customers but says the retailer clearly has a problem. “I can’t believe this is happening two years in a row,” he said.

CBS brought this problem to Walmart’s attention a number of times. In May of 2011 a company spokesperson issued this statement:

“We learned that there may have been some confusion on how to process gift receipts. We sent a high-priority notification to all store management.”

But that wasn’t the end of the problem.

Over a period of several months, producers were continually shortchanged when returning items using gift receipts. In November of 2011, Walmart had the same excuse and issued another statement.

“We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”

According to Dworsky, it’s time for Walmart to get to the bottom of this issue. “A year goes by and the problem still exists, that’s really bordering on negligence,” he said.

A Walmart spokesperson told us the latest incident was an isolated case of cashier error and the company’s policy is to refund the original purchase price.

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