By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

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 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.

Paula Ebben

Comments (14)
  1. emom says:

    This happenes at all stores not just walmart.. unless you have a store reciept showing the actual price you paid, the computer will give you only what the item is selling for NOW,,, its the same as if you had no reciept,, the could only give you back what it is going for now… stinks since the computer should be able to retrieve the original price from that date .. making it much easier to reimburse them.

    1. S Grant says:

      That’s not true. I work at a retail store and the gift receipt gives the customer what was paid for the purchase less any discounts they may have received.

  2. Rick Pannier says:

    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.”

    It’s a problem with the clerk?
    All the clerk does is scan the product and return the money.
    This is an issue above their position.

  3. John says:

    Is anyone really that suprised?? Its Walmart! Its nice they put the blame on their store associates who only do what they are told…

  4. Roberta says:

    It is not just at Walmart. Happened to me at Barnes & Noble.. A book was bought just a day or two before Christmas and I returned iin a matter of a few days with the gift receipt and I was short changed. It was like returning something without a receipt at all. They get you!

  5. Ann says:

    i dont think it all wal-mart like this i did return gifts last Feb
    and i got full return with no problem.
    you just have to keep eye on clerk.
    and if it did happen to me i would go to there store meg

  6. PAT says:


  7. Deb says:

    I work for Walmart. About two weeks agom we were retrained on how to return a gift receipt item., so the amount ON THE GIFT RECIEPT is what the person returning the item gets. This was an oversite, many of us had not been shown in our original service desk trainung because so few people had gift reciepts.

    Also, to look up a reciept, you must be at the ORIGINAL store with the exact purchase date to even begin to look it up, you cannot present your card and have every transaction on that card produced, the POS system just does not work that way ( believe me, we wish it did!!!!)

    1. Vi says:

      So if I buy gift in NY and send it to CA the recipient will only get current sales price? This is bogus! Nowhere on the gift receipt does it state this.

  8. Lorenzo Lopez says:

    My name is Lorenzo Lopez and I’m with Walmart’s communications team. I thought it was important to share our views with readers about this story.

    When we learned that there may be some confusion on how to process gift receipts we sent a high priority notification to all store management to help ensure all cashiers and service desk associates follow the proper refund process.

    It’s our expectation to refund the original purchase price when returning an item with a gift receipt. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers. If they have questions regarding a gift receipt, we encourage them to speak with a member of management at their local store.

    We know our customers count on us to have the lowest price in the market and that’s one reason they continue to shop with us. In order to maintain their trust we need to meet the expectations of our customers.