By Kurtis Ming

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Call Kurtis Investigation: Walmart Caught Shortchanging Customers Using Gift Receipts

Call Kurtis Investigation Into Walmart Gift Receipts Gets Lawmaker’s Attention

The beauty of a gift receipt is that you can give a present without a price tag and the gift can still be returned.

But when you use a gift receipt, how do you know you’re getting the right amount back?

Our investigation found that Walmart’s gift receipts don’t always return your money’s worth.

David Schmitz used a gift receipt to return a present he bought at a Walmart in West Sacramento.

“When I purchased the item it cost $15 plus tax. When I tried to return the item using the gift receipt, I was offered $7.50 plus tax,” he said.

The makeup kit Schmitz bought had since gone on sale, so he was only offered back the reduced price — not what he originally paid.

Schmitz said, “It seemed very obvious that a person should be getting the full amount, and that’s the purpose of a receipt.”

The Walmart eventually gave Schmitz a full refund, we wanted to test Walmart’s policy.

So, with hidden cameras rolling, we visited stores in California and our sister station in Philadelphia stopped by stores in New Jersey.  We purchased items and returned them with gift receipts after the items had gone on sale.

An electric blanket cost $31.03 at a New Jersey Walmart, but when it was returned, they received $20.33 back.

On a hidden camera tape, a producer said, “I thought it was more than that?”

The Walmart associate replied, “It probably was, but if you don’t have a receipt with the actual price, I have to give you whatever comes up.”

We originally paid $14 for a pair of boots and a t-shirt, but only got $10 back.

When asked why it was $10 instead of $14, the Walmart associate says, “It doesn’t tell us the price, whatever scans in is what you get.”

We and our sister station spent a total of $106.85 at Walmart, but the gift receipts returned $62.32. The total loss was $44.53.

Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, told CBS News, “I think it’s reprehensible.  Consumers are cynical enough about company policy.  This just adds to their sense of mistrust and disappointment.”

Walmart says the employees seen in our investigation weren’t following company policy. Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesperson, provided a video statement.  In it, Lopez, said,

“The customer is at the center of everything we do and we’re committed to providing them with one-stop shopping convenience and low prices every day, on everything. 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.

“Recently, we learned that there may be some confusion on how to process gift receipts. In order to address this matter, we have 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.”

But Schmitz isn’t buying Walmart’s explanation — or any more items with a gift receipt from its stores.

Schmitz said, “It was set up to where the person giving would not know if the gift was returned and the person receiving the gift would not know the amount paid.”

Following the investigation, Walmart says, it issued this memo to its more than 3,800 stores nationwide to make sure all employees know that consumers with gift receipts should receive a full refund for the original amount paid, under company policy. It’s also worth noting — not all store items have the same return policies. You’ve got to be clear on the rules before you buy that next gift.

Comments (13)
  1. joe black says:

    Sad suck Walmart. I never go to Walmart anyway. Target is a lot better store. Nice customers and clean. Walmart has a lot of dirty low life customers

  2. joe says:

    They have been taking advantage of their employees and comunities for years, and yet you all are suprised when they start taking advantage of everything else around them!! Think about this, if you give a corporate entity total anonimity and tax freedom do you honestly believe they will not be greedy and take advantage of every single person that shops in there stores. Stop being stupid america and wake up to what is going on around you!!!!

  3. lchis says:

    Like you, Joe, I never shop at Walmart. The Walmarts in my community are dirty, staff are not friendly and I almost never was able to find everything on my shopping list and would have to shop at another store anyway. I have been shopping at Target for years now and I am very happy with the ability to shop at a clean store, friendly staff and know I can get everything on my shopping list, as well as the knowledge that I can use my Target debit or credit cards and 5% goes back to the community.

  4. Brenda says:

    Since Walmart has begun updating and revamping our local stores, I find they have a lot less selection.The choices have become very limited. Since then, I have pretty much stopped going. This is just one more reason NOT to do business with them.

    1. Marcy says:

      I went to WalMart the other day to purchase a memory stick. There were a total of 5 on the wall. I asked the sales associate if she could check in the back for the memory stick. She said, “Yeah, we probably have it in the back. We’re only allow to keep 5 of them on the wall at a time. Interesting…WalMart doesn’t even trust its own customers.

  5. Mama Bryan says:

    I have been shopping at our local Walmart Supercenter for over a year now and I find that it has a great selection of healthy foods that I prefer to shop for and I have not run across rude employees. I am disappointed to read, however, that there is an issue with the gift receipts. As the article mentioned, the giver doesn’t know if the gift ends up being returned and the receiver doesn’t know what was paid – if it’s a receipt, it should only reflect the actual amount paid. I hope this is remedied.

  6. Neighbor1234 says:

    I use to be a faithful walmart customer. When they first started coming to the west coast they promoted ” Made in the USA ” …… That was a long time ago. But that’s what got me hooked. But over the years all of their products come from china and suck. Quality has declined 100%….. Plus ….. You never see the same type of employees you see on the TV ads as you see in the stores. Everything about Walmart is phoney now. Their Pharmacy is a joke. I shop at Target now and my wife and I are very happy with everything they offer. Their Pharmacy is fantastic. Never a problem unlike Walmarts Pharmacys.

  7. sally says:

    I totally love Target their prices are so much cheaper and they actually have employees that greet you say hello how are you at the check out stand. The greeter at walmart have no teeth are 85 and look like they are on crack and have a body oder. Walmart clean up your act Shame on management for no customer service and being so rude

  8. Dee Sch says:

    I don’t belive all walmart’s are as bad as other’s. The one I go too has VERY friendly associates and is a very clean store. As far as the customer’s go is it Walmart’s fault or anyother retailers what their customer’s are like(referring too the low life comment) We all maybe not as fortunate as you. I checked a gift reciept that I had and there is no price on it so how do they know how much was actually paid for the item (not sure) but possible and I am sure it will get fixed if there is a problem. I work retail and the amount of theft and deception is so unreal most would not belive it ! Drives prices up it amazes me. I wonder why maybe they were only allowed so many on the salesfloor? If an associate was offering too go get more then what is the problem. I also shop at Target and have no problems too speak of. But Walmart is Walmart and people are so fast too jump on the band wagon of bashing and sueing makes me angry. We have more troubles in this world then bashing but seems that is the only thing people have too do these days. Let’s worry more about the *low life * hungry people that are now going homeless because of foreclosures due too loss of jobs. If we put as much effort into helping our neighbors and family as much as we due too bashing retailers life would be much better.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Mine as well call it ghettomart most of these walmart workers don’t even care what’s going on around in the store, bad customer service too, I’ve been to both walmart in sac, the one on laguna and on florin, both times I saw a guy standing in line rolling up a blunt like it was an everyday thing that he did in there, he didn’t even care.

  10. BUGS NANNY says:


  11. Mary Ann says:

    This gift receipt situation has fraud and theft written all over it. How long have gift recepits been available? And how long have there been computers? The SKU/bar code on the gift reciept can easily embed the purchasing price at the time of purchase. There is no reason that knowing the correct amount should be left to an “associate” to remember some complicated procedure. If WalMart takes in billions/day worldwide, imagine how much they have kept via this fraud over the years.
    I’m in agreement with the quality of customers. Sometimes I want to steer them to the deoderant aisle. As far as the employees, WalMart gets what they pay for, which is not much.

  12. Misty says:

    Futureshop in BC Canada did this as well- I bought a gift for my boyfriend, a radio, at $399. He didn’t want it, so I tried to return it. It was of course on sale for $249 after boxing day, and that was all they tried to give me. I had to go home and find the original- they would not give me my money back.

    I have never given a gift receipt since.

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