By Josh Slowiczek

MANTECA (CBS13) – A Manteca viewer learned the hard way that just because you buy something online with Walmart, it doesn’t mean you’re actually buying a product from Walmart.

Thomas Rivera thought he was buying his son a Lego set for Christmas last year, but the day after, realized it wasn’t the authentic brand. It’s one of many potential risks when buying from an online marketplace like Amazon, Target and Walmart – which now allow third-party merchants to sell on their platforms. Sellers get to use big named store names to help sell their products. The stores get a cut of the sale.

READ MORE: Married Couple Killed In Crash By Suspect Vehicle Fleeing Sacramento Police

In Thomas’ case, he bought his son the toys from a merchant in China, and by the time Christmas had come and gone, he was told it was outside the third-party seller’s return window. First, he tried returning it to the Walmart in Manteca, and then tried to file a claim online – neither worked.

CBS13 learned while Walmart has a generous 90 day return policy on most items it sells, it’s only requires its Walmart Marketplace sellers to have a return policy of 14 days for electronics and jewelry, and 30 days for most other items.

Certainly, the difference between a third-party merchant and the larger, online marketplace could confuse shoppers who aren’t paying close attention. We reached out to a Sacramento public relations expert, Doug Elmets, who says confusions like these can blemish a store’s brand.

READ MORE: Man Convicted In Shooting Death Of Elk Grove Teen Sentenced To 25 Years

“Just like any online marketplace, Walmart’s marketplace is full of legitimate and excellent third-party sellers,” said Elmets. “But of course, as is always the case, there are a few bad apples.”

Walmart notes that although the return policies for marketplace sellers may be different from Walmart’s own return policies, they have set up minimum standards and procedures to ensure a consistent customer experience.

Their website elaborates: any item purchased from Walmart.com can be returned to an in-person store for a refund up to 30 days after a purchase. After that, however, Walmart’s coverage ends and a longer period of time is dependent on who the third-party merchant is.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the merchant did not grant him a refund. We also reached out to Walmart, to see if they could help and clarify, be they did not respond in time.

MORE NEWS: VIDEO: Thieves Steal $2K Plant From Davis Shop

Some of us move quickly when we shop. But always remember to pay attention to who is selling the item, and the return policy.