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Gift Receipt Rip-Offs Could Cheat Consumers Out Of Millions

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It’s happened to us all at one time or another. You buy a gift for someone and they don’t like it.

Fortunately if they have a gift receipt, they can exchange it, and no one’s feelings get hurt.

But CBS4’s Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine has a consumer alert about a problem at one major retailer.

When David Schmitz changed his mind about giving a make-up kit for a gift he returned it to Walmart using the gift receipt, but he says they were only going to refund half of what he paid, because the item had since gone on sale.

“I bought the item. I know what I paid for it. I paid $15. I didn’t pay $7.50,” said Schmitz.

In fact his original receipt proves it!

“I knew I spent $15 and I wasn’t going to take less,” added Schmitz.

After Schmitz argued that a gift receipt and regular receipt should work the same the store manager refunded the full amount.

“But the average person isn’t going to know.”

CBS has learned this is a practice happening across the country.

When our sister station in Philadelphia went shopping at several Walmart stores they’re hidden cameras reveal the same practice.

Purchasing seasonal and holiday items that would likely go on sale, like an electric blanket priced at $31.03. When it was returned using the gift receipt, they only got back $20.33.

“I thought it was more than that,” said the undercover producer.

“It probably was. But when you don’t have a receipt with the actual price I have to give you whatever comes up,” replied the store cashier.

So Walmart pocketed $10.70!

When our CBS4’s sister station in Sacramento took similar shopping trips, they only got back 50% what they paid for some items.

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky is dumbfounded.

“The whole point of a gift receipt is to get back exactly what the gift giver paid,” said Dworsky. “You should be getting every penny’s worth what was paid for, not the lowest price, absolutely not.”

Walmart had this to say about the gift receipt problem.

“It is our expectation to refund the original purchase price when returning an item with a gift receipt,” stated a company spokesperson.

Consumer attorney Stuart Tally believes Walmart has pocketed millions.

“What Walmart knows is the person who gave the gift will never tell the person who received the gift how much they paid. And they know the person who returned the gift will never report to the gift giver that they returned the gift.”

David Schmitz said he is not buying Walmart’s explanation or any more items with a gift receipt from their stores.

“I would never get a gift receipt from Walmart because it’s basically useless.”

Walmart has issued a memo to its more than 3,800 stores nationwide to make sure all workers know its company policy – to refund customers with gift receipts the full amount originally paid.

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