National class action complaint filed against major retailer amid reports of deceptive return policy.
June 2, 2011
Following their investigation of Wal-Mart’s gift receipt policy, the national class action law firms of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, LLP, Wexler Wallace, LLP, and Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Brayton, Konecky filed a national class action lawsuit yesterday against Wal-Mart stores.*
The firms spent significant time investigating complaints that the stores were not honoring the purchase price of the merchandise when a person who receives the gift uses their gift receipt to return it. According to those complaints, if the item purchased is on sale when the recipient returns it, they will only be given credit for the sale price – not the original price paid, which most consumers presume is noted on their gift receipt. In fact, the price paid for the gift is never included on a Wal-Mart gift receipt.
"It really is a ‘perfect’ rip-off,” says consumer advocate and KCR partner, Bill Kershaw. "It's considered bad manners to ask someone how much they paid for your birthday present and only a social boor says, ‘Hey, you know I spent $30 on your gift?’”
Kershaw noted that they’ve spoken to several consumers who were shorted by the gift receipt practice, but that there are likely thousands more who are completely unaware that their gift cost more than what they were credited. This is particularly true given the nature of the scheme.
"Wal-Mart's scheme to defraud relies on the fact that people generally have good manners and would never ask how much their gift giver paid for their present,” he adds. "Further, rarely does the recipient tell the person who gave them the gift that they didn't like it and therefore returned it. It takes fairly unusual circumstances for the giver or the receiver to discover that they are being short changed by Wal-Mart and even then, most people won't make a stink. So it truly is the perfect scam and 99% of people never know there's been a rip off.”
*Case No. 2:11-cv-01487-LKK –DAD filed in the Eastern District of California