Sunday, December 24, 2006

Returning items from K-Mart and Target

I was asked to drop my two cents in on this by someone in a comment thread, as a debate has been rating in a forum over at

The debate is whether or not items purchased at other stores are returnable at Wal-Mart. The answer is yes. And no.

If you don't have a Wal-Mart receipt for an item, you're going to get store credit for an item. I start this process by smashing some buttons on my register and then scanning the item(s) in question and telling you how much credit you're going to get.

There is one fairly stiff law for returns without a receipt. If the item doesn't ring up, you're not getting any credit. When I say "doesn't ring up," I mean that I hit the barcode on the item with my little gun and I get a message that says 'ITEM NOT FOUND - PRESS CLEAR'. Yeah. It's not a Wal-Mart item.

Maybe one percent of the time, the item in question is from another Wal-Mart with a different product line, although we only accept these items if it has a Wal-Mart tag or is a verifiable Wal-Mart item, like something from one of the Wal-Mart only clothing lines. In two years, I've taken back some clothes and two pairs of shoes, all from Wal-Marts in different states.

Most of the time 'ITEM NOT FOUND' stuff is purchased from another retailer — like Target, K-mart or Sears. Whenever I get the 'ITEM NOT FOUND' message, I always look at the tags or the barcode. I love to say to people — in a loud voice, too, so everyone knows they're stupid — "Ma'am, this item is from K-Mart."

Now, AND THIS IS THE INTERESTING PART, things that are sold to multiple retailers from the same supplier, such as some toys, video games, movies and certain household appliances and electronics HAVE THE SAME BARCODE ACROSS THE ENTIRE RETAIL SPECTRUM.

Think about it. Would Pixar really manufacture a special DVD package for Wal-Mart, another for Target, another for Best Buy, another for Circuit City, another for K-Mart, another or Virgin Megastore, et al.? One DVD. One barcode. (Please note that any two-for-one or multi-pack sales promotions will always have a different barcode, because they are a different item.)

Yup. That's right. That "Cars" DVD has the same barcode at Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart and Best Buy (unless someone is running a special "only at XXX" promotion). The same goes for that blender and toaster.

It is official Wal-Mart policy that as long as an item rings up, it is returnable — but only at the price it rings up for. We did have a gentleman once who bought 50 sticks of deodorant at a Big Lots and tried to return them at a Wal-Mart. Well, they did ring up, but at two cents. He tried to argue that there must be some "computer mistake" but a manager checked the computer and found out that the stuff was part of the Sam's Club multi-packs. We told the man he could return all 50 sticks of deodorant — for two cents a stick. He left.

The reason that you DO NOT just return stuff to Wal-Mart that you bought at K-Mart (or anywhere else) is that usually, Wal-Mart is going to give you less than what you paid for it. Wal-Mart's entire existence is predicated on having the lowest price in town.

So, say you bought the "Cars" DVD for $24.99 at Best Buy. Wal-Mart is probably selling it for $14.99. That's all you're going to get back — as a Wal-Mart store credit. So you're out ten bucks and you can only spend what's left at Wal-Mart.

Electronics and toys are easy, because everyone usually carries the same stuff. Clothing is much more difficult, because of the trend for stores to have "brands" now, such as Wal-Mart's failed attempt at high fashion, the Metro 7 line.

And one time, I almost yanked some heifer's weave out when she just absolutely refused to take no for an answer when I told her "Ma'am, Wal-Mart does not sell Garanimals. That is a boutique brand." I've seen Liz Claiborne shirts, Banana Republic shirts (how could you even confuse Banana Republic and Wal-Mart is beyond me), Seduzione and every other mall store in existence.

There are rumors of major changes to Wal-Mart's generous return policy. Nothing official, but look for something similar to Target's where you get a gift receipt as well as the complete return policy on the back of the receipt. Also, because of such drastic theft issues, Wal-Mart may consider ending returns without a receipt, but I doubt that. The customer base Wal-Mart serves is too used to returning anything, anywhere, at any time.

So I hope I shed some light on the topic. The key thing is that if the item rings up, you can return it, but only for what it is selling for right now at the Wal-Mart. Otherwise, just try your luck elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

I thought that Garanimals back in the day was Sears and is now KMart? Either way, the stuff's junk - I'd HOPE it's not a boutique brand. We've had a few pieces of hand-me-downs and the stuff's crap.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Eve.
You are now officially my hero. I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and since then I've been staying up late after work and reading until my eyes hurt. After working in the retail/fast food industry for what feels like forever, I feel your pain. Your blog has almost made me want to apply for a job at Walmart so that I could deal with even more idiot customers... Almost. At least they make good stories. Please keep up all the good work and have a great holiday!

Anonymous said...

My mom bought Garanimals for me at WalMart, oh... about 25 years ago. Haven't seen those in ages. I HATED wearing those. Love your stories!

Ol' Lady said...

Sending to you wishes of peace, happiness and joy. Take Care :)

Anonymous said...

I would like to throw in two cents

On DVD's an open cd/dvd can only be exchanged for the same dvd/cd such as another cars video.

Also without a receipt we have to enter the drivers license number and after 3 returns in 6 months so sorry no return.

But yes, I see my share of crack head returns at my store. Like gee can I return this pair of gap jeans./...

BitterEmployee said...

Hello fellow retailer,
I too work returns but at (dun-dun-dunnnnnn) Target, and every so often we get people yelling at us that they'll go to Wal-mart and return the items, which is fine by us considering their attitude, but I just wanted to comment on your great blog.

Stephanie said...

every so often we get people yelling at us that they'll go to Wal-mart and return the items, which is fine by us considering their attitude, but I just wanted to comment on your great blog.

Oh my goodness, how I remember this during my Guest Service days at Target, lol!! I had so many people telling me, "Well Walmart will return anything," and I SOOOO wanted to say, "Well then go to Walmart, what's stopping you?" Usually, I'd just say, "Well, Target does things differently, I'm sorry."

bopo said...

Figured everyone here would get a kick out of this:

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it!

When I saw this happen the day after christmas the first thing I thought of was you.

The local ShopCo is going out of business and everything is 50% off. I saw this woman come in with a Faded Glory shoe box wanting to return the shoes with no recipt and was pi**ed because she couldn't return them. Now keep in mind, the store has had a no return policy on eveything in the store since sometime in November and they have had this advertised EVERYWHERE in the store so she couldn't have returned them anyway. Further more, faded glory isn't even sold at ShopCo!

I can't believe the audacity and conceit of people.

Anonymous said...

The only Garanimals I have ever seen came from Wal-Mart. They are like $3.50 apiece for shirts and shorts or leggings that match. They get marked down to like 2 bucks apiece at the end of the season. They last a long time in my house. They make great cheap playclothes. Anyway I think the original blogger got the brand confused with Gymboree.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is "Thank you"!!! I worked at Wal-mart for 3 years, part of that time at the service desk than as a CSM. The sheer stupidity of some of these people that would come my way, literally amazed me! Any wayI just wanted to say that at my store fter you would state the policy and the customerwould get rally nasty and speak to the manager the manager would then CAVE into their demands just to get them to leave them alone, of course I am than left looking like a shmuck and the customer is all but sticking their tongue out at me! I ABSOLUTELY HATED THE SERVICE DESK!

Anonymous said...

Walmart definately sold Garanimals in NJ. I bought some for my son when he was little and he was born in 1998. Cute as hell some of hte stuff!

Anonymous said...

I was just at Walmart in Gleen Carbon, IL. buying "Sofia's First" and "Doc McStuffins" clothing in a 5T and was looking for boys PJ's 9mos. and there were TONS of Garanimals outfits! So please make sure before you pull someones weave out, you know what your talking about!!

Customer in St. Louis, MO

Anonymous said...

So i was working returns and this lady brought three boxes of gopro stuff in that was on clearance here at Wal-Mart the cse next to me returned them without opening the boxes. Lady left the store then I told her she should have looked inside. She eventually did and the boxes were full of other stuff nothing listed on the box. I have no clue what 99 will do

Jamal Mall said...

Outlet Stores and malls are here to provide you Best Buy location for buying the product at discount. You buy all the product factory store locator only on one location all the malls location are here walmart, nike, apple walgreens etc...

Unknown said...

Does the barcode tell you WHEN it was purchased?