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Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Old 02-20-10, 04:08 AM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by bsmith View Post

My guess is that it is just a Walmart policy that thay are attempting to link loosely to a federal law to control open DVD returns. Like open DVD's lead to piracy or something like that (i.e., how do they know you didn't buy it, copy it, and then try to return it as damaged is their take).
That is exactly what it is. This policy on opened media has been in retail stores forever. I just recently lost my bank job and had to go back to retail and I have heard a few fellow employees use the "federal law" excuse. It is not against federal law to return an open dvd, its against the store policy due to piracy and copyright infringement. But most of the time if the item is not in stock it is substituted for another item.

This isn't just at walmart where employees think its a federal law blah blah. Its everywhere. That just comes down to bad trainers and managers not interpreting return policies well enough to their staff. I had to change the way these situations were handled at my store to avoid upsetting the customers more so then they needed to be.
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Old 02-20-10, 10:11 AM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Hi wkkunkle, thanks for voicing your side of the equation. You're right, after the successful return of the defective disc, I don't really need to return the other one. And I don't always do so. When I do, I suppose you could say it's done out of "spite," a la the episode of "Seinfeld" in which Jerry tries to return a jacket because he doesn't like the salesman who sold it to him. Maybe it's my subtle form of protest over the difficulty of the original return. This does end up being more work for me, but I only resort to this when I have too much time on my hands...

Err... kind of like now, I suppose...
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Old 02-20-10, 12:20 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

@Ajay C ... I just re-read my post and I apologize if I came off sounding preachy at all. I just recently left the retail world for a job in the Computer/Info. Science industry ... so, I still get caught up in bad memories of returns gone wrong (that'd be a great book ... LOL.). It just always ticked me off when I KNEW people had copied CDs and/or DVDs and then tried to return them ... and don't get me starrted on open video games. I had my bad share as a child of buyer's remorse on certain video games and never once fought with a retailer (me or my parents) to return an open one, because the policy was always clearly posted. But, I had people throw open games at me after being told they couldn't return them.

In general though, I will admit, where I worked ... we NEVER claimed the return of open movies to be a violation of federal law. Rather, we were honest and said it was a corporate policy and even told people that the policy was in effect because of the ease with which some people can copy movies, music, and emulate games ... To claim the return violating federal law is just sheer idiocy.

Someone tried to return an opened copy of Guitar Hero World Tour (game only) once, claiming they didn't know they needed a Guitar to play it ... umm, yeah.

Oohh .. I don't miss retail one bit. :P
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Old 02-20-10, 04:50 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by Ajay C View Post
I've encountered the situation outlined by the original poster numerous times in recent years, and every single time it both amuses and frustrates me. I realize this is a broad generalization, but in my experience, Wal-Mart tends to hire the most unintelligent, uneducated people of any retailer. And more often than not, these individuals end up working the returns counter. For whatever reason, they seem to take a strange delight in quoting rules and regulations, exerting their small degree of power over someone whom they believe is trying to pull a fast one on them. I'm sure they were all given a sermon from corporate about how accepting returns of opened media is a "violation of US copyright law" (to use the words I've heard them tell me numerous times over the years). They seem to like repeating that particular phrase, "US copyright law," as if they are weilding some magical trump card that just stopped the perpetrator in his tracks. Oh no, not US copyright law! Curses, foiled again! I hate to say it, but these people are simply not smart enough bother debating, you'll only end up frustrating yourself.

Here's a little trick I learned that seems to get me around this problem. When I have a defective DVD that they won't return (for whatever crazy reason they make up), I take it to a different Wal-Mart location and leave it in the car. Then I go in, buy the same title again, walk out to my car and bring in the original defective one within minutes. I tell them that I just bought it (showing them the receipt from the recent purchase) and that I just played it in my car DVD player and its defective. If they try to throw the "US copyright law" excuse at me, I point out that there's no way I could have copied the disc since I just left the store with the disc 5 minutes ago. Believe it or not, this usually does the trick. They still give me attitude and all that, but so be it. It's sad that I need to resort to something like this to get a simple exchange for a defective item, but it's apparently the only thing that works with these folks.

So I suppose the moral of the story is... never try to have a logical discussion with a stupid person, because they're never smart enough to realize when you're right.

*sigh*

PS: Oh, just FYI, after I get a return on the defective disc, I conclude the above convoluted process by returning the second purchase on the first receipt. I travel a lot for work, so I'm always driving by a Wal-Mart somewhere...
Which is why the clerk should open the DVD when they exchange it to prevent you from doing this! Best Buy is usually pretty consistent in opening the CD/DVD you are exchanging so you can't return it for a full refund because it's still sealed.

And, yes....any returns horror story I have revolves around Wal Mart. Which is why I stopped shopping from them years ago. One time I had a pack of undershirts that were labeled with the wrong size and they gave me trouble when I tried to return them when they were clearly mislabeled.

Once in a while I will go hoping they have changed. They have not.
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Old 02-20-10, 04:59 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by wkkunkle View Post
Sorry to play Devil's Advocate here, but I worked retail for 10+ years as a Customer Service Supervisor and then Manager (not a Walmart) and I see one issue in your process ...

Why are you returning both copies of the movie if the first was truly defective?

I understand frustration if the DVD was defective and the store was out of stock on it (in that situation, I always offered up a store credit or to exchange for another movie when that customer issue arose, as I was still technically bound by the even-exchange corporate policy); but, your scenario you described has you ultimately returning the movie altogether, even after obtaining a new copy of the movie. Why not stop at the point of returning the defective one via the method you described and then keep the new copy, which in all likelihood is just fine? Why return the unopened copy, too? It's actions like that which make the retailers (and customer service reps) leery of returning open merchandise.

That's something I never understood ... when a customer would come in and tell me the movie was "defective" and policy stated that once opened we could offer an even exchange only ... AND WE STILL HAD IT IN STOCK ... and they still wanted a flat-out refund versus exchange. It always seemed the case of either buyer remorse or "well, I already copied it ..." (and I am not talking periods of time where they may have went and bought another copy elsewhere already ... I am talking, bought it a few hours ago to one day ago, according to receipt dates).

I had someone try to return a CD boxed set (opened) once because they said the discs were "too thick" for their CD player!
Yes, I always think it's "buyer's remorse." When I worked in retail, customers would once in a while just break down their facade and admit they didn't like the movie. More often than not, I was happy to help them out at that point to see if I could do something with me. Saying a CD is too thick...they must think the clerk is thick to fall for that.

At the very least if there is nothing I can do for them, I suggest a way they can at least try to sell it used to get the most bang for their buck and not lose all the money on the product.

Some of think people in retail are morons barely able to muster up the ability to pound numbers on a keyboard, but people who work in retail have a fairly decent BS meter and are fairly sharp and perceptive. Yes, they may banter corporate policies about opened merchandise but that's just them doing their job. Yes, if you say you don't like the movie you may run into the clerk who will say too bad, but you never know...just being honest may actually work to your benefit. Most, however, prefer customers who are honest to them rather than ones who come in lying to try to get around something. Maybe because it shows a certain level of respect. That's something a lot of customers fail to give people in retail, so retailers are already on the defensive when you are spinning your web of BS.
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Old 02-21-10, 12:11 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

@Calhoun ... I admit that it became my policy to cut open exchange items, too. I told my associates to just say "we just want to make sure this one isn't scratched or broken or anything so you don't have to waste another trip in" if the person returning/exchanging the item asked why they were cutting it.

I actually had a small pen-size box cutter labeled at our Customer Service Desk for this exact purpose ... to quickly cut open DVDs, CDs, etc.
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Old 02-22-10, 12:52 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
I had a similar incident at K-mart several years ago ... except they weren't even going to let me exchange another copy of the same title! The gal kept telling me "You opened it, I can't take back open DVDs. Had you not opened it, we could have exchanged it." She seemed a little stumped when I asked "How would I know it was defective if I didn't open it?" They eventually allowed the exchange and I left the rest of my planned purchase (about $100, I still had two kids in diapers at the time) sitting in front of the counter as I walked out.
Not to get off topic, but $50 seems a bit cheap to buy a baby, diapers or no diapers.
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Old 02-22-10, 11:28 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by Goldblum View Post
Not to get off topic, but $50 seems a bit cheap to buy a baby, diapers or no diapers.
I'd even drop the price to $25 now ... the little shits are more trouble when they get older (my oldest is now in driver's ed ... shutter at the horror).

I think I have found the best response to the "You're violating Federal copyright laws by trying to exchanging this." Simply inform the clerk that he/she is violating your civil right to pursue happiness as it would make you immensely happy to watch this particular movie -- however they sold you a defective copy in a coordinated effort to attempt to deprive you of your civil rights. Hell, the clerk may even be a racist and a fascist.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:16 AM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

First of all it is a federal law for all retail stores. it is the Federal copy right law.. read it someday and you will understand. its not just about copying movies its very strict on items such as this.
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Old 11-05-10, 08:59 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by keithadam83 View Post
First of all it is a federal law for all retail stores. it is the Federal copy right law.. read it someday and you will understand. its not just about copying movies its very strict on items such as this.


Are you the returns lady from the first post?
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Old 11-06-10, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Todd B. View Post

Are you the returns lady from the first post?
I agree, it's funny when a newbie bumps an old thread for a funny post.
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Old 11-12-10, 10:00 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

OMG. U r lucky the FBI didnt arrest u!
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Old 01-16-14, 04:57 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

OK, I HAD to resurrect this thread because I can't believe what happened to me with a return at Walmart last night!

I bought the Wolverine 4 disk set at Walmart on 12/10 which I went to return last night (unopened and with receipt of course). As far as I know the return period is 90 days.

I was informed by the clerk that they are not allowed to resell returned movies because of copyright laws. I said I have returned several movies there before. She said the people who took movies back have been fired or transferred because they don't know how to do it right. Now I am pretty amazed at this point, then she makes a comment that I bought it over a month ago and why am I taking it back. I told her I bought it for a gift and decided not to give it. And here it comes...

She says she will take it back "as a courtesy" but she has to open it first! I stood there and watched her take all the cellophane and the little sticker that runs across the top of the case and then COUNT the 4 discs (twice just to be sure). WOW. I gotta say I'm still pissed about this. Either I'm way behind the times or I left before the cameras came out.
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Old 01-16-14, 06:52 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Now watch someone accuse her of copying the discs and putting them back on the shelf!
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Old 01-16-14, 07:17 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by ajcstr View Post
OK, I HAD to resurrect this thread because I can't believe what happened to me with a return at Walmart last night!

I bought the Wolverine 4 disk set at Walmart on 12/10 which I went to return last night (unopened and with receipt of course). As far as I know the return period is 90 days.

I was informed by the clerk that they are not allowed to resell returned movies because of copyright laws. I said I have returned several movies there before. She said the people who took movies back have been fired or transferred because they don't know how to do it right. Now I am pretty amazed at this point, then she makes a comment that I bought it over a month ago and why am I taking it back. I told her I bought it for a gift and decided not to give it. And here it comes...

She says she will take it back "as a courtesy" but she has to open it first! I stood there and watched her take all the cellophane and the little sticker that runs across the top of the case and then COUNT the 4 discs (twice just to be sure). WOW. I gotta say I'm still pissed about this. Either I'm way behind the times or I left before the cameras came out.
My guess is that particular store has had problems with dedicated rings of thieves that buy merchandise, steal the contents, and then return empty packages they've sealed back up.

It's a fairly common scam pulled on Target and Walmart.
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Old 01-17-14, 09:55 AM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
My guess is that particular store has had problems with dedicated rings of thieves that buy merchandise, steal the contents, and then return empty packages they've sealed back up.

It's a fairly common scam pulled on Target and Walmart.
Well, if thats the case, it should be stated on the receipt or in the return policy.

And it's bogus to say that they are violating Federal law to resell a returned DVD
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Old 01-17-14, 09:56 AM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
Now watch someone accuse her of copying the discs and putting them back on the shelf!
Maybe she just wanted the movie and employees get the open stuff cheaper !
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Old 01-17-14, 02:33 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by ajcstr View Post
I stood there and watched her take all the cellophane and the little sticker that runs across the top of the case and then COUNT the 4 discs (twice just to be sure).
I returned a factory sealed DVD to Walmart right before Christmas, I bought it for a gift but found out they already owned the movie. Not only did the girl behind the counter open up the package with a utility knife, she took the disc out and scratched it with the blade. That surprised the Hell out of me.
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Old 01-17-14, 02:37 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by grenier View Post
I returned a factory sealed DVD to Walmart right before Christmas, I bought it for a gift but found out they already owned the movie. Not only did the girl behind the counter open up the package with a utility knife, she took the disc out and scratched it with the blade. That surprised the Hell out of me.
Wow, Best buy just looks at the thing and takes it back, no problems. Again though, this information should be included in their return policy.
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Old 01-17-14, 03:13 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

I've only ever returned 2 dvd's to WM, and with one of them the employee kept pressing the cellophane in on the right, where many of them have a space there, broke through it, unwrapped it, and then was disappointed because the disc was there. She said some people open that area, steal the discs and then return them. But when she saw the disc was there she gave me the refund with no problem.
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Old 01-17-14, 04:01 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

Originally Posted by grenier View Post
I returned a factory sealed DVD to Walmart right before Christmas, I bought it for a gift but found out they already owned the movie. Not only did the girl behind the counter open up the package with a utility knife, she took the disc out and scratched it with the blade. That surprised the Hell out of me.
I bought a DVD once at Target to return under an old receipt (b/c they wouldn't do PMs). I walked from the register to the return desk and laughed when they opened the discs to see if I was stealing anything. I almost told them, but thought I'd better be quiet. They might've said they couldn't do the return because it wasn't the same physical copy (Believe me I've had them say that too).
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Old 01-17-14, 05:01 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

I did a couple of DVD returns to WM *and* Target before Christmas. The Target ones were some they sold *last spring* but no longer carry. The WM one is also no longer on the shelf. Both returns were done without receipts and neither store gave me problems or asked any questions other than the standard "Is there anything wrong with it?". I had to wait a bit longer at Target because they had to look them up to see what value I would receive for them since they no longer carried the discs. Target gave me a gift card. The girl at WM looked at the disc, scanned it, and gave me cash out of the drawer.

I've also done the "return to Target on old receipt by buying again new and going to the return desk" without issues. The only thing I did different was actually go to the car with the new copy and return with the old. That way if they asked I could say in confidence it was the same one I purchased on that date. The old one was in the car in case they had none on the shelf so I could argue for a PM (or at least tell them: OK... I'll return this one... now sell it to me at the current price).
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Old 01-18-14, 03:50 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

This thread is hilarious. I don't believe I've ever returned a DVD to Wal Mart, but would love to see them try the "federal law" line on me. The absurd side of me wonders if they do this with anything else, maybe foodstuffs?

"I wonder if all the Pringles are really in the can?"
[pops open can]
"One Pringle"...[Cookie Monster sounds]..."two Pringles"...[Cookie Monster sounds]..."three Pringles"...[Cookie Monster sounds]...

If their bad returns problems gets too bad, maybe they'll invest in small x-ray machines for certain stores? Then I could be sure the liner notes are in the case before buying older DVD's.

But more seriously, aftermarket shrinkwrap is typically really easy to spot. I worked a shrinkwrap machine at a discount store back when I was in high school, and can still spot that stuff from 10 feet away. It really comes down to better employee training. And hiring people who have at least two brain cells that connect.
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Old 01-18-14, 04:32 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

I've wondered if this type of return policy isn't forced on retailers by the studios. Penalties for violating it similar to violating street dates. That person trying to return open dvd could be undercover employee of studio.
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Old 01-18-14, 05:14 PM
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Re: Returns at Walmart & "Violations of Federal Law"

I've returned PS3 games to Walmart before, but never had them cut one open. If it was a theft thing, I'd imagine those would be just as easy as DVD's to re-wrap and return empty.
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