3OYS: Wal-Mart return policy is not so simple

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- If you're brave enough to take on Black Friday, the last thing you want to do is brave the crowds trying to make a return. But sometimes it's just inevitable.

However, when it comes to retail giant Wal-Mart, the return policy seems more confusing than consistent.

Despite Wal-Mart's promise of "your satisfaction guaranteed," 3 On Your Side discovered it all comes down to which store you go to.

A 3TV producer put Wal-Mart's return policy to the test, buying some seasonal items and an everyday item.

Then, armed with our gift receipts, our producer tried to make our returns to different Wal-Marts throughout the valley.
Our first stop was a Phoenix store. We were told that their policy is no cash refund or gift card.
STORE CLERK: "I can't give you even store credit because she purchased it with a credit card, so it automatically goes back to the credit card.
PRODUCER: "But it's a gift receipt.”
STORE CLERK: "We're supposed to give store credit but since she did it with a credit card,  credit cards go back to credit cards cause it's not a cash purchase."

That's right; even though we had the gift receipt, Wal-Mart would only refund the buyer's credit card.
Next up, we visited two east valley Wal-Mart stores. Both of their return policies: issue store gift cards.

STORE CLERK: "$10.77 on the card, dear, and thank you very much and have a great day.”

But when we attempted to return our items at this Central Phoenix Wal-Mart, we completely struck out.

No exchange, no gift card, not even a refund on the purchaser's credit card.

The employee claimed his general manager wasn't accepting any return of "seasonal items."
Which begs the question, what exactly is Wal-Mart's return policy?

Their website states:
"Wal-Mart, for several years, has accepted returns without a receipt,...”

The website goes on to say that:
"Wal-Mart gives customers the option of a cash refund (if the purchase was under $25), a shopping card for the amount of the purchase or an even exchange for the product."

But it seemed each store we went to, had a different policy.  So we contacted a representative of Wal-Mart, who apologized and issued a written statement that said:
"It's our expectation to refund the original purchase price when returning an item with a gift receipt. Clearly, we're disappointed this didn't happen in these particular instances.We have addressed this with all of our stores in the market to help ensure these are handled correctly going forward.”

Wal-Mart also states:  if you do have a problem returning an item, just ask to speak with a manager.