Why is Returning Stuff So Hard?

So this has happened to me twice in the past couple of days, and I just feel like there's something shady going on about it. So hear me out, if you will.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a few items from Walmart. I probably shouldn't have bought any of it, but the Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad and the external hard drive have already come in handy, so I'm keeping those. On the other hand, my Lenovo Ideapad 320... an impulse buy; and my extra (I forgot I had one already) screen protector for my iPad are superfluous possessions at this point.

So, I waltzed into Walmart, and swaggered my way up to the counter, whereupon I encountered a surly attendant. "You can't return that without the box--or the receipt."

"Excuse me? I bought this from another Walmart... on this card, here, it's a store card. Can you look it up with that? I don't have the box anymore."

"You have to contact the manufacturer."



Okay. Thanks, I guess. (I said something more polite than this, if I recall correctly.)

"How about this one?" I move the screen protector in her direction.

"Yeah, we can take that."

She processes the return and hands me a gift card for the balance. I protest--

"Can't I just get this back on my card?"

"Not if you don't have the receipt."

"Well, I'm pretty sure I have it in my car. Let me go check," (Actually, this isn't the first time I've said this in the conversation.)

I head out to my car, and look through my briefcase (got it on sale at Norstrom's $450-->$110), but alas, the receipt has been thrown away. But ho! I have a picture of it, linked to my bank account through QuckBooks Self Employed! Hurrah!

I head back into the store, triumphantly.

"Here, I couldn't find the paper receipt. But I have this!" It's a decent picture of the receipt. I don't often take a lot of time to input these things, but I bet the bar code could have been read on it if we'd zoomed in and given it a chance.

"Uh, I don't think we can do that. Can we do that?" She asks another employee, perhaps the manager--I'm unsure.

"We can't do that."

"We can't do that." She echoes.

I'm bothered. "Well, that's ridiculous." I start to storm away. There's an older couple, seated, waiting for a manager, I assume, to come speak with them.

Earlier, he had chastised the staff: "I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes for someone, but no one is coming. I can't sit here all day!"

As I passed him and his wife, I assume, I say, "Good luck."

I go into the store and hastily grab a laptop bag. Nothing I really need, but they don't have what I'm looking for. Writing this now, I should have spent it online. Oh well.

The bag doesn't fit my laptop, but I haven't taken the tags off and the receipt is still inside--I hope, desperately as it lays across the room, far out of reach for the moment.

The tag story reminds me of another encounter, this time in Santa Cruz. I forgot to mention that the previous encounter was the Walmart nearest to me, in San Jose.

I purchased a used pair of shoes, because my current kicks were dirty and I needed another black pair in the rotation, but I didn't want to spend too heavy. So, I picked up a pair, bought them, and when I asked the saleswoman to cut off the tags (which were on both shoes) she says, "You sure you don't want to keep them for any reason?"

Me, the bearer of the receipt, why would I need any tags? "No thank you, I'm all set." I pat my pocket, in my mind, indicating my possession of the almighty receipt.

I walk around for a few blocks and discover that these shoes are giving me a blister. I try to adjust them, only to find the blister continuing to worsen. Bummer.

So I have to stop into a shoe store, O'Neill, where I purchased a pair of canvas Vans for a semi-reasonable price of $60 or so. Cool, well at least I can return this other pair! I have the receipt, after all. Do you sense the foreshadowing yet?

I ask the sales clerk for the box and deposit the Crossroads kicks in with the paper, and my receipt for them. I tell the very nice salesgirl thank you and depart, returning towards my car, but making a detour to get my money back for the bunk blister shoes.

I round into Crossroads, where I ask to make a return. They're helpful when I initially show them the new box, but I pull out the used shoes and they remark, "Oh you need the tags on there."

"Excuse me? But I have the receipt, it's right here." I fumble through the bag, retrieving my hopeful receipt.

"Yeah well you took the tags off."

"Well the salesperson didn't indicate to me that I needed to keep the tags on."

"Yeah, well: next time, don't take the tags off."

"Okay." I reply, grateful.

"This is store credit only."

I protest: "I feel like that should be illegal, but alright."

I spot a pair of sunglasses on the shelf that I like. Black and gold, to match the watch combo.

"Okay, how much are those?"

She replies something that sounds close to what I'm getting back. "Okay, I'll take them."

They bring over the sunglasses, and I pay. "Can you take the tag off for me please?"

"Okay, that's final sale."

"That seems ridiculous to me. I mean, why would I try these out with the tag on?" It's clipped in the middle of the sunglasses, in the least flattering, although likely most practical place possible.

I shake my head, or something of the like, and acquiesce.

At least I have a new pair of shades, but I ended up spending closer to $90, when I had only intended on spending $30. I guess they got me.