08 May 2012

"Caveat emptor" re iPad purchases

Most TYWKIWDBI readers are smart enought to not be caught by a street scam where someone offers a computer or other expensive electronics in a box, only to discover later that there's nothing valuable inside.  But now some consumers are claiming to run into the same problem at conventional retail outlets.
According to a story by MyFoxDetroit.com, a customer says she bought the iPad 3... After coming home from Walmart with her purchase, she says she was stunned to find "a stack of papers. I was very upset to see that it was not in there." She says the pads were added to provide weight but that there was no iPad in the box. She returned to Walmart and was turned down by a manager.

"She says she wasn't giving me anything for it. She said it didn't matter, even if I didn't break the seal on the box. Once I bought it and walked out the door, it was mine." Walmart called police to look into it, and they said the woman's story wasn't credible, so no refund.
The counterpoint, of course, is that a shopper could buy an iPad, take the box home, make the substitution, and claim he/she was cheated and ask for a refund.  The most commonly suggested preventive remedy is for the consumer to open the box on any expensive purchase before leaving the store.


  1. IMHO this instance speaks volumes about why I don't go to Walmart. They have their eyes on the money at all times. So much so, that they can't see that customer service/relations is nonexistent. I find Target to be an exact opposite shopping experience. I will happily reward Target the extra one or three cents ( . . . or more, sticklers for exactitude) for doing very many things right.

  2. I used to work at Best Buy when I was in high school and had the misfortune to work in Customer Service. We had people come in to return their "unopened" scrink wrapped or taped up electronics. It was our store policy to break the seal and verify that the hardware was actually inside the packaging. There was at least 3 seperate incidences I remember where customers would buy say a DVD player. Take it home. Fill the box with something heavy, in one case it was bricks, then retape or shrinkwrap the package. Return it to us with the original receipt and say they got the wrong one. I dont shop at walmart and I always check my electronics before I leave the store now. Usually the checkout people are okay with you standing at the end of their lane after you paid and are out of the way to verify you actually have a nice shiny iPad3 in that iPad 3 case.

  3. IPad boxes should be see through, but since they're not I don't see a problem opening then at checkout. If there are notepads inside, Walmart is going to be the ones with egg on their face.

    I feel really bad for this lady. The MyFoxDetroit article says there was another customer in a similar situation (legal pad paper in the box), but she got the full refund. It looks like there's an Apple employee that should look for a new job.

  4. The problem is that there are an awful lot of thieves and scammers out there who deliberately take advantage of "good customer service", and the store has no way of knowing if you are a scumbag or not. The best bet is to open your merchandise at the register and make sure you're getting what you paid for.

  5. The name for this con is 'pig in a poke' and it goes way back to when meat was scare but cats weren't. People would by a wriggling sack thinking it was a piglet only to find a cat or puppy.

    I used to work in the refurbishment department for a computer company and my boss once told of one box arriving containing a bag of dog food and another a box of underwear.

  6. Ha! Another good one is to buy the base and top line laptop, swap CPUs and return the more expensive one. They may go as far as to turn it on but do you think that they will check the bios for how many cores the cpu has, how much RAM, or what kind of drive? Sadest part is that most folks who buy the swapped laptop have no idea because it is still faster than their old one...

    I was a manager for Home Depot. Customer came back smoking mad that his $300 ceiling fan was a box of bricks (Good Hunter models are cast iron and weigh a ton). We gave him a new one because it was the right thing to do. (that and alerting the other stores)
    If the customer was the theif - HD ate it but we had a few people in the returns line that were very impressed with how we handled it and they no doubt shared the story like we all did.
    If the customer, like us, was the victim - Than HD was at fault for not checking the box earlier.

  7. I bought a computer video game, and all the expansion packs, from walmart, so I could play it with my overseas friend. I bought it in a nearby town (30 minutes away) I get home and I see that out of the 5 boxes I have, only 2 of them have any cd's in them. I called the walmart I bought them from, they said that they were very sorry, and that I could get a full refund (near 200$). I told them that I thought it was a bit ridiculous for me to have to drive for 1 hour round trip to fix their mistake, so they offered to refund 10$ of my money.
    I can say nothing but good things about that instance. I continue to buy my electronics from there (really it's the nearest place that has most of them anyhow) because I feel like they have earned my business.



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