Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

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aerofreaky11
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Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 5:49 am

Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by aerofreaky11 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:05 pm

Background: I purchased several items at a national big box home improvement store. Some of the items were LARGE as in 4 feet by 8 feet wide. Several weeks later, I received an email from the loyalty program with a copy of a receipt. Interesting...I didn't make a return. In fact, I haven't shopped at that particular store in 5+ years.

Someone "returned" the items I bought at the store, including a 4x8 sheet of...plywood which for the record was chopped in two lengthwise and used to construct custom cabinets. Obviously, there is an issue here. I contacted the store...no response from the manager. I contacted CORP CS, a response to my 2nd or 3rd email, but NO action.

Now, months later I still have no idea how this person was able to complete a return. The receipt wasn't in the wind, so something more planned out was probably happening. This makes me worry about identity theft, the account security of my "loyalty" program and any side effects down the line with "The Retail Equation" who apparently handle returns for many well known businesses.

I think someone from each of the stores is working in coordination and playing the return game by "returning" items with a straw person or just running the refunds period. However, I don't know. I do know that I am upset this national chain hasn't cared enough to contact me in a serious manner.

Any suggestions? Can I prove fraud and will this harm me down the line with increasing the # of returns I make. Some day when I need to return something will I discover it isn't approved by The Retail Equation? https://www.theretailequation.com/ Should I take any additional steps or drop this? I'm considering a letter to the executive staff.

thanks,

Loik098
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by Loik098 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:51 pm

You should just do what the big box store did, and let it go. Clearly, your issue is of no concern to them.

Do you know how many people buy an expensive tool, use it for a big project, then return it at these places? Your one return (fraud or not) is not likely to raise a red flag.

If you're worried about having to return an expensive item in the future, perhaps you should do business with Amazon or Costco. Unless you're a serious "return abuser", you'll have little trouble returning items with those two retailers.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:17 am

If it was indeed an insider situation, the company isn't going to let a customer know about the status of the internal investigation. It becomes a personnel matter at that point, unless they decide to pursue charges for the theft.

So about the only thing you can do at this point is change the password on your loyalty account and then move on.

TJSI
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by TJSI » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:27 am

Certainly sounds like internal theft. If it is not too troublesome, you could report it to the store manager or store security. With the numerous security cameras in use they may be able to identify who made the false return.

TJSI

iamlucky13
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by iamlucky13 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:06 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't paying with a credit or debit card generally prevent this sort of thing, as most stores require purchases made on cards go back to the card?

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lthenderson
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by lthenderson » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:02 am

aerofreaky11 wrote:Background: I purchased several items at a national big box home improvement store. Some of the items were LARGE as in 4 feet by 8 feet wide. Several weeks later, I received an email from the loyalty program with a copy of a receipt. Interesting...I didn't make a return. In fact, I haven't shopped at that particular store in 5+ years.


So you received a copy of the receipt. What happened that makes you think something got returned? Did you get a reimbursement on a credit card? I'm not sure I follow this part.

I can think of two scenarios. One, a computer glitch at the home improvement store errantly sent out some information that wasn't correct. I can think of a half dozen times that has happened to me in the last decade and after a phone call, they tell you to toss the notice in the mail and forget about it.

Two, if you paid by credit card, most home improvement stores have terminals which you can enter the information and print out receipts to return things. Perhaps your credit card information got swiped. However, someone would have to just happen a sheet of plywood in their possession and your credit card information to make this happen so I think it unlikely.

michaeljc70
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:27 am

I don't think I'd be worried about identity theft. It is most likely internal theft. With your loyalty card linked to your email, there are multiple ways they could have gotten the receipt or physically not needed it at all. They picked the items off the shelf and returned them using the receipt or had it looked up giving the loyalty card number, email, or a copy of the receipt. Or, after you walked away, the cashier hit the dup receipt button.

I am not sure why they haven't gotten back to you. My guess is 1) they are investigating and it will take time 2) These emails get skimmed and it was ignored. A "we will look into this and get back to you" email would have been appropriate, but if they have some hole in their system they probably don't want to admit it/ advertise it and legally wouldn't be required to if it didn't involve too much of a customer's personal information.

It also could have been a computer glitch, but I think that is less likely. These stores do a lot of business.

michaeljc70
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:31 am

iamlucky13 wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't paying with a credit or debit card generally prevent this sort of thing, as most stores require purchases made on cards go back to the card?


"I no longer have that credit card, just give me a store credit".

bluebolt
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by bluebolt » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:05 am

Loik098 wrote:You should just do what the big box store did, and let it go. Clearly, your issue is of no concern to them.

Do you know how many people buy an expensive tool, use it for a big project, then return it at these places? Your one return (fraud or not) is not likely to raise a red flag.

If you're worried about having to return an expensive item in the future, perhaps you should do business with Amazon or Costco. Unless you're a serious "return abuser", you'll have little trouble returning items with those two retailers.

It has been reported that single returns at Home Depot for purchases made using gift cards do cause an issue for future returns for purchases made on gift cards.
Not for credit card purchases though.
So, only purchase items you are unlikely to return on gift cards.

pshonore
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by pshonore » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:22 am

HD has a new policy; if you get a store credit you must show driver's license. When using that store credit you must show the same license. Should not be a problem for honest folks but will not allow the bad guys to "sell" the store credit.

dukeblue219
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by dukeblue219 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:32 am

Loik098 wrote:If you're worried about having to return an expensive item in the future, perhaps you should do business with Amazon or Costco. Unless you're a serious "return abuser", you'll have little trouble returning items with those two retailers.


Costco yes, but Amazon is notorious for banning people without warning. I've never had an issue, but like all retailers they do track returns and are pretty liberal with the ban when they have a customer who costs them money, even if the returns are for legitimately-incorrect or damaged items.

Loik098
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by Loik098 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:37 am

dukeblue219 wrote:
Loik098 wrote:If you're worried about having to return an expensive item in the future, perhaps you should do business with Amazon or Costco. Unless you're a serious "return abuser", you'll have little trouble returning items with those two retailers.


Costco yes, but Amazon is notorious for banning people without warning. I've never had an issue, but like all retailers they do track returns and are pretty liberal with the ban when they have a customer who costs them money, even if the returns are for legitimately-incorrect or damaged items.


Note my words "unless you're a serious return abuser." I think anyone who costs them money would qualify. And I don't think a warning is necessary; these people know who they are.

I've purchased hundreds of items from them, and returned a couple dozen over the years. They still make a lot of money from me.

BHUser27
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by BHUser27 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:53 am

From the wording in OP's original post, I do not understand why OP believes a return was processed?
Several weeks later, I received an email from the loyalty program with a copy of a receipt. Interesting...I didn't make a return

OP - can you please clarify why you believe a "return" was processed?

rantk81
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by rantk81 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:59 am

I frequently go to the Home Depot customer service desk because I pick up online orders.
While waiting in line, I have witnessed numerous returns of obviously used equipment/tools that were "bought" as a rental for a one time project. Kinda makes me sick as a HD shareholder... The low-paid staff probably sees this every single day, and just doesn't care.

michaeljc70
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:12 am

After thinking about this specific case of the OP, it was most likely someone pretending to return things. It is unlikely someone had plywood cut up and stole it and then returned it. Probably a cashier and someone in customer service working in cahoots. The cashier prints an extra receipt and gives it to CS person who processes a return. No one would probably actually steal such large items and try to return them.

michaeljc70
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:16 am

pshonore wrote:HD has a new policy; if you get a store credit you must show driver's license. When using that store credit you must show the same license. Should not be a problem for honest folks but will not allow the bad guys to "sell" the store credit.


I haven't experienced that yet specifically. It is sad that the customers need to be inconvenienced due to the company not getting employee theft under control. I bought a gift card/ or store credit from a reputable site because I had a large purchase to make at HD. HD changed their policy and it could no longer be used online. Luckily I was able to get a refund.

aerofreaky11
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by aerofreaky11 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:21 am

BHUser27 wrote:From the wording in OP's original post, I do not understand why OP believes a return was processed?
Several weeks later, I received an email from the loyalty program with a copy of a receipt. Interesting...I didn't make a return

OP - can you please clarify why you believe a "return" was processed?


The loyalty program sends me copies of all receipts associated with my account.

iamlucky13
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by iamlucky13 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:11 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't paying with a credit or debit card generally prevent this sort of thing, as most stores require purchases made on cards go back to the card?


"I no longer have that credit card, just give me a store credit".


Ah...right. I should have remembered that part from back when I had a part time retail job.

inbox788
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by inbox788 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:19 pm

Did you lose points? Did the store replace them? It's small potatoes, but I can see how that can become meaningful if the practice is widespread. Since the store may benefit from the activity, I can see why they're dragging their feet. You're dealing with a big dysfunctional corporation and the "it's not my job" syndrome. Even if you found a sympathetic ear, it's not clear what they would be able to do. Fraud transcends most organizations. Just try to figure out where to report the fraud to the law enforcement authorities. Having to report credit card fraud that occurs in the cloud to local law enforcement is just a waste, but that's how it's done today. (mainly to get credit card companies to place permanent fraud alerts on your credit record)

michaeljc70
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Re: Return Fraud at Big Box and "The Retail Equation"

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:00 pm

inbox788 wrote:Did you lose points? Did the store replace them? It's small potatoes, but I can see how that can become meaningful if the practice is widespread. Since the store may benefit from the activity, I can see why they're dragging their feet. You're dealing with a big dysfunctional corporation and the "it's not my job" syndrome. Even if you found a sympathetic ear, it's not clear what they would be able to do. Fraud transcends most organizations. Just try to figure out where to report the fraud to the law enforcement authorities. Having to report credit card fraud that occurs in the cloud to local law enforcement is just a waste, but that's how it's done today. (mainly to get credit card companies to place permanent fraud alerts on your credit record)


I think you are right on the dysfunctional corporation part. Every customer service area probably has quotas of calls/emails per day to handle. If they had to read the whole complaint, that would take time. Plus, is this a rewards problem, individual store problem, computer problem, theft problem, etc? I love the new automated customer service where it ask you in a couple words to state your issue..and then routes you to the completely wrong department.

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