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Ever witnessed someone returning empty boxes to a store?

CaptainRogersCaptainRogers Greensboro, NCMember Posts: 824
edited July 2016 in Buying & Selling Topics
I have now! I was waiting in line to make a return to Walmart one night around 9pm. I noticed the guy directly in front of me was returning 3 Star Wars sets and a Super Hero set. My curiosity was piqued, so I waited til he had left, and when I got to the customer service desk I asked if I could look at the boxes. Sure enough, they were practically empty. Each Star Wars set had one bag of pieces from the Minecraft Jungle Treehouse set in it, and the Super Hero set had the figures removed. I showed the manager there and told them I have noticed incredibly light boxes on shelves before. But I do think the weasely thief who returned the set caught on to me, and I haven't had issues with practically empty boxes since. 
In hindsight, I feel like I should have said something while he was returning it. I wouldn't have been in physical danger, and want him to get caught. But at least the store is aware of him now.
How about you? Ever witnessed this?
DedgeckoCM4SPumpkin_3CK5josekalelbobabrickskiki180703

Comments

  • CM4SCM4S United StatesMember Posts: 1,364
    edited July 2016
    That's Walmart for ya.
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 886
    I think you probably did the right thing by not calling the weasel out directly, you don't know what these sorts of people might do in return.  

    I've never witnessed it, but I have once bought a set (Gandalf's return, the small LOTR set) that turned out to have a really random assortment of TMNT pieces inside.  You've got to be pretty desperate if you're ripping off £10 sets.
    stluxmadforLEGOkiki180703
  • GoldchainsGoldchains Member Posts: 795
    I haven't seen anyone return an empty box, but I have been at a Walmart to return a product and a guy in front of me was trying to return a very expensive vacuum cleaner using a "receipt" he had downloaded to his phone and was showing it to the clerk. The clerk wouldn't allow the return without an actual paper receipt, and the guy walked off in a huff. Apparently, the clerk was warned in advance that the guy had actually come into the store, grabbed the item off of the shelf, brought it to the front and tried to return it with a fake receipt! The audacity of some people. The clerk figured the guy was trying to get money for drugs, etc. I also witnessed someone trying to return a bicycle that was obviously very old, because it was rusted, dusty, and partially broken. I've also seen another person trying to return a vacuum cleaner that was used, filled with garbage and covered with dirt. Craziness.
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,589
    Ugh, the perils of retail returns...

    I've seen microwave ovens with food in, kettles with so much limescale you would need a pickaxe to clean it and countless cassette and cd players with music left in.
  • 12651265 The Great State of TexasMember Posts: 987
    Those who are familiar with Costco's liberal return policy, I witnessed a lady trying to get a refund on the price per gallon of gas she got the day before.  She told the employee  a gallon of gas dropped by 6 cents from the day before and wanted the difference from what she paid.  She didn't get the refund.
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,751
    ^ She does realize that, unless she had a big rig or a fricking tanker, that haggling over .06 a gallon isn't worth her time?
    stluxkiki180703TheMaker37
  • preusspreuss CanadaMember Posts: 98
    I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I bought a pressure washer at Walmart and it stopped working after washing half of my fence. It was one of their own brands, with 5 year warranty or something. I cleaned the entire thing and re-packed it as best as I could before taking it back, but still felt bad about returning something used. 
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 659
    preuss said:
    I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I bought a pressure washer at Walmart and it stopped working after washing half of my fence. It was one of their own brands, with 5 year warranty or something. I cleaned the entire thing and re-packed it as best as I could before taking it back, but still felt bad about returning something used. 

    Don't feel bad; if the product stops working within the warranty period (if any), then you're entitled to have the company rectify the problem.  It's not like you're trying to rip off the company; they have done their studies and determined that a number of devices will indeed fail during the early usage life, and have determined it to be good business to make it right with their customers if this happens (or the laws of your country determine that this practice is required, etc.).
    SprinkleOtterBuriedinBricksPitfall69catwranglerGoldchainstallblocktoojosekalelmadforLEGOkiki180703
  • exciter1exciter1 Member Posts: 226
    I would have definitely reported it, since you were there.
  • EdmicEdmic ZürichMember Posts: 102
    Oldfan said:
    preuss said:
    I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I bought a pressure washer at Walmart and it stopped working after washing half of my fence. It was one of their own brands, with 5 year warranty or something. I cleaned the entire thing and re-packed it as best as I could before taking it back, but still felt bad about returning something used. 

    Don't feel bad; if the product stops working within the warranty period (if any), then you're entitled to have the company rectify the problem.  It's not like you're trying to rip off the company; they have done their studies and determined that a number of devices will indeed fail during the early usage life, and have determined it to be good business to make it right with their customers if this happens (or the laws of your country determine that this practice is required, etc.).
    Well, don't feel bad.. Imagine you being the one who buys the things next ;) Proper would have been to go there and claim warranty.  (tho i might have done the same.)
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,890
    Depends on the store policy, your country's consumer laws, etc. Years ago, my partner had a brand new Mac die within days of buying it - hard drive just turned up its toes, shuffled off its mortal coil, joined the choir invisible, etc. etc. So he took it back and they supplied him with a new one, which was as dependable as Macs generally are. They're not going to put the thing back on the shelf and sell it to someone else (at least, not in a reputable shop) as new; they'd only have the same problem over again when the next person brought it back...
    SprinkleOtterkiki180703
  • preusspreuss CanadaMember Posts: 98
    Edmic said:
    Oldfan said:
    preuss said:
    I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I bought a pressure washer at Walmart and it stopped working after washing half of my fence. It was one of their own brands, with 5 year warranty or something. I cleaned the entire thing and re-packed it as best as I could before taking it back, but still felt bad about returning something used. 

    Don't feel bad; if the product stops working within the warranty period (if any), then you're entitled to have the company rectify the problem.  It's not like you're trying to rip off the company; they have done their studies and determined that a number of devices will indeed fail during the early usage life, and have determined it to be good business to make it right with their customers if this happens (or the laws of your country determine that this practice is required, etc.).
    Well, don't feel bad.. Imagine you being the one who buys the things next ;) Proper would have been to go there and claim warranty.  (tho i might have done the same.)
    Just to be clear, I did tell them I was returning it because it was broken. I don't expect them to try and sell it again.

    The reason I felt bad about it was that this kind of thing does get dirty - or at least wet - when used and it felt wrong to take it back like that. 

    I ended up buying another one to finish washing the fence and didn't have to return it, so it wasn't a total loss for Walmart.
    catwranglerEdmicmadforLEGOkiki180703
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,255
    All these discussions are interesting (now I'm feeling a pang of guilt for not getting my fence powerwashed).... but what about those of you who bought what you "thought" was a MISB sealed LEGO set... only to find out in 5-10 years when you finally do open it (or worse... when someone who bought it from you unopened on Ebay)... and come to the realisation that someone bought the set before you did... carefully opened the set(s)... and resealed it with cheaper LEGO... or worse... crap!! :-O

    I think that it is always prudent to weigh high value unopened LEGO sets that you plan on keeping that way.  Actual set weight counts are available on online LEGO sites!
    josekalelcatwrangler
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Happened to me already. I bought 2 City Police Chase sets from Walmart way back during the good times of early 2012 when they went on sale. Had them in storage for a while until late last year when I was Bricklinking the SDCC Classic Batmobile and the Police Chase had a lot of the key parts needed. So pulled one set out and opened it to find that it was already used and partially built with some stickers already applied. My stomach just dropped when I realized this and looked at the seals again. They had been cleanly lifted and then sealed back again, so was hard to see it was tampered. Thoroughly inspected seals of the other copy which look perfect, but I'm still nervous about it so just pulled it out of my BL store out of caution.
  • CaptainRogersCaptainRogers Greensboro, NCMember Posts: 824
    ^So true. I learned to always, at the least, weigh every box I buy if I'm not going to open it right away. I still remember the first time I opened a box that someone had returned dishonestly. It was Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout from the first Avengers
  • AllBrickAllBrick UKMember Posts: 1,477
    @BrickDancer - Walmart, on Tatooine?
  • mediumsnowmanmediumsnowman USAMember Posts: 40
    I opened a General Grevious Starfighter set a while back to find the entire first bag had been removed. I've been a lot more paranoid about checking seals before purchasing since then!
  • pasat14pasat14 AustraliaMember Posts: 44
    edited July 2016
    I never even knew this was a thing! Not that we have walmart here but i assume it could be done anywhere, I've always been so blazé when buying or returning sets...i feel so naive...
  • worldofpenguinsworldofpenguins USAMember Posts: 13
    I got a set that had the instructions and a few pieces from another small set at a Toys R Us in northern Virginia once. I'm much more careful at that store now. Before that experience it never even occurred to me that this was an issue.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,966
    I haven't seen empty boxes being returned, but something equally despicable happened the other day.

    My other half set up a summer-themed display in her coffee shop, which included several minifigures here and there. The customers liked them and they were there for a few weeks until a couple of days ago, when some 4/5 year old kid tried to pinch them all, seemingly under instructions from the group of adults he was with.

    When the kid was spotted trying to steal one, he was asked to give it back, and when asked if he had any more, it turned out he did - he handed over two more.

    Perhaps more shocking was that the group of adults he was with suddenly legged it and ran out the store when they realised the kid had been rumbled! They just left the kid behind. Great parenting skills there.

    At this point, it was apparent that several other minifigures were still missing (and some accessories, like a sausage). But what do you do? Detain a 4/5 year old kid on his own until the Lego cops turn up (and not be able to serve customers in the meantime, or risk the adults coming back to retrieve their well-trained offspring?). So they let him go, presumably with the other missing minifigures still on him.

    This annoyed me more than it should have, and I wasn't even there! These were all minifigs and accessories from her own personal Lego collection, so she has a fair few sets that are now incomplete as a result :(
    josekalelkiki180703bendybadger
  • DedgeckoDedgecko Seattle, WAMember Posts: 800
    @Huw @Matthew this is a more global item of discussion.  Should this be moved elsewhere?
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,001
    I haven't seen anyone return an empty box, but I have been at a Walmart to return a product and a guy in front of me was trying to return a very expensive vacuum cleaner using a "receipt" he had downloaded to his phone and was showing it to the clerk. The clerk wouldn't allow the return without an actual paper receipt, and the guy walked off in a huff. Apparently, the clerk was warned in advance that the guy had actually come into the store, grabbed the item off of the shelf, brought it to the front and tried to return it with a fake receipt! The audacity of some people. The clerk figured the guy was trying to get money for drugs, etc. I also witnessed someone trying to return a bicycle that was obviously very old, because it was rusted, dusty, and partially broken. I've also seen another person trying to return a vacuum cleaner that was used, filled with garbage and covered with dirt. Craziness.
    What is worse is seeing the store accept the return anyway. When I worked at a retail store (now out of business, and Im guessing this is one reason why) we would see lawnmowers used and returned, a pot/pan set where the pots and pans returned were not the same manufacturer that is on the box.. just ridiculous that people try it and even more ridiculous when a store refuses to put up a fight about it.
    ^Happened to me already. I bought 2 City Police Chase sets from Walmart way back during the good times of early 2012 when they went on sale. Had them in storage for a while until late last year when I was Bricklinking the SDCC Classic Batmobile and the Police Chase had a lot of the key parts needed. So pulled one set out and opened it to find that it was already used and partially built with some stickers already applied. My stomach just dropped when I realized this and looked at the seals again. They had been cleanly lifted and then sealed back again, so was hard to see it was tampered. Thoroughly inspected seals of the other copy which look perfect, but I'm still nervous about it so just pulled it out of my BL store out of caution.
    I bought two LEGO passenger trains off of a TRU shelf (inspected the seals as well) during a BOGO50 (remember those?) only to find out that when I weighed them at home the weight was different for each box. Both had clone tank parts in them. Took them back to the store and mercifully the store allowed me to return them and order two online instead of picking up more dubious stocks. One big reason why I rarely buy sets in a store any longer, and warn everyone I can about this scummy action.
    Oldfankiki180703
  • josekaleljosekalel Rio Grande Valley, TexasMember Posts: 681
    @paul_merton I wonder what parent tells their kid "It's OK to steal, just don't get caught!"

    The only thing I usually see are empty CMF packets at Walmart, but that's to be expected from kids' 'mischief' (I am NOT condoning petty theft).
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    josekalel said:
    I wonder what parent tells their kid "It's OK to steal, just don't get caught!"
    The chances are that will not only have taught them that it's OK to steal, but exactly what they can steal, and how, to be within a different set of rules that mean no further action is taken.
  • ricardo616ricardo616 Member Posts: 44
    I purchased the Harvest of Fear set a few weeks back from my local Smyths, when I went to build about a week and half later, all the bags had been opened and taped back with with the minifigures missing, when I took it back, they acted like I had done it! I can see their point, as I had no proof, but neither did they, I just wanted an exchange and I had the receipt, I got one in the end but it was quiet a fuss.  
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    I can see their point, as I had no proof, but neither did they
    You don't need it; Smyths do. You have six months during which they have to prove it wasn't faulty at the time of purchase. After that, you have to prove it was.
  • Scott1Scott1 United StatesMember Posts: 48
    edited August 2016
    No, but I still see Series 12 and lower minifig bags that people cut/tore open, pocketed the minifig, and left the bag. I saw a Series 6 bag not too long ago!  
  • SalamalexSalamalex UKMember Posts: 297
    pasat14 said:
    I never even knew this was a thing! Not that we have walmart here but i assume it could be done anywhere, I've always been so blazé when buying or returning sets...i feel so naive...
    Me too, it's never even occurred to me to worry. 
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 503
    I had to return a duplicate set at WM last year, without receipt. They allowed me to do so, but then waited to give me the refund until they called a manager who then stared at me as they opened the set in front of me. I've never returned anything to them before, and was somewhat amused as the set was complete and their faces kind of looked puzzled as they realized I'm just a normal guy who was returning a set. So, that set went into the "write off" bin. That part saddened me more than my amusement from their expressions. Side note, the box was collector-prestine. No shelf ware. No stretched tape. No reason to question the integrity of the return.
  • ricardo616ricardo616 Member Posts: 44
    Yeah, a similar thing happened to me when I returned a duplicate Bridge Battle set at the same Smyths, they seemed confused as to how many bags it was supposed to contain, so I had to just stand there and wait until they realised I'm not a thief, I received no apology either. I'm assuming they are having trouble catching who ever is doing it, he obviously slipped through their fingers again, to take the figures from the Harvest Of Fear I ended up with. To be honest I can't see how they can really stop them?
  • ArtfulDodgerArtfulDodger Member Posts: 106

    I run into the nefarious byproducts of the Lego return scam all the time. My primary Lego source is Goodwill's online auction, where a lot of stores donate sets after they discover they're scams. Usually I'm pretty good at eyeing which sets have been compromised and which haven't, but sometimes things get past me. Having a Goodwill box show up at our door is a cause of excitement for my son (6 years old), and though I've warned him that sometimes it happens where sets aren't complete, he still gets crestfallen if there are missing bags, particularly if they have the minifigures he wants.

    Recently, I had gotten two Ninjago sets from Goodwill, and the first bags in each of the boxes were gone. He was looking forward to getting more ninjas and snake bad guys. It is also harder to do a build when the first bag or two are missing due to Lego fraudsters. It would make it much easier to get something at least minimally playable if the minifigures were in the last bag instead of the first. It wasn't the end of the world, as for one of the boxes I was able to assemble the detachable aerial vehicle, but the other vehicle is a no-go so far as I don't have a substitute for a large piece.

  • Jern92Jern92 MalaysiaMember Posts: 831

    I run into the nefarious byproducts of the Lego return scam all the time. My primary Lego source is Goodwill's online auction, where a lot of stores donate sets after they discover they're scams. Usually I'm pretty good at eyeing which sets have been compromised and which haven't, but sometimes things get past me. Having a Goodwill box show up at our door is a cause of excitement for my son (6 years old), and though I've warned him that sometimes it happens where sets aren't complete, he still gets crestfallen if there are missing bags, particularly if they have the minifigures he wants.

    Recently, I had gotten two Ninjago sets from Goodwill, and the first bags in each of the boxes were gone. He was looking forward to getting more ninjas and snake bad guys. It is also harder to do a build when the first bag or two are missing due to Lego fraudsters. It would make it much easier to get something at least minimally playable if the minifigures were in the last bag instead of the first. It wasn't the end of the world, as for one of the boxes I was able to assemble the detachable aerial vehicle, but the other vehicle is a no-go so far as I don't have a substitute for a large piece.

    Perhaps request the missing parts from LEGO? It's not your fault that the parts are missing, and I'm sure they could spare some.
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 2,994
    edited August 2016
    ^The free replacement parts service is supposed to cover TLG's production failing to put all the pieces into a retail set. Theft from a set is not TLG's fault. The paid for lost parts service may be able to help.
    Pitfall69MattsWhatkiki180703
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Theft from a set is not TLG's fault.
    Actually it's not even theft. What's happening here is that somebody is knowingly buying what are nominally being called sets but are in fact boxes that may contain anything. That certainly has nothing to do with TLG.
  • ArtfulDodgerArtfulDodger Member Posts: 106

    I'm fine with how the process goes. Sometimes I get things dirt cheap, and sometimes I get hosed. It still works out to my benefit in the long run.

    As an example, I got a complete Toy Story  Woody's Roundup western town for $20 + shipping, which is a good deal. However, a couple days later I got a Lone Ranger Colby City Showdown that was missing about 66% of the pieces, for a cost of ~$25.

    I don't blame anyone for shortfalls; I'm not expecting the folks who work at Goodwill to be Lego experts or spend much time researching the completeness. Sometimes all I have to work with is a snapshot of loose pieces in the box, and I have to determine based on what I see how complete the set is. One trick that works well is to determine if the minifigures are there. The more you can find, the more complete the set is likely to be.


    catwrangler
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