Several employees from a big brand reveal the shocking scam they’ve seen someone try to get away with. Content has been edited for clarity.
“There was a woman who special ordered about 3500 bucks worth of plants and picked them up on a Friday. On Sunday, I saw something on social media about this fancy wedding and, sure enough, the mother was our customer and there were the plants. But in pots, I did not recognize. I was ticked at that because it would have been a good sale.
On Monday morning, I was glad she had gone somewhere else for the pots. The plants had all been returned. As a department manager, I was infuriated. I did not even have a place to store them and, being the height of a California summer it was going to be a major task to keep them alive never mind looking good. I went to the store manager’s office and, as soon as he saw me, he glumly shook his head. He had tried to get me to mark down the dollars but could not.
A couple of days later, I was in Home Depot to do my competitive pricing. Both Walmart and Home Depot had policies forbidding comp pricing by the competition even though they were doing it. However, their department manager and I had an understanding so it was ok. I got in there and saw a massive display of flower pots.
I looked at my opposite number and asked, ‘The Smith Wedding?’
The two of us went out for a drink or two that evening.
A couple of years later Mrs. ‘Smith’ came in again and wanted to make the same special order. Either she did not recognize me or she thought I was a right eejit. I said I had to get the store manager’s approval. She complained it had not been needed the last time.
As smarmily as I could, I said, ‘This is why I now needed approval.’
Her eyes went wide and she snatched the list from my hand and ran. I called my buddy at Home Depot and warned him. I had been tempted to pretend to take an order and then on the appointed day tell her they were stuck on a broken down truck in Southern California. It doesn’t actually happen. But I decided I could get in real trouble for it.
A month or so later I saw another ‘Smith’ wedding on social media and there again was a beautiful display of potted plants. I never did find out who she suckered this time.”
Not The Smartest
“I worked at Walmart and had been for two years. I worked stocking, cashier, and online pickup. I could give a few different encounters, which I will get to. However, first of all, this was a disclaimer. Do not try these as they typically end up not working. If I worked there and knew of them, then I had caught people doing it or heard of someone getting caught doing it.
Anyway, back to the examples. When I worked as a cashier, I had a man try to go through self-checkout and scan a t-bone steak, a multipack of chips, and another item I can’t particularly remember. He had gotten some ‘three m’ double-sided sticky glue things. I don’t remember what they were called. Then he cut out some tags of kool-aid packets, which were twenty-four cents each, and tried to scan those instead of the real barcodes on the items. His plan failed when he couldn’t get one of them to scan properly, thus having me come over and try to fix it. Upon scanning the item for him on the underside of the multipack of chips, it rang up as kool-aid, but in the shortened text and for 24 cents, which I promptly deleted from the order and tried again. Upon trying again, he left all his stuff in a minor fit of rage because his scam didn’t work. So I had taken the items back and later was shown what he had done.
Another instance happened a year prior to my employment. The hard drinks were moved to the back wall of customer service, where it was to stay. The walls in the back were too short, however, causing a few people to reach over, grab a bottle or two and run. Thus causing them to raise the wall and put two cameras on the entrance people left at.
The last instance I could remember, happened a few times while working with the online department. A customer would put in a delivery order and wait until the order said it was picked up by the driver, then cancel the order on their end, hoping the driver would simply deliver and not think of it. However, this had not worked so far as the drivers usually get notified immediately and bring it back. Thus causing a waste of our time and the driver’s time and causing the driver to only get a small cancellation bonus instead of the full order delivery bonus.
Please don’t steal or scam. You will most likely get caught and probably charged. It’s not worth a couple of dollars to get a criminal record.”
Are You Sure?
“I work for ASDA in the United Kingdom which was owned by Walmart. One of my colleagues on the customer desk asked me a question as she wanted to double-check something. I think she knew the official answer but something didn’t seem right to her so she wanted to check.
The colleague asked me how much can we load onto a gift card. When I told her the answer, she said the customer wanted 900 euros. While that amount was very high, especially for the non-Christmas time, it was less than the allowed limit. However, I had never actually tried to load anywhere near that amount. I told her to try it, as the till would not let you load more than a certain amount, so if it worked then it was allowed
Then as I approached the customer service desk and saw the customer, I found a little more information. The customer wanted not an ASDA gift card, but a Steam online gift card for 900 euros. Yeah, that was 900 euros. That was approximately 1145 bucks. Now we did actually sell third-party gift cards for all manner of different companies, from restaurants to online games, but luckily Steam was not one we had in our store. I was not sure what denominations the Steam cards come in but the largest I had seen was a 50 euros Google play card. So it would be 18 cards assuming they even produced the 50 euros for steam.
I was glad we didn’t have the card she wanted because it sounded dodgy as all get out.
Why 900 euros? That was a heck of a lot of money to spend on Steam. I got sometimes, especially at Christmas time, people like to buy gift cards for various people. Often small business owners liked to buy multiple cards for their employees as a gift or bonus. But she didn’t say she wanted, for example, ’19 for 10 euros’, which you would think you would specify, especially when dealing with such a large amount. You wouldn’t want to get home and find you had got the right total value, but the wrong denominations.
I was not saying she was definitely up to something suspicious, there were probably a few legitimate reasons for wanting to purchase those vouchers. But I was so glad she wasn’t able to today.”
Return And Cancel
“I don’t know if you could call it a scam. Maybe it was a scheme or a racket.
We had this one elderly female customer who had very frazzled hair, bad body odor, and just overall looked unkempt. She had a very bad stutter and was notorious for what she would do concerning Layaway.
When I worked at Walmart, they had everyday Layaway. We had to recite the terms so many times, I still had them memorized. They were actually pretty simple to follow, maybe that was why she did this, and because of people like her, they got rid of it except for holidays.
The terms were, that you would put acceptable items on Layaway. So, no drinks or other substances that require identification and perishable goods. You were given a total and asked to pay a minimum of ten percent of the total upfront. You were asked to make a payment within 30 days, and have 60 days to pay it off and you would get your items. Also, you were allowed up to three Layaway orders at a time. You couldn’t start another one until you either pay one of the others off or cancel one of the others. If you chose to cancel your Layaway, you would receive a full refund of however much you’ve paid into the Layaway.
Sounded simple, right?
Well, people like her would abuse the system, which might be why they got rid of it, except for the holidays. I don’t know what the new terms are, but I remember them being 90 days instead of 60.
She would put maybe 100 or 200 bucks worth of ladies’ undergarments on Layaway, pay the required minimum ten percent, and was handed her receipt with the terms. On the due date, she would return, but instead of actually paying off her Layaway, she would cancel it, getting back her ten percent as a full refund.
She would always start three Layaway accounts. She would start one account on one day, another account the next day, and the third account the day after. Then, on the 60th day of the first account, she would cancel all three.
When you canceled a Layaway, that didn’t mean you got your items. You just got back the money you paid into it. She would have paid between ten dollars to twenty dollars per account, meaning she would get back a total of 30 to 60 dollars.
I never learned about another side of her until I left Walmart and eventually ended up at Kmart. While I was eating lunch in the breakroom, a coworker was talking to a group of new hires about ‘B.O.B.’ and ‘L.I.S.A.’ when it came to shoplifting, and she mentioned the woman. I said how I knew her from my Walmart days and how she would do Layaway. Apparently, she had also been caught trying to steal said ladies’ undergarments in one of those giant purses she owned. One was big enough to completely fill the little seat of the shopping cart. When she was caught, she would stutter very badly. You sometimes had to wonder if it was an act. And she was just let go. No, not with the granny panties. It made me wonder if she had tried it a time or two at Walmart, maybe in addition to the Layaway thing.”
Pulling A Fast One
“I didn’t deal directly with this situation, I just saw it happen and heard the story from one of my cashier friends afterward in the break room.
There was a woman who seemed to be about 50 in the self-checkout. I was actually on my way to break when I passed through the self-check-out to say hi to my cashier friend.
I was talking to her for maybe a minute, asking how her day was going when she got the most shocked look on her face. She started yelling for a customer service manager. I had no idea what was going on.
The cashier who was my friend walked over to the lady and was talking to the lady. I didn’t hear what they were saying but later the cashier told me she was explaining to the lady she had called a manager over and was asking her to wait until they could figure out the situation.
What had happened? That lady had roughly 500 gift cards and was loading them one by one. The cashier didn’t notice until the limit at the register was exceeded and an error came up. I never got the exact number, although I heard from the cashier it was over 500. In addition to this, she had been doing them in chunks, so they would not exceed the register limit and had been splitting up the transactions. Uhhhhh……suspicious?
Anyway, the CSMs then had to get all of them to return, and it was a major pain. We never did figure out why the lady was buying so many gift cards.”
“I don’t think this was a scam because I had done it four times. I called Walmart every time and told them how to fix it. They didn’t fix it. When Walmart started its health and safety precautions it had an ‘order online, pay online, no contact pickup’ system.
I said, let’s give this a try. For the first order I placed online, I wanted chicken.
They offered ‘Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Thigh Fillets’ for 1.13 bucks per pound. I ordered three family packs. When I picked up my order I received ‘whole’ chicken thighs. One of these things was not like the other. I tried to ‘start a return’ and was advised they couldn’t accept returns, keep them, or whatever. And handed my money back.
On week two, I ordered ‘Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Thigh Fillets’ and I got whole chicken thighs.
Again they said, “Keep them, whatever here is your money back.”
On week three, I had to actually explain this to a real person who had to authorize it, and they said, ‘Keep them, whatever, here is your money back.’
On week four, I met resistance. I met it right back with an asymmetric display of force which resulted rather quickly in the sentiment and called me ‘Karen.’
On week five, they were still offering ‘Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Thigh Fillets’ but the price had risen to 1.26 bucks per pound. I had no doubt they would once again give me ‘whole’ chicken thighs but I didn’t need them. I had a freezer full of free chicken.”
Crash and Burn
“The Walmart website and stores in my area sold products from a company out of Texas called Discount Computer Depot. They were advertised as newly refurbished computers, and at prices that were suspiciously good.
I was disabled and depended on my computer to do commission artwork and for my Patreon, which allowed me to have a little spending money so I could afford things like shampoo and toothpaste without having to depend on my friends or roommate.
In 2019, I got my tax return and started looking at refurbished laptops because my computer was crashing and overheating constantly during renders.
After a few days of research, I found Discount Computer Depot through Walmart and realized they had their own website, and snagged a great spec computer for less than 600 bucks.
Now, this was where Walmart stopped being involved because I left their site and bought directly from the company. But the company still sold through Walmart to this day. On the plus side, if you bought through Walmart you get to deal with Walmart customer service. Yes, this was a plus side, considering.
A few days later the laptop arrived. Damaged. The heat sink for the cpu hadn’t been installed properly and spent who knew how long bouncing around in shipping before it came to my door finally.
I immediately called their customer support desk, sat on hold for an hour, then finally left a voice mail asking them to call me back if they were out of the office for the evening.
Almost a full day later, no one had returned my call. So I called them again, earlier during their business hours. Again, I sat on hold for an extended period of time and received no answer. I left a voice mail, but nobody called back.
So I emailed them. Then I properly installed the heat sink and fan, after taking detailed photos. After, I had then hesitantly, booted the laptop.
After the initial windows were installed, it ran beautifully and booted up with no issues. I installed ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ and was able to run it on ultra super high graphics mode.
Until something overheated and the laptop crashed.
Now, this laptop had 32 gigs of ram, a higher-end quad-core processor, an SSD, and a moderately awesome graphics card. So I turned down the graphics. There was more crashing.
I started rummaging.
These ‘professionals’ overclocked the CPU to more than three times the recommended max settings. It was reaching, just running with nothing except the OS, at the absolute maximum safe temperature for the CPU and the motherboard.
So I found the proper speed settings, got it back to its factory settings, and on I went. Only to discover that on top of shipping me a laptop not installed properly, they also shipped me a laptop minus the one terabyte hard drive my specs stated it would have.
I called again. I emailed again. And again. And again. Nothing. I reached out to the Better Business Bureau and left negative reviews on Google, social media, and Yelp.
Finally, I called my bank’s fraud hotline and reported I had paid for a high-cost item and received a broken, lesser-quality item. I said I wanted to file a claim with them because I hadn’t received the product I paid for.
They were happy to oblige.
The next day I had three voicemails and two emails begging me to respond. When I called them back, the young man I spoke with was condescending, snotty, and rude. He implied I had broken the laptop, myself, with my meddling.
After over a month and a half of fighting to hear back from them, this was their response. Deny, deny, deny. I informed him my bank was already in the process of refunding the payment. He demanded the laptop back.
I then informed him of the law in the United States which, summarized, if a company sent you the wrong product through the mail, they were not only required to send you the correct product, they were also required to allow you to keep the wrong product, should you so desire. This only applied to errors by the company, so if you ordered the wrong specs or size at your own fault, then their refund policy applies.
It also only applied if you had not accepted a contract stating you would send any errors back. Which I had not. Meaning legally Discount Computer Depot owed me either a full refund or an entirely new laptop.
I was fine with either, as I managed to, with underclocking, adding additional fans, and adding a purchased hard drive of my own, get a perfectly serviceable laptop.
They told me they would only send a new laptop if I deleted my reviews. So I took the refund and left the reviews up, then used the money to buy me and my roomie a nice steak dinner, and got myself a cute dress.
I had since found hundreds of reviews like mine on the Google Reviews site, which didn’t show up on the Discount Computer Depot website. It showed them with a much higher star rating than they actually had, and showed only positive reviews. Sure, they have a four-point one-star rating because of the writing of this message, but that was because all of their reviews are either five stars or one star. And a lot of the five-star ratings were still negative if you read them.
Don’t buy a refurb computer from Discount Computer Depot and don’t buy one from Walmart provided by DCD.”
“This was several years ago when Walmart’s self checkout was more like lanes than the more secure ‘corral’ arrangement they use now. A kid, maybe 17 or 18 years old, was ahead of me with a handle on one liter of Jack Daniels in his hand basket.
‘No way,’ I thought, ‘are they gonna let him buy that.’
He scanned and bagged his few other items. He placed the bottle on the scanner, carefully pointing the barcode away. He hit ‘look up item’ and touched the picture for bananas. The register weighed the bottle and charged him for a few pounds of bananas at 59 cents per pound. He bagged it, paid with an EBT card, and casually strolled out, giving a friendly nod to the attendant.
Sure I could’ve ratted the kid out, but I was truly impressed. Not only did he steal it right under their noses, he obtained an age restricted item and paid for it with food stamps.
This would not work at that Walmart today. All the drinking bottles had security devices attached and were kept locked up. If you wanted to buy drinks, you had to find an associate with a key who would get it and meet you at the register. You didn’t touch the bottle until it was paid for.”
“Walmart did many smart things to manipulate profit margins, like their revolutionary, at the time, logistics processes. They had many other smart but potentially grey things, like using their massive purchasing power to strong-arm suppliers into accepting lower profit margins.
One of the more interesting, and legitimately smart things Walmart did was take advantage of human psychology and laziness. They legitimately had very low prices for a lot of reasons. But ultimately they made up for low-profit margins with a very large scale except for a few times.
For example, sometimes they sold a heavily marketed and advertised loss leader. Maybe their paper or chicken thighs because they had the data to support their hypothesis that people would buy enough other stuff that died and turn a profit they could afford to lose money on the loss leader. Often the loss leader is only marginally cheaper or below cost as well.
Another example would be some of their products had massive profit margins. I’m talking multiple 100s percent compared to an inventory-wide average of single-digit percent. They were either taking advantage of human psychology and laziness in that people preferred not to shop around, or comparison shop. Or Walmart took advantage of people and assumed if they had a ‘good deal’ on most things they probably had a ‘good deal’ on everything else.”
“I hate using the word scam because people just need to start doing their homework.
Take Black Friday for example. People acted like animals to get a television for 200 bucks. But they didn’t do their research to find out the modern is three years old and didn’t look like the 1,000 bucks television they thought it was. Also, people saw two HP Laptops and thought they were the same and if they bought them at Walmart they were saving 50 bucks when in reality they had less RAM or a slower processor.
People thought these were scams because it was easier to blame someone else rather than point the finger at oneself for doing something dumb. Amazon was not the cheapest on everything, and neither was Walmart or Target. But they all had their niche.
Bottom line, no scams, just good marketing.”