We’ve never been ones to encourage returning gifts after the holidays. We hope the givers have put a lot of thought into the present, and to us it is an insult to take it back to the store to buy something else. The only time we have ever made an exception to the rule is for something that is the incorrect size – and then we dutifully exchanged it for the same item in the right size.
Over the past 10 years or so it seems gift receipts have become much more common. My parents had always saved the original receipts in case an exchange was needed, so we can see where a version without the actual price on it would come in handy. But the experience we just had this past weekend had us shaking our heads with disbelief and a new distrust for gift receipts – at least those from GameStop.
Backing up a bit, a couple weeks ago my brother called to inquire about ideas for gifts for our girls. Due to upcoming travels, we would be having Christmas a week early at my mom’s house. I mentioned to him that my oldest was currently into anything Overwatch. Somewhere between the time I told him and the point when he got to the store, he couldn’t quite remember exactly what I said. After trying to remember, and discussing with an employee at GameStop, they figured it must have been Yo-Kai Watch, so he picked up a plastic watch from the line for $19.99 (plus tax) and wrapped it up.
We had a good laugh Saturday afternoon about the mix-up and dropped by the same store on the way home so our daughter could exchange it (this would be the first time we truly exchanged a gift for something different) with gift receipt in hand. At the counter I presented the receipt and the still-unopened Yo-Kai Watch and inquired if the stickered price was how much she would have to spend, knowing that it might have been on sale when it was purchased. (Since the gift receipt doesn’t show the actual paid price, the receiver has no way of knowing.)
The gal at the counter mentioned it had just gone on sale today (two days after the purchase date), at the current price was $15.99, without looking it up. We went about our shopping, finally deciding to ask for it on a gift card since they were completely out of Overwatch-related items, and I watched as she started to process the return.
She scanned the item, it rang up as a $19.99 return. Then she scanned the gift receipt – still $19.99. Hit a few more buttons and the price on the display magically changed to $15.99! I immediately asked, “Exactly how much did my brother pay for it when he bought it two days ago?” She then started to go on (again) about it being on sale today, to which I responded, “Yes, but the return should be for the price paid, not today’s price.”
She agreed and continued to check. Sure enough, $19.99 was the original paid price and she actually had to override the price on the return to be able to credit the correct amount! The more I think about this, the angrier I get – how many people go in to do an exchange every day in GameStop stores around the world and are short-changed because the price isn’t on the gift receipt?! To me, their system appeared to automatically process at the lower (and to their benefit) price, and the average consumer wouldn’t know the difference!
I do not know if this is common practice among other retailers, but I do know that from now on I’ll be keeping original receipts and supplying them if someone wants to do a return or exchange. It may only be a few dollars, but the whole incident felt slimy and dishonest. And once my daughter spends the balance on the gift card, I’ll be encouraging her to wisely shop elsewhere.