Jacob writes, “I have been trying to make Walmart take back an air mattress for two months now, and they refuse.” The store manager at the Walmart on South Duff Avenue in Ames, Iowa (shout out to Leslie Hall!) has started making up new rules on when an air mattress can be returned—including that the federal government limits returns to 15 days “because of the bed bugs, you know.” No, we didn’t know that, Walmart manager. In fact, after thinking about it, we’re still not sure we know it. Because it sounds like you made it up.
In June my wife and I bought a queen size air mattress for some friends who were going to stay with us for three weeks in July. We tested it and found that because the edges of the mattress are higher than the middle, once two people lie in it, they slide towards each other almost like in a hammock. It was inflated as much as I deemed safe and was quite hard, so that was not the reason. As the mattress is basically defective, we go to Walmart and buy two twin air mattresses ten days later. We did not think to return the first one at that time because, as Walmart advertises, they have a 90 return policy.
After our friends had left, in early August we went to Walmart here in Ames, Iowa (the newer Super Center – yes, we actually have two in a town of 50,000) and attempted to return it. We were flat out denied by the co-manager, who claimed that a 15-day limit for air mattress returns are in effect. She had various ridiculous excuses, one of which was “the federal government’s rules, because of the bed bugs, you know”. When I asked if the government really controlled Walmart return policies, she answered yes, almost defiantly. Apparently, if an air mattress spends 16 days in anyone’s house, but not 15 or less, it will get infected with bed bugs. She did say, though, that she would exchange it with another air mattress… So what’s the point of the bed bug excuse?!
We declined, as we already had bought two new twin mattresses in the same Walmart, even within the 15 day period. I offered to bring her the receipt so she could verify this and just return our money for the queen size one. This she also refused. I took down the names of everyone involved, and went home to write the store’s manager and ask him to set it right. In my letter I made it clear that Walmart’s own website does NOT ention anything about return limits on air mattresses, and that, in fact, if I had bought the mattress online, I would not have this limitation. Furthermore, in the store there is now a sign to this effect in the sporting good section, though it was not there when my wife and I bought ours, but not in the Home section, where there are also air mattresses. Thus, a customer can still go into Walmart today and buy one without knowing about this limit. It also isn’t printed on the receipt. The store manager completely ignored my letter.
I then submitted a complaint to the BBB and sent the original complaint to Walmart national customer service. Walmart proceeded to ignore both this letter, as well as the BBB complaint.
I do not think it is right that customers are treated differently. In the store, they claim 15 days. Online, they have general return guidelines for all Walmart stores that list a few limitations for returns, but not for air mattresses. The return policy for the online store has a more specific return policy with more limitations, but still no mention of air mattresses. It even says I can return any online-bought product to any store. So had I bought the mattress online they would have had to take it back in the store!
I want Walmart to take my complaint seriously and not just think if they ignore me I will go away. I also want my money back. My wife and I give them hundreds of dollars of business every month, which I pointed out in my letters, and they don’t give a damn.
Where do I find executive contact info for Walmart? I have looked around online but not found anything. Please give me some hints here and help turn on the heat on Walmart.
Jacob, this post links to over 700 phone numbers at Walmart. It’s nearly a year old so we’re not sure how up-to-date it is, but it’s a good place to start.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.