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Manufactured Spending Mishap: Why I Owe Walmart $1500

I recently had an experience at Walmart that I want to share with you all to reiterate the importance of keeping track of your manufactured spending activities. This doesn’t extend to just keeping track of gift cards, credit card payment due dates, and receipts. You have to be more thorough, which is how I was able to straighten out an issue that arose at Walmart recently. I went to my favorite Walmart store as usual. I bought some money orders but I was primarily there for bill pay. A new cashier was ringing me up – really nice lady, but this was her first time helping me and normally she works at the register or on the floor.

Walmart Money Order

The cashier was ringing me up for a Discover card bill pay transaction of around $1500. I swiped my first card and it went through. Then the computer did something funny. I can’t remember exactly what, but basically we were stuck and couldn’t finish up the transaction. I told her to just cancel and we could start again. “Are you sure?” She was concerned that since I’d already swiped my gift card, I would lose the funds. A similar situation had happened to me before and I knew from experience that the card isn’t charged until the entire balance is paid. So she cancelled the transaction (or so I thought) and started all over again.

On the second try she got a message that the bill could not be paid. This happened to me a couple of times when I tried to make several payments on a credit card within a couple of days. Since I had already paid that bill two days before, I just assumed that particular payment hadn’t been processed yet, making me ineligible for further payments. So I decided to try again the next time I came in.

I returned to the store about 3-4 days later and the cashier looked relieved to see me. “Did Mary talk to you about that thing that happened with the card you were paying?” She had a hard time explaining it to me, but basically she was saying I owed the store $1500. The manager had tried to call the number on the forms I’m always filling out, but that’s my home number and I never answer or check those messages often. They were freaking out about the cash shortage and hoped I would return.

While I stood in line, several employees tried to get Mary to come over, but they were told she wasn’t working that day. I gave the cashier my cell phone number and told her to have Mary call me there instead. That’s when, out of the blue, Mary showed up. It was her day off and she happened to be shopping and spotted me from a distance. She explained that the cashier had screwed up. Instead of canceling the transaction, she typed into the register that I had given her $1500 cash. So now the register was short $1500, my credit card bill was paid, and they were freaking out because they couldn’t reach me. We exchanged numbers and I promised to call her once I investigated.

I logged into my Discover account and sure enough, a payment for $1498.50 had gone through. Moreover, the gift card I had used during that transaction was still loaded with $500. How did I know this was for that payment? Because as usual, I sent myself an email while I was in the store, with notes about which cards I had paid, for how much, and with which credit card. I had initially emailed a note stating that my Discover card was paid for $1498.50. Then I sent a follow-up, noting the transaction (along with the last 4 digits of the card) had been cancelled.

If I didn’t have those notes, this would have been way more of a hassle to straighten out. For one, the Walmart manager said she couldn’t track which credit card bill had been paid – just the last four digits of the card used. It’s a little annoying that I now have to give this Walmart store $1500 cash, but at least it’s been figured out. Everyone was relieved that this happened with a regular customer. They assumed I would eventually come back, in which case the cashier didn’t have to lose her job over a $1500 shortage.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that you really need to be organized and keep track of your transactions. Things can go wrong – some of them out of your control – in which case it’s helpful to have a paper trail to go back to.

Has anything like this ever happened to you while manufactured spending?

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Ariana Arghandewal

26 Comments

  1. It sounds like your payment went through normally. Was the gift card that you used loaded with $2000 to begin with? If it ended up with $500 on it, that means you paid your bill with the $1500 off of your gift card.

    You shouldn’t owe the store another $1500 – that was simply a coding mistake on their part. If you give them another $1500 cash then you would have paid $3000 and only received a $1500 credit towards your Discover bill.

    Or am I missing something here?

    • That’s what I thought at first. The manager showed me the receipt, which showed that the $1500 payment was all-cash. I even checked the gift card I had used and the $500 balance was still on there (which I’ve since used). So I really do owe them the full $1500.

    • Pretty sure Ariana tried to do split tender 3×500 so 500 was the full GC amt. She didn’t use a 2k GC (these still exist??).

  2. @BRIAN: PIN-enabled (VISA/MC) gift cards that can be used at Walmart typically can’t be loaded with more than $500, so it wasn’t charged. The cashier pushed the “cash” button instead of “cancel”, so the transaction went through just fine, but of course the cash drawer was short.

    This has happened to me before, but was caught before I left – they were able to refund the MO for cash (eliminating the shortage), and I swiped my cards for a new MO.

  3. Wow. Ive been getting lazy in my record keeping. Are you still buying MO’s and paying down your cc at WM or are you paying off your cc directly with GC swipes there ? Thanks for the share and reminder.

  4. Once again, that tells you how important it is to keep track of everything. Please share with us how you track so much and for how long you keep all the paperwork trail. This area is my biggest weakness and I will really appreciate any input. Thanks

    • I would definitely hold onto to everything until balances have been paid off. I actually have a large trash bag in my room where I toss the receipts and gift cards after that process is complete. I hold onto the bag for maybe a month before I dump it. It ensures I’ve got everything in case something does come up after the liquidation process.

    • Not that you asked but I keep everything (receipts, packaging, GCs, MOs) for 7 years.

  5. The only issue I had was when my wife would buy gift cards at Simon Malls and tell the CSR to put multiple cards into one envelope. One time I took out one of the cards and then threw out the envelope. It wasn’t until the next day when I was analyzing in my head how many gift cards I had processed and realized I was $500 short. Luckily we hadn’t thrown out the garbage, but I still had to rummage through cat food and other nasty stuff until I finally found the gift card envelope which still had one $500 card inside.

  6. Don’t give Walmart $1500 in cash! Just manufacture spend $1500 more and have Walmart waive the money order fee on the $1500 of new money orders and give Walmart $1500 in money orders to replace the cash.

    Sounds like that Monopoly card, “Bank error in your favor collect $200”.

    • I am too. I think it’s because they know me and were pretty sure I’d come back. Any other customer and yes, she would have definitely been fired or had $1500 taken out of her paycheck.

      • They can’t legally take money out of her paycheck – employees are entitled to their wages even if they make mistakes. Arguably the fault is the company’s for inadequate training and supervision, at least the first time. I’ve retained employees who’ve made MUCH bigger mistakes, when I’ve been confident they’d recognize the situation if it happened again. Besides, firing for mistakes tends to train the survivors to hide theirs

        • That’s good to hear. I spoke to the manager yesterday and luckily they didn’t fire her. She did, however, point out that this isn’t the first time it happened (yikes!), so they are giving her additional training to ensure its the last.

    • It’s actually not that much hassle and the cost is pretty low. Bill pay fees range from $1 – $1.50 and you can liquidate $2k per transaction, so it actually can work out cheaper than buying money orders.

  7. We have a WM where MO transactions will often get voided if 2 CSRs attempt to send them simultaneously from 2 registers to the single printer. Good CSRs know how to resend it without that happening. If it does get voided, they can type in that the bill has been paid and re-send you can still get the MOs. But one very nice older lady took down all my contact info because she was worried they would be $2k short. Needless to say, they weren’t.

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