Walmart Is Offering Full Refunds After Major Self-Checkout Problem
You may be eligible to get money back from the retailer.
Over the last few years, self-checkouts have become a common sight at most retail stores, but consumers remain heavily divided on them. Some shoppers would rather leave things to an actual cashier, while others prefer making their purchases without having to interact with another person. But no matter what side you fall on, it's clear that these machines may come with their own set of problems. Last year, Walmart employees called out the convenience that self-checkouts bring to thieves, and more recently, customers have slammed Costco for what they say is an "awful" self-checkout process. Now, one big-box retailer is actually having to remedy a recent issue surrounding this service. Read on to find out more about why Walmart is offering full refunds following a major self-checkout problem.
Walmart has been steadily expanding its self-checkout options.
Self-checkouts are hardly new to the retail scene. In fact, companies like Walmart have been testing this technology in stores since the '90s, according to CNN. But the use of self-checkouts has certainly evolved and expanded significantly since then—especially for the well-known retailer.
Walmart stores across the U.S. have switched to a mostly do-it-yourself checkout experience, and in 2020, the retailer even tested its first self-checkout-only location in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Fox Business reported. Referred to as "Hosted Checkouts," this design has since spread to several Walmart stores and relies heavily on self-checkout service—unless a customer requests otherwise.
"This new checkout process is designed to help customers complete their shopping even faster," the retailer explains on its website. But it hasn't been a flawless transition, it seems.
Some shoppers recently faced a major problem with this service.
In response to Amazon Prime Day, Walmart recently hosted its own summer savings event to compete against the online retail giant. Walmart Plus Week ran from July 10 to July 13, offering exclusive and early deals to Walmart+ members, CNBC reported. During the event, customers could also sign-up for a new, annual membership at just $49—which was 50 percent off the standard price for a yearly Walmart+ subscription.
But this deal hit a bump in the road when shoppers began claiming that they accidentally purchased the discounted Walmart+ memberships at self-checkout, Insider reported.
According to the news outlet, Walmart pushed the promotion to customers at self-checkout kiosks nationwide through a single-click prompt. After pressing the pay button, an offer automatically appeared on the screen for a $49 Walmart+ membership with just two options for customers to choose between to continue their transaction: "Not interested" or "Add membership to cart."
A Walmart employee spoke out against the Walmart+ promotion.
A viral Reddit thread shined a major light on the issue, as one Walmart worker recounted their experience witnessing a customer sign up for the membership without realizing it.
In the July 12 post, the employee explained that they work at a store in Texas where there is a heavy Hispanic presence and said that it took around 40 minutes to help a female customer get her money back after accidentally purchasing the promotion.
"This woman was an elderly Mexican woman who does not know english very well. She pressed the button to buy it unknowingly," they wrote. "Now imagine if she didn't notice. She'd have gone home after Walmart practically stole $49 from her, an elderly woman, and she wouldn't even know she had the membership. She might've even gotten charged again next year without her knowledge after the subscription renewed."
In an interview with Insider, the Walmart employee (who asked to remain anonymous) indicated that they felt this was the intended outcome, as the prompt was only available in English and did not require customers to enter any additional information.
"It seemed to me that this was designed that way to make it super easy to accidentally or unknowingly add a subscription to your cart," they said.
The retailer is offering full refunds after the self-checkout problem.
Throughout the comment section of the viral Reddit thread, other Walmart employees and shoppers chimed in with their own experiences with accidental purchases for the promotion. "Almost made this mistake yesterday because I was rushing through. It's predatory and they know it," one person replied.
Due to this, a Walmart spokesperson told Best Life that the retailer pulled the promotion from store kiosks. "We became aware of some customer confusion with this process which led us to remove the prompt," they explained, adding that shoppers can also get their money back if they faced this problem.
"Any customers who inadvertently took advantage of this offer at a self-checkout and have not activated it can get a full refund with proof of purchase," the Walmart spokesperson said. "Customers can work with in-store associates to receive a refund."