Different communities levy different taxes and if, while visiting out of town say, I but a $10 item at a Walmart where the sales tax is 8 percent and return that same item the next day to my local Walmart where the sales tax is 6 percent, Walmart keeps the 20-cent difference. If, on the other hand I reverse the process, Walmart does not add 20-cents to my refund. A federal judge thinks that that is enough of a problem to allow a class action lawsuit against Walmart to go forward.
A federal judge in Cleveland has allowed a class-action suit to move forward in a case that calls Walmart's return policies into question. The federal lawsuit filed in May names Ohio residents Shaun Brandewie and John Newbrough as plaintiffs. It accuses the mega-retailer of not issuing full refunds for products purchased in one county and returned in another. Brandewie bought products at Walmarts and Sam's Club stores in Cuyahoga County but returned them in Summit County. Newbrough purchased items at the Walmart on Steelyard Drive in Cleveland [The store that gave birth to No Cleveland Walmart/The Writing On The Wal, JH] and returned them in Portage County. Both plaintiffs did not receive the full refunds because the sales tax was higher in Cuyahoga County, and the stores in Summit and Portage counties used the local sales tax rates to calculate the refund, according to the lawsuit. Brandewie lost $0.84 after returning three products, while Newbrough lost $0.99. Through this practice, Brandewie and Newbrough allege that Walmart owes more than $5 million in claims to people who have similar experiences — a hurdle for a class-action lawsuit to be filed.
This is not the first time the issue has been raised. I've written about this before in WALMART POCKETING SALES TAX… and WALMART COLLECTS EXCESSIVE SALES TAX…. Critics might argue that Walmart simply breaks even when the reverse happens, but do you think Walmart is likely to add 20 cents to the refund when the return is from a community with a lower sales tax? Me neither. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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