I first wrote about Walmart's policy of calculating sales tax refunds based on the tax rate at the store where a return is made and not the tax rate at the store where the sale is made back in 2009. I recognize that on balance, a customer may be as likely to receive a higher refund than a lower one (any statisticians/economists care to run the numbers for me?), but in the age where Walmart tracks every detail in a sale, there is no excuse for the policy unless Walmart sees a financial advantage in following that rule. Walmart has finally agreed.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio has granted preliminary approval to a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit claiming that when items purchased from Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail locations, or on-line from or were returned to a location different than the location of purchase, the amount of sales tax refunded or credited was, at times, less than the full amount of sales tax paid at the time the product was purchased. The case is Shaun Brandewie, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (Case Number 1:14-CV-00965). The settlement provides for both injunctive and monetary relief. For injunctive relief, Wal-Mart has agreed to implement an electronic solution to automate the process of calculating the applicable sales tax refund (if any) when an item purchased at a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail location in the United States, or on line from or for delivery within the United States, is returned to a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club retail location that is in a different tax jurisdiction than the jurisdiction in which the item was purchased. For monetary relief, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $5 million to pay for claims, attorneys' fees and expenses, incentive awards to class members and administration of the settlement proceeds. Eligible class members will have the opportunity to apply for and receive a credit in the form of a gift card that is redeemable towards purchases made at Walmart stores, Sam's Club stores,, or
When you're Walmart, $5 million is pocket change. That Walmart gets to funnel the money right back into sales is an abomination.

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