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You soon might not have to return some items to get a refund from Walmart

Walmart hopes its “Mobile Express” returns attracts more shoppers by reducing in-store hassles when it comes to bringing back merchandise.
Walmart hopes its “Mobile Express” returns attracts more shoppers by reducing in-store hassles when it comes to bringing back merchandise. Courtesy

Walmart is trying to make returns so easy that you might not always have to return the item to get your money back.

According to the retailer, the new policy — called Mobile Express returns — is a three-pronged approach to simplify the return process, starting next month.

In November, a streamlined online return program will kick in. In December, an “optional” return on “select items” will be introduced. Early next year, simplified in-store purchase returns will begin.

The main change is that you no longer will need to ship back a returned item you bought online from Walmart.com. You can just take it to a store for your refund.

But even that won’t always be necessary.

In general, according to Walmart, returns will work like this:

Using the Walmart app, select the transaction and items to return and follow the app’s prompts for returns.

Then go to a Walmart and find the Mobile Express Lane at the customer service desk.

Scan the QR code displayed on the card reader with the Walmart app, and then hand the item to the associate. You’re done.

Refunds will appear in your payment accounts as soon as the next day.

Now about those “optional” returns.

According to the company’s announcement Monday, “as early as December, (online) customers returning select items will see an option in the Walmart app allowing them to instantly receive their refund without even making a trip to the store to physically return the item.”

Wait, what?

“This offer will initially be available on select household items ... with other items to be added over time,” according to the retailer.

Some shampoos and cosmetics were listed as examples of “select” items initially up for this program.

You won’t be able to write off your entire order, or get into constant return/keep item mode when it comes to those shampoo purchases.

“We use technology to help us spot irregular behavior,” Erin Hulliberger of Walmart’s corporate communications, said in an emailed response Monday to The News Tribune.

But, seriously, not taking an item back?

Retail analyst Nick Egelanian told the industry news site Retail Dive via email: “Retailers ... sometimes lose less money by not taking the certain items back at all.

“It’s convenient for Walmart to put a customer service spin on this policy — however that is really nothing but PR. It’s all about minimizing already sizable losses on low value/high return cost sales.”

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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