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Wal-Mart refuses to refund $2.90; throws couple in jail (charges were later dropped)

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Wal-Mart has a policy of having “greeters” at the front door of all their stores.

One of the jobs that the greeters and security staff are tasked with is to double-check receipts to ensure that everything that is being carried out has been paid for per the receipt.

Mary Hill Bonin and her husband are suing Wal-Mart for the Wal-Mart staff doing their job.

Unfortunately, it’s the Wal-Mart staff that allegedly appears to have acted inappropriately in this case.  All Mary and “Ricky” wanted to do was buy $2.90 worth of chicken necks.  According to the Wal-Mart security guard, the chicken neck was being shoplifted – that is, being taken out of the store without having been paid for.

The details of the story differ depending on who is telling it.

According to the Wal-Mart security guard, the chicken necks were not paid for.

According to Mary and the Wal-Mart assistant manager, the chicken necks WERE paid for, and the in-store security video supports this.

But what happened during the escalating situation should never have happened.  The security guard called the police and had the husband and wife arrested.  The husband ended up being deported (different story related to paperwork), and they ended up losing their home, car, and all personal belongings.

An interesting twist on this is that the victim was also an employee of Wal-Mart at the time, albeit at a different location. 

This incident occured back in 2007, and since then the shoplifting charges and other false charges were dropped.  Mary is suing Wal-Mart for punitive damages including loss of income, libel and slander, false arrest, and more.  And in the big picture, Wal-Mart refused fo refund the $2.90 that the couple had paid for the chicken necks.

Web Watch has to ask: after the store manager confirmed that the customers had paid for the merchandise (heck, the couple offered to pay for them again just to be on the safe side), what was it that led the security guard to escalate the situation further?

Is this another case of one authority figure pulling rank on another just because they had a badge?  Was the security guard just trying to save face after being proven wrong?   There are so many places where Wal-Mart staff could have figured out the proper way out of this situation that it just boggles the mind.  Assuming that the couple’s account is unbiased and accurate, let’s hope that Wal-Mart figures out that not every customer that shops at their stores are potential criminals.  There’s nothing wrong with double-checking receipts (especially those receipts from the self-checkout lanes), but a little bit of discretion would save a whole lot of $$$ down the line.