Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Newman vs. Walmart, Calling Legal BS on One of the Nation's Largest Retailers

I got two of the same gift for X-mas this year. I did want Steve Jobs new book just not two of them. So my adventure began at Walmart to make a return yesterday. Pretty easy thing, the return of a book. Shouldn't be too complicated. Apparently, the Ithaca Walmart has posted a new sign by it's return department. Stuck up between it's "normal" return policy manifesto with tape.

-NO Book and magazine returns because it is in violation of copyright law.

Do they mean Title 17 United States Code?



Now tell me it's your policy, don't tell me it's because of "the" Federal copyright law that you cannot return a book at Walmart. I call Bull Shit on that. Where in the copyright law does it mention the return of new books? Especially unread, unused, and unwritten in books? Is this something I missed in law school? Is this something my copyright law teacher (yeah I took copyright law as an elective) forgot to mention?

Maybe Walmart or their lawyers can explain their version of copyright "infringement" (violation) under Section 501 of the code?

I guess all the countries booksellers large and small are violating this law but book returns happen everyday and have for years. Maybe I missed some Supreme Court decision over the break?


Further, now I'm pissed, you can't sell an item, and then a week after Christmas no less change the policy of return. It's a little thing called NOTICE, look it up Walmart. I told the store manager this, and she told me do I expect every check out clerk to tell each and every customer about this policy. In a word, YES.


If you have a ALL SALES FINAL POLICY on books (or anything) then you MUST tell them it is. Not to would be a violation of not only common law but common decency. When you buy an item of clothing that is discounted (and a FINAL SALE) that is what they do (and multiple times). It is on the "racks," it is usually on the "walls," AND it is at the "check out counter" in big letters. It is everywhere so you can't say you missed it. They even tell you specifically at check out "over and over," hey by the way YOU CAN'T BRING THIS BACK.


So let's go over this:

When a store makes an item FINAL SALE NO RETURN (on something that normally can be returned) There are BIG SIGNS all over the store, then the clerks say it, the managers say it, and it is written on the receipt. Why? So you know before you buy it, AND it is then a part of your agreement with the Store. Your purchase, the sale (the contract) is now conditioned upon this term (final sale).

But Walmart had no signs (all book sales final) by their books, noone told me at any time before my purchase, this was not on their receipt, and further this was NOT a discounted item.

I thought it telling that the store employees were looking forward to my speaking with their manager. Well the store manager did give me my money back, I guess she violated federal law now. Better call the Federal Prosecutors, and the copyright office. This is the last book I buy at Walmart or any of it's affiliates. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth for them, and their business practices or lack thereof.

Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850