Recently I bought a music CD at a local Wal-Mart store. When I got it home and played it I was appalled to hear annoying 'beeping' sounds interrupting the music. The disc was apparently a censored or "radio-edit" version; all 'offensive' lyrics had been dubbed over with a loud BEEP! sound which interrupted the flow of the music, and annoyed me to such an extent that I took time out of my busy day to make a special trip back to your store to return the CD.
When I got there, however, I was informed that since the package had been opened, they would not refund my money. I explained to the lady in Returns that no notice was given anywhere in the store that the discs had been modified--the cover and all packaging were even identical to that of the faithful version--so there was no way of knowing I was getting a flawed disc until actually playing it and hearing beeps. She was quite rude to me when I politely asked her how a consumer is expected to know a particular CD is flawed with annoying beeps without such notice, again asking for my money back.
To me, the loud and annoying beeps in the recording are defects, plain and simple: if you bought a stereo receiver and a flaw in the circuitry caused it to randomly insert beeping sounds or other artifacts into the signal, you would no doubt return it immediately. No reputable store would knowingly try to pass off defective merchandise on its customers--refusing to refund the purchase price when the defective goods are returned--and misrepresent the products it sells.
It's not so much the fact that the CDs are censored; if that's how you prefer to run your establishment, that is your choice. What gets me is the fact that no warning whatsoever is given, on the packages, on the CD racks or in the checkout lines, that the discs have been modified--and that by the time you find out, the merchandise cannot be returned.
Myself and a number of other Wal-Mart patrons that I've talked to agree that this combination of censorship and return policies are a great disservice to your customers, and that two minor changes to Wal-Mart store policy would go a long way toward rectifying these concerns:
We believe that these small changes in store policy would be a fair and equitable solution for all parties involved. It is with these suggestions that I hope your stores can continue to provide the otherwise excellent and courteous service I had come to look forward to from a Wal-Mart store.
William H Webb