What’s really in that retail package?


You’ve just purchased that new item you’ve been saving up for, eagerly drive home anticipating using your newly purchased item, only to find out the box is filled with rocks. It’s a nightmare scenario. One that’s becoming all too popular and it can happen to anyone. The most common target of these scams are pricey electronic gadgets, but one subset of products you wouldn’t expect to encounter such fraud are automotive items. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but even that motor oil your purchasing isn’t safe from dishonest consumers.

This weekend I had to do an oil change on “Big Blue”. What I encountered after opening a bottle of motor oil purchased from Walmart was a sealed bottle filled with USED motor oil. Ever since Walmart attempted to open a store just blocks from our residence in Rochester, NY — a location which is no more than 9 miles from several existing Walmarts — I have avoided shopping at any of their retail outlets. Unfortunately one item I can not simply purchase at another store is a 5 quart bottle of Quaker State premium motor oil. I can purchase 4 quart bottles at the local auto stores for approximately 80% more than Walmart charges for the 5 quart bottles + I still need to purchase an additional single quart bottle, or I can purchase 5 single quart bottles and double the cost of an oil change. So what I’ve been doing for a couple of years now is heading to Walmart every few months and purchasing several 5 quart bottles of oil. It saved me time. It saved me money. This weekend it costs me a couple of hours of aggravation. At this point the car is drained of oil and after encountering the used oil I quickly realized there was nothing I could do. I had no receipt, no way of proving the oil was used when I purchased it, and no oil to put in my car to angrily trek to Walmart and give them a piece of my mind. It’s not the end of the world. The total loss of money amounts to around $11. The lasting effect it will have on me, however, is a complete lack of confidence in any purchases made in any retail outlet. As pathetic as it may sound I actually opened every bottle of oil I purchased after this to make sure the oil inside was in fact fresh.

Blame it on the down turn in the economy if you like, but people who partake in these fraudulent and criminal practices aren’t hurting the stores they scammed. Rather they are hurting the next consumer who purchases their dishonest return.

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