Patrick Metz says he and his wife got a shock recently when they opened the iPad box he bought at a St. Petersburg Walmart store to find a stack of yellow notebooks – and no iPad.
"It was like a sick joke," Metz said.
It turns out Metz's story isn't an isolated incident, and the country's largest retailer is dealing with a problem. A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed the company has other similar reports about missing iPads and box tampering.
"It's happening all over and it's happening to all retailers," said Walmart spokeswoman Sarah Spencer.
Spencer didn't say how many reports Walmart had gotten or where they were coming from but said that "it's been all over."
Walmart is working to take care of customers who ended up with empty boxes and get word out to employees that they should help them, she said. However, when Metz contacted News Channel 8 he said employees at the store where he bought the device didn't initially refund his money or replace the produce.
"The manager walked up briefly, looked at it and said, ‘that's not my problem, that's yours. You need to call Apple,'" Metz said.
Metz said he did call Apple, which sent him back to Walmart.
After News Channel 8 inquired about the Metz purchase, Walmart contacted Metz and later issued a refund.
Metz says inside the iPad box, which was sealed in plastic, he found notebooks glued to the bottom of the box.
Walmart says it's now looking at surveillance video and also examining its return process to see if some customers were purchasing iPads, making the switch and then returning the box. The company is also able to track items to see if they had been returned in the past, Spencer said. It does not appear the altered boxes are coming from Apple in that configuration, she said.
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