Tampa, FL -- Knowing a store's return policy can mean the difference between getting full value or losing money when taking an item back with a gift receipt.
10 News learned that firsthand when we returned some Easter items to Walmart using a gift receipt and got nearly $35 less than we should have been given.
In March, 10 News purchased items that we expected to go on sale at Dillard's, Macy's, Target and Walmart.
Eight weeks later we returned the items using our gift receipts.
While some of the items like an Easter themed tablecloth had gone on sale, we did get back the amount we originally paid at Dillard's, Macy's and Target.
But at Walmart we were given the discounted price on several items including an inflatable bunny and an Easter cookie pan.
We originally paid $45.79 for those items and others, but when we returned them with our gift receipt we were given just $11.24 back, a difference of $34.55.
The store clerk told us we could only get full price back if we had returned the items within 30-days of the original purchase. But as we later found out that was not true, we actually had 90-days to return the items.
While Walmart made a mistake, Senior Investigator with Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Kevin Jackson says the incident underscores one thing you need to keep in mind when returning an item, and that's don't delay.
"The policy usually states how long you have to return the item, it can be 30-days, it can be 3-months, it can be a year, but the consumer should know what that time period is and get it back there as soon as they can," Jackson said.
Most stores have their return policy posted online and occasionally you will find it on the back of your receipt.
Jackson says you should also not assume you'll get cash back if you return an item with a gift receipt.
"It can be an exchange, it can be store credit, it can be cash, a number of different ways."
After we contacted Walmart corporate offices, a spokesperson checked and confirmed the clerk made a mistake with our return.
The spokesperson says the error was not a result of us using a gift receipt, but rather the clerk not realizing that we had 90-days to return the seasonal items.
Walmart also issued the following statement:
"We are committed to satisfying our customers. In this case, the return policy appears to have been misstated, and we apologize for any inconvenience.
If a customer has a question regarding our return policy, we encourage them to speak with a member of management or review the policy at http://www.walmartstores.com/7658.aspx."
The spokesperson told 10 News they had contacted the store where we returned our items and corrected the problem. They also told us we would now be given a full refund.
Finally, if you're not sure about the original purchase price for an item you are returning using a gift receipt, Jackson says don't be afraid to ask the person who gave you the gift how much they paid.
After all he says it's all about making sure you don't get ripped off.