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Igor Baksht thought he was buying a PlayStation 4 from Walmart. Instead, he was buying a box of rocks.
Baksht bought the PS4 bundle for Christmas at Walmart's Stapleton, Colorado location. He was told by the employee that the console had been returned by a previous customer.
Before wrapping up the present for his 13-year-old niece, Baksht decided to look inside the box. What he found were rocks carefully wrapped with plastic and tape. There wasn't so much as an instruction manual inside.
In other words: someone had apparently bought a PS4 and returned the box with the rocks inside. This allowed them to get their money back and keep the console. Walmart didn't check the box when it was returned or peek inside the box any time it was in their possession. They then sold it off to the seriously unlucky Mr. Baksht.
Baksht tried to return his Bag of Rocks edition of the PS4 only to find that Walmart was closed for the night. When they finally reopened, he couldn't get his money back.
"He said they cannot do anything about it because they don't have proof, how it came in, nothing," Baksht told 7NEWS.
He persisted, though. After calling the store and Walmart's corporate office multiple times, he was able to get a refund on Christmas Eve. The local media attention probably didn't hurt, either. A Walmart spokesperson told 7NEWS that they couldn't verify his story but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
You'd hope that the retailer would be able to use their records to track down the customer who initially returned the PS4. I get the feeling they paid cash, though.
More cynical readers may suspect Baksht of being the one who replaced the console with rocks. Howver, 7NEWS notes that this isn't the first time that retailers have been scammed by fake returns. In 2012, a Walmart in Talladega sold a 3DS box filled with rocks. That same year, a teenager found a stack of notebooks in her iPad package.
Regardless of who filled the PS4 box with rocks, the responsibility rests with Walmart. It wouldn't cost them a thing to stop the problem. They can stop this fraud in its tracks simply by opening boxes and looking in them. That's all they need to do. If they don't verify their sales or returns, they're going to see more scams like this in the future. If customers aren't confident in their ability to screen their merchandise, it could put a serious dent in their used game and console sales.
It's been a rough Christmas for gamers. Many console gamers were unable to play online due to Xbox Live and PSN being attacked by hackers on Christmas Eve. The attacks have since stopped but the networks haven't fully recovered yet.