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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    7

    Angry Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Texas

    So I received my second letter the other day from Walmart in this ridiculous shoplifting case. Please read this and let me know what I should do.

    Last December (2010) I bought about $200 worth of groceries and then walked down to pick out a Christmas tree. On the way to get the tree I saw a few items on a side display and put them in my cart and intended to pay for them when I checked out with the tree. When I got to the tree section and picked one out, the assistant told me there was nobody working the register there and gave me the tear-off ticket from the tree and said to walk back to the cashiers and buy the tree, so I did just that and left my cart right in the garden section where the trees were......TOTALLY forgetting I had unpaid items in my cart. Paid for the $70 tree and walked back and the assistant told me to pull my truck up so I grabbed my cart and walked out. Don't ask me how I didn't realize the items when I unloaded everything in my truck becasue I honestly don't remember. A week later I get a post on my facebook page from a police officer asking me to call him, so I return his call right away and he tells me the situation and that Walmart filed charges against me! My jaw hit the floor and I told the officer exactly what happened and that it was an honest mistake. He said that is exactly what thought it was because it just didnt' add up with a guy like me and from the video footage. He said he wasn't going to pursue the case and told me to just go down to Walmart and settle up. I went down there that night after work and asked to talk to the manager, instead I was met by two people, a guy and a girl dressed like regular customers. They were employees of the 3rd party contract company Walmart uses during holiday seasons. I told the people who I was, what happened and that I'd like to pay for the items. He told me he was the guy that was following me on the camera and although he knew exactly what the items were he would not accept any money because once a charge is filed that is it, it is engraved in stone and not even Zues himself can retract the forces of nature that will be bringing the wrath upon me. Ok, he didn't quite say that but you get the point and that he was a total jerk of a want to be cop. I left him my name, phone number & address and all my contact info and asked that the store manager please call me immediately as well as his direct supervisor. He said he'd pass it along but alas, after two weeks I still didnt receive anything. At this point I figured I did as much as humanly possible to try and make good and they didn't take it so I just left it alone. 8 months later (beginning of August 2011) I get the first letter from Walmart saying that they "might" sue me unless I pay them $200 and if I don't then the price goes up. What the heck?? That's ridiculous. So I try to make good on everything and then after 8 months they come in saying I've got 2 weeks to pay them $200 or else? I dismissed it thinking it was typical corporate bullying and last week I received my second letter now asking for $550. It's funny because asking for more $ only makes me want to take this to court all the more. I looked up the Texas civil code they imply in their letter and it states the maximum they can sue for is $1000. However they also state in the letter they will also sue for court costs and attorney fees. That's when I decided to hop online and seek some advice.

    This whole thing is so ridiculously insane, it was a common and HONEST mistake....could of happened to anybody. And if I fight this I could potentially be looking at like $4k or $5k for accidentally walking out with $30 worth of stuff? I believe I would have a jury if I went to court and am I right that the only way Walmart would get me to pay their legal fees is if the jury decides that for them? I just dont' see a jury siding with big corporate Walmart on this one but I'm not sure what to do. I've written a letter and I'm about to send it to Walmart's Ethics committee, which I found online, and ask them to please drop these ridiculous charges and explain the situation. Should I contact the attorneys and explain what happened? I'm not really worried about saying anything to the attorney's that could be held against me because I'm not hiding anything.....yes I did walk out with unpaid items. Any help anyone can offer is greatly appreciated. From the quick searches I did it looks like I'm not the only one who has dealt with this but not sure what to do. I guess I could pay the $200 but it would not be with a happy smile on my face...... it eats at me to pay 5x the value of something 8 months later simply because Walmart says so. But, like I explain in my letter to the Ethics Committee, I make almost $100k a year....$200 isn't that big of deal to me let alone the idea that I go around steeling $30 worth of stuff at local walmarts. :-/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,560

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    Well, if you don't pay it, the cost goes up. When they win a judgment in Civil Court, and still don't pay, it can affect your credit rating....

    Unfortunately, so many people have used the "I forgot" excuse in court that the judge and prosecutor have heard it a zillion times and no longer believe it.

    You can hire a lawyer to battle it for you, but I think even just reviewing the evidence would be costing more than $200.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    Since the police officer contacted you informally and you then _tried_ to pay for the items, I would say Walmart would have a hard time proving this was theft. Judges and prosecutors
    may be biased against an argument that you made an error, but a jury in civil court will probably see this as greediness on the part of Walmart, especially given that they refused payment.
    Walmart would be foolish to choose this case as one to fight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,560

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    In a Civil Case, it is likely to be the original poster, walmart, and a judge. And their lawyers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    In the state of Texas I have the right to a jury if I so choose. Even for something petty like traffic court. :-P

    I've read online quite a bit and most people say to ignore these letters as the law firm is noted to send out thousands of letters a month but only actually takes very few of them to court. There are several class action lawsuits against them previously that have been filed. I emailed the attorney from one of them (not sure if he'll respond though).

    To date I still havent paid for the items so I don't mind doing so but my fear is that calling these people will "flag" me as a live person and be even more likely to pursue. I do'nt mind paying the value of the items or even a little more since it was my mistake but I'm not paying $550 or anything ridiculous like that. For $550 I'd rather take my chances. Maximum allowed by Texas law (I looked it up) is $1,000. The wildcard though is the legal fees that I'd have to pay if I lost. Doesn't a jury have to determine if this was a case of actual theft or not? What do you guys think?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
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    6,560

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    It's up to you as to how much of a gambler you are.

    Again, if you don't pay it...they can take you to Civil Court. If they win a judgment, it will be more costly. And if you don't pay, it will be a negative on your credit report.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    How would it be a negative on my credit report? I'm actually FCRA certified (used to work for Experian). Public records are on credit reports but what would be public record if the case doesn't actually go to trial? I've been reading on many different websites and they say that this firm sends out hundreds of thousands of letters a year but only actually pursues less than 100 or so. I'm tempted to call them and tell them I'll pay them like $100 or something but I don't really want to be "flagged" as being a live person if you will. PandorasBox, I hear what you're saying about going the safe way or being a gambler......I really do. I just keep reading all over the web about people saying this law firm has had a dozen class actions filed on them (when unfortunately none of them won) and all over people saying don't pay because this company is just using scare tactics. The one article I did read on another website from an attorney that I really liked was he said to send a certified letter to the firm asking them to send you a detailed list of the fees they are asking you to pay. They likely will not respond and then if they ever do go to trial you can move for dismissal quoting that letter. Your thoughts?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
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    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    Ok, let's say they take you to Civil Court and win the judgment. You still don't pay. What they do then is report to the credit agencies that you have not paid this bill.

    WHat you do is up to you, but I have given you my thoughts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    74,906

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    It's your life. If you want to roll the dice, they're yours to roll.

    If you want to contact them to ask if they'll take a smaller payment, the worst that can happen is that they'll say "No, we want it all."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Walmart Sends Me Letter Asking for Money for a Bogus Shoplifting Case

    Well thanks for your guy's response, I really appreciate it. It just really erks me because I did nothing 'wrong'. I made an honest mistake that could of and does happen to anybody. I have tried to pay for the items and they refused payment, and I am smart enough to see why they don't accept payment, so they can wait a while and then push out these letters trying to get whatever they can. I actually want to pay for the items so I think I'm going to send a check in the amount of the items (rounded up just to be sure) and mark on the check "cashing this check accepts payment in full and settlement of". That would really be the same as calling them and asking for a lower settlement.

    However, you guys really should see all the articles I've read about these. Turns out they send over 1.2 million letters a year and file less than 10 suits. There have been hundreds of suits filed against them for such tactics but none have succeeded. Part of me wants to fight them just so the little guy can push back but we'll see.......

    Thanks again guys.

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