"Stealth" computer technology at Wal-mart?

On a few occasions i have gone to my local Wal-mart to return some item i bought without having the receipt for it. It used to be that they would simply ask how long ago i bought such an item, and i would say less than three months ago, knowing that this was their cut-off point for returns or exchanges.

Now, however, i can't "get away" with this, because apparently they now have some sort of technology that allows them to know exactly when i bought the product simply by either scanning or entering some information from the UPC label or something into their cash register/computer terminal.

My question is, how the hell do they do that? I mean, they can't be putting different UPC codes on their products each and every day, so they know exactly when you are buying one of their products. I'm baffled......anybody have an insights about this? Thanks

3 Answers

    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Wal Mart does track their products so they can know when inventory needs to be restocked, and to locate items that might get "lost" or stolen. Their codes may not actually be typical UPC codes, but another specilized type of bar code. A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a unique identifier for each of the distinct products and services that can be ordered from a supplier ...&...

    a single SKU can have many UPCs ... which is used as a tracking method.


    "When the scanner at a checkout line scans a UPC code, the cash register sends the scanned UPC code information to a point of sale (POS) computer which returns preprogrammed information about the scanned item, which can include price, quantity on hand, and other requested information."


    Wal-Mart knows how to use advanced technology.

    Here's info on their "Ultra-Max Electronic Article Surveillance System (EAS)":

    "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has recently committed to a chain-wide implementation of Sensormatic's Ultra-Max Electronic Article Surveillance System (EAS). These systems are being rolled out by Distribution Center regions and should be complete within five years in all of our existing and new locations. Our objective is to have manufacturers participate in Sensormatic's Universal Product Protection (UPP) Source Tagging Program. Source tagging requires the EAS label to be applied... onto or...

    into the packaging or product."


    "There are many kinds of barcodes, used for many kinds of things. Believe it or not, most of them aren't UPC or EAN13. And they're used to encode many different things in a machine-readable form."

    The site below shows you some info that a UPC bar code can have on it. Click on the word "latest" in the left-hand side of page. This is what I came up with when I did:

    EAN/UCC Description Size/Weight Last Mod

    0078742358963 GREAT VALUE CORN FLAKES 18 OZ May 23 10:02

    0736393502202 Glory Foods Seasoned Country Style Saurkraut 14.5 OZ May 23 09:28

    0088698993088 Hewlett-Packard InkJet Print Cartridge - c6578ae Tri-Color May 23 09:05

    0078742371917 GREAT VALU BUTTER SPREAD 3 LB May 23 07:30

    0041260338830 Heartburn prevention acid reducer May 23 07:29

    0078742353272 GREAT VALU AMERICAN CHEESE SLICES 16 OZ May 23 07:19

    0078742230276 GREAT VALU CINNAMON ROLLS 12.4 OZ May 23 07:16


    Just type in the bar code of a package & see what comes up:


    Here's some FAQ about UPC bar codes:


    Interesting info on various types of barcodes:



    Website of George J. Laurer, inventor of the U.P.C.


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Are they scanning your *receipt* or the item's packaging?

    Receipts are unique.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    you wouldn't have to worry about it if you weren't trying to commit fraud

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