What's worse than finding a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking? How about finding a bag of sand inside a box that is supposed to contain an electronic device?
Some Maryland residents who received pricey electronics on Christmas morning found they’d been had when the boxes that were supposed to contain expensive items were instead filled with sand -- or some other stuffing material.
One Carroll County woman opened a shrink-wrapped box and found a bag of sand where a Google Home Hub was supposed to be.
“I didn’t even open it right away,” Teresa Gostomski told the Carroll County Times. “It was later that evening, I asked my husband, ‘Can you get me a knife so I could slit open the plastic,’ which I did."
Gostomski’s daughters had purchased the gift Dec. 15 at a Walmart in Ellicott City, about 12 miles west of Baltimore, and took it back Dec. 26.
Her daughters decided to order a replacement Home Hub directly from Google, rather than deal with a retailer again, the report said.
Gostomski described the incident on a community Facebook page,
"Okay, so, my daughters were so excited to give me this today and when i opened it," she wrote. "This is what i found- just a bag of sand, no papers, no hub, no cords, nothing. It had been shrink-wrapped and looked brand new and the sand was meant to replicate the weight of the hub."
One commenter said she believed the problem is widespread.
“A friend of mine, who is the sheriff now of my hometown back in Kentucky, posted on his Facebook yesterday,” Sue Ann Bentley wrote. “He stated that the local Walmart and Kroger is having anyone that buys electronics or console games, open them at checkout, because they had so many returns."
“They have found bags of sand, salt and even rocks in packages, games gone or switched out with blank CDs ... it's apparently everywhere,” she continued.
Another person posted on the same Facebook page Dec. 17, saying she opened what she thought was a shrink-wrapped Nest doorbell and found sandpaper instead.
“It looked brand new,” Janet Bischoff told the paper. “I went to buy it at Walmart in Eldersburg. It was the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, so it was on sale, and they only had one left. It was in the locked-up cabinet. There was no reason for me to believe it wasn’t [in] there.”
She suspects someone either purchased the electronics and replaced it with the sandpaper or a store employee swiped it.
“It is so professionally done,” said Bischoff, “and it worries me [if] whoever does it gets so good and Walmart writes it off and it becomes a major problem — if you have that type of a criminal mind and work so closely to deceive people like that.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment late Saturday evening.
A company spokesman told the Times that it was the first time Walmart’s media relations department had heard of electronics being replaced with sand products and that an investigation would follow.
“If any customer would run into an issue like this, they’re encouraged to go to the local store they purchased it from and take it to the customer service counter.” Payton McCormick said.