If, as you say, the customer is clearly informed that the processing service will not return the physical negatives, and the customer has chosen to have the film processed by Walmart, there's nothing to "get away" with. They offer a service, some customers choose to use that service. Customers who prefer to have negatives returned have the option of taking their business elsewhere.
The only service of theirs I use any more is for creating prints from intangible representations of images. They've not sent out anything of mine since the "We don't return negatives" policy was put in place. If you're using a Wal-Mart with an in-store lab, and your film is process C-41, you shouldn't have any problems. Their in-store lab cannot handle traditional B&W or E-6.
Yes, you're legally correct, but I wasn't addressing legalities in my post. Film is not digital, and most who now use film use it for a reason. The vast majority of casual snapshot photographers long ago moved on to compact digital cameras and smartphones, and many professionals to DSLRs. Most who now use film use it because of the way it looks or for a host of other reasons that are important to them, and one reason is that with film, you have a negative.
Originally Posted by Arctic amateur
Walmart still offers send out service because they feel they have to; there can't be much profit in it for them. I doubt that many are using their send out service for 35 mm C-41 since their 'no return of your property' policy went into effect, as the people who don't care about having negatives are no longer shooting film anyway. This was obviously a move on the part of Walmart and/or Fuji to save money and transportation costs and, for that, I certainly cannot fault them. Not so long ago, many 'serious' photographers would not even think of dropping their film off at Walmart. However, with local labs closing every week, in many areas Walmart is now the only game in town, with the only other alternative being mailing the film to a lab (which is what I do). That's why this 'no return of the negatives' has become an important issue for some. I rarely shoot slides, but do understand Walmart sends all E6 to Dwayne's for a very reasonable price, so I guess there's still some good news :-)
Our local Walmart recently got rid of their in-house film processing; it's now send out only. As for panoramic film, I have taken 35mm shot with sprockets in a Holga to my local Walgreens. I just tell them to leave the film intact, and it's never been a problem. The only thing you may want to note is that some stores will roll up that intact film and stuff it in a canister if you don't specify otherwise. They usually do a decent job, otherwise, although you're always taking a chance with a 1-hour "lab".
I'm not sure there are any one-hour labs even left in my immediate area.
I have since received an e-mail from one of the mail order labs, who replied that they can make 35mm panorama prints, as long as it's indicated on their order form. As I haven't used my Holga 135 Panorama yet, I don't know how many pictures will result from each of a 12, 24, or 36 exposure roll.
The suspense... :D