Confessions of Clothes Returners…

Confessions by YOU, that is :) And, well, maybe a little from me too…

My dear friend and blogger across the pond, Skint in The City, wrote a post recently on people who return clothes after they’ve worn them (25% of Britons, if you can imagine that!) and I thought it would be interesting to see how we fare here in the U.S. with it. A real-life poll by some of the best real-life people on this Earth – you guys ;) Who needs scientific polls around here??

So I’m going to ask you 2 questions now, and your job is to answer them as REAL and HONESTLY as you can. Even if it means swapping your name with the infamous “anonymous” ;)

Here they are:

  1. Have you ever worn clothes/accessories/bags and then returned them?
  2. Do you think it’s in bad taste to do so?

Remember, be honest ;) And of course it wouldn’t be fair for me to make you guys do this without doing it myself, so I’ll start this little game here…

Have I ever worn clothes/etc and then returned them –> yes. A few times when I was young (see below), but now only when I realized they didn’t fit right or had holes in them or something else that I didn’t know prior to purchasing them. I don’t ever buy something with the intention of wearing it out and then returning it later. Even though it is fun to think about, as most frugal people will attest to ;)

Do I think it’s in bad form to do this? Yes. Only one person gets anything out of this (the “shopper”), and it only screws over the company. The company, mind you, that you happen to like if you’re wanting to rock out their stuff on the town! Now it’s not even close to being as bad as actually *stealing* the item from the store, of course – more like shadily renting? – but you wouldn’t want it dug up the next time you run for office anytime soon… Which I’m sure you deal with on the regular ;)

Going down memory lane…

This reminds me of a time I still feel bad about years ago during my college days. I needed a new stereo cuz my old one had broken and we were set to throw a couple killer parties over the next few months (this was back before the invention of the iPod, mind you), so I headed out to Walmart and picked up the best one I could afford under my budget. Which, looking back, was funny because a) I didn’t have a budget back then! And b) I paid 50% more than I had wanted – $75.00 instead of $50.00. I never said I was good at money my ENTIRE life :)

Anyways, I found the one that gave us the best chance of picking up girls throwing a great dance party, and went on my way expecting everything to work out just fine. And it did, for exactly 88 days.

Then I completely ran out of money, couldn’t pick up any extra hours at my TWO side jobs (I was always a hustler, but rarely a saver), and was scared out of my boots to report home and ask the Bank of Mom and Dad to cover me for the rest of the month. So I sat there on my bed racking my brain for a way to come up with $50, and right there across the room from me was that beast of a machine we called my stereo staring back. You now, those chromed-out, 5 cd-changer, big honkin’ pieces of plastic with 18 subwoofers popping out all alien-like type ones? They were never pretty, but they sure did the trick.

An idea then hit me like a lightning bolt. How long ago did I pick up that thing? Is it possible that I could still return it and get my $75 back?? I rushed around like a mad man hunting for my receipt – flipping beer cups and pushing half-written essays around (we did have computers back then – I’m not THAT old – but some of my teachers preferred we sketched them out first by hand to get the creative juices flowing), and lo and behind I found that magical piece of paper! It had been exactly 88 days since the purchase, with a return-policy of 90 days for all electronics. Whew.

I jumped in my zebra-painted ride (true story), hauled it back to Walmart, blew the dust off and rubbed it down for approximately 15 seconds, and made my way through the customer service line. I felt like the smartest person around!!

Until I got to the manager behind the register…

I explained as much of the situation as I could without getting myself into trouble (“I really liked it, but I need the money,” “I’ll come back later and buy it again, I promise”), and the guy just stared back in both disbelief and – quite frankly – utter disgust.

“Are you kidding me?”

(My face turns red)

“You’ve been USING this for almost 3 whole months now, and you now want to give it back? Because you made a wrong decision?”

Me: “Well….”

“Forget it… mumble mumble….ridiculous college kids…. mumble mumble…”

“Here’s your gift card – go nuts.”

I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. Everything he said was true. I DID use it for all those months. I DID make a bad decision. I WAS a ridiculous college student!! What was wrong with me??

As small and insignificant as that event was, it’s quite obviously stuck with me all these years later. I wasn’t proud of what I did – even though I laughed and told all my friends how creative I was at the time (dummy) – but I definitely learned my lesson. Which, rather simply, was this: “Don’t take advantage of policies when it screws people over.” The “people” in this case, being Walmart. There was no way they were going to be able to turn around and sell that thing – it was clearly worn.

Whew… Guess that story was just bubbling to come out :) An extreme measure of using stuff and then returning it later of course – and I doubt it would work nowadays with companies being smarter and changing rules all around – but still. The point is, doing this stuff doesn’t help anyone except yourself. Do I still buy things and return them? All the time. But I don’t *go into it* with the plan of coming back later and returning stuff after getting what I needed from it. For what it’s worth…

But enough about me. What do YOU guys say about this? Have you ever intentionally bought stuff and then returned them? Please leave your thoughts below either way so we can read the different perspectives out there. I won’t judge you at all, I promise :) My hands are still dirty!

Happy Friday, y’all.

PS: Thanks again to Skint in The City for awaking my brain today. I need a good reminder of my dumb self every now and then ;)

[Photo by 2Stef27]

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  1. Pauline September 6, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    I returned a Gore Tex jacket after wearing it for some time because it was letting the water in and I felt cheated as a customer. I told them I’d been using it for months but it had not been raining and they took it back. Other items would mean you are a fashion king/queen and want to rotate your clothes with the trends, which I am not. If you buy classic long lasting item then it becomes pointless to return them.
    If I were into fashion I guess I’d be doing it though, those designer clothes are horribly expensive!

    1. christie September 6, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Even the Fashion Queens don’t need to do this. If you are okay with wearing a garmet that someone else has worn shop at consignment, thrift or eBay! If someone pays retail, the garmet should be new.

      1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:10 PM

        Oh yeah – lots of bargains at thrift stores! It’s amazing what you can find if you really look and spend the time… which I guess is why people don’t do it much cuz it takes more effort. Besides having to be okay with wearing used clothes too.

  2. September 6, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    I only take items back if they are faulty or not as sold.

    For me, if you want clothes, for example, you should want them enough to pay for them and keep them for the long-term.

    I personally think its poor form to buy a product with the future plan to return it. The smaller the firm you are buying it from, the worst it is.

  3. Cassie September 6, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    The only time I returned an item after wearing it was when I bought a pair of red suede ballet flats from The Gap. I was absolutely in love with them. Unfortunately, my feet were not so in love with the grosgrain ribbon they had used to finish the top edge of the shoe, as it cut through my feet like butter after the first day of wearing them. I limped to the store the next day and returned them, having to fight with the manager to get my money back. I get that the return policy says no returns after the product has been worn, but if you product physically hurts the people who buy it there’s a problem with your product. Other than that time I don’t believe I’ve ever returned something I’ve worn.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      I agree – if the item is shoddy then I’d fight all day long for the return too. I’m glad it worked out for you in the end :)

  4. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies September 6, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    I don’t always trust mirrors or lighting in the store, so I’ll buy something, and bring it home for what I call an “extended” try on. I’ll usually wear the item (with the tags on it) around the house for half an hour or so. If it wears well, is comfortable, etc, I’ll keep it. But if it’s annoying me after half an hour, back it goes.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      Huh, that’s a pretty good idea. Cuz you’re not gonna be seating it up and dancing like out at the clubs or wherever, so no damage done if you end up returning them. I can see that.

  5. SB September 6, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    I’ve returned a pair of earrings that I wore as part of a halloween costume before. And I still feel a little bad about it to this day! I didn’t buy them with the intention of returning them, it was just after halloween I realized I would never wear them again and I was annoyed that I’d spent so much on a pair of earrings that I’d wear only once. So I did return them.

    My best friend actually does this all the time though and it always bothers me. She will buy an outfit to wear out to the bars and leave the tags on and then return them. She doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it and honestly I don’t know how to say anything to her about it.

    1. Rachel211 September 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Don’t they stink though? I mean, its probably easier to do now that most bars dont let you smoke, but they would still smell like bar and stinky sweat!

      1. SB September 6, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        You would think! I guess she’s never had a cashier smell them before..

        1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:15 PM

          Ewwww! haha… I wouldn’t be smelling them either if I was the employee – not that it would even cross my mind to unless I thought something fishy was going on… She wouldn’t be able to return things to the exact same store all the time cuz they’d def. start catching on. At least that’s why I think they always log in all the info into the computer and make you sign and print your name – so they can track it all for future notice. And I think your halloween earrings one is only 25% bad, if that makes you feel any better :) Your intentions were to keep it when you bought it, which I think is the main distinction here.

  6. Brian September 6, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    I returned a couple shirts after they fell apart in my washing machine the first time I washed them. Other than that I can’t think of a situation where I have done that.

  7. Moneysavingmomma September 6, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Two stories I would like to share – which have both led to the places I shop.

    1. I bought a pair of boots which I LOVED at nordstroms with a giftcard. I only wore them in the late fall/winter season so maybe a little less than half the year. After a year passed of the boots collecting dust, I took them out again, wiped off the dust and wore my beloved boots out of the house. I quickly realized that the bottom sole had cracked/ripped in the middle of one shoe. I went to Nordstroms, not realizing they have a killer return policy, asking if they can somehow find me the exact same boots or somehow fix it for me. I explained how much I loved the boots. They told me they could not find the boots since they were two years old and they don’t fix boots either. But they could give me store credit in the cheapest amount the boots sold for. I pondered it for awhile because I truly loved my boots and I would have to hand them over. But I took the store credit and handed over my boots. After about a month, I found another pair of boots that were almost as nice as the previous pair and used the store credit to pay for part of it. This experience brings me back to nordstroms time and time again. Lastly, I have seen Nordstroms wonderful return policy being abused and it makes me REALLY upset.

    2. I bought my 1yo daughter two sweaters on sale at gap kids. As a nervous first time mom, I washed everything before I put it on my child. I followed the directions carefully to make sure nothing gets damaged in the wash. One sweater came out fine, the second sweater came out with the thread tearing apart the sweater. I took the one sweater back with the receipt and explained the situation. The woman told me they absoultely cannot take it back and blamed me and my washing machine. Stating that I should have followed the insturctions more carefully (the most simple instructions!) and that they cannot take back clothes without tags on it. That was $10 down the drain and gap lost my business for good. Hey, maybe it was my washing machine/dryer fault but the way they responded was absurd.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      My wife washing all the clothes first before allowing our son to wear them too! You have to to make sure they’re nice and clean for the little ones :) I just always remind her that she better be sure we’re keeping them first and she always goes “yeah, yeah…” haha… It’s a tricky one. At least your boot story had a happy ending!

  8. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living September 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I bought a sweater at Costco once that started separating at the arm seams so I returned it after washing it once. I also returned a low-cost router to them that I realized after using that it was blocking FTP access.

    People take advantage of lengthy return policies but I would never return something that I used unless it was defective.

  9. Skint in the City September 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    J$, thanks a million for pickiig my post up and adding to it so hilariously. Love that stereo tale! Further confession time for me too – I have bought items I’ve been unsure of a couple of times, thinking I could return them if they didn’t suit. Being so unorganized though I never do … Had a pair of unworn white trousers sitting in a bag with tags on, chez Skint, since April. Umm, guess that receipt will have expired then!

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      Naughty naughty!! You gotta do my trick of keeping all unwanted stuff in the trunk of your car :) That way when you DO remember to do it, you know where everything is and more often than not you’re sitting in front of that store cuz it was what reminded you of it :)

      But anyways, I should be thanking YOU for the post idea. You were smart to tweet it to me, remember? Love it.

  10. Brian September 6, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I’ve only return items if they didn’t fit properly or there was an issue defect etc with the item. I don’t ever recall wearing something out for an extended period of time and then returning it.

  11. Mom @ Three is Plenty September 6, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    I have bought clothes intending to return them – but not after wearing them. A lot of times, I don’t know what size Daughter Person will wear (she’s somewhere between 18mths and 3T depending on the style), so if I see a cute outfit, I’ll buy 2-3 sizes in it, take it home and see which one fits. The tags stay on until she’s tried it on, then I take the ones that don’t fit back.

    I’ve also taken things back to REI that failed after a few months of use (a waterproof raincoat that leaked after wearing it in a week+ of heavy downpours) – they guarantee their stuff for life, and we take advantage of it when the situation warrants it, I’d never abuse that privilege, but I’m sure others have…

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      I think that’s fine cuz you’re returning stuff still brand new and without doing so they would have lost your business anyways (like if there was some crazy rule that you couldn’t buy anything in multiple sizes). In fact, there’s been many times where I couldn’t decide on the color of something and the clerk TOLD ME to buy them both and then return one later that week. Maybe cuz she thought I’d forget and now she helped the store sell two of them, haha, or maybe she knew it was perfectly fine and okay with store policy. Either way, I don’t see any harm in that one :)

  12. MakintheBacon September 6, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    I used to work at Lululemon. We had a 7 day return policy on our clothing with tags on to enture people didn’t sweat it in and then try to return it. People would return pants that have clearly been washed and worn. There would be lint all over it. One woman even tried to return underwear. Gross.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      THAT’S just crazy… but I believe it all the way. And from what I hear some stores aren’t allowed to challenge the customers right? Even if they suspect it’s been worn? The whole “customer is always right” mentality?

  13. John S @ Frugal Rules September 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    I’ve done it a couple of times in the past, but only when the item did not fit or looked different at home. My Dad actually used to do this all the time when he & my Mom were first married. He’d buy a new outfit, wear it once on a date and then return it the next day. I love my Dad….but that’s just a bit tacky if you ask me.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      On the plus side, it worked! She won over your mom! :)

  14. Heather September 6, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I’ve never worn something and then returned it, but I always leave tags on things until I use them. I find that if something sits in my closet for 2 months and the tags are still on it, I may not be interested in it anymore. I’ve returned a ton of things in those situations, but never something I’ve used. I work part time in retail and it’s realy not right to do that.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      That’s a good way to do things :) Totally fine to return things with tags on it if you change your mind later. It’s why return policies were invented!

  15. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries September 6, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    In the example of clothes, I’ve only really returned worn items if they didn’t hold up as well as I expected. Like if they got frayed or a hole really early on.

    Shoes I have bought with the intention of returning, but only because I have a really hard time finding shoes in my size that don’t have velcro where the laces are supposed to be! I buy them (so I don’t have to risk them selling out) and continue my hunt for better shoes, I never wear them until I’m 100% sure they are the pair I will keep. I guess that doesn’t technically count, but I still feel really guilty whenever I return the pair(s) I don’t keep.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      That’s frustrating I bet, jeez… my sister has the opposite problem of having really big feet for a women and can barely find her size :( And when she does, they’re super expensive or don’t have much choice in the color/etc.

  16. Jessica O. September 6, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Not clothes.

    BUT… my husband and I bought a circular saw to do a job at home. We used the saw but it just felt cheapo and we didn’t think it would last long. You get what you pay for, I guess!

    We returned it after we were finished with the job although that wasn’t the original plan.

  17. nGneer September 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    1) Absolutely not.
    2) In very bad taste.

    It is absolutely disgusting to see something that is worn on a store shelf/hanger. I’m not sure how stores accept returns on clothing that has definitely been worn. I once bought a slow cooker at target only to open it and see that it still had food stuck on. I flipped out on the poor customer service associate and feel bad about it niw but it was so unsanitary. Ugh.

    On the appliance/furniture front I have saved a few hundred dollars by bringing my receipt and saying I would return the item if I wasn’t refunded to the current sale price. No one has said no to date even after the “price match guarantee” timeframe at the store had passed.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:28 PM

      Well that’s cool! A money saving strategy I guess and always a bluff on your part yeah? Or would you ever actually return it??? haha…

      1. nGneer September 9, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        Total bluff. I wouldn’t drag that stuff back in :).

  18. Samantha September 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    I have returned a pair of shoes that I wore one day but by the end of the day they were severely pinching me and I knew I would never wear them again. I don’t feel bad about that though, I was indoors the whole time and you could not tell they had been worn.

    I do feel bad about this though: one summer of college I had the worse job – basically I was paid to sit around and man the front desk of a newspaper company. With zero job duties to speak of (is “sitting” a job duty?) I was allowed to read the entire day. One day I forgot my book and was unable to go all the way home to pick it up. So I walked over to Walmart and purchased “The Stepford Wives”. When I read the entire book in 6 hours, I returned it. Like a library. Which I had not intended to do, but I still did it. I rationalized that it was still new and its not like I ‘took’ anything from it.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      naughty naughty! haha… but I guarantee half of the people reading this right now have done the same ;) it’s funny the things that stick with you though, eh?

  19. Rachel211 September 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    One time for Christmas I really wanted to read the new biography that Gabrielle Reece wrote. So my mom bought it for me and I sat down to read it Christmas afternoon. It was soooo AWFUL, written so poorly, so short, and obviously written just for a paycheck, that I actually went to the book store and returned it saying, “I never, ever do this and I shop here all the time – but this is probably the worst book I’ve ever read and I want my money back.” And they totally did! I wasn’t rude or anything and they were just like, “Okay. That sounds reasonable.” Maybe they had read it too. lol ;)

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      No problem with that! Same with bad food at a restaurant, yeah? I don’t know who Gabrielle Reece is, but I’m pretty sure my wife wanted to return her Shades of Grey about 50 times while reading it ;)

  20. Wunderwriter September 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    If something is defective, doesn’t fit, isn’t what I expected, etc., I absolutely return it. I frequently shop online, so the percentage of clothing that doesn’t meet my expectations is higher than it would be if I went shopping in person. Since I hate to waste time in malls, I consider returns a necessary (although minor) inconvenience, and I don’t hesitate to return something I’ve worn (typically once, and usually just to try on). Keeping the item would be ridiculous; if it doesn’t fit, isn’t made well, wasn’t what was promised, etc., why would I waste my hard earned money on it? Shoes are a frequent return for me, since sizing is so varied and unreliable from vendor to vendor, style to style, and even within the same manufacturer’s line. I don’t blink an eye at returning something that doesn’t represent the value I thought it did, and I don’t consider it immoral in any way, shape or form.

    A very good, long time friend of mine purchases clothing for a specific event, tapes the tags into the inside of the garment (typically in the sleeve), wears the garment for the event, and then returns everything (including the shoes). This is a completely different set of circumstances. I differentiate completely between returning an article of clothing or a pair of shoes that are not consistent with the description as opposed to intentionally defrauding a retailer by purchasing something with the specific intention of wearing it and then returning it.

    At the end of the day, if retailers want to compete, they must accept returns, which technically raises the cost of everything for all of us, but the flip side of being stuck with something that is of inferior quality, doesn’t fit, isn’t as represented or doesn’t reflect the anticipated value is a much bitter pill to swallow, at least for me.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      Yup! Return policies definitely do more good than bad for sure.

  21. Rachel September 6, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    When I was in college I needed a red dress for my sorority’s final recruitment party. I’m six feet tall, so I can’t just run out to any store and find an appropriate dress that doesn’t put everything on display. I was also broke as a joke, but I had to have a red dress. So I found a red skirt and blazer that worked, but was over $100 (which was a whooooole lot of money at the time, and still is). So I bought it, kept the tags attached but tucked into the back, and was careful not to get anything on it. I returned it the next day. So embarrassing, and I’ve never done it again. But the outfit was horribly unflattering so I justified it that way.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      Thanks for sharing :)

  22. jestjack September 6, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I did return a pair of work boots once to Sears that began to unravel after 6 months of wear. Even though these boots were expensive…I felt like a jerk…The clerk could not have been nicer….BUT couldn’t find the exact pair of boots and the gal didn’t know how to give me back the cash as I didn’t have the original receipt. Sooo she called the store manager at which time I explained to him that I didn’t really want the money BUT just a decent pair of work boots. To which the manager told the clerk…”give him any pair he wants…regardless of price”. So I picked a nice pair out and out the door I went…No charge….An excellent experience at Sears!

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Wowww really???? That’s incredible! Go Sears! (Which I actually didn’t even know if was still around or not, haha… old school! :))

  23. SB September 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Have another story to add: I used to work at Sears and when I hadn’t been working there for very long I had a guy return a digital camera. I processed the return because I didn’t know better, but afterwards the Electronics Department head yelled at me since I wasn’t supposed to process the return. Turns out a lot of people buy digital cameras for special occasions and then return them after they save all of the pictures. It’s just so messed up that it never occurred to me that people would do that!

    I’ve also heard stories from my friend who used to work at Nordstrom about people abusing their return policy to return shoes that were over 7 years old and were annoyed that the sole had worn through. But they took them back because Nordstrom will take any return.

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:34 PM


  24. Nick @ September 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    My wife does this from time to time. It drives me crazy.

  25. christie September 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    I used to work in a nice retail store. I was paid hourly and commission. To determine our commision this formula is used. 1. Minimum Monthly Sales. ( You don’t earn money or every sale. Only on items that you sell after you fulfill your quota.) The remaining sales, Minus your monthly Returns, were subject to commission. Returns really hurt our paycheck.
    Example. Min Quota: 2,0000. Total Sales 4,000. 4,000 minus 2,000 = 2.000 If you had $500 in returns, your commission would be based on $1,500.
    ~ C

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      I always wondered how that worked actually. Figured everything was delayed by a few months as far as commissions since that return window lasts a while. Would be worse if you get paid right away and then LATER have it deducted ya know? Nothing would be stable!

  26. Skint inthe City September 6, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    @wunderwriter – Ha, taping tags into the sleeve is some nerve! And over on my site a commenter wrote that she know a guy who puts the tags into ziplock bags then puts the item in the laundry! It’s like using shops as libraries really – I’d just be too embarrassed, not to mention it being pretty unethical
    Wonder what the store staff really think of the returners and whether they swap tales about it in the staff room. . . they must get people trying to return some really random or worn-out stuff sometimes.

    1. christie September 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      They are absolutley talking about you in the staff room! Plus, once you get recognized as someone who returns Everything … no one wants to wait on you or help you.
      ~ C

      1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        The more interesting stories working retail though are catching people doing the dirty in the dressing rooms ;) That was always my favorite task working at stores – manning the rooms. People are insane.

        1. Skint in the City September 10, 2013 at 9:59 AM

          Ooh, people do THAT? I have lived a tame life!

          Haven’t heard of Chess King but I used to work in a jeans store called Jeanster – very nineties name! I don’t remember too many stand-out returners stories, except for the person who got trousers shortened THEN returned them! Tags still on, but legs a few inches shorter than all the other pairs on the rack. Staff didn’t notice till it was too late! I guess the person got them altered, planning to keep them, then had a brazen change of heart!

          1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:05 PM

            Oh jeez, haha…

  27. J Wolf September 6, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    1. I have never worn and then returned clothing. I worked in retail (Remember Chess King??) and,
    2. …thought it was in bad taste when others did it.

    I do take stuff back all of the time now, if it doesn’t fit (because I rarely try it on in the store).

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM

      I don’t remember Chess King but it sounds old :)

  28. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen September 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I’ve never worn or used anything and then returned that item back to the store. I think it’s not really good manners. Even if its a huge store you’re still screwing them over. Bad karma.

    However…I have bought something at a store that I needed. Then found it elsewhere for cheaper and returned the new one I bought so I save the money. I figure it’s okay since what I return is brand new and unused.

  29. Michelle September 6, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    I very, very rarely return things. Only if it has a fault and honestly I look for those BEFORE buying. I would NEVER return clothes after wearing (keeping the tag in ) because I personally don’t want to purchase what I think is a new item to discover someone else’s body juices and funk in it. Nasty.

  30. LeRainDrop September 8, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    1) The only worn piece of clothing I’ve ever returned was a fleece jacket from REI because they guarantee their clothing for life, and the zipper got broken within the first year. I explained it honestly to the customer service rep, and they didn’t even bat an eye to take the return. I was really disappointed because I loved that jacket, but as luck would have it, they had the same jacket in stock, so I happily swapped it out for a new one.

    2) Absolutely, it is in very bad taste to return clothing that has been worn (beyond just trying it on) UNLESS it turns out to be defective. I consider buying it with the intention to wear it and then return it to be fraud. Not only does the store get stuck with that crap, but sometimes other customers who buy it without realizing until they get home that it’s already worn, smelly, deodorant stains, etc. My mom once bought a pack of bras and when she got home discovered that someone must have gone in the changing room with the pack and swapped out the new bras for their very old bras. Of course, my mom returned that pack — the sales people were like, “unfortunately this happens a lot more than people would think.”

    1. J. Money September 8, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Oh wow, now that’s just STEALING! Reminds me of those stories you hear of people buying the latest Xbox or PlayStation only to find a brick in the box… Messed up, man…

  31. Jane Oregano September 11, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    Haven’t done that. I return stuff if it hasn’t been used or was clearly defective. Mostly clothes… Been burned buying pants that fit in the store, but after the first wear and wash they shrink or expand and don’t fit right. Mostly in the length. So, now I buy pants secondhand from shops that only sell stuff that’s 1-2 seasons old. Those stores have a tags-on 7-day return policy. So I leave them in my car trunk, too, just in case!

    1. J. Money September 11, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      Good!! And awesome strategy too actually. I have the same problem with shirts – they always shrink and I’m screwed after one or two washes :( So getting them at 2nd hand stores is def. smart in that regard! Outside of the great savings too, of course.

  32. Mike Carlson September 17, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    I’ve tried returning clothes when I bought one for my kid and it didn’t fit. That was only once. I hate the whole process of it.

  33. Rachelle January 19, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    I used to work at a store with a no-questions-asked return policy. A woman came in to return an expensive Ralph Lauren sweater. The sweater was not just worn, it was worn out — old, stretched, faded and pilled. Even though it was against our policy, I couldn’t help myself and asked if there was something wrong with the sweater. She looked me right in the eyes and said, “No, it just doesn’t fit anymore,” then stepped back from the counter to show me her hugely pregnant belly. I still had to give her a full refund.

    1. J. Money January 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      Wowwwww, haha… now THAT is something.

  34. College Prof June 15, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Let’s look at this from a different perspective: what are the consequences on the retail end when someone makes a return? According to my source (a former retail manager), this is what a store loses when someone makes a return: the first “serving” time of the sales person (and possibly their bonus or commission), time spent making the return, steaming articles that have been in the bag too long, or have accumulated smells like cigarette smoke or gasoline (if it was in the car trunk). Also, inventory control, daily statistic figures, and questions from the district manager as to why they “didn’t do their job properly.”

    But hold on, it gets worse. This source says the return that “broke the camel’s back” for her was a grandmother returning a $500-600 purchase she made with her granddaughter one weekend. The woman spent two hours trying on multiple outfits, and the store associates couldn’t figure out why she brought everything back. When they examined the merchandise, they saw tell-tale creases from sitting and bending, make-up smudges, and other signs of usage. It was obvious she had worn the clothing for a period of time and then returned everything. Apparently fraudulent behavior knows no age-limits.

    There has always been a small segment of the population who cheat merchants. Whether it is shoplifting or using items, wearing them and then bringing them back to the store, the end result is fraud. I’m not talking about people who occasionally have to return items because they are defective, not the right color, or the wrong size. I’m referring to shoppers who buy things to use or wear once, and then return for credit. This age-old trick has a name, “wardrobing;” which sounds like it would be clothing-related, but is actually used to describe all use-it-and-return-it purchases. Two-thirds of merchants report they had items wardrobed last year, and the numbers continue to rise. The National Retail Federation (NRF) started tracking this trend in 2006, and the numbers of claims rose 56% in the first full year (2007). As the recession lingers, those numbers are increasing.

    The NRF blames the economy and a “customer-is-always right” mentality gone too far. A loss-prevention executive for Bealls Department Stores in Florida says that customers are rooting around in their closets and trying to return things they have worn multiple times to make a little money. But the most common abuse is still one-time usage, sort of like “renting” the item for a short period of time. Women will buy an expensive outfit for a wedding, prom, job interview, or other function, wear it, and then return it for full credit.

    Technology returns are the newest form of wardrobing, and are more male-dominated. One man purchased a $600 LCD projector, used it for a business presentation, then returned it a few days later. Richard Hollinger, a criminology professor at the University of Florida, says that return fraud cost retailers $10.8 billion in 2007.

    Because of this enormous problem, 17% of retailers tightened their return policies in 2009 according to the NRF. This makes shopping more costly and inconvenient for the rest of us because the costs of retail fraud are passed on to the consumer. It also makes the process of returning items more difficult for honest customers. One national electronics store had to shorten up their appliance return policies because people were buying air conditioners, using them all summer, and then returning them in the fall for refunds.

    Most retailers now use a computer database to track returns. When a customer makes a return, the cashier swipes their driver’s license. This goes into a national database that helps identify customers whose behavior indicates return fraud, wardrobing, or other abuse. If you’ve been given a hard time trying to make a legitimate return over the last couple of years, blame the abusers, not the store. Some stores are shortening return periods, charging restocking fees, or limiting the number of returns one customer can make.

    Bottom line? The “I should be able to have or use whatever I want and the heck with the rest of you” entitlement mentality is self-serving and dishonest. There are many legitimate ways to meet your needs without resorting to stealing someone else’s property for a period of time.

    1. J. Money June 20, 2016 at 7:33 AM

      Thanks for chiming in! Really enjoyed reading this – pretty damn eye opening.