Here we were, sitting and thinking about what ended up happening to the blazer we returned to Uniqlo this weekend, when all of a sudden a retail story from
hell Tampa made it all clear. A woman in that fair city in Florida tried to return a pair of unworn sweatpants to her local Victoria’s Secret. The return was accepted, but then the woman was stunned to watch the salesperson shred them in front of her with a pair of scissors.
Up until that point, Marie Wolf had been a regular shopper at Victoria’s Secret, and had planned on exchanging the $70 PINK sweatpants for something else. When she pointed out that the sweats had never once touched her skin, she was told that shredding was just the store’s policy.
“I asked about donating them to Salvation Army, what about Goodwill, what about all the people who lost everything in the tsunami?” Wolf said. “I told them I won’t ever shop with them anymore, and neither will anyone in my family.”
But Wolf and others similarly shocked by this story might want to add a few more stores to a list of places they’ll never buy from again. As you may remember, last year the New York Times broke the news that H&M and Wal-Mart have both cut up returns, and if two outlets as big as those are doing it, there are probably others.
So why the shredding? We’re sure a small part of it may be that some store simply don’t believe you didn’t wear that dress that smelled more like your perfume than the store when you returned it, but an even larger part of it is brand protection.
“Their fear is that clothing finds its way to resellers and secondhand stores,” said Doug Stephens, owner of the Toronto-based Retail Prophet consulting company. “If I’m Kenneth Cole, I don’t want my stuff sold down the street for $5 a unit if it sells for $85 on the rack.”
But if Kenneth Cole made direct donations of those clothes to the people who needed them the most, would that be a problem? We think not. And in light of the NYT‘s discovery, both H&M and Wal-Mart promised to donate all future merchandise to charity. Let’s hope Victoria’s Secret does the same.
Victoria’s Secret? Destroying returned purchases [The Tampa Tribune]