Saturday, April 23, 2011

Return Policies Just for Show?

Today I went to H&M at the St. Louis Galleria very excited to finally try on items from the Conscious Collection and after an hour and a half of choosing from their incomplete collection (didn't even have the scallop hem shorts or dress and only sizes 8 and up left) and trying on items, I headed for the checkout counter. I informed the cashier that I had a return to make - a black pair of high-waisted shorts that I thought was too granny and didn't have time to try on at the store. I had not put the belt back on because I don't know how to tie their pretty bows and the tag was unattached too but I brought it. The cashier asked someone higher up to do the return and when this person came by, she examined the shorts and said that they had already been worn. I had sat down in them and worn them briefly in an air conditioned room, for no more than 2 hours. Then I took them off and folded them up to return because I really thought that they were too granny for my legs. I provided a receipt and politely said that No, I have not really worn them. Worth a shot, right? I realize that that was wrong but this lady kept shaking her head and forcefully saying that they had been worn, can't do the return. She told me to look at the seat of the pants - well, they were clean, maybe had a few faint wrinkles, but probably was less wrinkly than at the time of purchase because the fabric bunches easily. There are no sweat marks or other weird signs - could she really tell or was she bluffing because the tag was unattached? Either way, I paid for the pair of shorts and vest I was going to get but felt in the bottom of my stomach unease. I don't like confrontation and wanted my money back. 

I never had any problems before returning things at H&M and valued not only their clothes but general service above places like Forever 21. Recently, I've been noticing that the workers are becoming more testy. The stores encourage you to buy first, then you can always return later but it's more complicated than that. There are a bunch of vague policies stated on their receipt that don't translate into real practice. Come on, they say they'll even refund you without a receipt ... who believes that? They'll make some excuse. Big company, bigger success, more hectic, I get it, but it doesn't mean that you can keep fooling customers with your policies.

This is their return policy stated on their website and receipts:

Valid identification required for non-receipted returns includes: drivers license, state issued card, passport or military/ government ID.

Returns with original receipts

Unwashed, unworn or defective merchandise may be returned within 30 days of purchase date for a full return. Refunds will be issued in the original form of payment unless a merchandise credit is requested. Merchandise credit receipts are not considered original receipts. Merchandise returned after 30 days will be refunded at the last activity/ sale price or the current selling price, whichever is lower, in the form of a merchandise credit.

Returns without a receipt

Unwashed, unworn or defective merchandise may be returned with a valid photo ID. Merchandise returned without a receipt will be refunded at the last activity/ sale price or the current selling price, whichever is lower, in the form of a merchandise credit, if the total value of the return exceeds $5.00. Merchandise cards are not transferable.

Final Sale

Gift Card purchases and discounted final sale merchandise are not eligible for refund or exchange.

Credit card refunds

Returns made to a credit card can only be returned to the card used for the original purchase. Due to varying bank policies, please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the credit to appear.
I realize that most of this was my fault and I should have outright told them I had worn it for a few hours and kept it clean, but I think they should have been less curt and fix their policy. There is tons of crap in their stores covered with makeup and rips from people trying it on and if you get suckered into buying it, they'll do anything they can to make you keep it. Read about another girl's story here - they actually banned her from the store for trying to return something after she tried it on outside the store. Also, I heard about H&M slashing their clothes so that homeless people couldn't take them? I'm not one to believe rumours, but nothing surprises me anymore.

Not only is H&M guilty, Forever 21 has an even worse policy. They don't allow returns and their exchanges are limited. Last fall, I purchased a pair of clear black framed glasses online and found that they were too big. The tag was still attached, I had merely put the thing on my face and decided it didn't fit and took it to the mall within a few days of receiving the package, where they said, "we don't exchange accessories from online." Where is that stated in their policy? I also had trouble returning various items of clothing that I got online back to the stores. My sentiments towards shopping at Forever 21 have since then declined drastically, and now I'm not sure I want to deal with H&M either. It's a pity because I really like the clothes at H&M but the service just stinks sometimes. Never have I gone there recently and been met with a smiling face. Hopefully someday soon they'll figure things out, but until then I'm going to stay away from the one at the Galleria for a while. 

Ladies (and gents), has this ever happened to you at H&M or any other store? Did you ever wear something briefly and then return it? 


Stylepint April 23, 2011 at 11:04 PM   said...

It has been a while since I've shopped at H&M or F21 precisely for the return policy you mentioned.

I find it more challenging to return things at those stores because at those "cheap" prices, it's not worth it for the stores to accept returns. They go through trends and styles so fast, most of their items lose their value in less than a month! But they always have the right to refuse to accept a return, for any reason. Just like restaurants have that sign that can refuse service to you.

And from the stores end, they have to make money too and they're pressure to move stock as fast as possible and most employees aren't paid or treated well either, so I'm sure they're not going to be the nicest people out there. It's a sad byproduct of the fast-fashion industry and maybe someday, it will change.

Unknown April 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM   said...

Aww sorry to hear about your bad experience Angie :( Personally I think that a lot of store associates will automatically assume an item is worn if the tag is unattached. I normally try on items again at home right after purchase and think hard about whether or not I want to keep them before removing the tag. I've never had a problem returning online purchases to F21, but then again I only bought clothing, not accessories.

ahoymichelle April 24, 2011 at 12:15 AM   said...

I used to love H&M, until the last time I shopped there. They hired new staff and it is complete crap. They have the WORST attitude and the staff at XXI are no different.

I always make sure that I really like an item before I make a purchase to avoid having to go through returns.

Karen April 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM   said...

Angie, I don't shop too much at Forever or H&M.. gets a bit overwhelming for me, but the last time I was there with my sis I got kicked out of the dressing room 2 or 3 times because I wasn't allowed to wait outside her stall, even to help her decide on her clothes. It was really irritating because I didn't see the logic at all, and it didn't help that they were not very polite. So sorry to hear about your experience.. bad customer service is so distasteful. I've had rather rude experiences shopping in stores here and there. Don't even know why sales people think they can give customers such a hard time >:(

Just brushh it off girl and hopefully you (and I) will find other stores with nice clothes AND service!

Kileen April 24, 2011 at 1:41 AM   said...

wow, good to know about their return policy!! i gotta be careful when i shop there...

cute & little

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