August 17, 2015

Are Your Returns Being Tracked?

return tracking

Did you know the Retail Equation is watching you? Consumers return over 200 billion dollars in merchandise a year and that includes makeup, beauty, and skincare along with electronics, clothing, accessories, etc…! But be careful what you return because third party services like the Retail Equation is keeping track of your returns!

What’s the Retail Equation?

Companies use the Retain Equation and other services like it to keep an eye on chronic returns so if you’re making an abnormal amount of return do beware. Consumers are unaware in most cases but many bigger stores track returns by using a third-party company that creates a profile of your returns and analyzes how much you are returning.

Even though many stores have generous return policies that doesn’t mean they want you to use and abuse that policy. In most cases even with an original receipt you’re still required to supply a photo ID to make your return and this is where possible tracking of your return occurs. Many stores such as Best Buy, Target, Bath & Body Works, and other stores require ID for returns.

The Retail Equation and companies like it keep track of your returns whenever your driver’s license is used for a return and if they determine you’re making questionable amounts of returns they’ll alert the store which could potentially black list you returning for a period of time.

I’m not much of a returner myself. If I’m not liking something it gets tossed in a bin for my friends or my sister to maybe grab up or I’ll give it to mom to take to her church flea market. New items I typically donate to a particular young lady/girl organization. There have been times though that I buy shoes or clothes online that don’t fit right and I end up returning in store. I’m not sure how I feel about return tracking! It feels a little bit like an invasion of privacy and store’s should disclose if they are tracking your returns.

What do you think of return tracking?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • melanie

    I actually am fine with it. I see so many people who abuse a return policy. I use to work retail through college and seen so many offenders.
    I am someone who returns. I don’t return drugstore type products but If I pay $20, 40, 50+ and it does not work for me it gets returned. I make wise purchases and probably return 3-5 times a year….

    • Isabella Muse

      I don’t mind either. I haven’t worked retail but I see the amount of returns people do while I’m shopping and it boggles my mind. BUT…I don’t love the idea someone is tracking my return habits. That I’m not sure I like the idea of!

      • melanie

        I do see your point. I would like to know more about what info is being kept. With all the hackers out there I don’t need my CC # or other personal info being maintained. Something to look into. I am glad though that there is some type of tracking… People who abuse the return policy just plain irritate me.

  • Isabel

    Interesting, I had heard of stores keeping track of returns but I didn’t know how they did that!
    I am okay with it, but I do wonder if they compare your returns to how much you are purchasing. Like if you return 50% of your purchases or 10%… I also wonder when the cutoff mark is for the blacklist.

  • sarah

    We did this at the store I worked at. It was a loss prevention measure. So many people return things without receipts fraudulently that It’s a necessary evil. Someone steals a high ticket item from one location and returns it without a receipt at another for a gift card. They then cash the card in for cash.
    For the most part, if you return a lot, but with a receipt your fine. It’s the people who return things 4 or 5 times a month without receipts that they are tracking and looking for. And if caught by the store’s system the most serious consequences is them denying you the return. It’s no different then writing down someones ID info on a check and if it bounces putting them on a fraudulent check don’t accept list (something that all company’s did until electronic checking services became the norm).

    Of course in my opinion stores should not allow returns of items without receipts anyway.

  • dia

    I’m so glad returns are being tracked and rejected. I am so fed up with serial returners ruining it for other shoppers. I’ve seen people walk up to the register at Banana Republic to return a dozen articles of clothing and to Nordstrom to return what looked like ten pieces of used cosmetics at once. It’s just ridiculous.

    • Isabella Muse

      what I hate even more is standing behind someone with dozens and dozens of returns and waiting for them :-/ when I’m making a tiny purchase!

    • LS

      In my mother’s later years, trying on clothing was difficult for her. She walked mostly fine and put a lot of her energy into looking nice before leaving her house, so you might not suspect how much she struggled with relatively simple tasks. When she shopped, she purchased what she was interested in, tried them on at home, then returned what didn’t work for her. If she couldn’t do so, she may not have shopped at all.

      She wasn’t shopping at Banana Republic, though 😉

      Returning clothes that can be resold (assuming, of course, that they were returned in a timely manner and don’t have to be put on the clearance rack) is more benign than returning used cosmetics that have to be trashed. I similarly cringe when people bring cold food back to the grocery store when they purchased the wrong variety. That goes straight to the trash! It’s so wasteful and the store just eats that cost.

  • Courtney

    Yep I see the store actually scanning the Barcode on the back of my drivers license if I make a return. I find that practice to be a little excessive in my opinion. Like really, you need my government ID and need to scan it into your system, and my info will basically be logged in the database forever because I want to return a $15 lip gloss?! It’s almost like we are being booked for jail. Excessive much ?? I think so !

    • Isabella Muse

      Yeah, I’m not sure I love the idea of my name/address in a big old database somewhere but I understand it is a necessary evil sometimes as people do use and abuse the system :-/

  • Rachel R.

    I have no problem with it. They are trying to catch thieves who steal stuff and try to return for store credit. Others will use old receipts, or stolen or found receipts to return items they stole off the shelves. Before these services, a lot of stores have made people fill out a form when they return things, so this is nothing new.

  • Peggy Niederer

    I’m okay with it, since I see on many a beauty board people encouraging people who say they bought something at Sephora to try to return it to Ulta or whatnot, and actively encouraging people to cheat. They are In business to turn a profit, and if you’re causing them to lose a considerable amount of money, why would they care about retaining your business?

  • Lulle

    I made a return to Sephora several months ago, and the employee told me that returns are tracked through your credit card number, and that they could refuse it if you returned too much.
    Another reason why I don’t shop at Sephora any more. I’m not much of a returner myself, but I don’t like a company tracking my purchases based on my credit card number!

    • Christy

      I work at Sephora and whoever told you that was mistaken. Credit cards are not used to track returns, it is the ID number (driver license or state ID.) The only returns that are tracked at all at Sephora are returns without a receipt. Even if you don’t have a receipt, if you purchased under your Beauty Insider account, we look up the purchase in your history. If we can find it, the return does not count against you. If we can’t find it and there is no receipt, a driver’s license or state ID is needed to do the transaction. Then the ID number is what is being tracked, not the credit card number. It wouldn’t even make sense to track someone’s credit card number for returns- one person could have multiple credit cards and continue fraudulent returns with another card.

  • Michelle Flamingo

    I feel perfectly comfortable with a company tracking my returns. I have nothing to hide. I have never taken advantage of the system in the sense that I have no guilt – any returns I made were legitimate. Also, I am very good about keeping receipts, and this helps me feel comfortable when I do make a return.

    Some stores have obviously suffered financial losses that they should not have had to shoulder, so they go through the hassle of tracking returns because some folks abuse return policies, and others make fraudulent returns.

  • 80sChicWithGlasses

    I feel a little conflicted about this. If I legitimately purchased items that I feel are no use to me, then I should have to right to return them. I’d personally be pissed if a store were to “black list” me from returning items…they had no problem black listing my credit card to get paid, lol. I understand the folks trying to be dishonest, etc…. It’s in place to catch them and keep the shrink down, but I’m a honest consumer. Not everyone is a thief and it’s sad that everyone is treated as such. I don’t really return much of anything because I usually research, read blogs, and have to let an item go before I buy another to hold myself accountable to my ridiculousness….BUT, I’d be super pissed ( and probably would let everyone know) if I couldn’t get my money back in the same form that I paid for a product/ item that I was dissatisfied with.

    • mirandagrosvenor

      You won’t get tracked if you keep the receipts. You won’t get blacklisted if you only have the occasional return. This is for people who literally buy some thing, use it once, and bring it back. We’re talking dozens of times and hundreds it worth of merchandise in the space of a month. Either that or shoplifters. It’s no different than having to buy car insurance because there are crappy drivers out there.

      • Christy

        It’s also (mostly) for the people that steal merchandise and try to return it without a receipt.

        And I agree. If you just keep your receipts, you are fine. If you only occasionally return without a receipt, you’re fine. Stores don’t want to lose honest customers for denying them a return. They are only trying to cut down on the thieves that are trying to abuse the policy.

  • Renee

    Sephora doesn’t track your returns by credit card. If you have no receipt they either use your ID (tracked by a third party) beauty insider card or credit card to search for items purchased on that card.

  • Ryou

    While I understand the reason, this makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’m not much of a returner, but I’m a private person and the thought of someone creating a profile using my identity without my consent triggers paranoid responses — I’ve been stalked before so yeah.

    It’s even worse if they do track it using my card number. Who’s to say that there wouldn’t be a breach or exploit and my card number end up being stolen? If they track it using an in-store profile (like Sephora’s Beauty Insider), then at the very least they’re using information that I DID give them to retain, consensually. But scanning IDs or tracking with a credit card number? That’s just a nightmare waiting to happen.

    • Mewi

      Sigh. I’m sorry you were stalked etc – that’s terrible. But know this. Anywhere personal information is stored, there are many encryptions in place to keep it safe. If Hacker X were to “steal” the db, actually unencrypting your CC# and all the info with it would be very unlikely if not impossible. So I do think people are worrying way too much. It’s not just some list somewhere that is unprotected. Access to the database does not equate to being able to use what’s in said database.

      • Ryou

        Oh, I do know that, but I think it’s incredibly naive to feel safe because there’s “not that big of a chance of that happening. I’d rather focus on how much I’d be screwed if it DOES happen, and I’d much rather do as much prevention as possible.

        Also, mass, high-profile breaches DO happen. I can think of the Target breach, Heartbleed, the eBay password breach, then most recently Firefox having to put an emergency patch due to security breach — And all of these happened in the past two years or less.

        If that’s not enough, the reason I was stalked was because someone doxxed me. So yeah, I definitely don’t think I’m worrying too much, because hey, it HAS happened to me.

  • koolchicken

    I suppose I’m torn. I used to work retail and I HATE thieves. Seriously, the people who would swipe a receipt from the garbage can out front then come in and just grab whatever was on it and try to return that item. They just made my life hell. So if this is going to prevent those people from ruining things for others, then I’m happy. Shoplifting results in higher prices for consumers and short staffed stores with stressed out employees. No one wants that.

    On the flip side of things, I return a lot. I buy a lot of high end items. I don’t buy drugstore cosmetics, I don’t buy Target clothes, etc. So if I’m paying $200 for an everyday dress it needs to fit, and it damn well better be in perfect condition when it arrives. Same goes with everything else. I bought Guerlain’s Meteorites pearl blusher recently and some of the pearls were smashed in transit. Now I get that nothing stays perfect forever and given the nature of the product it wouldn’t necessarily have prevented me from using it. But it was still over $50 for blush, so back it went. After Sephora’s “epic fail” I returned hundreds of dollars worth of stuff I bought from them (I’m pretty much done with Sephora) and re-bought elsewhere. Often if I’m unsure of the size of something I’ll just buy more than one size and return the ones that didn’t fit. I don’t intend to stop doing this stuff either. Especially since I don’t see it hurting the company when so often the items being returned are in their original condition. They can simply place them back out on the shelf. If I were ever barred from making returns at a store I’d simply take my business elsewhere.

    • Isabella Muse

      Koolchicken, I thought I was the only one that did the size thing. When shopping online I sometimes purchase two sizes as well and end up returning the one that doesn’t work out for me 🙂

      • koolchicken

        Oh gosh, I almost always do it. Trying stuff on in stores is stressful for me, that and so often the brands I want can’t be bought in store. There’s literally no store near me that sells Lilly Pulitzer, I’d have to take a plane to get to the closest one. And they changed their sizing in the past year to make it “easier”, but that basically means now no one knows what size to buy. And Anthropologie has some really nice designers sometimes, but those are always online exclusives. So if these places don’t want excessive returns they need to make the product more available.

        I recently got an Erin Featherstone gown (that cost a fortune but I’d have gotten a ton of wear out of it) from Anthropologie. It had two huge snags right in the center, and smudges all over it. It was very obvious it had been worn! I couldn’t believe it, but it was an expensive dress so someone decided to “borrow” it. Not only did I return it, but I called the company to give them an earful. So I’m opposed to banning people when you can see they bought the item and they’re not a scammer. Because I’m not keeping something someone treated like a dishrag and the company thought it was okay to pass it off to someone else.

        • Isabella Muse

          I had this problem with the nike city collection recently. ordered three pairs, all fine. They went out of stock sadly. About two weeks later the print I wanted came in stock at Nordstrom and I quickly ordered them. They came but the bottom of the shoes looked used and also the packaging material that normally comes with new sneakers was not in the box. They seemed, to me, that someone returned them and they resold to me. I kept them but I was a little ranty about the fact they looked used :-/

    • judi m

      This is what happens to me. I am between sizes so often I have to order 2 sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit.

      • judi m

        Also I keep the receipts and return as fast as possible so other people can buy it.

        • koolchicken

          I’m really tall, with disproportionate limbs. One of my ballet classmates is the same height as me (5’10”) but her legs are almost half a foot shorter than mine. So if I can’t try something on in store, there’s a 70% chance what I buy online will go back. It’s not that I don’t want the items, but I have a VERY hard time finding things that fit. So I’ll buy multiplies of stuff praying something fits or can be altered.

          But I’m like you. I keep all my receipts and packaging. I try on the size most likely to fit, if it’s clear a style just won’t work, I don’t even try on the other sizes. I return everything asap (next day in most cases) and try to make things as easy as possible for the retailer. I’m not trying to be a difficult customer, but I’m not keeping things I won’t wear.

          • Christina

            I do the same thing with clothes; I’m petite and it seems like even the stores that carry petite clothing have like one of each size/item so I have to end up buying online and will buy two sizes of the items. I’ve had a bit of attitude before from sales associates and my response has been “well, if you carried the size I needed in store then we wouldn’t be having this conversation; it’s not my problem that you don’t”.

  • Kate

    I will not shop at a store that requires my DL for a return when I have my CC receipt. It is BS, like when they want a phone number….I ask “are you going to call me?”, and the answer is always no,

    This happened recently at Francesca’s, I asked the clerk about the return policy and she said I can return with receipt. When I went to return my license was required, I complained in a nice way, that I was not told about that.
    No reason for the company to scan my DL at all I had my receipt and the item was bought within a week of the return.

    I am very cautious about things like that

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree. If you have a receipt it seems unnecessary to scan your DL as well!

    • Mewi

      The REASON why they require your DL as well as receipt is because Joe Schmoe can steal a receipt, steal an item (or ALL the items) that match the receipt, and return for some nice shiny money to go spend. It’s getting silly how people think they’re out to get you or something by protecting themselves.

  • Jenna

    I understand why they do it…some people are truly abusing the system. But unfortunately, honest people get lumped in with them. For example, I got blacklisted from returning at Ann Taylor Loft because I made too many returns in a 90 day period (I didn’t think it was that excessive honestly). I had a newborn at the time who couldn’t be in the stroller for too long or he’d start crying so I went to the mall and purchased a bunch of outfits without trying them on…I just wanted to get out of there as quick as possible. I desperately needed new summer clothes because my size had changed after having a baby. Anyway, I tried them on at home and at least half didn’t fit/look right so I returned the next day. I did this a few times over a period of about a month and then they told me I couldn’t return any more for 90 days. I tried to explain the situation but they didn’t care. It reallY upset me because I still ended up spending hundreds of dollars in their store once I was done exchanging things for the correct sizes or choosing different fits of pants etc. They lost a customer!

    • Cindy

      They lost a customer because they were following their rules? …The rules that they are required to follow because failure to do so could result in termination of their employment? The reason why you were not allowed to return anymore is because you met and exceeded the set limit of returns allowed within a certain period as calculated by The Retail Equation.

      So, yeah, sounds like your returns were excessive.

      Just because you had a good reason doesn’t mean they could make an exception for you. Business is black and white and the reason companies still require identification and can and will block returns even on legitimate purchases is to prevent wardrobing. You know- the practice of buying clothing, wearing it for a special occasion or just because, and then returning it. Over and over.

      Nice attempt at “sensational” writing, Muse..

      • amy

        If she was simply exchanging, and it was within 24 hours, I don’t think “wardrobing” was a possibility…

      • Jenna

        Wow, attitude! My point was not that they should make an exception for me, it was that the whole practice of tracking returns is bs and I don’t agree with it. I’ve worked in retail stores for 20+ years and I always knew damn well when a person was making shady returns. They’d be in the store all the time making returns with clothing that was rumpled, had deodorant stains, or the print on the tag was smudged from tucking them in against their skin. There are many ways to tell that sone one is being abusive without tracking innocent people’s returns. And you better believe they lost a customer because there are plenty of other stores with more liberal return policies I can shop at. I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending my hard earned money on clothing it better be right!

        • Jenna

          Oh by the way, business is almost never black and white. Retail managers are almost always allowed to make exceptions for people, at least in the stores I worked at. If you complain enough, you can get your way. I once tried to purchase a jacket at a Fossil store and it rang up at a price of 2 cents. The gentleman behind the counter told me it was discontinued and they had neglected to remove it from the floor. I asked if I could purchase it anyway, he said no, it would be donated to the local Goodwill. Given away!!! But no matter how much I argued, he wouldn’t budge, but he was just an employee following the rules. I called later and got the manager on the phone (she had been on her lunch break when I was there). I explained what happened and she said no problem, I’ll ship it to your house, no charge! That’s called customer service.

        • Christy

          I’m curious whether you had receipts for your returns. If so, they should have allowed the exchange. But if you were returning repeatedly without receipts then I can’t blame the company.

          And I understand what you mean about being able to tell when a return is shady- most of the time. Sometimes you can’t. But even so, that’s one way for companies to get sued. Denying a return because it looks funny, the person looks shady, etc. is not a valid reason. Using a tracking system that flags when a person is excessively returning without receipts, to me, covers the store.

          • Jenna

            Yes I always had a receipt. But that doesn’t matter to Loft…they have a limit no matter what.

    • amy

      That is truly horrible! I don’t shop there often, but now I won’t at all… I could see if you were actually *returning*, but exchanging for a different size, the very next day…? Granted, I’ve known people who hid/removed tags, wore an item once, but they didn’t return within one day! I actually knew someone who invested in a pricing gun…

  • Rachael

    I return a lot of stuff. If I don’t like it, I return it. I never return anything fraudulently or without a receipt. If I paid for it and decided I don’t like it, I return it – especially make-up. Sephora has a very generous return policy and I take advantage of that. I don’t think I am ‘ruining’ it for other customers – Sephora is making plenty of money on me and everyone else.

    • amy

      Retailers & brands are making money, yes; however, prices have been going up at a much faster rate, and are noticeably higher. Urban Decay has raised the price of the Naked palettes by $10. NARS products have gone up by $4-5, each in the last couple of years. Some of it has to do with demand, but not all of it. Everyone is in to turn a profit, and they’ll find it somewhere.

      With the availability of samples/testers, plenty of blogs/reviews, and the simple fact we all know what we like/is flattering in terms of color, the only legitimate reasons to return cosmetics is if it causes a reaction ( although we should at some point have an idea of what to avoid), or if a product is truly defective, and even then an exchange should be made if possible.

  • Julia

    I don’t love the idea – but I get it. I often return things I purchased online (mostly clothes, shoes, etc.) that didn’t fit like I hoped they would. I don’t often return beauty products (especially if they’re used!) but if I spent a lot of money (on a serum for example) and had a bad reaction to it I am more likely to return.

  • Rebecca

    I cannot believe that some people will take a receipt out of a trash can and try to a return a product. I mean doesn’t the bar code from that one receipt match up with that specific item that was purchased? I’ve never worked retail and I like to see the good in everyone so that’s why it’s hard for me to imagine anyone doing something like that. Not saying it doesn’t happen at all, I am just saying I can’t believe people would be so dishonest. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I ripped people off like that.

    I don’t return many items unless it’s expensive. If it’s a drugstore item, I probably used coupons anyway and got it for next to nothing so no money out of my pocket.
    A lot of times it isn’t worth it to deal with the cashier’s attitude to return something anyway.

    • koolchicken

      As a former cashier, I can assure you it does happen. All. Day. Long…
      I used to have to tear the receipts in a specific manner as I tossed them (this was if a customer didn’t want it) so I’d recognize them. And I had a good memory, so I’d recognize the items on the receipt and know if the person returning the items was the right person even days later. We had people who did this for a living. And they’d go through the trash can out front, as well as the dumpsters out back to get those reciepts.

      And FYI, the way barcodes work is this. The barcode on all say, UD Mildew eyeshadows is the same- regardless where you buy it. Be that sephora, ulta, or even if you buy from Urban Decay themselves. The packaging is the same and they don’t create unique barcodes for each individual item. So the reciept and cash register system can’t tell the difference between identical boxes. That’s why if you buy an eyeshadow and discover it’s shattered when you get it home you can take it back in and they can just swap it. It makes no difference to the system. It would be nice if the machines could somehow tell the difference. But honestly It’s not possible.

      • amy

        That’s why some major department stores use those little barcode stickers, and others will look up the purchase by date, time, etc…

  • amy

    I have no problem with this. “Loss Prevention” entails more than just theft. There are a few other types of people who return, causing losses for retailers, and higher prices for consumers:

    1. The person who buys into the hype, buys a product prior to testing/swatching it, directly from the brand, and decides they don’t want it. Instead of returning directly to the brand, they take it to Sephora for store credit. For example, there were those who bought Naked 2 from Urban Decay, decided it was too similar to the original, but instead of making the effort to mail it back, found it more convenient to take advantage of Sephora’s “generous” policy.

    2. The person who needs a product for a special occasion, uses it a few times, then returns it. Nothing more needs to be said about this one, which I consider actual theft.

    3. The person who finds out they could have gotten a better deal on a product recently purchased. I read on another site, where a woman had just purchased several new MUFE single shadows, many of which were included in upcoming palettes, and without shame, this individual stated they were going to return the used singles, and buy the palette, which would cost considerably less. Again, I equate that with theft.

    • dia

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I know plenty of people who see nothing wrong with wearing a piece of high end clothing a couple of times (with the tags neatly tucked away) and then returning it for a full refund. If it goes back on the rack at the store, the next person who tries on/buys it, is buying clothing with two days worth of sweat and grime on it, but chances are it will go on the clearance rack or to a discount chain, causing the store to lose money.

      I had a coworker who purchased a coach handbag, used it for a FULL YEAR, and then returned it to the coach store. Yes, she had a receipt, so it considered a legit return, but when the sales lady asked her for the dustbag and she didn’t bring it with her, she threw a giant hissyfit. The nerve of some people.

      • Eraser

        Years ago when I was working my way through school at a high-end department store, we had a serial “weekend” returner – she’d buy an expensive outfit on Thursday or Friday to go clubbing and bring it back Monday reeking of stale perfume and cigarette smoke. Of course we had no choice since she was very clever about hiding the tags and always had a receipt (this was back in the day before all this tracking technology). Therefore, I can understand why stores employ this sort of thing.

        • amy

          I’ve heard women talking about putting masking tape on the bottom of shoes so they can return them!

  • Lorrie

    Last October when QVC stated you have an extra three months for returning your purchase during a Bare Minerals show the host Jane stated “You can buy it, use it all up and return it by the end of January” she flat out said you could use it all and return empty used makeup for your money back. I don’t get why they would actually encourage this. It’s almost like putting the idea into an honest person’s head that this is acceptable. I don’t know if the producers had a talk with Jane afterwards, or if they count on the average consumer to not save the packaging and receipts for so long, but it just is so wrong to promote doing that.

    • Isabella Muse

      that’s interesting, I didn’t see that show! QVC has a very generous return policy with makeup/beauty but I sincerely doubt they’d want you to use it entirely and return it for your money back! That sounds really crazy!

      • amy

        I’ve seen that several times, although I’m not sure if it was QVC or HSN.

    • cat

      I think doing those home shopping shows for hours just makes you a little loopy. Back when I used to watch The Soup they used to get some great clips. It’s hard to keep talking and talking so there’s no dead air.

  • Sadra

    I’ve always assumed that a store tracks your returns. Also, I would think that a place that sells online would have to implement a generous return policy. How can I possibly know what size is going to fit me, particularly if I’ve never worn anything from that designer? How do I know if my monitor is showing the exact color lipstick? In order to make me comfortable purchasing online, they would HAVE to assure me that I can return whatever doesn’t work for me in real life.

    Where I have an issue is the third party thing. I think that you should be explicitly told that this information (including your credit card number, for Pete’s sake) is being furnished to another company. And I really think it’s important to know that if that third party is collecting information on you from a variety of stores and reporting it to those stores. It’s really none of Macy’s business how much I spend/return at CVS. I would expect to be able to specifically give permission for that information to be shared.

  • Lorrie

    Honest to God, Jane said that you could use it all up and return it. I was shocked, someone else out there must also remember that show. It might have been a TSV about that time I think. It made me wonder how much commission the hosts get after that.

  • Inatay02

    I have worked in retail for over 17 years. I am a store manager for a high end clothing store, and yes we use a TRE machine. It only keeps your name, Id state and id number on file. Address or credit card number are not kept on file. Often times a company will have a $ limit on returns made in a specific time period. It is extremely useful to the company as it helps decrease fraud. Any customer can ask what information is kept and is encouraged to contact TRE where they can access their own return history. I stand by companies who use these processes as I have seen the unfortunate effects of those who do not.

  • Jen

    I always prefer to exchange if I’m dissatisfied with an item.
    However, not long ago I was going to make a return of about 6 items I either had a reaction to or just didn’t like that wee collecting dust to sephora. The cashier was audibly and visually frustrated that I was making a return. I had receipts for 2 items but not the others. They declared loudly that the items were not in my insider history so if have to show my ID for a non receipt return. So I did. Then the associate said the return was denied by their third party service. I read the slip she handed me and it said I was banned from no receipt returns for attempting this excessive non receipt return.
    The only reason I even had the guts to try non receipt return was because I was assured by many on the sephora boards that this was ok.
    Add insult to injury, after I embarrassingly walked off and tried to do my shopping, they had someone follow me throughout the store. I emailed sephora about the rude sales associate and them sending someone to make sure I didn’t steal, but they never relied.
    So yeah, I feel the tracking thing is a little much. As someone who follows rules, I felt like a criminal that day, and their treatment was out of line. 🙁

    • Christina

      I understand how you would have felt embarrassed. Out of curiosity, how many non-receipt returns had you made prior to that? I’ve made two, but they here at least two or three years apart, so I didn’t trigger any alarm bells.

  • Tonya

    I think it’s ridiculous. I understand there are always people who take advantage, but it’s up to the store to set their policy & have security measures in place if they are concerned about theft.

    I don’t think it’s right to compromise customer’s privacy like that. Personally, it’s rare for me to return things, but if a store has a lenient policy, then really, you should be able to return an item every time if you wanted to, as long as it’s following the store’s policy.

  • Amy

    As a lead cashier and cashier supervisor at ULTA, I am all for it. People are always returning stolen items or using our generous return policy as a way to just buy anything that they need one time and return it. We have quite a few people who are in multiple times A WEEK doing returns. This raises the price for everyone. Everyone returns things. Returning unused things with a receipt is no issue at all. It is excessive returns that are used or without a receipt. People constantly lie and say a product was not used when it was. We check them of course, but how would they feel if they bought the item that was used and put back? Also, people get so nasty if I refuse a return of something that is half empty. It has to be 75% full for us to return it. People will try returning makeup from two years ago. It is crazy!

  • Gabriela

    I purchased my foreo luna a few months ago online at sephora. Literally, the next day they were offering double points on skin care items. I called customer service immediately and they said they couldn’t do anything. When I received my foreo the promotion was still ongoing so I decided to go in store. I explained to the manager I just wanted to receive my double points. Mind you, this is a $200 purchase, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been so determined. I told her I did not mind making the online return (WITH receipt in hand) and simply repurchasing the item. Nor did I mind that it would take a couple of business days to process my refund. The store manager seemed a bit annoyed as if I was wasting her time.

    The manager then asked me if I made a lot of unreceipted returns and I told her never. (I’m the type to organize all my receipts for the year.) She suggested she process the return without the receipt and put the money due back on a store credit. Then she simply repurchased the item with the store credit. I didn’t really mind and left the store content. Flash forward a few months later, when I tried to exchange an item I received as a gift from sephora (no receipt). I was DENIED for exceeding my limit for the year by the retail equation. A limit exceeded for a return that was processed without a receipt for a product to this day I still have the receipt for.. Sorry I sound like I’m about to preach but this situation still gets me fired up. ( & yes it was ONLY due to this return because I looked up my history on the retail equation and this is the only transaction that appears)

    • amy

      Well, it was kind of dishonest of you to pull that scheme to get double points. It’s not anyone’s fault you purchased a day before…

    • Kari

      I have often called stores about items that went on sale within a week of me buying them and they always refund me the difference (as long as it’s within a week and they either have my receipt or a record of the purchase in the computer ). I don’t see what you did as being dishonest. They were still getting their $200 in the end. I will be sure to never let a store issue me a non-receipt return. I also have no qualms about returning opened food products (with a receipt) if it was something new I tried and was deemed inedible by myself and the people I tried to give it to.

  • Kat

    I’d rather have tracked returns than no returns! I live in Europe, and you can only return items that haven’t been worn or used and within a certain timeframe ( 30 days for the ‘generous’ stores) Also, most stores will not do actual get your money back returns, they will exchange your item or give you store credit. Some won’t exchange or return items bought on sale. I’ve always been amazed at the return policies in the US!

  • Eraser

    When I came of age and started buying my own clothing & makeup, there were certain things that were absolutely not allowed to be returned, and it made sense if you think about it. Lingerie, swimwear, and yes, anything and everything in the beauty department. I remember signs stating that it was a public health regulation.

    Then when I worked in retail and later when the return policies became more generous, I learned the value of tracking returns. There are a lot of very unscrupulous people who don’t care that their cheating hurts everyone else.

    • Isabella Muse

      Eraser, whatever happened to those days!? I always remembered bras, swimwear, etc not being refundable. I also remember drugstores never doing beauty returns.

    • dia

      I read that if you return anything to Victoria’s Secret, they will shred the item and dispose of it. It doesn’t matter of it’s a pair of thongs or their yoga pants; they destroy the item rather than resell it. It seems like a horrid waste, but then the thought of wearing someone else’s underwear…

  • judi

    What happens to people that do a a lot of returns? Nothing. So who cares if you are being tracked if nothing ever comes out of it?

    • amy

      First of all, it limits the chronic abuse of “generous return policies” by making sure the same people aren’t buying something, using it for a particular occasion, then returning it. We’re old enough to wear makeup & buy our own clothes, so we should have the ability to know what will or won’t work, for the most part. Second, there was a woman who would steal merchandise from Ross, and either find a receipt, or return it for store credit (and therefore be furnished with a receipt), and she eventually was arrested. So yes, there are consequences. I’ve actually had random people ask me for my receipts, and of course I decline. Many major retailers are also now issuing email receipts.

  • Mary

    I return to Ulta A LOT. I see it as a benefit to shopping there. But I also purchase and keep a lot of items too. So I’m spending a lot of money there. I’ve never had a problem and I hope I never do. Drugstore brand items don’t have testers so how are you supposed to know if it’s the right shade etc?

  • Victoria

    I worked retail once upon a time too, so I completely understand the sans-receipt policies–I worked at a major bookseller chain and our policy was store credit only in the event of a return without receipt, which I think is quite generous considering some of the scammer types we had regularly in the store. But if I’m buying makeup online and can’t try it out in store, sometimes it’s not going to work out. I recently bought both the Blotterazzi and a final-sale UD liquid eyeliner from Sephora’s site. The Blotterazzi didn’t work at ALL and the liner was super dark and didn’t look like the swatch online. I’m still waiting for those returns to process, but I got a receipt for the tracking numbers this time from USPS (I didn’t the last time I made a Sephora return, and that was mysteriously never processed).

  • Zovesta

    I don’t return like crazy, but I am on a budget, and if I spend my money on something and it doesn’t work, I will return it! I just bought a butter London polish after extensively researching it and it was a total failure, so I returned it… $15 is no small amount! I don’t mind returns being tracked, though. If it’s used to stop people from going seriously overboard and abusing the system, that’s fine with me. I don’t expect privacy when buying products.

    • Zovesta

      Feel like I should mention that I agree that most of the stories these people share are horrible. But maybe growing up the way I did has made me less fussy than others… I do almost all my clothes shopping at thrift stores (this includes lingerie too sometimes!), where things have been used. I think that you should return something if it doesn’t work for you, or doesn’t work period. Returns exist for a reason. I recommend researching things before you buy them, but everyone does an impulse buy at some point!

  • Missy

    There are folks who abuse the system. I guess this is aimed at buying stuff on sale and trying to return it regular price. Also, I’ve seen people do this big time with the bonus points on store credit cards. They buy all sort of stuff, return it and then they still keep the bonus points to go get all kinds of stuff so that is fraudulent.

  • cat

    I’m a “returner” because online sales are often better than in store sales. And online shopping is just so much easier. It’s not like I use things and bring them back. I’d just rather get things sent to me, try them on at home (avoiding the lack of sizes and styles at the store, the long lines for the dressing room and checkout), and then bring them back in if they didn’t fit.

    As for makeup, I’ll return something if it’s really awful and I know I’ll never use it (usually after swatching it once) but I’m much more likely to keep things around hoping I’ll find a use for them eventually. This is why I need to do a massive makeup purge.

  • Laurie

    Advice to Gabriela you do not have to explain yourself to any cashier. If you didn’t want/need the item and you had the receipt you should just return it within the time period stated on the receipt and let the chips fall where they may… At least you will get your money back! Over explaining and trying to rationalize your intent will only lead to trouble as you unfortunately encountered, and no amount of points 2x,3x, or 4x are worth cold hard cash!

  • Dashery

    …I actually assumed they were already doing that. haha I don’t know why I thought that. But then again, a couple of years ago when there was all that debate about NSA monitoring our internet usage, my reaction was also: Wait? We thought they weren’t doing that? #paranoid
    But in all seriousness, I don’t think I mind as long as the third party companies are using the information responsibly.