Bloomingdale's cracks down on 'fake' returns

Store is cracking down on shoppers taking advantage of return policy

By Tony Statz - Producer

Retailers say they lose a lot money when people wear and return clothes they never intend to keep in the first place.

You've probably heard about this trick. Someone hides the price tag, wears the dress to a big event, and then returns the item for a cash refund. The sneaky practice really hurts the retailers' bottom line.

"They're losing almost $15 billion a year to return fraud," retail analyst Hitha Prabhkar told the Today Show.

That's a cost that's passed on to you: the consumer. Now, Bloomingdale's is adding what it calls a "B-tag" to dresses that cost more than $150 as shoppers check out at the cash register. Cashiers will explain how to remove the tag, and the restrictive return policy. It's impossible to hide this tag and go to a party. And, you cannot return the dress to Bloomingdale's if the "B-tag" is removed.

In a statement, Bloomingdale's says, "These "B-tags" are in place to reinforce the fact that Bloomingdale's will be unable to accept a return of merchandise that has been worn, washed, damaged, used and/or altered."

While some people have been critical of the policy, the Metro-Detroit shoppers we spoke to didn't seem to have a problem with the policy, targeting people who are truly breaking the law.

"Yes they are criminals," said Liliane Kmiec, of Dearborn. "Because you're not supposed to wear a dress to a party and then bring it back for someone else to purchase."

"I have no problem with that cause we have all to secure our own products," said Mable Love as she headed into the Fairlaine Town Center in Dearborn.

Online Impact

Bloomingdale's doesn't have any stores in Michigan, but we can buy their clothes online. Ruth to the Rescue checked with the store, and found out certain items you buy online will also come with the tag.
You can determine if the item comes with a tag by checking the "Details" section under the garment. If you order, you delivery will include instructions on how to remove the tag. Of course, once you remove the tag, it cannot be returned. Although an email from the company included the promise that "all returns are subject to evaluation by Bloomingdale's."

The change in policy comes with some risks for Bloomingdale's.

"I think for a retailer like Bloomingdale's, attrition is naturally going to happen with customers, because quite frankly who wants to deal with an annoying return policy," said retail analyst Hitha Prabhkar.

Still, local shoppers said the policy wouldn't keep them away from the store.

"I think people are criticize are probably people who would like to get away with things and they shouldn't," added Liliane Kmiec, of Dearborn.

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