Victoria's Secret Panty Scam

Monday, December 15, 2008

Perhaps since I'm normally well organized with receipts and rarely have to do an even exchange without one, I was not aware of a new policy change at Victoria's Secret stores! Here's my experience. [Note: I apologize in advance if sharing a transaction for purchasing a panty seems TMI --too much information. All I can ask is to concentrate on the transaction of trying to exchange an item. ]

Yesterday I visited a VSC store to exchange an item. A month ago, I received a gift card for a free panty (as a regular catalog shopper of day wear, VSC rewards their customers with these lingerie treats--great marketing). So when I went to redeem my panty, one store did not have my size (the free panty is a specific style and limited to one of four solid colors--selection is very limited). Given that the card expired relatively soon, I picked one panty in different size, and decided to come back another time to exchange it when they had my size. (Note: panties and lingerie are not great values at Victoria's Secret--you're buying the brand name; on the same day I saw an exquisite black and white, matching bra and panty set at Target for half the price of VSC).

At first I thought, I don't really need the panty, maybe I'll exchange for something else of equal value, a bath gel or soap. So I visited a Victoria's Secret store locally and was told that since (I had left the receipt at home to show it was a free panty, yes silly me) I didn't have the receipt the panty was worth (after scanning) "$2.50 on sale" when the tag showed $7.50. I saw the indoor promotion of 3 for $15 which makes it $5 a piece. I asked how did it ring up $2.50 when the lowest value on the store floor is $5.00? The cashier and manager said that's the clearance value. I then asked, "Do you mean I could buy more panties of that style for $2.50?" I asked with mounting excitment thinking I hit the jackpot day for stopping by. "No, that's the sale value when you don't have a receipt," explained the manager. Something was wrong here I calculated.

"You mean if I exchange or return this panty without a receipt, it's only worth $2.50, but if I buy one now off the shelf, it's worth $7.50?" The manager confirmed it. "That sounds like a scam!" I exclaimed. "It's a new policy the store implemented because of theft," continued the cashier.

"So if I come with an item that has a tag and clearly not worn, your store automatically assumes I stole it and offers a "clearance value" that does not exist?" I fumed.

"I'm sorry Miss, that's the new policy," stated the cashier with calmness and slight guilt realizing the line of customers behind me were eagerly listening and patiently waiting. The customer next to me chimed in "Oh yes, same thing happened to me last week when I wanted to exchange a gift. You're screwed if you don't have a receipt even though the tags are still intact."

Ok--then I'll just exchange it for the SAME PANTY but in a different size. An even exchange--harmless, right?

I picked out the exact same panty in my size for what I assumed would be an even exchange. At the register I'm told I have to pay $5.00. "WHY?!" I asked. "Because the panty you brought is only worth $2.50 without a receipt (even with the tags) and the one you are purchasing is $7.50, for one panty," explained the cashier.

"Ma'am," I started calmly, "There is absolutely no way I am going to pay any money for the exact same panty," I finished with a clear conviction in my voice but maintaining Victorian grace. The cashier signaled the manager and he authorized the even exchange.

"Unbelievable!" I exclaimed again. The bright pink and black striped decor on the wall suddenly appeared all red in my glaring eyes. Victoria's Secret was becoming a red zone in more than one way. Marketing to young girls for one, and this new policy to combat theft which only hurts the customer. I was afraid to ask if this policy was across all merchandise. What happened to my once-favorite store? I used to work there for many years during college and post college years.

When the cashier rang up the transaction, she politely wished me a Happy Holiday and I thanked her for her patience and explained I realized it was not her fault but that the policy was unfair to customers and commented it needs to change. There are other ways to combat theft.

LESSON LEARNED: If you don't have a receipt, the value of the item is grossly below the least expensive value in the store. So if you buy a gift for anyone from Victoria's Secret--GIVE THEM THE RECEIPT which is tacky sometimes. Or better, to protest this new policy, WRITE TO VICTORIA'S SECRET AND STOP SHOPPING THERE until they change the policy. While it may be legal, it certainly is unfair to the buyer and recipient.

What do you think? Please post a comment, we'd love to hear from other shoppers and your opinion of this policy change!

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  1. You will find this same policy at Target. If you don't have the receipt and you paid with check or cash, they will give you the 'clearance price' even if this item was not on clearance when you bought it and is currently not on clearance in the store! They will not do an even exchange w/o a receipt---only a return at this 'clearance price'. However, if you used a credit card, they can somehow trace the sale of the item (even w/o receipt) and credit your card for what you paid but not with cash or check. Lesson: Save Your Receipts!!

  2. Great tip. I generally knew Target had a policy like that , but not VS, and i shop there sometimes. Another reason to save slips is for warranty reasons, for anything like a kitchen appliance or electronic etc. you have to photocopy those ones on thermal paper, as they fade or 'die' in a very short time. if you leave them in a purse. it might be another scam have no receipt to prove the purchase because the slip has faded out. copy anything off those thermal receipts and tape it into the owners manual or a warranty file....

  3. Wow... sounds like these stores are hurting during these tough times and are trying to find ways to save/make more money. Theft is ongoing, and these policies are seemingly pretty new.
    Thanks for sharing your great story! Good job standing your ground.

  4. I use credit cards, or store cards. This way the store can track the merchantdise. I know some people can't control their spending and that is why they use cash. So if this may be a problem for you I suggest you put an envelope in your purse to put the receipts in. This way you always have them with you and always put the newest in front. I'm sorry but I have to agree with the store policy, shoplifting is at an all time high and it will never get any better.