Wardrobing never was in style

I didn’t know that there was a term for “buying a piece of clothing with the intent of returning it after wearing it for one evening.”  It’s called wardrobing and it apparently cost stores nearly $9 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Bloomingdale’s is taking matters into its own hands to combat this practice.  The idea is simple:  large, conspicuous tags front and center on commonly-returned items that must remain attached if the item is to be returned.  The tags are attached to the item after it’s bought.  The tags are difficult to re-attach, if not completely impractical.  The line of thinking is that if the dress is worn out on the town, the tags will be removed.  Otherwise, the wearer would look really silly.

How can people think this is all right?

Being a habitual returner gets people on the bad side of stores.  Returns cost the store money — reversing transactions, repackaging, restocking, and more.  I don’t like returning things.  Returning items often isn’t a bargain — especially because stores track how much you return.

It’s a waste of time.  What’s more, a customer becomes less and less valuable in the eyes of the store the more they return.

These are consequences of returning items in perfectly salable condition.  Unopened items.  Unworn items.

But deliberately using an item and then expecting to return it for a refund takes a lot of nerve.  I mean … seriously?

Wardrobing isn’t frugal.  It’s not even cheap.  It’s fraudulent. This goes beyond eating out and not leaving a decent tip. This is like dining and dashing.

I’m glad Bloomingdale’s is making it really tough for people to return worn clothing.  I can only hope that other stores start to do this, and that their managers have the backbone not to give in if the customer goes ballistic.  As big as the problem might be, it’s likely only a small fraction of a store’s customers expect to practice wardrobing.  Those customers should be fired.

Keeping honest people honest

Back when I was in college — over twenty years ago (yikes!) — our fraternity’s president had a issue with people pilfering various liquid supplies.  So he locked them down.

The way he put it was that locking the stuff down “kept honest people honest.”  He used the word honest twice: once to describe the behavior, and again to describe the people.  He didn’t mention the dishonest people at all, but locking the stuff down eliminated the problem of dishonest people taking stuff without paying for it.

Bloomingdale’s’ new policy doesn’t really affect honest people.   Those who pay for an article of clothing with no intent whatsoever to practice wardrobing aren’t inconvenienced.  The tag isn’t hard to remove.  The dishonest ones will go elsewhere, though.

Wardrobing raises the cost for everyone.  Cutting off the practice at the knees will help to stabilize the cost for honest customers.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize the good deals in life.

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  1. I heard about these kinds of tactics, but never understood how someone could do that. I hope this spreads and stops this now.

  2. I actually thought this only happened in movies, I really can’t see why people think it is acceptable behavior. Far better to get your money’s worth out of one item!

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