Will Bloomie’s Tags Put an End to Wardrobing?

Discussion
Sep 19, 2013
George Anderson

Buying a dress for a special event and then returning it the next day may make for some laughs on sit-coms but, in the real world, wardrobing, as it is called, cost retailers nearly $9 billion last year. The number alone makes it clear why merchants would like to put an end to the practice. Bloomingdale’s thinks it might have the answer.

The chain is making use of three-inch plastic tags that attach to garments in visible places — the kind that members of a wedding party would be sure to notice. The tags cannot be reattached once removed. If the garment comes back without the tag, Bloomie’s can refuse the return.

So there is no misunderstanding, Bloomie’s is publicizing the new policy in stores and online. According to Racked, the policy on the company website reads, "Please note that this dress will be delivered with a black b-tag attached, with instructions for removal included. If the b-tag is removed, the dress cannot be returned."

According to Bloomberg News, some customers have taken to social media to complain about the policy.

Marie Driscoll, founder of Driscoll Advisors, doesn’t think Bloomie’s should worry about it.

"They are going to alienate customers that abuse the policy," she told Bloomberg, "and I don’t think that is so bad."

What do you think of Bloomingdale’s attempt to curtail wardrobing? Is its use of plastic tags likely to be replicated by other fashion retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

21 Comments on "Will Bloomie’s Tags Put an End to Wardrobing?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dick Seesel
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

It’s one thing to have a customer-friendly return policy, and many retailers have used this as a marketing platform. It’s another thing entirely to subject yourself to customers who “abuse the privilege.” Bloomingdale’s is obviously more vulnerable than most stores because of its focus on “social dressing.” It’s clearly a big enough issue that Bloomingdale’s (and its vendors) have invested in the extra expense of the b-tag.

I think the move is worth the expected pushback on the social networks. Bloomingdale’s will need to deal with individual exceptions to the policy, however. It’s quite possible that a well-intentioned customer will buy a dress, remove the b-tags and find a valid reason (fit, defects in workmanship) to return the item.

Max Goldberg
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

The policy is fair to Bloomingdale’s, but won’t sit well with consumers. In order to gain some acceptance by consumers, Bloomie’s needs to explain to consumers why they are taking this action and how it will actually benefit consumers.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Great idea until a regular customer removes the tag and then needs to return for a legitimate reason. Bloomies should give employees the leeway to make a return decision.
The electronics business should have a way to do the same on all the high def big screen TVs returned after New Year’s Day and the Super Bowl.

Zel Bianco
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

I agree with Driscoll. Some customers are just not worth having. I completely agree with the retailer on this one and I support Bloomingdale’s initiative.

When my wife buys a new dress, she wants it to be NEW – not worn once by someone else and then returned. If you can’t afford the dress, don’t buy it. Wardrobing is not fair to the retailer or the honest consumer.

No one likes buying an expensive dress for one occasion, but that is the way it is. If you don’t want to buy it, there are companies that rent special occasion dresses.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

This is a great idea.

Every time a customer “borrows” and item and returns it after, the rest of us pay for their actions. Various kinds of shrink are a plague on retailers; an H&M opened a few weeks ago in Chevy Chase and the first thing a new customer sees on entering is a wall of hostile-looking uniformed security guards.

Let’s fix this.

Kevin Graff
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

I always say that we shouldn’t set policies to manage the exceptions. That’s why liberal refund policies are so important. They recognize that it’s only a small percentage of customers who will abuse it.

Now comes Bloomingdale’s focus on the customer who ‘borrows’ a product. While these ‘borrowing’ customers are certainly not the norm, and still only the exception, they are obviously causing enough stress to take action.

So long as front-line staff have the discretion to deal with legitimate returns, and know how to do it, this is a very good move by Bloomingdales. It tells the ‘borrowing’ customer to stay away. And the 99% of customers who legitimately make a purchase won’t be offended or affected.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Bloomingdale’s is hardly alone on this and many have struggled for years with how to cope. Will a belligerent customer still get their way? My guess – yes.

Liz Crawford
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Totally justified.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Wardrobing is a nice term for theft. The difference between this and someone who discovers for some reason that they bought something and it was the wrong decision, is intent.

I agree with the policy but believe that they will have issues where the intent was to buy and for some reason the garment has to be returned. Placing the burden of making that decision on the salesperson will definitely be an awkward position for them. Expect that the policy will get modified so good customers get one free pass.

Will others follow? I expect that they will take a wait and see. If the policy has the desired impact, then yes others will follow.

Tony Orlando
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Great idea! It will deter those who think it is okay to borrow a nice dress and return it.
The legit returns will be figured out over time, and Bloomingdale’s will have solved a big problem. This is likely to be replicated throughout the industry.

alexander keenan
Guest
alexander keenan
6 years 1 month ago

Bloomingdale’s has customer history. They can tell who is returning shortly after purchasing and who is not. They can apply the one free bite rule to this policy to allow for people making mistakes. However, the threshold level Bloomingdale sets is likely not to be published to keep people from going to the threshold level.

Joan Treistman
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

The plastic tag is a definite sign of mistrust. And it may be warranted.

The first message to Bloomies shoppers is that they are thought to be dishonest. People do have other reasons for returning dresses after they have been worn. Typically retailers have been gracious about some of these circumstances. Perhaps the zipper malfunctioned or the seams frayed on the first wearing occasion. I believe that Bloomies will still honor these situations without the plastic tag. But that’s because I believe in Bloomies…even if Bloomies doesn’t exactly believe in me.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
6 years 1 month ago

Good for Bloomingdale’s! The small percentage of customers who engage in this behavior penalizes other real customers, as well as associates who have to make on the spot decisions. Now if there were a way to deal with people who drink 90% of a bottle of wine in a restaurant and then say it’s bad, or those who use most of a bottle of fragrance and then try to return it….

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

You guys do know this isn’t an original idea, right? Chadwicks of Boston was doing this back in the ’80s. It’s a good idea, and I don’t know why more retailers don’t do it.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Given the tight margins and the type of clothes Bloomingdale’s will use the tag on, it is justified given the high cost of fraudulent return. I don’t see doing it for a $10 t-shirt, but for an occasion dress that is more prone to abuse, I don’t see a problem with that.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

My first reaction was to shout “Amen sister!” to Ms. Driscoll’s comments. But before my fingers could hit the keyboard, my rational side began to echo Deeb and Treistman: other than potentially insulting people, does this really accomplish anything beyond what a simple “no returns if worn” or “no returns on items over $X” would do? And if their goal is to rid themselves of “wardrobers,” what’s to say “wardrobers” won’t resort to even more destructive methods (actually damaging the merchandise and then claiming it was defective…a return I assume is still allowed)?

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
6 years 1 month ago

While this may make sense financially, for most retail brands this sounds like a brand connection negative. The phrasing is “can refuse return” or “cannot be returned”? Makes a difference, but still, how would an employee know when it’s an appropriate return vs wardrobing?

Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
6 years 29 days ago

It is an understandable move, and one other high-end retailers will watch in terms of potential PR fallout. They are happy to let Bloomies try it … I don’t see Nordstrom ever doing it, but we’ll see.

Kate Blake
Guest
Kate Blake
6 years 29 days ago

Excellent idea. When I worked for Jacobson’s and the Auto Show was in town, we would have tags marked “special occasion” on the front of the gowns to curtail this problem. The fine jewelry department would also have issues with returns as necklaces had to be carefully gone over to get rid of hair strands caught in the chains.

Another way to get rid of this problem would be to charge a restocking fee of 25%.

t laws
Guest
t laws
6 years 28 days ago

Try the garment on while you are at the store and inspect it for defects before taking it home. When you get home, if for whatever reason you change your mind (does not go with shoes), return it with the tag still on. What’s so hard about that?

I agree that the only people who oppose this idea are people who cannot afford the tagged items. They buy it for one night and return it to get their money back. This does not benefit customers who value exclusivity. If you cannot afford it, don’t buy it. If the dress doesn’t fit/look right/has defects, don’t buy it. 

The thought of someone already wearing and possibly sweating in a dress I purchase is gross. I like the tag idea and would purchase all of my special occasion dresses from Bloomingdale’s just because of this “wardrobing” issue.

William Passodelis
Guest
6 years 23 days ago

I think this is GREAT and I hope the whole industry utilizes this. New clothing should be NEW and not previously worn. This is a long time problem. Although probably not huge numbers, this does represent a problem for retailers in general. Some tacky customers will probably wear the dresses with those black tags, so the tags should be in rather obvious places, in my opinion. Those tacky customers will STILL return the dresses and get away with “not disturbing” the identifying tags, but if the tags are in obvious locations then it will cut down that possibility also.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely are Bloomingdale’s new plastic tags to put an end to wardrobing activity at the chain?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...