Victoria’s Secret destroys returned merchandise

A Victoria's Secret shopper was horrified when the store cut up the perfectly good sweatpants she returned. Photo courtesy of Victoria's Secret.A Victoria's Secret shopper was horrified when the store cut up the perfectly good sweatpants …People either love Victoria's Secret or they hate it. On the plus side, they have a huge variety of lingerie in different shapes, colors, and fabrics, they're fairly affordable, and they're located everywhere if you need to pick something up in a pinch. On the downside, Victoria's Secret doesn't carry a huge variety of sizes, their products can be cheaply made, their bras have been known to cause blisters, rashes, and scarring, and worst of all they've been caught reselling used underwear. Um, gross! If that last tidbit didn't swear you off Victoria's Secret for good, this recent news just might: their store policy is to destroy returned merchandise, even if there's nothing wrong with it.

While we're glad the retailer is no longer putting used and soiled panties back on the sales floor (yuck, we can't even think about it), there's no reason to shred up perfectly good UNUSED clothing and underwear. MSNBC reports that Florida resident and frequent Victoria's Secret shopper Marie Wolf returned a pair of the brand's Pink sweatpants (like those pictured at left) to Westshore Plaza. The garment was unworn, and her money was refunded. But Wolf was horrified to see the salesperson take out a scissors and cut the sweatpants in half. "I was shocked, because, mind you, these were $70 sweatpants, and there's nothing wrong with them," Wolf told NBC. "The clerk just said, 'I know, but it's our policy.'" Apparently the only thing the clerk did wrong was cut up the garments in front of the customer.

Victoria's Secret is not the first major brand to be caught exhibiting this wasteful behavior. Last year a woman found bags full of trashed and destroyed clothing from H&M and Wal-Mart. Both stores later issued statements saying they would update their policies, and H&M said they would be donating unsold items to charity. Wolf made a similar suggestion to Victoria's Secret when she called the parent company. "I asked about donating them to Salvation Army, what about Goodwill, what about all the people who lost everything in the Tsunami?" Wolf told MSNBC. "I told them I won't ever shop with them anymore, and neither will anyone in my family."

We understand Victoria's Secret potentially ruining or discarding used underwear for sanity reasons, but unworn undergarments and clothing should be resold, sent back to a distributor, or donated. Suzanne Long, retail practice leader at the consulting company SSA & Company explained to MSNBC why some companies opt to shred up their wares. "Sometimes you don't want items going out for resale on the secondary market at all," Long said. "Some stores may take last season's golf clubs and bend them in half so someone couldn't easily pick them from the trash and resell them. And some clothing designers may tell a retail store that sending back the clothes is not worth the money, "and if the retailer feels it's unsalable, they'll just agree to go ahead and destroy it."

With organizations like the Salvation Army doing free pickups for donations, we don't see why these perfectly good garments couldn't be given to people in need of clothing, like Wolf suggested. Doug Stephens, owner of the Toronto-based Retail Prophet consulting company told MSNBC that this new discovery will be very bad for business. "Every time a story like this crops up, consumer sentiment against the store is just overwhelming," he said. "People walk out and wonder, are we really so rich as a nation that we throw perfectly good stuff in the garbage?" Victoria's Secret operates around 1,020 stores in the United States and Canada, so we'd imagine that's a lot of wasted clothing!

Victoria's Secret has yet to comment on this issue.

Related links:
Secrets From Your Favorite Angels
17 Things You Can Donate or Get Rid of Right Now
Backstage at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Bra Shopping Tips from Victoria's Secret Model Adriana Lima