Why Am I Punished For A Forever 21 Cashier's Mistake?

Kat tells Consumerist that she had an odd experience while shopping at Forever 21. The store accidentally charged her twice for an item that was on clearance–no returns. In most retail establishments, this isn’t a problem. But at Forever 21, based on Kat’s experience, all the chain can offer you is store credit instead of a refund of the overcharge. Kat wanted the money returned to her account.

This afternoon I went to a local Forever 21. I am well aware of their returns/exchange policy (returns within 21 days for store credit only). However, I was dumbstruck by a wrinkle of their policy I found out about today.

I was purchasing a shawl and a blouse from their clearance rack (all clearance is final sale). After having to ask an employee to please check me out, he accidentally charged me twice for the same shirt. I didn’t notice until after I was walking out of the store. I returned to the counter, and (politely) pointed out the mistake. He was very remorseful, and kept repeating he had “made the worse mistake that could be made.” I’ve worked retail for many years, and kept trying to reassure him that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Little did I know… Within 60 seconds 4 employees were crowded around the recessed computer screen. Apparently, Forever 21 doesn’t have a capability to refund any kind of credit card purchase. The head manager told me she could either void the purchase (and not give many any refund), or give me a store credit. I didn’t really want a store credit because I don’t shop there very often, and I’m on a budget. I told her since I wasn’t in the wrong I would prefer a credit on my card or cash. She looked like she was about to cry, and my friend was getting embarrassed so I finally relented and let her give me a gift card for the amount of the overcharge (she added 10% of the value of the shirt to the gift card).

Like many issues on this site, it wasn’t so much the money as the principle. Was I overreacting or does it seem really wrong for a store to be able to charge, but not credit back money to a credit card?

It’s definitely unusual. We asked Forever 21’s media relations people about the situation, and will update this post when they have something to say.