White House/Black Market Return Policy Sticks Me With A Pile Of Bridesmaid Dresses

Buying bridesmaids’ dresses from a place that isn’t a bridal store can save you money and expand your style options, but their return policies aren’t designed with weddings in mind. Lyndsay bought her attendants’ dresses from the chain White House/Black Market, but needed to return them when a pregnant matron of honor meant changing all of the dresses. While the chain advertises “no hassle” returns, there’s plenty of hassle if more than 60 days have passed since the purchase. Since that’s how return policies work.

I’m going through some issues with White House/Black Market, I’m wondering if you can help.

In late 2011, I had purchased a number of dresses for my bridemaids to wear to my wedding this April. Since then, my matron of honor became pregnant with her first child. I was excited for her, and decided we would return the dresses for store credit (realizing a full refund was likely out of the question since the purchase was from approximately 6 months ago), and go get new dresses at another store that would work better for a pregnant Matron of Honor.

Turns out, when I approached them for merchandise credit, they refused. They have a return policy that is “no hassle”. Well, only if you buy the dress within 30 days of your wedding. (see here – the dresses I’m referring to are technically not “wedding” dresses, so I had 60 days to return them). So basically I am stuck with these dresses, which I feel is not best retail practice. I was ok with receiving store credit, but they won’t even do that!

To be clear, the dresses are brand new/never worn, with all tags still attached. I have some of the receipts (there were multiple purchases to get all the sizes that I needed), but bought them with a Credit Card, so the price that I paid for each order should be easy to track. They have done that for me in the past.

At the very least, I would like to let others know that WH/BM will leave you out to dry if you need any changes with an order for a wedding. Most, if not all other options will at least give you store credit.

This is tough, since dresses from six months ago can’t go back on the rack at full retail price. Even if they accepted the return and gave Lyndsay store credit, they’ll be taking a loss on the transaction. The best bet by now would probably be to sell the dresses at a consignment store: there’s no incentive for White House/Black Market to take them back.

Comments

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  1. Bsamm09 says:

    So they have a 60-day return policy but you waited 6 months and not are complaining? What am I missing?

    • Bsamm09 says:

      *now

    • ash says:

      Agreed.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      The part about the OP thinking she’s a special little snowflake who is so important that she shouldn’t be held to the clearly posted store policy and that it’s ok to demand the store take a loss on her behalf?

    • badgertale says:

      Sounds like yet another case of an entitlement-raised little girl who really has no idea what she’s getting into…and I’m not talking about just the dresses.

      Aside from the absurdity of expecting an exchange or refund after so long a period of time, unless she bought them at Costco, WHAT WOMAN changes THE ENTIRE bride maids’ ensemble b/c ONE gets pregnant?

      Seems like all she had to do was to postpone her wedding until after her maid had the baby anyway…the difference of only three months! LOL

      • rugman11 says:

        Seriously, when we got married my wife picked out a color and the bridesmaids got their own dresses, so that they could get something that looked good on them rather than expect three very differently sized women to all look good in the exact same dress.

      • katarzyna says:

        “WHAT WOMAN changes THE ENTIRE bride maids’ ensemble b/c ONE gets pregnant?”

        Especially whan the pregnant attendent is a Matron of Honor, who sometimes dresses differently than the other attendants.

        • Kate says:

          Seriously – get the one dress changed by a tailor or just get something the looks co-ordinated.

          • Yomiko says:

            Unless she can find more of the fabric the dress is made of, a tailor’s not going to be able to let a dress out enough to accomidate a maternity situation.

        • Charmander says:

          That’s probably not the real reason she wants to return them.

          My guess is she found some other dresses she likes better somewhere else, and is using the pregnant matron of honor as the “reason” she needs to return them.

  2. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I…don’t even know what to say. This store’s return policy is known, and honestly fairly reasonable. The fact that it doesn’t suit the OP who now feels that it isn’t “best retail practice” is nothing more than a symptom of the ridiculous entitlement mentality pervading our largely mouth-breathing society.

    Very embarrassed for The Consumerist for even posting this.

    • kobresia says:

      Precisely.

      I would propose a new rule of thumb that simply goes, “If you owned the business in question, would you consider doing ______ in order to please a customer?”, I think that would solve a lot of these issues.

      • Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

        Not necessarily. Very few people who feel a sense of entitlement to begin with are self-aware enough to answer that one honestly.

    • milrtime83 says:

      “Very embarrassed for The Consumerist for even posting this.”

      Why? The Consumerist seems to understand the issue and is essentially blaming the OP as well.

    • taaurrus says:

      AGREED! How is this a consumerist issue? She tried to return something SIX MONTHS later & the store wouldn’t let her because they have a SIXTY DAY return policy? It seems to me like the store isn’t doing anything wrong here. There are a LOT of stores that won’t accept items that you bought 6 months ago – receipt or not. I’m not understanding WHY she would even write Consumerist but I’m completely baffled as to why Consumerist would even publish her story “store won’t let me return purchase I bought six months ago”. Well DUH!

  3. alisonann says:

    What a ridiculous complaint.

  4. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I have to side with the store on this one. These are six months old.

    Why do all the dresses have to be changed anyway? Why not just change the matron of honor dress to a similar style and same color as the bridesmaides and that will fit her when pregnant?

    • Amy88888 says:

      I agree-just keep all the dresses and get something similar for the pregnant one.

      • Captain Spock says:

        For my Fiance’s sister’s wedding, they were given a choice of 3 styles and 3 colors. They did not all match, nor should they have to.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I’ve heard of weddings that had a slightly different dress for the Maid/Matron of Honor. It’s not precisely standard, but can and does happen.

      That said, given that she will be pregnant for the wedding, it doesn’t seem feasible to find a dress style that will suit her AND all of the non-pregnant bridesmaids.

      • asphaltzeppo says:

        I think the practice of different dresses for the maid/matron of honor is very common. I think this bride has an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. She needs to work something out with her matron of honor to get a new dress. If she has a maid of honor, she needs to purchase her a new dress on her own dime (ie. the bride’s dime.)

    • chiieddy says:

      For my wedding I picked a designer and a color and let my bridesmaids pick their own styles that best fit them. My sister did the same (different color) and actually used the same designer. The dresses just have to be ordered together so they’re in the same lot of fabric when created. My sisters in law were my ushers and I just told them to get little black dresses they could potentially wear again. They decided to go out together and buy the same little black dress on their own, but that’s the neat thing about little black dresses.

    • Emily says:

      Yes, surely the most cost-effective option would be bringing the pregnant attendant’s dress to a good tailor and having it altered. And if there isn’t enough fabric for that, buy a second one of the original dress. Or just find one in a similar color.

  5. MutantMonkey says:

    It sucks that they couldn’t accommodate the situation but they shouldn’t have been expected to.

    This one gets the #shithappens tag.

  6. valleyval says:

    Sounds like a case of Bridezilla to me.

  7. dolemite says:

    Who tries to return items half a year after buying them? “Hey…I’ve got these bell-bottom pants I bought here in the 70s. Still have the tags on them and never worn…I’d like some store credit.”

    • Bsamm09 says:

      Thank you for the laugh today.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      This one made me thing of Ross’s couch (not for the time frame, but the unreasonable return attempt):
      Ross: This couch is cut in half. I would like to exchange it for one that is not cut in half.
      The Saleswoman: You’re telling me this couch was delivered to you like this?
      Ross: Look, I’m a reasonable man. I will accept store credit.
      The Saleswoman: I’ll give you store credit in the amount of four dollars.
      Ross: I will take it.

  8. eturowski says:

    I have been in three weddings in the past year, and none of the brides has ever paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses herself.

    Either this woman is very generous, or she is a control freak.

    • Lethe says:

      My parents paid for the dresses for my sisters’ bridesmaids at their weddings. They didn’t feel that standing up for a friend should be a huge financial burden.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, that’s a lot of money to be spending on dresses that aren’t yours. I just went to the bridal store, picked the color I wanted, and told my bridesmaids to find the dress in that color that best suited them.

    • shoes says:

      That might not be what happened here … I just ordered my bridesmaids dresses and paid for them all myself to make the order easier – some were out of town and just send measurements, some were there with me, etc. They will all pay me back later.

      • msbask says:

        I really don’t understand this (although I do understand that this is how a lot of people do it), but I have to ask:

        How do you in good conscience ask your friends to pay for clothes you insist they have for your wedding (and the shoes and the hair and the makeup and the manicure and the travel and the gifts and the bridal shower and now the bachelorette party that people are doing in addition to the shower)?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I bartered with one friend and called it even with another because she was in my wedding and I was in hers, and we both needed to buy dresses.

          We got a pretty reasonable rate for makeup and hair because none of us wanted to be fiddling with a curling iron the day of the wedding. I think people are definitely willing to pay for someone to do their hair and makeup if they know that it’s a special occasion and also that it’s a reasonable cost.

          I didn’t make anyone get a specific kind of shoe, or manicures, or pay for bridal showers. I didn’t have a bachelorette party (I just don’t care for them).

          • msbask says:

            I really wasn’t asking the question of someone who DOESN’T expect this of their friends. I’m really interested in the perspective of someone who DOES.

    • RedOryx says:

      Or they paid the bride for their dress and she just purchased them all at once.

    • Captain Spock says:

      What do you bet when she found out, she went to her Fiance and yelled “How DARE she get pregnant and ruin MY wedding”

    • Errr... says:

      I’m guessing control freak. It’s not odd to have a matron of honor in a different dress from the other bridesmaids anyhow. Plus, it’s becoming more standard to choose a color of dress and perhaps a few styles of dress and let the bridesmaids choose what they like. My guess is that the bride had a vision of what her wedding would look like from the time she was five and she was going to have that vision realized for her wedding. Which is fine, but just realize that it may cost more money if you can’t compromise. .

  9. ellmar says:

    I’m siding with the store on this one. She knew the policy, but she’s complaining because it doesn’t fit her very unique and unnecessarily complicated situation. Put the pregnant woman in a different but complementary dress and let the others wear what you have already bought and paid for. This is really nothing to get your wedding panties in a bunch about.

  10. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I hate to be “that guy”…but why is this on here?

    I mean, it stinks that this happened to her, but this reminds me of the article where someone threatened bad publicity to get Sony to fix something out of warranty.

  11. AttackCat says:

    In the bride’s defense, it is sort of a silly return policy, as a lot of wedding/bridesmaid dresses require alterations that should probably be completed sooner than 30-60 days (depending on the cost of the dress + alterations–some people may need extra time to save up for or schedule an alteration fitting.) But returning ALL the dresses does seem extreme.

  12. HowardRoarksTSquare says:

    This may be the first post in a while where everyone blames the OP.

    • MMD says:

      Correction: This may be the first post in a while when everyone blames an OP who deserves to take all of the blame.

      • Jayrandom says:

        How is that a correction? Have there been posts where everyone blamed the OP but the OP didn’t deserve it? If so , why didn’t you post and defend them? Considering the wide range of posters here, it would surprise me.

        • MMD says:

          “Everyone” is a strong word, but here’s an example of someone with a legitimate concern about return policy who was widely belittled for not being satisfied with the outcome. It proved way too fun to attack the OP than to deal with the actual concerns and legitimate confusion detailed in the story. And, despite, your assumption, I *did* post and defend the OP.

          http://consumerist.com/2012/02/target-refuses-to-send-me-the-item-i-ordered-instead-suggests-i-just-keep-the-wrong-one.html

          I could go on, but I have to ask – are you new here? Because this is a tame example compared to some of the bile that gets sometimes gets spewed at OPs (usually worse at female OPs (who get called entitled b*tches and worse), and 10x worse if the story involves a wedding or breastfeeding).

          • Jayrandom says:

            Not that new, just an infrequent reader and even less frequent at writing comments. There have definitely been threads where the OP gets blamed too quickly or needlessly, but there is always someone defending the OP (except in this thread) it seems simply out of spite for any business that is big enough to have stockholders. There was even a thread recently where someone was basically pulling ever legal and some illegal tricks to stave off foreclosure on speculative investment properties and there were still people defending the OP (although most were not).

          • Jayrandom says:

            Not that new, just an infrequent reader and even less frequent at writing comments. There have definitely been threads where the OP gets blamed too quickly or needlessly, but there is always someone defending the OP (except in this thread) it seems simply out of spite for any business that is big enough to have stockholders. There was even a thread recently where someone was basically pulling every legal and some illegal tricks to stave off foreclosure on speculative investment properties and there were still people defending the OP (although most were not).

  13. winstonthorne says:

    Obviously the OP is at fault here. I feel bad for the manager at that store who was placed in a terrible position by the customer’s absurd request to take back merchandise six months after purchase. I’ve stood in those shoes and it’s not fun – you basically have to alienate the customer because he/she cannot see reason and there’s no way you can take that kind of hit.

    I suggest the following:
    -Ebay
    -Donate (tax write-off)
    -Consignment
    -Give to your friends (a classy move, since they’re probably not very “bridesmaid-y” dresses and could be worn to other occasions)

    • ellmar says:

      Donating is a great idea. It’s prom season. See if your community has a program to donate dresses to girls who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to prom.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        THIS. Yeah, you’re out money, but sometimes that’s the risk you take when you purchase things!

  14. eturowski says:

    I have been in three weddings in the past year, and none of the brides has ever paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses herself.

    Either this woman is very generous, or she is a control freak.

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      My guess would be “control freak”. Don’t worry, you’ll still be married even if all the bridesmaid dresses don’t match!

    • longfeltwant says:

      I think it’s high time to change wedding expectations. If you want to control what is worn by the people in your wedding, then you should pay. You should pay for bridesmaids dresses, you should pay for groomsman tuxedos. You should pay for hair and makeup. You should pay for everything.

      On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect people to have formal clothes, so if you just say “wear a black dress” or “wear a suit”, then you shouldn’t be expected to pay, unless your friends are all such hippies that they don’t have black dresses and suits.

  15. George4478 says:

    I hope someone shows this to her fiance. And I hope he’s familar with ‘foreshadowing’.

  16. StarfishDiva says:

    That is stupid. I’ve been to lots of weddings,as a bride, and a dozen times as bridesmaid/maid of honor, and now this June Matron of Honor (at least I ain’t preggers this time around, but I have been! And I was able to FIX MY DRESSES without stressing my bride, btw).

    The policy is clear at the store, the dresses are no longer in season, all the OTHER bridesmaids will be fine, why can’t out of all this cacophony get a frickin spool of fabric in a matching color and have a seamstress MODIFY the dress so Knocked-up Nancy still looks great on the Big Day?

    Seriously, make some lemonades out of lemons and stop BAWWWING because YOU didn’t do proper planning.

  17. NettyM says:

    Find something else that’s complimentary for the matron of honor and keep the dresses for the others. Lots of weddings have the one girl in a different dress and it’s no big deal.

    But it’s not the store’s problem.

  18. eturowski says:

    I have been in three weddings in the past year, and none of the brides has ever paid for the bridesmaids’ dresses herself.

    Either this woman is very generous, or she is a control freak.

    • eturowski says:

      Wow, sorry, my phone had a seizure and multi-posted.

    • Sarahlara says:

      I paid for my bridesmaids’ dresses as well as for their travel, food, and hotel (one night in a nearby city). They wore their own shoes, chose their own hairstyles, etc. In short, I wanted my friends there but not if they had to go broke or waste a lot of time finding the same eyeliner and pumps as the other gals. Those things couldn’t matter less to me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard.

      • Errr... says:

        Nope. You’re not alone. I didn’t buy my bridesmaids dresses, but I just asked them to wear a black dress and black or metallic shoes (which I know they all had in their closet). I didn’t ask them to make favors, fold programs, go to bridal shows or other such nonsense. The work was on me and my (now) husband to get done. I didn’t want people to feel like they were servants or that being in our wedding was a financial burden. And we had a lovely wedding that everyone was happy and relaxed at.

  19. framitz says:

    Sell the dresses. Waited far too long to return them. The store policy is clear, and fair IMHO.

  20. petepuma02 says:

    Bad Consumer tag, please…

  21. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Or sell them online as a batch. I’m sure there are other brides out there who need dresses like this and, though you may take a small loss, you could really make another bride’s day.

  22. Sarahlara says:

    If you’ve ever worked retail you are well familiar with people trying to return things without receipts, things they bought months ago, things they bought at other stores, things they made themselves with balsa wood and rubber bands, etc.

  23. ashtonn4 says:

    only 1 person is pregnant…find a matching dress that works for her…or alter her dress? Definitely don’t think the store should be expected to accept this return although if they did it would be a great going above and beyond story for them.

  24. JF says:

    Since it is the MOH, have the rest of the girls wear identical dresses and get something similar for the MOH. It isn’t unusual for the MOH to be in different dress.

    Bad consumer. Bad bridezilla. *smacks nose with rolled up paper*

    • JF says:

      …forgot to add this needs a “Bad Consumer” category tag……

    • EdnasEdibles says:

      That’s my thought – why can’t a pregnant MOH wear a similar dress (color-wise). There are a number of sites that allow you to rent fancy maternity dresses for a small cost. Everyone could wear the same White House/Black Market dress and then the MOH can have a special dress that’s in a similar cut/color for a fraction of the cost. The only money you’d be out is the money you paid for the original MOH dress.

      Plus, if it’s never been worn, sell it to a consignment shop or on ebay – someone will pay for a never-worn White House/Black Market dress.

      This is the silliest “bridesmaid emergency” ever.

  25. RedOryx says:

    Um, no. The dresses were purchased six months ago, the return policy clear.

    That being said, the wedding is next month. How along is your friend? This happened at a wedding I was in last summer: we purchased our dresses about a year out and then the matron of honor got pregnant. She was about four or five months along but was able to keep her same dress. She found a matching fabric and had a seamstress add panels to the side of the dress. Or, as others have suggested, just find a different but complimentary dress for the matron of honor. There’s no need to change all of them.

  26. taaurrus says:

    How is this a consumerist issue? She tried to return something SIX MONTHS later & the store wouldn’t let her because they have a SIXTY DAY return policy? It seems to me like the store isn’t doing anything wrong here. There are a LOT of stores that won’t accept items that you bought 6 months ago – receipt or not. I’m not understanding WHY she would even write Consumerist but I’m completely baffled as to why Consumerist would even publish her story “store won’t let me return purchase I bought six months ago”. Well DUH!

  27. petepuma02 says:

    Corrected article title: My lack of creative thinking and unreasonableness Sticks Me With A Pile Of Bridesmaid Dresses

  28. Ben says:

    I’m surprised no one’s siding with the store.

  29. longfeltwant says:

    Six months is too long. This is a bummer for the consumer, but nothing can be done. Six months later, no reasonable person can expect a refund (or credit or anything). I think 60 days is approximately the right length of time.

  30. Hi_Hello says:

    wow 60 days. i just assume stuff are 30 days or 15 days now.

  31. jsweitz says:

    I’m a guy, and even I know not to buy the bridesmaids’ dresses that far out from the wedding. In most cases, many if not all of them are of prime child rearing age, and are likely to get pregnant in the 6+ months before the wedding.

  32. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    We need to forward this onto:

    http://www.notalwaysright.com

  33. DanGarion says:

    How long does the OP expect them accept returns? Forever? They followed their policy of 60 days. It’s unfortunate but that is what happens with seasonal items.

  34. StarKillerX says:

    This one is right up there with the guy upset that the cashier tried to take his Star Wars Blurays from him and then “used them as a clipboard.”

  35. Dallas_shopper says:

    Bridezilla.

  36. HammRadio says:

    Shouldn’t Consumerist just tag this with #BlameOP and be done with it?

  37. Portlandia says:

    Laura this should have the “Bad Consumer” tag on it because this person’s attitude is nothing short of entitled! This is not a consumer issue!

  38. jedsa says:

    Good grief-I’m usually appalled by the consumer bashing by some in the threads, but 60 days is a rather generous return policy these days. 6 months is ridiculous to expect a return unless it’s a store with a policy like LL Bean’s.

  39. brinks says:

    The store has a very reasonable return policy, which the OP feels should be waived for her because she is just that special.

    No.

  40. regis-s says:

    You’re missing the part where they figured: “Well, nothing else has worked and I don’t have a leg to stand on legally. I guess I’ll try a little public shaming. See how that goes.”

  41. parsonsdj1 says:

    I think this is less a symptom of general malaise in society, and more a product of the “bridezilla” phenomenon, that leads otherwise rational girls to believe that anything or anyone standing between them and their perfect day is evil. I bet Lyndsay wouldn’t be trying to pull this in the absence of the wedding day looming large on her horizon, clouding her judgment. As others have said, this is a reasonable policy, and the store has done nothing wrong. The other options for bridesmaid’s dresses are just used to dealing with tempestuous, demanding, irrational ladies.

  42. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    “I was excited for her…”

    She wasn’t.

  43. daemonaquila says:

    NO sympathy here. With most stores, you couldn’t even return bridesmaid dresses, which are generally custom ordered. But over 2 months later? Don’t be ridiculous. No store has – or should have, if they expect to make any money – a return policy that is good forever. This is just bridezilla entitlement talking.

    WH/BM usually has nice things, and these dresses might actually be the vast exception to the rule, and be wearable again. For crying out loud, have the bridesmaids wear their dresses, and the matron of honor can buy a similar dress. Matrons of honor often have a slightly different dress anyway.

  44. masskid1983 says:

    I blame the OP. The store has a return policy. She is returning well outside the window of the return policy and probably out of season. So sorry that she decided to change dress, deal with the consequences. I bet she wishes that she originally purchased the dresses at a place that speicalizes in weddings because she is not saving money now.

  45. Cacao says:

    Why not get a new dress just for the mother-to-be? They don’t all have to match.

  46. missminimonster says:

    Bridezilla much?

    I’ve seen many maids/matrons of honor who wear different gowns than the rest of the bridal party. I’ve also increasingly seen brides who just say, “Go to X store and pick what you want as long as it’s Y color.” Also, I’m sure it won’t make the front page of the paper if one person is wearing a maternity dress.

    I only had one bridesmaid and didn’t even pick a color for her. I showed her a catalog and a color swatch sheet and let her pick what she wanted, then bought it for her (but I know that’s a huge exception to the rule).

  47. makoto says:

    I was literally just going to buy a cocktail dress from there for a wedding. Guess not….

    • Ouze says:

      Why, you might need to return it unworn in 6 months? Yeah, you should buy it at the store that lets you do that, instead. Because… that’s pretty reasonable.

  48. sahovaman says:

    OP Fails at life and I hope she doesn’t re-produce. This is why you don’t buy what can be considered ‘time sensitive’ items way ahead of schedule.

  49. Eliamias says:

    The matron of honour is supposed to stand out so she doesn’t have to match all the bridesmaids anyway. Keep the majority of the dresses and find something in a similar colour palette for the MoH in a flattering style. The store is completely in the right here.

  50. neverecho says:

    This is stupid – why didn’t she read the return policy when she bought the dresses?? This is her fault for not knowing.