That Baby Outfit Macy Is Selling For $19.98? You Can Return It For $2.50

Benny wanted to return a baby gift worth $19.98, but Macy’s refused to offer more $2.50. Benny didn’t have a gift receipt so Macy’s understandably refused to give him more than the product’s lowest advertised price—but when Benny tracked the item down on the shelf, it was selling for $19.98. When he asked where the product was selling for $2.50, he was told: “its not, the managers put in the lowest selling price, thats Macy’s policy!”

Benny writes:

As an avid reader of The Consumerist, I wanted to share the following story of how Macy’s has a “selling price” and a “return price” that 85% less.

I recently received a baby outfit for my daughter as a gift but mistakenly misplaced the Macy’s gift receipt, being that the outfit was the wrong size i decided to try and return it to Macy’s without the receipt. When i got to my local macy’s the girl at the counter in the baby section was very nice in explaning that Macy’s will happily accept the return however they can only offer the “lowest selling price” I said ok how much is that? the answer; $2.50! Thinking wow the giver must have gotten a really good deal we decided to keep the outfit and look around the baby section for other items we might like.

while browsing through the baby section I noticed a whole rack of the same outfit selling for $19.98! thinking this must be a mistake I scanned the barcode at one of the price checker machines… nope! it says $19.98.

I went over to another checkout counter and tried the return again, once again she says “the lowest selling price is $2.50!” I picked up one of the outfits the store was selling and said look its selling for $19.98! she said “macy’s policy is to give the lowest selling price, not the current selling price” I said ok where is it selling for $2.50? I’d like to go buy more of these outfits! she said “its not, the managers put in the lowest selling price, thats Macy’s policy!” she then proceeded to call her manager saying there is a customer who has an issue with Macy’s policy….

I took pictures of the screen saying $2.50 with the item number and the tag showing it sells for $19.98, see attached

Please post this story on your site! buyers should be made aware of such scandalous policy’s, feel free to edit and reword.


Edit Your Comment

  1. MustyBuckets says:

    I think, without a receipt, they charge the lowest price the item has been in return window. It must have been priced at $2.50 at some Macy’s in the past 30 days, or however long their window is.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @MustyBuckets: Exactly. It kind of sucks, but this is almost every store’s policy on this type of thing when returning stuff without a receipt. Not just Macy’s.

      • SabreDC says:

        @downwithmonstercable: I don’t think anyone is saying that Macy’s shouldn’t have their policy of refunding an item without a receipt in the amount of its lowest sale. However, I think the issue here is that $2.50 seems arbitrary and Macy’s offers no reasonable explanation as to when, where, how, or why it was $2.50.

        • Cyberxion101 says:

          @SabreDC: Exactly! The clerk straight-up said that it never sold for $2.50. They arbitrarily lowered the price in the system to screw people over.

    • Sam Oldenburg says:


      These policies are very normal. And no one should be suprised by them. If you don’t have a receipt, it is unwise for a manufacturer to give you a higher price than what it might have been paid for. They just don’t know. I actually have found myself gaining money in a situation like this (person paid 15 dollars, I got 20 back in store credit because this was the lowest price it had been in the last 30 days).

      This story isn’t worthy of getting upset over.

      • LordofthePing says:

        @Sam Oldenburg:

        Agreed. $2.50 seems really low, but this policy is the norm in retail. People try to scam companies by buying when a sale is on and then returning the item when it goes off, thus making a profit.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @MustyBuckets: Somehow I doubt this was actually sold for $2.50 anywhere.

      Although you would think that they would at least allow you to exchange it for the same item of a different size.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Corporate_guy: Actually, sometimes when there are employee discounts on top of coupons on top of sales, things do occasionally get that low. I imagine if he had wanted to exchange it for another size or color they would have let him. This was the way it worked at the department store where I used to work in the summers.

    • sprocket79 says:

      @MustyBuckets: You are correct. It’s the lowest selling price in 30 days. Chances are, that outfit is clearanced at a different Macy’s.

    • kathyl says:

      @MustyBuckets: I really doubt this item was ever marked $2.50 in their store. It is much more likely that every item in their inventory has a completely arbitrary “lowest selling price” entered at the time the inventory is first put in the computer. I mean, you can’t prove otherwise, and they make a killing on any poor sap trying to return it without a receipt.

      This practice might be rooted in a concept that would be a solution to a real problem (that someone would buy an item on sale, wait for it to return to regular price, then return it at a profit) but that’s no excuse to abuse this situation and create a way to screw over honest customers.

      • fjordtjie says:

        @kathyl: i bought a gift for my mom the saturday before christmas, and it was $20. i got home and realized it was the wrong size, so i went back the next day to exchange it, and it was back to $100 (regular price). because i had used my macy’s card, i’d gotten an extra discount, so i wouldn’t be surprised if someone had been able to buy the thing for $2.50, especially if they had also gotten an employee discount.

        as a former retail cashier, i certainly didn’t monitor prices on every product in the store, so i also don’t think it’s unreasonable for the cashiers to not know when exactly the price was 2.50. the issue should have been taken to a manager, instead of a second cashier. it is rational to want the amount paid back in a return, but i also think it’s reasonable for them to seek proof of purchase price.

        • SabreDC says:

          @fjordtjie: “especially if they had also gotten an employee discount.”

          But would that really matter? The item was never *priced* at the after-discount amount. What if I get a gift card as a “free” reward from my credit card? Does that mean that the product I purchase with that card was priced at $0 at some point?

          I think the policy would only reflect actual marked prices on products on shelves. Not the price after applying some type of discount (other than a marked discount, of course, like a clearance).

          • fjordtjie says:

            @SabreDC: my statement was based on my experience as a cashier at joann fabrics, and at my location, the general rule was 50% + 15% employee discount, since they didn’t keep record of sale prices and didn’t expect us to memorize. the 15% was taken after the 50, so it was 15% of the 50% left over, not a total of 65%. in defense of the policy, i never once actually charged anyone without the receipt the ’employee discount’ because i thought it was a stupid policy, and because i was a bad employee that way…

            also, a gift card is like money, so it is not the same thing as an item purchased at a store and then returned. i don’t get how the store is at fault. just because an incompetent or disaffected cashier can’t show you when it was a price doesn’t mean it was never that price. the store fulfilled their obligation to sell an item in good working order to someone, if that person wants to return it for full purchase value, they need to keep the receipt. it is simple as that.

    • ajlei says:

      @MustyBuckets: Similar story, but I actually had a gift receipt in this case. However, the purchase was from a few months ago so I was really going in just to see if I’d get anything at all back. The woman tried to say that she could return it for a dollar, so I said no and went and sold it at Buffalo Exchange for about $10 (it was a summer dress).

      But yeah, as I work in retail, I cannot stress enough: KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS!!! Companies do NOT like to have items returned, so the only way they will do it is if you have a receipt. Keep a folder for them, tack them to a bulletin board, do whatever you have to do but KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.

    • KristinaBeana says:

      @MustyBuckets: My guess, especially since the selling price is $19.98, is that the item is an everyday value or best buy item – something that is a staple in the store, but they do rollover every season. So, the fall version went on clearance down to 2.50, but what he saw on the rack was the next round for the winter or spring. This regularly happens with the basics in department stores and stores like The Gap and J Crew.

  2. Hoss says:

    I can see why the writer feels cheated, but the policy seems reasonable. Why allow people to stock up on sale items in order to bring them back later to get full price?

    • mythago says:

      @Hoss: Why would they sell an item for $2.50 and later sell it for $19.95?

      • Bailen says:

        @mythago: This happens allot with sales, especially after Christmas. This has been a common policy at any store I have ever worked at. As people have been saying before, it leaves you open to be scammed if you let someone buy something at say 50% off then return it after the sale is over for full price because “you lost the receipt”. On a small item like this, sure its not the end of the world, but what about on a TV thats price has changed a few hundred dollars…

        • BluePlastic says:

          @Bailen: Seems odd to me. $2.50 is more of a clearance price, as in we’re not going to get any more of that item in. Yet they have it in store and marked back up to $19.98?

          I can understand the policy but have a hard time believing that item was ever $2.50. Maybe that was a typo?

      • lotussix says:

        @mythago: I just bought a computer and it is more now than when I bought it.

        If I made the computer on, it would have been $817. I bought it at a B&M store for $449.99, it then went on sale the next week for $399.99 (I went back and they gave me $50 plus tax in cash for the price difference) and today I saw it for $499.99.

        I know this is not as extreme of an example, but it’s still an example.

  3. Anonymous says:

    When I shop at Macy’s they put a return bar code sticker on there so that they can look up the transaction if you don’t have the receipt. I believe that if you return without said sticker you get the lowest selling price for that item.

  4. VeiledThreats says:

    It’s a pretty common policy, but it is odd that the outfit was still available for $19.98. Normally, $2.50 would be some super clearance price and you wouldn’t see it in store anymore and certainly not for it’s regular price. As an aside, why didn’t she just exchange it for the right size if they still had them? They’ll swap them item for item with no receipt and won’t charge the difference or anything. That is, if size was truly the only issue.

  5. u1itn0w2day says:

    I have to side with Macys on this .If they gave every no reciept returner full price they’d be out of business in no time .Look at it this way if it was a gift you got 2.50 for nothing .

    The only thing left to do is ask the giver for the reciept .

  6. taking_this_easy says:

    so we should have UPC codes for every item being sold, and a unique serial code accompanying each item?

    im with the $2.50 in the past 30 days…. OP should find her receipt(… blaming OP?….. nah…)

    • hco22boy says:

      Nordstrom and Bloomingdales both have unique barcodes on their merchandise, this is one reason that i shop here. If i lose the receipt i can still return something for the price i paid.

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @taking_this_easy: macys DOES have that! they are called CRLs and they stick one next to the UPC for every single item and scan it after they scan the UPC. Computer forces them to do this. That label lets them see exactly what you paid just as if you had the receipt. If the item here did not have that, it’s likely the fault of the gift giver ripping it off the ticket. Or maybe they stole it. ;)

  7. microcars says:

    it would seem that “at some point” this outfit was sold for $2.50
    and that is what they are referring to.

    so from the mgrs POV: if you bought it at $2.50 “sometime” in the past, and you do NOT have a receipt, there is no way you are going to make money on this.

    I bought a flashlight for $4.99 at MENARDS and when I got it home, it was missing a piece inside, so I brought it back, but I did not have the receipt.
    They would not give me a refund, or store credit because….
    “We give these away free”

    !!!! really?
    Really. The clerk showed me the current flyer/ad and sure enough, there was this flashlight for FREE as part of a promotion involving your Birthday.
    Come in the Store, prove it is your Birthday, get a free flashlight!


    they did allow me to EXCHANGE it for a new flashlight however.

    moral: always have a receipt.

    • SabreDC says:

      @microcars: Just out of curiosity, how did you not have a receipt after you *just* bought it, took it home, and then returned to the store? Unless, of course, more time passed between the purchase and return (it’s not quite clear, although your post makes it sound it was a matter or minutes/hours).

      • TheJinManCan says:

        @SabreDC: Eh, it happens. On small, small, small purchases (generally around that $5 range), I have a habit of not caring where my receipt ends up. Sure, I’ll regret it when something DOES happen, and swear I’ll never do that again.

        But I never actually learn. I know I messed up. Like he did, I’ll TRY and see if I can return without a receipt. If I get denied, oh well. My bad.

      • Dansc29625 says:

        @SabreDC: I work in retail, I have seen a customer misplace his receipt twice on the way from the store to his car.

  8. QrazyQat says:

    I have to side with Macys on this .If they gave every no reciept returner full price they’d be out of business in no time

    On the contrary; they’d have excellent word of mouth advertising for the cost of, at most, a couple of days receipts a year (probably much less, much much less). For instance we’ve shopped at several grocery stores where if they ring up the wrong price you get the item free, and we shopped at those stores regularly partly because of that friendly policy. They made tons of money from us because of it; if your claim were true they’d be “out of business in no time”. The reverse is true.

    Now if they were talking about a regular sale price I might agree with you that they shouldn’t be expected to do that, but as has been pointed out, the idea that they had a sale price of $2.50 on a $19.95 item they still carry in stock is ludicrous. Price drops like that are a super closeout get rid of remaining stock price, and probably not even at the store but at an outlet center (most stores don’t want to associate their regular product with super-sale merchandise).

    • fratgirl says:

      @QrazyQat: As someone who works in retail, if you allow all no-receipt returns at full price you will be scammed like crazy. It would be a nice policy out to have, but there are a LOT of people out there who will just take advantage of you.

    • Kogenta says:

      @QrazyQat: I don’t know about that, I know that some retailers will put really steep drops on some products just to get people into the store.

      While I agree that it SEEMS rediculous, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that they did it.

      You also have to consider exactly how their POS determines the lowest price. A lot of chains computer systems can bring up the lowest chainwide price, but that’s not to say that they couldn’t be made to return the lowest price that something was sold for. If it does that chainwide, it could be bringing up hits from stores that in store clearanced said item just to get it out of the store.

      And frankly, I’ve seen some retailers drop their clothing prices by as much as 90% off the normal price to get rid of the stuff only to have it go back up to full price a week later once upper management has deemed that they’ve reduced their inventories to acceptable levels.

      • Bailen says:

        @Kogenta: It may also have been a buy one get one free (or a few free to make this price difference) or it may have been combined in a package (buy product A get product B free) and worked out to being a value of approx 2.50.

    • Anonymous says:

      @QrazyQat: QrazyQat, having spent several years working in retail I have to disagree with you. It is amazing how many people will abuse store policies to get something for nothing. I worked for a bookseller that had the policy you recommend – no questions asked refunds. The number of fraudulent returns was staggering. We even had cases of brazen theft brought back by a different party within days, books that came directly from a flea market or charity store back to us, and anything you can imagine. Worse, when we tried to get a handle on it by questioning the “customer,” they’d become loud, obnoxious and threatening toward employees and other shoppers until we just gave them the cash.

      I support stores who have firm policies about returns. You mentioned a policy of stores correcting their own mistakes. That’s good business. But stores allowing full price credit for no-receipt returns is foolish. Unfortunately, for every legitimate customer return there are more waiting to take advantage. And in the end, the money they lose is coming back in terms of higher prices or lower profits.

  9. GayNerd says:

    Sorry, I side with Macy*s.

    No receipt? You’re lucky is they accept the return at all, considering how many scam artists are out there.

    Macy*s is blameless and the Benny is a cry baby.

    • Kajj says:

      @GayNerd: No reason to call somebody a “cry baby” [sic] for being confused by a confusing policy. If the outfit was currently on sale for $19.98 it is unusual that the return would ring up for a rock-bottom clearance price. It’s entirely possible that the manager put the wrong price in and refused to admit that, but there will never be any “blame the store” comments on Consumerist, will there?

      • alexcassidy says:

        @Kajj: What, exactly, is confusing about “you need a receipt to return this”? It sucks for the OP that he misplaced his receipt, but he should know that if that happens, he’s gonna get what they feel like giving him. I think it would have been REALLY cool of Macy’s to give him the $19.98, but they were in no way obligated.

      • GayNerd says:

        @Kajj: Two things:

        1) Why the [sic] for “cry baby?” It was not spelled wrong or archaic or incorrectly punctuated, and it was most certainly used in the proper context. A cry baby is someone who goes running to mother every time the littlest thing happens. In this case, Benny came running to Consumerist (and Consumerist took the bait) for a complete and total non-issue.

        2) Yes, it is possible that a busy manager decided to screw over one unfortunate customer out of $17.48, but really…does that make any sense? That he would choose such a seemingly ridiculously low number without the ability to back it up? Unlikely, in my book.

        3) Not sure what Consumerist you read, but the vast majority of the time, the stores are, in fact blamed and the consumer is thought to be in the right.

        Just as Benny could have avoided his problems by saving the receipt (something everyone out of diapers should know), or by asking the gift-giver if he/she still had the receipt, you should have been more careful about what you read, and what you posted. Three-out-of-three wrong is a pretty lousy average.

    • madog says:

      @GayNerd: quit your whining you gay nerd [sic].

  10. invisiblenemies says:

    This is a perfectly reasonable policy. Why is this newsworthy?

  11. alyssariffic says:

    Even if the $2.50 price isn’t anything that item has sold for on sale, maybe they take other offers like coupons they have into account when calculating the max they can offer for non-receipt returns. Maybe some combination of coupons could result in the price coming to 2.50, so that’s what they have to offer.

  12. jmndos says:

    The lowest charge price is price it actually costs.

    If you were to buy the item on the open market, that’s what it would cost, and that’s what it cost the little African or Vietnamese boy or girl to sew it and have it shipped.

    Macy’s markup is 800%.

    They are only being fair (besides the markup).
    You could have bought it at 2.50 from an overstock place or a direct distributor or one of those convention flea markets and went to a store to defraud it. So for example, you bought it for 2.50 and then went to some store and returned to get a bigger refund than you are entitled.

    A receipt verifies that you paid that amount and are unsatisfied, thus full refund. There is no restocking fee, because the markup itself has it factored in.

    Best buy, for example, doesn’t have such high markup, that’s why there is restocking.
    Electronics, usually only have a 200-300% markup, at most, so some stores may not afford to restock on that little markup.

    Returned electronics have to be sent back to the manufacturer to be processed, which consists of running a diagnostic on the device, making sure all materials are there and repackaging and being put back into the product flow.

    Apple, like the “new” iphone’s with other people’s data were sent back to the factory and repackaged. The only problem is that the data was not wiped. So your new item may actually be used.

    The only way a store can do an exchange is a straight swap. For example, I bought a T-shirt, its too small, and I would like 1 size bigger. They have both items in stock and the T-shirt I have still has tags. They usually do this without a receipt. A straight swap, as long as there are no defects and no repackaging required, is acceptable without receipt.

    • mythago says:

      @Rachacha: No, baby sizes are very weird. Plenty of “newborn” sizes don’t fit actual newborns, and by the time Mom’s gift arrives your kid may need a “six-month” size.

    • dorastandpipe says:

      @jmndos: I had an issue with wanting to exchange a shirt, still tags and all…but no receipt and pretty much got the evil eye and the run around. The store returned my t-shirt without receipt and gave me a store credit then turned around and sold me the new one using the store credit as payment. Problem? Oh yeah. They returned my smaller shirt for the sale price and then tried to charge me full price for the right sized one. THAT is crap! I asked to speak with a manager in order to get the $2 difference. How many other people actually paid the higher price?

  13. Rachacha says:

    Why not just do an exchange. The OP said “…being that the outfit was the wrong size…” or is that the polite way of saying that the gift you received from your mother for your daughter was ugly ;-)

    • parkavery says:

      @Rachacha: I’m also curious why she doesn’t exchange it. Most stores will do a straight exchange without a receipt, since they’re not losing anything in the deal.

      Even if she hates the style, she can keep her new receipt and return the new item at a later date.

  14. dorastandpipe says:

    Many stores do this crap, even everyone’s beloved Target, if you don’t have a receipt. I used to see some stores state “lowest selling price in the past 90 days” but I think even that is thrown out the window and it is the lowest selling price ever in the history of this product in the store. It bites. I think the stores even pull this crap if you have the gift receipt because you don’t know how much the gift giver paid-how are you gonna call shenanigans unless you also have access to the regular receipt? I keep forgetting to buy something and return it with the gift receipt to test my theory though. I have new project.

    • StealthySwede_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @dorastandpipe: I will doubt they pull it with gift receipts, as getting caught doing something like that would get them fined, and it’s not hard to test the store to see if it’s doing that.

    • Cynicor says:

      @dorastandpipe: Actually, my beloved Target can look the purchase up if you have the credit card you used. They will use that as proof of purchase and price paid.

      • Anonymous says:

        @dorastandpipe: Each individual Target has the power to set their own prices for clearance. If it’s on clearance at one store, it might not be at another or it might be for a higher clearance price. Also, gift receipts are tied with the original. If you’re returning that hideous baby outfit and are confused why you’re getting $2 for it, the person who bought it for you probably got it on clearance because they didn’t want to spend much money on your baby.
        @Cynicor: Credit, debit or check even.

  15. mxjohnson says:

    This has been their policy for many years. It makes sense. For all Benny knows, the person who bought it paid only $2.50. Besides, Macy’s sometimes has crazy 4 hour sales on a handful of items; they can’t let people game the system by buying $1000 worth of jeans for $300, returning them a week later for $1000 store credit, and then buying $1000 worth of men’s watches.

    Now, I don’t like Macy’s. When my wife I got married, we registered at Macy’s, and they screwed it up royally. Even though people used the registry, we still got seven coffee makers. When we tried to return six, Macy’s wanted to give us the lowest selling price — even though the registry showed how much each person had paid! It took about an hour of polite persistence, and the threat of small claims court, but we did get it straightened out satisfactorily. But I couldn’t believe the incompetence and flat out lies we had to deal with in the process.

  16. kamel5547 says:

    Completely reasonable. Unfortunately too many scammers decided that taking advantage of loose return policies was a good idea. They realized that if they bought items on sale and then returned them after the sale without a reciept they could make a few bucks per item (or more).

    It sucks in general, but I am with the stores on this one. The people to blame for bad return policies are abusive customers.

  17. StealthySwede_GitEmSteveDave says:

    I know Linens and Things did this, and I believe Old Navy does this as well. I don’t see a problem with it. Let’s say someone went to a store they had these on clearance or online, and got 4 @ $2.50. Then they go w/o a receipt to a store that doesn’t have them on sale. For an outlay of $10.00, they will be getting back ~$80.00. No way is this fair to the vendor, and also to other shoppers who have to pay more to make up for this nearly 100.00 loss in sales.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @StealthySwede_GitEmSteveDave: I think aside from luxury type stores like Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn, most all retailers do this if you return without a receipt. This happened to my wife and I at a couple different stores when we returned some duplicate wedding gifts that we didn’t have gift receipts for. But when we had dupes from Crate & Barrel, they just gave us the current shelf price. I think since they cater to people that are loaded, they have a certain expectation to uphold. Not like stores that cater to us common folk :)

  18. coddat says:

    Macy’s policy is prettty clear, no reciept and no proof of purchase, you get the lowest selling price in the last six months. The biggest thing to remember is that sometimes stores get the same thing a year apart. The same outfit could have been on sale last year, sold well, so they ordered more for this year. Same UPC, but because the ones from the year before at sometime went on sale it goes towards the current one in store.

  19. uconn says:

    If it was the wrong size and they still had some more on the shelf, why didn’t you exhange it for the right size?

  20. Ezra Ekman says:

    On the one hand, the policy is quite fair. On the other hand, you don’t have to be stuck with it. I shop at Macy’s all the time; it’s got the brands I like, without charging the premium that places like Bloomingdales (also owned by Macy’s) and Nordstrom charges, and I can almost always find exactly what I want. Their return policies are also quite reasonable, if you know how to work the system.

    First off, Macy’s return policy isn’t 30 days. It’s 6 months, and it’s printed on the back of the receipt. The only return policies that are more liberal come from membership warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club, the former of which I’ve successfully returned something 5 years old once. So previous posters who’ve mentioned that the store should check the last 30 days and honor the $19.95 price if it hadn’t dropped… sorry, but they’d have to go much further back in the system to check it, and I’m not sure they even could. The system keeps track of the lowest price it’s *ever* been, which includes their 20% off sales, specific department or item sales, introductory or promotional pricing, etc… and those discounts stack sometimes, boys and girls. So yes, I could see that $19.95 item having sold for $2.50 once.

    Second, assuming that this is accurate, and the item *did* at one point sell for $2.50, the store has a reasonable concern: how do we know the customer isn’t gaming the system… or that they even bought it here? Well, I’ll be one of the first to take offense at a store who assumes I’m a thief. I’ll flat-out refuse to show my receipt to a rent-a-cop at the door, unless it’s required by the terms of my membership. (Like at Costco, for example.) That said, however, we’re not talking about your rights to an item that you own. We’re talking about their rights to set policies about, essentially, buying it back from you. That’s what a return is, and folks, it’s legal for them to state that all sales are final, if they wanted to change their policies in the future. It would have to be chain-wide, of course, so there was no discrimination, or they’d face some legal liability. But some folks seem to think that just because you’re a customer, you somehow are “always right”. The customer is NOT always right, and although that still means that you must be treated with respect and dignity, it does *not* mean that you must be given whatever you ask for, regardless of the cost or consequences. That final decision is up to the manager. So…

    Third, TALK TO THE MANAGER. Macy’s is set up as a full-service department store. They have a major commitment to customer service, and when approached in the right way, will usually do whatever they can to make you happy, if they have any indication that you will *remain* a customer. What it really boils down to is this: you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. Macy’s *can* go against policy to help you, but they don’t have to. It’s up to you to convince them. How? Well, first, don’t just walk up to the counter and whine at them. Even when you’re upset, don’t “be upset”. Upset people are difficult to speak to and work with. They’re a hassle, and a normal reaction to that is to want to get them out of there as soon as possible without it costing too much. Remain calm, remain upbeat, and try to find common ground with the store rep before you really even get into the reason you’re talking to them. When you’re asking them to give you what you want, don’t ask them like you’re outraged or upset. Ask them as if you’re not concerned about it, and just slightly surprised. KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE, and don’t take offense at a policy that the store rep didn’t make, and is obligated to follow, albeit with some leeway, sometimes. If the rep won’t budge, shrug, thank them, and then go find someone elsewhere in the store and ask them if it would be all right to speak with the store manager, so you’re not . Then, ideally, walk to where the store manager is, rather than force them to come to you. Why? Because the manager has to balance two different priorities: help the customer, but support his staff as well. Don’t put him in a position to decide whether or not he has to sacrifice one for the other. Plus, by walking to them, you demonstrate that you’re a reasonable person, not one of those dreaded “the customer is always right” customers.

    Explain yourself calmly and rationally, and try to avoid blame or assumtions. “X happened,” is much better than “X happened because that jerk thought Y.” Let him know that you’d come to pick up a couple of items (which you were, since you were shopping in the baby section), and return something that you’d recently received as a gift. Tell him (or her) that you didn’t have the receipt, but the item on the shelf is priced at $19.95, and yet you’re being told it once sold for $2.50. My previous statements about sales aside, a calm, reasonable person can often demonstrate that a greatly-reduced price isn’t reasonable by “most” people’s standards, just from the way the point out the current details of the situation. Now the manager is not just facing a customer who may or may not spend more money; he’s faced with a customer who might decide not to buy those other six items in the customer’s hand… and all just over less than $20. Don’t say any of this; it’s implied by the fact that you’re carrying around your potential purchases. Odds are that the manager, who wants customers to buy more, who sees no slighted staff present, will just give you want you want.

    Failing all of this, find a friend with a Macy’s card. Macy’s bends over backwards for it’s cardmembers most of the time, so long as it’s better than just the first tier card. (Macy’s has their normal store card, then platinum and elite cards, each based on your spending for the previous year, and you can even get customer service to upgrade you in the same year if you happened to have spent a lot right away.) A Macy’s cardholder may succeed where you’ve failed, because it is obvious to everyone concerned that the Macy’s cardholder is a regular customer, and you don’t screw around with your regular customers. I’ve been faced with this exact situation myself, and all it took was a smile and a calm request. Of course, it probably also helped that I was going to immediately buy something else. YMMV.

    Of course, you could always go ask the gift-giver for the receipt, but I understand that it might not be terribly politic. Try the above, and remember that EVERYONE can have a bad or off day. Don’t take it personally, and just find someone else. Good luck!

    • sprocket79 says:

      @Ezra Ekman: I see someone else has worked for Macy’s!

      I think the best piece of advice is to talk to a manager. When I worked at Macy’s, I hated the managers because they told me to stick by policy and then when I called them, they caved in like the spineless weasels they are. Now though, I know how the system works and use it to work for me. The cashier is the first line of defense and is always the bad guy. Talk to the manager, they are the ones both with pull and lack of spine.

      • halo969 says:

        @sprocket79: I think it’s like this everywhere. Where I worked, I wanted to help customers but was bound by the “it’s policy” crapola just so the manager could come over and be the good guy and give the customer everything they asked for. So why couldn’t I and just avoid the hassle?

      • Ezra Ekman says:

        @sprocket79: Actually, no; I just shop there a lot, and I understand what it takes to get things done. I like to look professional, but I just can’t bring myself to spend over $300 on an Armani shirt. ;-) Macy’s gives me some decent middle-tier designers without spending an arm and a leg.

    • BodeMiller says:

      @Ezra Ekman:

      While I think you give good advice here on how to deal with employees anywhere (not just Macy’s) I have to add my experience just to fill out the picture.

      I bought a very expensive Prescriptives brand foundation stick from Macy’s online and decided I didn’t like the color or the product very much. I live about 80 minutes from the nearest Macy’s (hence the online order) but I was going to be in town the next day so I dropped by the store to return it. Of course I had the receipt in hand.

      I was in too much of a rush to shop for a replacement item so I politely asked for a straight return. The cashier, who happened to be a manager, asked why I was returning it. I said I didn’t think the color was right for me, and she asked in a confrontational tone “Well, why did you pick that color, then?” I could not believe she asked me that. I really wish I had told her, “None of your fucking business,” or “I threw a wad of gum at the computer screen” but being bred to be polite, I said, well, it was online (which she already knew) and there were only a few choices, and this was the closest.

      Then she suggested she color analyze me so we could choose a different shade rather than do the return. I told her, again, that I didn’t have time and I just wanted to return it. She told me it would only take a few minutes, so why didn’t I just do that? After I continued to resist and she realized I wasn’t going to give in she passed me off to a regular sales associate to process the actual return.

      Not only was I delayed by the hard sell routine before I could make my return, but the experience left such a bad taste in my mouth I don’t even want to go back to that Macy’s. I realize she could have been having a bad day and it was just one manager, but that wasn’t my first poor experience at that store.

      Macy’s is in deep financial trouble and closing stores. That may have contributed to the manager’s hard sell tactics as she didn’t want to lose the sale. The only problem is, in the process she lost a customer. If she had seen the bigger picture and treated me well and with respect, I would want to go back there instead of shopping at another store.

      So Macy’s 6 month (“no questions asked” except for WHY’D YOU CHOOSE THAT COLOR THEN?) return policy isn’t so valuable if I have to fight to return something I bought two days ago WITH a receipt. It’s too bad, because it’s the highest end department store in my area.

      • Ezra Ekman says:

        @BodeMiller: I’ll agree with you that they didn’t handle your return very well, but there may be a little more to the story than you realize:

        It’s my understanding that a few departments (and cosmetics is one of them) are handled VERY differently than the rest of the store. As far as I know, cosmetics staff aren’t regular employees; they’re contractors that are paid on commission by the cosmetics companies they represent. Sometimes they’re at Macy’s; other times they’re at a mall kiosk or branded store. I don’t know all the specifics, but I believe that both sales and returns directly affect that representative’s bottom line. Many Macy’s employees make a small commission on sales, but I think cosmetics is based entirely around a commission model.

        When they offered to color analyze you, she was essentially trying to turn a return into a sale. I don’t think she was a store manager, though it’s possible she was a manager for that particular cosmetics brand.

        It doesn’t make what they did right, but hopefully that will lend a little understanding as to *why* they responded the way they did. Bear in mind however, this information is something I’ve received third-party, so I can’t confirm its accuracy. It’s just what I’ve heard.

  21. PicklePants says:

    Our local Macy’s actually puts bar code stickers on the price tags encoded with the sales price, so that even if you don’t have a receipt there is still a record of for how much the item was purchased.

  22. coddat says:

    Just another point to add, if you live in a market with multiple macy’s, go to the one that is the busiest and has the nicest stuff. Returns come off a stores bottom line, a store that is struggling with sales will try to limit the returns to the bare minimum. A store that is much busier won’t care that you are retuning a 20 dollar outfit.

  23. Charmander says:

    Being that the gift outfit was the wrong size, I would have just exchanged it for a different size.

  24. winstonthorne says:

    $2.50 is not necessarily a closeout price; it could have been a loss leader on one of their “one day sales” that they have every day.

  25. supercereal says:

    @rdm: Exactly. If you forget the receipt, why should you expect the store to take it back willingly? Plus, the price on the rack isn’t necessarily the “advertised” or “selling” price.

    Also, it seems the item was a gift, meaning that Benny didn’t pay anything for it in the first place. In theory, he gained more money than he had before…

    (Still, it would annoy me too. But I also don’t expect the world to bend over backwards for me, either…)

  26. P.T.Wheatstraw says:

    Quick question here for all the Macy’s apologists:

    If they are entitled to only accept the “lowest recent sale price” for exchanges, then why can I not demand the “lowest recent sale price” for a return?

    The fact is, if they can legitimately say “Yes, we are currently selling it for $20 now but it was only ‘worth’ $2 when it was purchased” then I can legitimately say “You used to sell it for $2, but now it’s worth $2, but I am still going to get $20 back.”

    The very exploitation they decry is completely authorized by the exploitation Macy’s visits upon its customers. Here’s the easy way out you clowns are missing: Don’t fuck your customers and they won’t fuck you. Amazing!

  27. Eric1285 says:

    I’m sure that many other readers have pointed this out, but this is a very common policy. You’re not refunded the item’s current selling price – you get the lowest price that item has been sold for (usually in a 30-day period). Otherwise, what’s to stop savvy shoppers from picking up dozens of an item while it’s on sale and returning it for a huge profit a few days later when the price goes back up?

  28. vampired says:

    That is pretty standard policy for every store. It typically is lowest price EVER. Since you don’t have a receipt, they can’t even prove you bought it within 30 days. Otherwise people would buy stuff on sale and return it after the sale without a receipt and make a profit.

  29. Outrun1986 says:

    I have successfully returned something at Macy’s that I bought with a receipt after I decided I didn’t want it, when I returned the item it had dropped to 75% off. I got the price I paid because I had the receipt.

    It was probably a fire sale of some sort, a one day sale or that item has been sold twice with the same UPC, but since they come in at different times you get charged a higher price. I have run into this at many clothing stores. Items are marked down by the date they come in, so its possible to find 2 of the exact same item with 2 different prices. I don’t doubt that Macy’s once sold the item for 2.50 as it does seem possible.

    The gift giver could have also bought the item a while before it was actually given for the 2.50 price, you don’t really know how much the giver paid for it. Even if they said they paid 20$ they might have just been trying to fool you when they really paid 2.50.

    This is pretty much the policy for every retailer though, so save those receipts!

    Some stores like target even mark down things by season and don’t give you the full price if its seasonal merchandise even if you try to return it with a receipt. You have to be REALLY careful with this because many things in that store are considered seasonal merchandise, even if they don’t seem seasonal to you. If they took returns on seasonal merchandise and gave the full price back then people would buy Christmas decorations and try to return them on Dec. 26th after they were already used for the whole season. Seasonal merchandise is usually returned for its current price regardless if you have a receipt or not.

  30. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    Back in the early/mid 90s when I worked retail for a regional department store chain, we had a tagging system in place to ensure customers got their full purchase price back. Most customers never knew about it.

    At the top of the tag we had an encoded 6 digit number that designated the month/week/year merchandise was first available for sale. Each markdown sticker had a new 6 digit code on it. If an item was ever returned without a receipt we could fairly accurately determine the price paid based upon the date.

    When I was in management, I would offer an unhappy customer the current price in store credit if it happened to be higher than what they received in return.

    This would happen most often when someone had tried to remove a sticker, which by design would damage the underlying stickers or tag.

    As a general policy, we would only accept returns when the customer had any of the following items — a dated receipt, an attached tag that had a purchase code of no more than a 1 year prior, or paid via credit card/store card.

    We would frequently have customers in the over 60 crowd who would attempt to return items that were 3-5 years old…the tag system protected us from this.

    And we had the frequent tag damagers who tried to play the system. They learned quickly if they returned something purchased with store credit from a prior return, that return would go back to store credit, not cash.

    It wasn’t a perfect system, but it did a decent job of protecting the store and the customer.

  31. morganlh85 says:

    Why didn’t she just exchange the outfit for the correct size if the item was clearly still available in store?

    I know she feels cheated, but this is EXTREMELY common to keep people from buying the item when it IS $2.50 then returning it for $20 worth of store credit.

  32. wickedpixel says:

    not to nitpick, but if the OP was really returning it because it was the wrong size and Macy’s was still selling them, why not just do an even exchange for the right size?

  33. PLATTWORX says:

    I had this happen with Lands End. I returned a $149 suit jacket and I could not find the orignal receipt or order number. Neither could they because they refunded me only $49 when they got it back. I was stunned, but they claimed that was the last price that item number sold for so I was stuck. I have NEVER seen Lands End charge $49 for a suit jacket but I had no way to argue. I know I paid full price, but if you can’t prove it, you’re lost.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Macy’s? It is only called Macy’s. “Macy’s went bankrupt years ago, and the name was bought by Federated” I was told when I attempted to replace a “Tools of the Trade” frying pan which had a lifetime guarantee when I bought it. But when the handle broke off Macy’s wasn’t Macy’s anymore, even though they were advertising that they had been serving your family for 120 years.

  35. Merrissa Hess says:

    I work for Macy’s and it’s a company wide thing to use a little Macy’s bar code sticker, called customer return labels, specifically so we don’t have to print gift receipts, and if an item gets returned, you get the price paid for the item, not the lowest sale price. If he had the original tag, there should have been a Macy’s sticker on it because it can’t be sold until the sticker is scanned. I’ve also noticed Nordstrom has started using the stickers too. Wow that ended up longer than I intended.

  36. Dark4eons says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but instead of going for the money, couldn’t he have asked for the right size? Besides the submitter had no receipt and Macy could’ve easily sent him back home with nothing…

  37. Anonymous says:

    I used to work at Macy’s and this was by far, the number one problem customers would have. Its surprising how many people try to scam the store through returns and I feel like it is a pretty fair policy. The store needs to protect itself too but the initial shock some people get when they’re quoted so low leads to lots of anger. Anyway, I just want to clarify two things.

    First, the $2.50 or whatever outrageous price they’ll tell you is the lowest price possible within the last 180 days. This means any and all discount/sale/coupon combination are taken into account in that price. Considering the discounts and coupons employees can put together, its more than likely someone did purchase that item for that price.

    Second, if you find yourself in this situation, just stay calm and ask for a manager. The associate can’t do anything about it and in my experience, 9 out of 10 times a manager will refund you the current or full price. If that’s not getting you anywhere, ask for an executive. Most of the bigger stores are more concerned with their customer service scores and the people responsible for maintaining that are the executives so they’ll try to make you happy.

  38. skycrashesdown says:

    I bought a lot of Christmas presents for people at Macy’s and I was surprised at how heavily things were marked down/on sale. Department stores were desperate for sales this holiday season, and I can absolutely believe that this outfit at one point recently sold for $2.50.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I bought a leather jacket at Christmas which normally sold for $300. The price was marked down to $99 on Black Friday. By the time I used discount coupons and the store applied a percentage off that was only good that day, I ended up only paying $62 for that jacket. Later, after Christmas, I saw it was “on sale” for half-off the $300 price.

    If anybody bought that jacket after Christmas and tried to return it, they might have only been given $62 for the jacket instead of the $150 they paid for it.

    That’s what happens when you don’t have a receipt. Macy’s is not trying to cheat this person, but rather they are trying to avoid people profiting from a liberal return policy. Those days are gone forever.

  40. coan_net says:

    Sounds normal to me.

    If a store normally sells something for $100 – but has a sale for $5 each, tons of people would buy it.

    Then the next week, it against cost $100 – it would be stupid to allow people to return it for a $100 refund and make $95…. they would be able to return it for $5.

    This is not a consumerist story – if anything, the store should be nice and give them store credit for current price for something else in the store…. but that is just an opinion, and would not think any less of Macy’s if they did not.

  41. Frank Bezak says:

    I used to work for Federated Dept Stores and if you ever saw their backend system for customer order/billing information, you would cry on how archaic it is. FYI Macys managers have full ability to change whatever they want. If they dont do it for you, just go higher. They have price limits on how much they can refund. I could probably write a book on how FACS stores are a complete disaster.

  42. Joedel263 says:

    anyone who wants to fight with Macys, I’ll introduce you to the guy who’s been scamming my store (not Macys) for the last eleven years.. skirting the return policies and making money off of buying things on sale and then returning them without a receipt 32 days later after the sale is out of the system.. There will always be people who ruin it for everyone else.. blame them, not the retailers..

  43. DjDynasty says:

    ALL Macy’s purchases have a second barcode attached somewhere on the garmet or price tag. It should say “Macy’s West, east, South, or Florida” depending on where you are. This SECOND barcode, IS your gift receipt!!! They attach this barcode to *EVERY* single purchase. Please contact Macy’s Corporate about this issue. Their number is 800-264-0069 for their corporate offices. is the contact I have there last time I complained about the shoddy products, shoddy service, and lack of respect for the Chicago traditions at the former Marshall Field’s.

    Should you end up speaking to her personally. Inform her all stores in Chicago still look like TJ Maxx (known by the Chicago tribune now as TJ Macy’s) and the Field’s Stockholders are still boycotting and enjoying the money they are losing on the stock value.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Can’t Macy’s just look up the credit card you purchased with? i used to work in retail and that was the easiest thing ever…… shows all the transactions across multiple stores

  45. Michael Coogan says:

    This is a policy no matter where you go.

    I work at a store (not Macy’s) and this happens there too. I am sure our policy is 60 days and I tell every customer making a return without a receipt that. We allow them to exchange for the same item in a different size if they want but if they return it they only get the lowest price that it was.

    Most customers that find out they are getting that low of a price hold on to the item and try and find the receipt.

    I try and compliment the customer telling them they must have been a smart shopper to get it for that price.

  46. Matt Moschella says:

    It’s possible that the writer may have received the same item, but from a previous year. I work in retail, and we often have similar problems. Each year, the best selling sets from the previous years are brought back new, but with new, different item numbers. The old ones will return (and sell, for that matter) at greatly reduced prices, as they were clearanced out 11 months prior.

    I would suggest the writer confirm the UPCs are identical, and if so, find out when/how the item was sold at $2.50. The manager should be able to offer up that information, ie it was on sale for 80% off last week. If they can’t or refuse to, then take it to the higher ups as they won’t lose a customer over $20 – not in this economy.

  47. personnext says:

    It is articles like these that really make me think about the Consumerist true motives.

    Why is this even news worthy? If you don’t have a receipt, the policy at EVERY STORE is to allow an exchange for the lowest advertised price within the past XX days. If that wasn’t a policy, then people would make a killing buying items on sale and returning them the next week after the sale ended.

    Macy’s is not in the wrong, yet this article paints Macy’s in a bad light.

    Shame on the Consumerist.

  48. emis says:

    10% of the retail buying public ruins it for the other 90%… they try to scam and scam, if they can get a 10% discount on what they pay via a rewards program then return sans receipt for the pre-discount price then there will be entire websites written up about how to get this “deal”…

  49. savdavid says:

    They would rather loose a customer.

  50. Sally Turner says:

    If it were purchased on ANY credit card, the information is retained in the system and the consumer would get the actual selling price. In the case of a gift, you’d need the gift reciept to see what was actually paid for it. To be offered $2.50, the item had to be at least a 1/2 year old, verified by the sku #. Normally at that point, the item is then devalued and sent out. What is new in the store, was in someway different. Most likely brought back in as the item must have done well, maybe it was a 3 quarter sleeve, something was different.

  51. derelk says:

    Meh, this is dumb. As has been noted many times, the maximum return policy with no receipt is the lowest selling price in the last X days. While the number of days varies by store, this policy does not. It’s standard practice in retail, and it’s very reasonable.

    It is unlikely Macy’s makes up fake lowest selling prices. All it means is some Macy’s store, anywhere in the region or possibly nationally, put this item on clearance sometime recently. It doesn’t have to be the same store, because obviously, with no receipt, you could have bought it anywhere.

    Keep your receipts. Don’t expect to make returns without them. Not worth writing about.

  52. chrisexv6 says:

    This is not uncommon at all.

    Babies R Us does it, Home Depot does it, etc. I actually EXPECT it to happen now if I bring something back without a receipt.

    On the flipside, if you bought it yourself and used a credit card, most stores are nice enough to try and find the credit card transaction in their computers so you can prove how much you paid for it.

  53. GoVegan says:

    At least they let you return it. A lot of stores wouldn’t let you return it without a receipt.

  54. GoVegan says:

    I bet if you put the item on ebay you will get more for it.

  55. loueloui says:

    Having worked for Macy’s I can absolutely state that this is no accident. ‘Lowest selling price’ could mean that this particular item went on sale at a store in Ohio, for a couple of hours on a Wednesday morning.

    Yes, technically you could have bought this there for that price and be credited more than the price paid, and all stores share the same computer system. That makes it all nice and legal, and stuff.

    That’s the Macy’s way, they either make money on the sale, or make money on the return, and then sell it again.

  56. flyromeo3 says:

    The problem here is the dope returning it didnt have a receipt. If you had saved your receipt problem would be solved.

  57. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Seems like a normal practice, but I would hope to talk to a Macy’s manager and work something out.

    Clearly if they didn’t have it in stock and it had been reduced to $2.50 it would be over. Since they did have them in stock I would ask for store credit if I also buy another $30 in merchandise. It would be a take it and make money now and have a happy customer, or I don’t ever shop at your lousy store again type offer.

  58. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    One more note, Doesn’t Macy’s put a unique bar coded sticker on everything the sell, effectively being the receipt? It goes right on the tag. Seems like it would take the place of the gift receipt very effectively.

    Somethings fishy.

  59. Anonymous says:

    The burden is on you not to lose the receipt. You can’t hold Macy’s responsible for something that was your fault. These policies are in place to protect macy’s from all of the scam artists out there who “work the system”. The little guy is not always right.

  60. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had this exact same thing happen at Circuit City. I was given a present of a game that I already owned, but didn’t have a reciept, although the game was clearly marked with a sticker that said Circuit City and a price of $60.00 and was unopened. When I tried to return it, they offered $25.00 telling me that “Circuit City’s policy is to give the lowest selling price, not the current selling price.” (The same as above.) I accepted the credit and returned to the store two hours later, only to find my copy placed with the new items (identifiable by its different sticker!) and priced at $50.00, the current price CC was selling it at.

  61. snowbirdontheleft says:

    People like this really irritate me. As a sales associate at The Gap I frequently get screamed at because of irrational customers like these.

    It is ludicrous to think that this person should get 19.50 for their item. Especially because it is a gift. People buy cheap gifts all the time. That’s why they don’t give the gift recipients their receipt. Even a gift receipt is risky because then little Timmy comes in the store picks out a new pair of pants, comes to the register, and discovers that Uncle Fred only spent 97 cents on the gifted pair.

    Yes, it sucks that sometimes after an item is marked down, it gets marked back up, but hassling lowly employees will never change this policy. The man you need to talk to is on a yacht with both his wife and his girlfriend wearing a monocle atop a throne of gold bars.

  62. PICKWICK says:

    I recently went to Macy’s to exchange a suit my husband had bought. The pants had a hole in them. I spoke to a saleswoman who said she couldn’t do anything because I didn’t purchase it at that store. I told her that not purchasing it at that store should make no difference it was a suit made for the Macy store by the designer therefore, Macy’s should stand by their merchandise.

    The pants had not been tailored and the jacket did have the designer name tag on. I told her I understood her dilemma but I was not asking for money to be returned but an even exchange since all the suits were on sale anyway. The Manager was supposedly in a meeting but said he couldn’t do anything without a receipt.
    I understand I didn’t have a receipt but give me a break. I wanted to exchange it.

    I didn’t think there would be a problem with the pants on a suit. There has never been a problem before with any suits purchased. This is what I get for paying cash and not charge.