Destroying Underwear Returned To Stores: Wasteful Or Good Hygiene?

G. writes that she learned something during a recent shopping trip to Gilly Hicks that shocked her. While customers can’t try underwear on in the store fitting rooms, they can try it on at home and return it. However, once the underwear is returned to the store, it’s destroyed. G. finds this shocking and wasteful, but it’s no big secret. It’s a common retail practice for returned underwear to be “damaged out,” or put aside for later destruction, when it’s been returned.

In fact, it was a big deal when an NBC investigation showed that department stores and specialty retailers were putting returned–and dirty–underwear back out on the shelves. The New York state Senate even introduced a bill banning the practice …in reaction to NBC’s reporting, of course.

G. writes:

I would ordinarily never go into Gilly Hicks (the smell of the cologne leaking out into the mall is enough to keep me away) but someone gave me a gift card to this store. I normally shop for my girly things at Macy’s or someplace like it, where it is policy that you try on undies over your own (besides, who doesn’t wash intimates first thing at home before wearing them?). So at Gilly Hicks (having NO idea how their sizes run, because I don’t shop there) I made my way to the dressing room with some bras and panties to try on. Fitting room attendant says I can’t try on the undies. I understand, but ask her, what happens if I buy them and they don’t fit? She says, oh no problem, you can return them.

Huh. Wait. I can’t try them on here, but if I return them because they don’t fit, isn’t it obvious that I have since TRIED THEM ON at home? I ask her how this makes any sense, but she assures me that any underwear that is returned is destroyed, not put back out for sale.(!)

Have you ever heard of a store destroying clothes that are returned? Why not just say they are non-returnable? Doesn’t this policy seem a bit off when everyone else in the world is trying to be more conscious of our waste (and in some corporations, at least appear so)?

What do you think? Does the occasional destruction of innocent panties outweigh the right of consumers to return things that they’ve bought?


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