Sorry, Your $80 Brooks Brothers Shirt Is Only Good For Two Years

The phrase “unconditional guarantee” gives the impression that a product has a guarantee, and that it’s unconditional. B. writes that at Brooks Brothers, “unconditional” seems to mean “as long as you don’t wash or wear articles of clothing.” Is he out of line to expect the company to stand behind frequently worn and laundered items like dress shirts? Or is Brooks Brothers’ use of the word “unconditional” in this situation misleading?

B. writes:

Brooks Brothers Guarantee directly from their web site –

Our Unconditional Guarantee
Brooks Brothers guarantees its merchandise and your satisfaction. Purchases may be exchanged or returned at any time. With a receipt, full merchandise refunds will be issued by original payment method. Without a receipt, refunds will only be issued at current sale price on a Brooks Brothers Merchandise Credit Card. Cash refunded only in amounts of $200 or less at Brooks Brothers retail stores in the United States only.

I had some shirts that had been in my closet for a while unworn because of their condition (worn out in spots that shouldn’t have had them through normal wear). I was unaware of their “unconditional guarantee” until my wife told me to look on their website to see if they stood behind their $80 shirts. I was happy to see that such an expensive shirt had a guarantee.

I brought the shirts back to my local Brooks Brothers store and told the clerk that I wanted to exercise their unconditional guarantee for the shirts as I felt that they should not have worn out where they did. She looked at the shirts and told me that the shirts are outside of their expected life and that she can not do anything for me. I quoted their unconditional guarantee but she stated that it was company policy that the guarantee is only during the shirts expected life. I asked where this was stated and she responded once again that it is company policy. I asked her if she agreed that the definition of unconditional was without conditions and she agreed but still stated that she could not help me.

I then asked what the expected life of their shirts are. The surprising response – two years if laundered per their directions and six months if dry cleaned. I walked out of the store with my worthless shirts never to darken the door of Brooks Brothers again in my life.

In summary I learned two things that day –

1) $80 Brooks Brothers shirts only have a life expectancy of six months to two years.

2) Brooks Brothers must not have a dictionary in their corporate office as they don’t know the definition of unconditional or have the capacity to understand what “at any time” implies.

To all my friend at Consumerist think twice about purchasing from Brooks Brothers as their clothes have expiration dates.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Bort says:

    if they forgot to write the fine print they are quoting i am impressed

  2. Blackadar says:

    6 months? If your shirt is $80 and lasts only 6 months, you’re doing it wrong (and I spent 4 years working for a dry cleaner!)

    Plus, unconditional means *exactly* that – without conditions.

    • sleze69 says:

      I have several Brooks Brothers shirts that are 15 years old (I wore them in high school). I have just started replacing them. If you take care of these shirts they WILL last a long time.

  3. axhandler1 says:

    Arguuments of how well a shirt should hold up and “expected life” aside; if their website has an unconditional guarantee that you will be satisfied, they should honor that. If they are saying that satisfaction is guaranteed is only during the expected life of the shirt, that’s a conditional guarantee and they should change their website.

    • Akuma Matata says:

      Exactly… their internal company policy is meaningless if they don’t tell anyone about it.

  4. kromelizard says:

    Two years is a pretty impressive warranty on an article of clothing.

    • humphrmi says:

      But it’s not unconditional, is it?

    • RandomHookup says:

      For a dress shirt, worn once every two weeks (assuming you wear one week’s supply while another week’s is at the cleaners), two years means about 50 wears — about $1.60 per wear on an $80 shirt.

      • DanRydell says:

        I can’t tell if you think that’s reasonable or unreasonable.

        The price of clothing has little to do with durability, so price per wear isn’t really a good measure of anything.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I don’t know if it’s reasonable or unreasonable…just doing some quick math so people have a general idea how to gauge.

          I think cost per wear is perfectly acceptable as a measure for the value of an everyday piece of clothing (especially a high end one). Durability can be one factor, especially if it’s a common daily wear item. It’s like measuring a car on the cost per mile driven…it’s not the primary way of measuring, but can be useful if you want to compare total costs.

  5. BurtReynolds says:

    I was disappointed enough after finding variations in what a “tailored fit 15/32” actually means to them to resist the urge to buy anymore Brooks Brothers shirts in the near future.

    I guess I should be lucky as I have a bunch of shirts that are beyond their “useful life” and still in one piece. They are from Jos A. Bank and Banana Republic though.

    • segfault, registered cat offender says:

      I wear the same size and never noticed any differences in the Brooks Brothers shirts, but I only have three or four of them because they’re so expensive. They seem to be made of slightly thicker material than other dress shirts.

      Jos. A. Bank’s shirts also seem to hold up well. Jos. A.’s other menswear, on the other hand, I can count on having to have repaired at least once or twice during the first year that I wear it due to buttons falling off, seams coming undone, etc.

      • Woofer says:

        +1 on this. My non-iron shirts are durable and a pleasure to iron, but the buttons on suits just love to pop off. Easy enough to fix, though.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        Unfortunately I’ve found them to be inconsistent, which isn’t unusual with alot of stores in my experience, but I expect better from a “premium brand” like Brooks Brothers. Out of 4 shirts I’ve attempted to own, one fits me well and the others required me to grow longer arms and put on 20 pounds to make a proper fit.

        I have had one bad Jos A. Bank shirt that developed a tear somehow, but I have five others that are holding up nicely. At least their sizes are consistent in my experience.

  6. balthisar says:

    >>To all my friend at Consumerist think twice about purchasing from Brooks Brothers as their clothes have expiration dates.

    I’m not sure that’s reasonable. I can’t think of any article of clothing that I purchase because of some guarantee. In fact, the original poster clearly indicates that he didn’t purchase the shirts due to a guarantee; that he’d already given up on the shirts; and it was only afterwards that he found out about a guarantee.

    Now I’m not blaming the poster here; he’s correct in that the guarantee wasn’t honored. I’m disputing the fact that it’s reasonable to boycott some brand of clothing over this. Two years is certainly a reasonable lifetime for a shirt you might wear and launder once per week. I find that my shirts are generally too ratty to wear in a professional environment after about a year of constant use, and although I’m not talking about Brooks Brothers shirts, I’m also not talking about Walmart garbage.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I wouldn’t buy an $80 shirt unless it had a lifetime guarantee.

      • veritybrown says:

        I wouldn’t buy an $80 shirt, period.

      • FerretGirl says:

        Exactly. I have a bunch of Brooks Brothers and JCrew shirts because, though they were expensive even on sale, they have lifetime guarantees. I’ve had some of these classic dress shirts for nearly 6 years. They still look great, they fit me very well and I know that if they should suddenly break or die I can exchange them.

        I’ve had my black JCrew blouse for 3 years. It was probably 25$ or 30$ on sale (yay Consumerist daily deals!) but even if I had bought it for full BB price it’d still work out to a very low “cost per wear” price.

    • Minze says:

      I wouldn’t say it mattered why he purchased the shirts, he purchased a product. Expecting a company to live up to its stated policies is expected. If they don’t live up to this, what else will they pull later down the line?

      Oh, I know the unconditional return policy say “With a receipt, full merchandise refunds will be issued” but we charge a $40 restocking fee so you only get back $40. No, there is no mention of our restocking fee anywhere in our “unconditional” guarantee but it is corporate policy to charge it. If they meant this policy to be on unused items, they could have stated that…but then don’t call it an unconditional guarantee.

    • cytoman says:

      I am disputing their interpretation of ‘unconditional’. LL Bean has an unconditional guarantee and you can take back a shirt 30 years later and they will honor it.

      Brooks Brothers won’t be getting any of my orders in the future.

      • notserpmh says:

        I would second the LL Bean guarantee. It is the first thing I thought of when I read this. I had a pair of sunglasses I bought from them that I had for 2 years. One of the nose pieces started falling off. I called them, hoping that I could just buy a nose piece or that they would have tips on re-attaching it (that is even what I said up front). They were extremely kind, apologized profusely that the sunglass broke (sunglasses that I had 2 years, wore almost daily including in “harsh” environments like the beach), and said they would ship me a new pair right away and I could just ship the broken pair back. I was amazed. Needless to say, I buy as much as I can from LL Bean now.

  7. epb says:

    Tricky area since over two years is a long time to go and expect a refund, but if they say they have an unconditional guarantee on the shirts that explicitly says “Purchases may be exchanged or returned at any time”, then it sounds to me like he should have got one.

  8. Tallanvor says:

    To be honest, I don’t think Brooks Brothers is being unreasonable. I don’t know what the submitter considers to be “worn out in spots that shouldn’t have had them through normal wear”, but depending on use, a shirt may very well only last 6 months, or it could last 10 years if you don’t wear it often and store it properly.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t think Brooks Brothers is being unreasonable in its estimation of a two-year life cycle. Mr. Pi and I are going to replace half the dress shirts in his closet because he wears a dress shirt and tie to work every day, and that’s not even counting the days in which we go out to dinner or have some other function to go to, like a party. The oldest shirt is going on three years.

      • cheezfri says:

        That’s perfectly fine if they want to limit their policy to two years. But it sounds like they don’t state that anywhere on their website. Their policy says “unconditional”. Therefore they need to honor that or CHANGE THE WEBSITE.

    • El_Fez says:

      Then they need to change the term “Unconditional” in their refund policy. Unconditional means without any conditions whatsoever.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Oh you and your comprehension of English.

      • Tallanvor says:

        Sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, a reasonable person isn’t going to try and return a shirt that is two years old or more. For that matter, I think trying to return a shirt you’ve had for a year would be unreasonable.

        • MauriceCallidice says:

          To reiterate what others have posted, you seem to be missing where BB describes their guarantee as “unconditional”.

        • One-Eyed Jack says:

          Why not? Lands’ End stuff is “Guaranteed. Period.” And they always seem to stand behind it regardless of how long it’s been in your closet.

  9. Hoss says:

    I would not expect them to let me buy shirts once and exchange them after a year or two for new shirts on a regular cycle but they do need to explain exactly what they guarantee

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Depends on what the OP considers “worn out”. A shirt will not look brand new forever and much will depend on the care you take when washing them. Did the seams come apart? Was there a tear? Elbows worn through? What is “worn out in spots”?

    OTOH – “unconditional” should mean unconditional.

    • ARP says:

      Agreed, but then that means you only have to buy a shirt from BB once and then you can get it replaced over and over ad infinitum. I don’t think that’s what’s intended.

  11. MDSasquatch says:

    This is why I have started buying from LL Bean; they stand behind their return policy.

    My son has a pair of slippers that he wears everywhere; he ripped out a stitch a few months back and we contacted the company. They sent a return label and I expect the new slippers any day now.

    I need a new pair of boots before winter sets in and I am not even considering anywhere but LL Bean for the purchase.

    • Etoiles says:

      LL Bean’s been amazing about stuff that wears out when it shouldn’t, over the last 20 years. Now yeah, when I kill a backpack I’ve been using for 14 years I just pay for a new one, but the couple of times things haven’t lasted a year, they’ve been fantastic about replacement.

    • 451.6 says:

      I love L.L. Bean. I’ve had the same backpack for the past 15 years (with near-constant use) and I am not easy on my belongings.

      It’s the same reason why I’ll always look at Sony electronics first–because they lasted years when I was younger. This from the person who accidentally ran over her discman with a car more than once.

    • jimmyhl says:

      Lands End has always been insanely willing to refund/replace items too.

  12. Mighty914 says:

    I wonder what spots were worn out on OP’s shirts? Although he makes a valid point about their guarantee, I don’t think he can expect them to cover otherwise normal wear and tear…which I’m guessing this is.

    I have about 10 dress shirts, so I wear them about once every 2 weeks, so figure 25 times a year. I don’t think you can expect anyone to guarantee a shirt after approximately 50 uses (assuming he’s on a somewhat similar “schedule”).

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      I don’t think you can expect anyone to guarantee a shirt after approximately 50 uses (assuming he’s on a somewhat similar “schedule”).

      Unless that guarantee is explicitly unconditional.

  13. diasdiem says:

    It was invented by the same guy who came up with “unlimited” high-speed internet.

  14. Scoobatz says:

    Without knowing where or how the shirt became worn out, it’s certainly not possible for me to take a strong position on either side. I would consider this a fairly important detail that’s missing from this post.

    Also, unconditional guarantee does not mean this will be the last shirt he ever buys. Two years seems reasonable to me.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Without knowing where or how the shirt became worn out, it’s certainly not possible for me to take a strong position on either side. I would consider this a fairly important detail that’s missing from this post.”

      After two years, it doesn’t matter.

  15. InsomniacZombie says:

    $80 for only two years? I have $35.00 shirts from department stores that I’ve had over 5 that still look great. Sounds like a bunch of over-priced nonsense.

    • InsomniacZombie says:

      I might add, I have warn these shirts in rotation on every business day since I’ve bought them.

      • vastrightwing says:

        Ditto. All I wear to the office is Brooks Bros. Shirts because they look fresh (non iron versions) and they seem to last OK for me. I buy them on sale for about $50/ea. Since I won’t dry clean them, I figure I save $ there and they happen to fit me pretty well. I rotate from eight shirts and I’m getting about 3 years of use before they start looking worn. I had one shirt that started wrinkling long before I thought it should. I took the shirt back and they essentially told me the same thing. In spite of that, I keep wearing them because I haven’t found any other shirt I like better.

        I don’t like their so called “guarantee”; reminds me too much of “unlimited”. They can claim what they want, but they won’t actually deliver. Like a Best Buy guarantee, once you try to make a claim, they won’t honor it.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      How do you launder them? What kind of climate do you live in and what kind of precipitation do you encounter? These are pretty important factors when it comes to the wear and tear of clothing. Another consideration is the type of work environment you’re in – even people who work in offices all day encounter smog, smoke, soot, and other kinds of contaminants as soon as they step outside if their office is in a busy city.

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      Overpriced until you realize their no iron dress shirts are probably the best and most convenient dress shirt you will own. When you throw it in the dryer the crease lines even stay on the shirt. They are that good. $80 may be a lot for some but not having to dry clean is a big savings.

  16. aloria says:

    Sadly, high-end doesn’t necessarily mean quality. I have a dress that retails for about $75 (got it at a sample sale, fortunately) that is pilling after the first wash.

    • Gramin says:

      Not to dig at you, but $75 wouldn’t really qualify as high end. My girlfriend routinely buys dresses that retail in excess of $150. If she buys a dress for $75, it’s usually a “bar” dress, one that will be worn at night in dimly litted areas (not at work).

      My dress pants retail at close to $200.

      And regarding the quality of Brooks Brothers, I think it is outstanding. I’ve worn several brands of dress shirts and Brooks Brothers is my favorite. I now shop there exclusively for all my dress shirts.

      • K-Bo says:

        $75 is not high end, but it’s also not so cheap you would expect it to pill after one wash if the care instructions are followed.

        • Gramin says:

          Agreed and agreed. It shouldn’t pill.

          And the quality shouldn’t vary that much from brand to brand, regardless of price. Unfortunately, I think it can. I used to buy shirts from Express but their quality is horrible. Banana is another great place for shirts but their selection is small in comparison to BB.

      • crazedhare says:

        Seriously. Dresses cost $40 or $50 at Target these days, it is hard to find a dress at a place like the Gap or Loft for less than $80. I certainly don’t expect anything better than wear-a-few-times, sweatshop, unremarkable quality. There’s nothing wrong with a $75 dress in any universe, but an expectation of ‘high-end’ quality is mistaken. And furthermore, hasn’t it been well documented that much’high-end’ women’s clothing is no better constructed than the middle of the road stuff? It is the label, not the construction, that makes most (not all) designer clothing expensive.

        • K-Bo says:

          I have $15 dresses from brands like Derek Heart and other cheapo juniors brands that have stood up to years of washing and wearing. If they can pull it off for $15 I sure as heck expect someone to be able to pull it off for $75. I know a lot of clothes don’t pull it off, but I don’t think at $75 you can say “you get what you pay for” if it falls apart after 3 washes. $75 may not buy you top of the line runway fashions, but it should buy you classic simple basics that won’t fall apart.

        • K-Bo says:

          Also, you are right that it’s the brand not the quality you pay for. It’s best to learn a little about clothing construction, so you will be better able to tell quality by the look and feel of the item, because even within price levels or within brands, there can be huge disparities in quality.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Dresses and womens clothing are in another league price-wise.

    • Michaela says:

      First wash? Was this a hand wash, or did you just throw it in hot water and then through a tumble dryer? Proper care of clothes is very important.

      Personally, I take a feel of any clothing before I purchase it. I rub the fabric between my fingers to estimate the strength, and then I examine the stitching on areas on the piece that are going to face the most stress. Lastly, I look at the washing instructions, and I am realistic to myself about how well I could abide by them. If the piece doesn’t pass my test, it goes back on the rack.

      P.S. : Don’t give up on all designer labels. Some really do provide quality. My Zac Posen dress has been places, and yet it still looks as if I just bought it.

    • Chaosium says:

      “I have a dress that retails for about $75 (got it at a sample sale, fortunately) that is pilling after the first wash.”

      Your “sample sale” was probably never retailed at 75$, you got sold an inferior shirt likely worth 15-30$.

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Is their policy reasonable? Sure.

    Does their policy violate their own guarantee. You betcha!

    • axhandler1 says:


    • Rectilinear Propagation says:


      How hard would it be for them to just put the life expectancy of the shirts on the web site? If the time limit is the only condition for replacements and refunds, what’s the big deal about saying so?

      The OP had already assumed that he couldn’t get anything done about his shirts. Had the web site been honest about the return policy he would have just shrugged and remembered the limit for next time. Instead, he’s mad about being lied to and wasting his time.

  18. mcgs999 says:

    I have taken multiple items back to Brooks WELL after two years. No problems at all.

    There was a minor charge as the shirts I was exchanging for were their next series up, but it was less than 4 or 5 dollars a shirt.

  19. Raekwon says:

    I still wear shirts I had in High School (class of 1999) and earlier. Some of the T’s made it through wrestling and baseball practices. One miraculous shirt was from when I was 13 and shows no obvious wear, fading, holes, rips, or loose seams. Given, a handful have not made out so well I’d assume an $80 dress shirt should outlast a 15 year old freebie t-shirt.

    • Michaela says:

      I have a shirt I have worn since 4th grade. It still fits (I have always been pretty thin), and it has no holes.

      Actually, I even have some shirts from the 1980’s (my mom gave them to me). Their colors seem a bit diluted though.

  20. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    Sorry, I’m with BB. Who wants to wear out-of-date/out-of-style shirts anyway? Sure those long collar points were cool in 2008, but now? Not so much.

    • Gramin says:

      +1. Your style needs to be up-to-date. Every two years sounds about the right time to replace a dress shirt. The only exception would be a solid basic, such as white or blue. Correction, only exception would be white. Even the blue will fade with time and should be replaced.

  21. jedsa says:

    Would Brooks Brothers’ policy be reasonable if disclosed up front? Sure. Does Brooks Brothers’ policy, in its non-disclosed form, violate the unconditional guarantee? Absolutely. Small claims or even a class action law suit is merited here-this is a bait and switch scheme. Hell, the OP can, and should, talk to his state Attorney General’s Office. This sort of behavior is unacceptable.

    As for Balthisar and anyone else asking if people buy items from a store just because of “some guarantee,” YES! I buy items from LL Bean because they have an unconditional satisfaction guaranteed policy. If there’s a problem with it and I’m not satisfied, I can bring it back, period, and they live up to this policy. I’ll sing their praises to anyone looking to buy the sort of thing they sell, and I’ll continue shopping there for life because of this policy.

    • shadowboxer524 says:

      I totally agree. Lands’ End has a similar policy: “The Lands’ End guarantee has always been an unconditional one. It reads: “If you’re not satisfied with any item, simply return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.” We mean every word of it. Whatever. Whenever. Always. But to make sure this is perfectly clear, we’ve decided to simplify it further. Guaranteed. Period.”

  22. proscriptus says:

    LLBean also offers an unconditional guarantee, but unlike these schmucks, they’ll take back anything, any time. They might give you a bit of a hard time, but wear the treads off your shoes and send ’em back.

  23. dwasifar says:

    Two years seems awfully arbitrary. Some people may wear the same shirt twice a week, others might have more shirts in rotation and any single shirt only gets worn once or twice a month. Why should the guy whose shirt has been washed maybe 30 times over two years get cut off at the same time as the guy with the shirt that’s been through 200+ cycles? I have a Brooks Brothers dress shirt; I wear it whenever I need to wear a suit, which is pretty infrequent these days. I think I’ve worn it three times in a year. If this pattern keeps up, my shirt will be “out of warranty” after six wearings, which is just wrong. On the other hand, I have several of their polo shirts, which get frequent use, and they’re like iron; they still look great after a couple of years.

    Regardless of any of this, Brooks Brothers is violating the terms of their guarantee when they cite this unwritten “policy.” Unconditional means just that. “The garment must be less than two years old” is a condition. Q.E.D.

  24. mmcnary says:

    I sit here in a shirt I bought 14 years ago. It’s still fine. Admittedly, I have probably only washed it ~100 times, but no problems with snags or tears. I think I paid $16 for it.

  25. jpdanzig says:

    Brooks Brothers reputation for quality has been a joke for some time. I bought a pair of slacks from them — they weren’t cheap — that split right down the seam of the leg the second or third time I wore them. That was one of the most conspicuous “wardrobe malfunctions” I ever experienced. I think the OP is right to be upset about the “unconditional guarantee.” An $80 shirt should give you many years of wear, not just two. These days I get designer shirts at huge discounts at TJ Maxx and couldn’t be happier.

  26. deadandy says:

    FYI, a written guarantee is a legally binding contract. You could take BB to court over it and force them to honor it.

    However, I get the impression there are some facts missing from this story. The unusual wear thing is odd. What, are they worn out in the middle of the back or something? Need more information. Are they the crappy B-label outlet shirts and not the regular shirts, and therefore carry a different guarantee?

  27. RosevilleWgn says:

    So, why would the shirt last only 25% as long if dry cleaned vs. put in a mechanical “normal” washing machine?

    • K-Bo says:

      Dry cleaners don’t actually dry clean this kinds of shirts. These shirts get the heck scrubbed out of their collar and cuffs (even writing this gives me nightmares of long summer days in my teens spent scrubbing collars and cuffs), are washed in industrial machines, and are pressed at very very high temperatures. The scrubbing and high temp pressing makes for a cleaner, more crisply pressed shirt, but does wear them down more.

      • Charmander says:

        True. I worked for a drycleaner’s for a while. They sent out all the dress shirts to a commercial laundry and did all the drycleaning in house. That industrial washing/cleaning/high-heat pressing will indeed cause more wear on your shirts in the long run.

  28. Clyde Barrow says:

    The Ops argument is at best, lame. His opinions are completely subjective and we have no facts on how he washed his clothes or the care that he takes during the times that he wears them.
    Some people think I am over-protective of my clothing; some don’t. My ex roommate used to spend beaucoup bucks on clothing but his washing skills were horrible and his clothes would wear out within months also. Should the retailer take back his clothes because of his inability to take proper care? I think not.
    On the other hand I bought two pairs of new dress slacks for my job nearly three years ago and they look great. But I also know how to wash my clothes which an ex-gf of mine taught me how to do years ago. She really knew his stuff and she showed me ways to properly wash my jeans, t-shirts with screen prints, whites, dress clothing and my shirts that I wear ties with, sweats, socks, everything should be washed appropriately.

    • Gramin says:

      I’m sorry… but “she really knew his stuff?” Either (a) I’m a grammar freak or (b) you have something to get off your chest… Which is it? I vote for b.

    • Mike says:

      “she showed me ways to properly wash my jeans, t-shirts with screen prints, whites, dress clothing and my shirts that I wear ties with, sweats, socks, everything should be washed appropriately. “

      Care to share some of your secrets and tips?

  29. Aaron Anderson says:

    And “unlimited” actually means 5gb.

  30. plasticorange says:

    I agree “unconditional” is the wrong word to use. However, where is the wear and how did it get there? When I think of a guarantee on a dress shirt, I’m thinking stitches don’t come undone or the buttons don’t pop off.

    I worked at REI over 10 years ago whom also has a “lifetime” warranty on items. Many people abused this policy. I returned purple fleece vests with green trim from the 1980s/90s because the zipper broke. Only a few times did I see a customer turned away because the “lifetime” warranty isn’t your lifetime but the lifetime of the item.

  31. Hollihocks says:

    I have button down shirts from GAP and Target that I purchased in 2003. I wear them weekly to this day and even iron them at home. All the buttons are still on, no wear of any kind and still great color. Enough said.

  32. zibby says:

    Odd that they wore out so quickly unless the guy was really wearing the hell out of the things. Outlet versions, maybe? I’ve got some 6-8 year old BB stuff that’s still going strong…

  33. tom___ says:

    You bought an $80 shirt… I want you to think about that for a bit.

    • jimmyhl says:

      $80 for a dress shirt protected with an unconditional warranty is not bad, especially it it’s a really well-made shirt. On the other hand, if it’s so poorly made that it’s worn out after two years and the warranty miraculously dissolves because of company policy not otherwise stated in the warranty, it’s not a good deal. I think that’s why the OP wrote in. ‘Unconditional’ has a fairly specific meaning that is at odds with the company policy.

      • vastrightwing says:

        Exactly. I don’t like spending $50 – $80 per shirt, but on the other hand, they do look good on me. I don’t dry clean them so I save that hassle too. They seem to last long enough for me so now I only buy BB shirts a couple of times per year. If some other company can build a shirt that looks just as good, won’t wrinkle and lasts as long and costs less, I’m there!

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      Depending on what kind of job you have $80 for a shirt is nothing. Thomas pink shirts are usually $180 and up and there are even a few other brands that push close to $500.

  34. Geekybiker says:

    It not time so much as it is wash cycle dependent. However there is no realistic way to measure wash cycles. Two years is perfectly reasonable life expectancy on a shirt you wear often.

  35. eskimo1981 says:

    While I do think the OPs expectations are unrealistic, I believe that the company should still stand by their word. Otherwise, it’s just another case of a company you can’t trust. They claim unconditional, and even “at any time”, which means no time limit.

    I worked at a store that had a true 100% return policy (Marks Work Wearhouse). When I was hired I was told explicitly that I was not allowed to refuse a return ever. I was also told that some people would take advantage of this, and that as a company they felt it was worth more to them to take care of those who truely were disappointed in what they bought than to stop those who would take advantage.

    I took returns on some things that other stores wouldn’t have that were still fine (like a lady who bought clothes, and had them for about a year without ever wearing them, and brought them back in new condition with the receipt). And I also saw a customer return work boots he had bought 18 months prior and exchange them for a new pair simply because he had worn them out.

    It’s sad that stories like this will make consumers more jaded, so when a company makes a real and honest 100% garantee, nobody believes it. For that, shame on you Brooks Brothers.

  36. Billy says:

    This reminds me of one of the first stories I ever read on Consumerist:

  37. Hodo says:

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with a two year life span on a cheap shirt, and in the case of BB, I don’t even really have a huge issue with a two year life span, though if you consider that you probably where a given dress shirt at MOST one time/week, two years equals about 104 uses, and at 12 hours a day, that’s less than 1,300 hours of use. I think what calls that type of lifespan into question is BB’s use of “unconditional”. Most up-scale retailers that use this type of language do have a “no questions asked” type of return policy because they sell a premium (margin) product — does anyone REALLY believe that BB’s shirts cost 4x to make a Van Heusen $20 dress shirt? This extra margin should give them the ability to replace the occasional shirt that a shopper brings back. If BB didn’t use “unconditional” or simply had a “two year guarantee” I think most people would accept up front and they’d probably get kudos for having such a long guarantee.

    Bottom line: don’t use “unconditional” unless you actually mean it.

    I don’t shop at BB mostly because the quality of their items has never really struck me as exceptional and their prices are ridiculous for what you get (IMHO). You’re buying mostly “brand image”.

  38. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I’ve been hanging on to a perfectly good pink dress shirt for years waiting for pink’s comeback. I just hope it’s lapels aren’t out of style.

  39. Pax says:

    “Unconditional” is where BB tripped themselves up.

    It means, simply and literaly, with no conditions. An “Unconditional guarantee” cannot be limited by time, frequency of use, or other conditions.

  40. sopmodm14 says:

    there is normal wear and tear

    thats why you don’t clearly state “unconditional”


    i’d expect sweat shop shirts to have last longer

    a cheapo $5 one will last 5 yrs,

    while a $100 won’t last 100 days

    • Chaosium says:

      “a cheapo $5 one will last 5 yrs,

      while a $100 won’t last 100 days”

      I don’t believe you.

  41. fairandreasonable says:

    I work at BB. Our policies are amazingly liberal and always lean in favor of the consumer. I am amazed at the nerve of people who have an expectation that thier clothes should last forever and if they do not they should be re-cycled. Clothing is made of cloth not galvanized steel. I do not understand how the writer is unhappy that BB did not take back his old shirts. Let’s be real what if it was his business. BB has a shirt called a No-Iron. It offers the consumer the benefit of easy at home care. Saving the cost of dry cleaning. As a result the process used to keep you looking fresh and pressed all day does limit the life of the shirt to approximately 50 washings. The shirt tends to get worn more often since it is now being laundered at home. The recommendation is that you do not send it out, the process is hard on the shirt and have a two week selection of shirts to rotate. This is communicated at purchase. If a client comes in and says he was unaware, we share the featues and usually exchange the shirt for him. It is a great product. It has the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Oprah calls it the miracle shirt and has featured it on her show. However, it does not last forever. Brooks Bothers is one of the few retailers who really cares about their customers. For the most part we have rational customers.

  42. bohemond says:

    When I encounter something as unreasonable as this, where even the clerk agrees that there is an issue, I always pose the following options to the clerk. “As I see it, your company has two options here. 1) They can agree to replace the shirt (or whatever I am hoping the company will do) and if so, they will get a satisfied customer who will tell others of the good customer service he received. Or, 2) they can keep the $80 they got from me at the cost of me never shopping here again and telling everyone I know to never shop here again. So what’s more in the company’s best interests, saving the $80 or the loss of my business and the harm it will cause to the company’s reputation?” Whenever I put it this way, I have almost always gotten what I’m asking for. I’ve even gotten airlines to refund money this way. One important detail: make clear that you’re angry with the company, but don’t actually get angry at the person you’re talking to. Treat them politely and make clear that you know they are just doing their job. The moment you get angry at the person, they will immediately cease to think about helping you.

  43. jimstoic says:

    The experience that ended my relationship with Brooks Brothers was when I drove an hour and a half each way to buy a seeersucker suit that was advertised as “Made in Italy” when it was in fact “Made in China.” They did, btw, have an Italian seeersucker suit for sale in the store, but at twice the price. When I complained via their Web site, their response was, essentially, “oops.”

  44. Chaosium says:

    Yes, two years is crazy-long when it comes to a dress shirt, many of which are used near-daily. They will stain, yellow, and fray.

  45. chucklebuck says:

    Their policy is reasonable, their unconditional guarantee is dishonest. The easy solution would be to just change the guarantee on the site and in stores to say that they are unconditionally guaranteed for their expected life, and then list the expected life of the various items. But they’ll never do that, because it takes a little of the sheen off the Brooks Brothers brand. $20 dress shirts I buy at a department store also last two years. This is not to say that there aren’t other quality, fit, style, etc differences that would make a BB shirt worth the extra $60 to some people – it just seems that longevity is not one of those differences.

  46. EdnasEdibles says:

    A friend of mine worked at a Brooks Brothers and I once complained to him about the two stores in my area and how one was really really nice and then the other one was horrible. I’d walk in there and everyone would ignore me, no one would offer to help, when I’d buy a shirt they’d just be total asses to me. But at the other store, they were so nice. Really friendly and helpful and once they took a shirt back that was like 3 or 4 years old because it had a weird fade issue. He told me that some stores have regular customers who buy tons of shit. They can easily make their sales quotas by concentrating on those customers so they don’t really care about helping anyone else. Other stores don’t have that wealthy regular customer base so they tend to hustle a bit more.

    There’s a very good chance that the original poster went to one of the dick stores where they’re like “Screw you and your little shirt problem, you’re not a big spender and you won’t help me meet my quotas.” Because the shirt I returned there was totally old and they took it back with a smile.

  47. joe says:

    you had me until i read “$80”

    $80 is a cheap shirt. 6 months sounds reasonable.

    if you want a really nice shirt that will last for years, expect to pay double or triple that price

  48. calchip says:

    Bottom line is, if it says “unconditional” then they should be held to that, and should replace the shirts or refund the money as their policy states.

    Whether 2 years is reasonable use doesn’t even enter the transaction; LL Bean talks about how they occasionally get someone returning a 10 year old pair of boots that are completely worn out, but they accept them because that’s what their guarantee says they will do.

    My guess is that Brooks was probably sold to an equity firm that doesn’t give a crap about the customer and isn’t interested in honoring commitments.

  49. Plasmafox says:

    They advertised an unconditional guarantee. They imposed conditions on his using it. This is pretty cut and dried.

  50. ricklesgibson says:

    I’d suggest calling corporate, I bet the clerk didn’t know what she was supposed to do.

  51. coolsmartygirl says:

    My boyfriend buys all this dress stuff at Van Heusen and they have an amazing policy, he’s able to bring in his worn out dress pants for new ones at any time. His job recently has required him to wear black slacks instead of tan slacks and he’s been bringing his old tan slacks in and exchanging them for black slacks with no receipt. I don’t know their quality, but I know he loves them.

  52. chaelyc says:

    Even if normal wear & tear would dictate that a shirt SHOULD only last 2 years, wouldn’t it be fair to re-word their guarantee to reflect that?