SheIn may be “one of the most acclaimed online stores for women’s fashion,” but maybe Rosemary Janicki should have checked it out before she placed an order for dresses.
The site’s “About Us” page fills in a few details she missed. It claims that “SheIn’s team draws on rich experience and great passion on providing fashionable clothing for women from the ages of 16-35.”
Janicki is 84.
And that’s where today’s story of a botched return and a foiled refund starts: With a generation gap. A wide — but not an insurmountable one.
Janicki purchased four dresses from SheIn, but was dissatisfied with her purchases. According to Janicki, “I should never have ordered them. This is a young woman’s site (which I did not know at the time).” And the dresses were “foreign-made and quite shoddy.” She decided to return three of the dresses. Unfortunately, getting a refund would turn out to be more difficult than she anticipated.
Shortly after Janicki bought the dresses, the credit card she used to make the purchase was compromised. Janicki received a replacement credit card. But SheIn refused to issue the refund to the new card, claiming that it could refund the purchase only to the card that had been used to make the purchase.
Janicki went “round and round” with SheIn’s customer service agents, who later told her that they could issue her a refund through PayPal. However, Janicki does not have a PayPal account; nor does she want one. She describes herself as “not computer-savvy.”
She then heard from SheIn that “the matter was closed.” Obviously this was not true. She had returned the three dresses without receiving a refund.
Janicki contacted our advocates for help, asking “Why can’t [SheIn] just send me a check?”
Good question. Why can’t businesses issue refunds in the form of checks?
Many businesses, including manufacturers, travel companies, and other big-ticket item sellers just don’t like to issue cash refunds. They offer vouchers for discounts off future purchases, loyalty points, or other “gestures of goodwill.” Or they declare that the purchase was “nonrefundable.” Our case files are full of stories of dissatisfied customers who can’t get their money back because the businesses they dealt with just don’t want to let the dough go.
Which is understandable — up to a point. After all, the businesses have overhead costs, payrolls, taxes, and various other bills to pay that require cash. Paying cash refunds to unhappy consumers, especially when they have a huge clientele, would cut deeply into their ability to pay their bills and balance their budgets. But consumers can’t use discounts and loyalty points with other businesses — and aren’t likely to want to do business again with a company that didn’t deliver satisfactory goods or services.
SheIn’s return policy, as outlined on its website, consists of the following:
How to return an order if I don’t like it?
Unsatisfied with your purchase? Please do not worry for we will be in your shoes.
The items can be returned in their original and unworn condition within 30 days from the delivered date. But please note that the return fee is on you.
Once your returned item is received and accepted, your refund or new item will be processed shortly.
Please keep the following in mind: the returned item will be reviewed by Quality Assurance department and the items with the signs of being wore [sic], altered, or damaged cannot be accepted for return.
The policy also indicates that some items are nonreturnable, none of which include dresses. But there is no language at all requiring that refunds be issued only to the credit card or other form of payment originally used to make the purchase. So it’s not clear why SheIn couldn’t issue Janicki’s refund to her replacement credit card after her original card was compromised.
Our advocates reached out to SheIn on Janicki’s behalf. SheIn refunded Janicki for the three dresses she wanted to return, although we don’t have details of the form of payment SheIn used to issue the refunds.