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Today Show to Big Retailers: Show Us Your Dirty Underalls

May 18, 2010

sharing the laughter and germs!

Newman and Redford have nothing on the Today Show! Their shocking hidden camera investigation peeled back the sanitation strip of secrecy to reveal retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Wal*Mart and Marshalls engaged in the unsettling practice of accepting soiled chonies for return and in some cases reselling those same items – as new – to unsuspecting customers:

The news team removed price tags and hygienic strips from panties, stained them with baby oil, and marked tags with two black dots for identification purposes. All of the stores accepted the soiled returns, and the show’s investigators found the merchandise back on the shelves at Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s. A Victoria’s Secret whistle-blower told Rossen it was common practice to put returned panties back on sale. Fortunately, the stained undergarments were not found at J.Crew or Saks.

Following the embarrassing exposure – reminsicient of those “Behind the Kitchen Door” hidden camera stings from LA in the 90s – both retailers Wal*Mart and Marshall’s swiftly issued statements:

Statement from Walmart spokesperson David Tovar:

“Selling undergarments or swimwear that may have been worn and returned is unacceptable and something we will not tolerate. We are taking this very seriously and working quickly to determine what happened. In the meantime, we are sending a notification to all field managers and Walmart store associates to reinforce the proper guidelines for handling returned undergarments and swimwear. To be clear, returned undergarments or swimwear that are un-packaged or un-sealed should never be placed back on the sales floor, regardless of their condition.”

Statement from Marshalls spokesperson Sherry Lang:

“At Marshalls, we take customer concerns very seriously and appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. It is our store policy not to accept used or worn merchandise for refund, including bathing suits. Although we have not been able to investigate this particular situation, it appears that a used bathing suit may have been mistakenly accepted for return in one of our stores. We have communicated with our stores reinforcing our merchandise return policy.”

Having worked at numerous retail outlets the results of this undercover investigation did not surprise me. What did surprise me was the lack of analysis as to why it was so easy for the undies to be returned in the first place. For one thing, many stores are getting more nervous about not furnishing refunds to a customer possessing a valid receipt, regardless of the condition of the item. That said it doesn’t explain why several employees were seen returning the funky frillies to the salesfloor without noticing the stink make wavy lines in front of their faces.

I know times are rough, but has it really come to this – folks returning used chonies and retailers gladly accepting them for return and giving them another ride on the heinie-go-round?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2010 10:38 am

    You mean people shouldn’t be able to return their prom undies the next day?

  2. May 18, 2010 10:41 am

    Definitely not. They should wait at least 48 hours and return it along with the dress – save themselves a trip.

  3. badhedgehog permalink
    May 18, 2010 10:51 am

    Wow, I don’t desperately want to do the whole “it’s different in myyyyy country” thing, but most shops in the UK have a strict policy of no refunds on anything underpanty, and remind you of it when you go to pay as well, to, erm, cover their backsides.

    Of course, they also have a policy that if you try on underpants or a swimsuit in store you have to try it on over your own undies, but that one’s a little harder to police. At least there’s the plastic hygiene strip.

  4. jess s permalink
    May 18, 2010 10:59 am

    The unders were “stained with baby oil” which is not the same as crusty pussy streaks or skid marks. I have never experienced foul “wavy lines” from baby oil. It’s not like the test subjects actually wore the panties. I would like to see some period-stained or skid mark’d underwear put to this test to verify ACTUAL nastiness.

  5. May 18, 2010 11:06 am

    It’s not like the test subjects actually wore the panties. I would like to see some period-stained or skid mark’d underwear put to this test to verify ACTUAL nastiness.

    I have actually seen the situations you described while employed at various retailers. The Today Show did us all a favor by sparing us the whole shebang.

    There is nothing more horky than flipping through a rack and getting a whiff of the metallic scent of period blood a second too late to prevent actually seeing it!

    If your point is this wasn’t scandalous, well, the fact they blithely returned the chonies despite clear evidence they no longer possessed the tags, was enough for me NOT to see anymore.

  6. maggiemunkee permalink
    May 18, 2010 11:30 am

    when i worked at target i got stuck in softlines (clothing). the kids at the customer service desk would often accept returns for clothes that were clearly not purchased at target — my reshop cart was filled with countless items from reebok and nike. sigh. drove me batty. luckily i never ran into nasty used underpants. bleh.

  7. Kia permalink
    May 18, 2010 11:57 am

    I worked the intimate apparel section aka the bra and panty floor at a huge Macy’s in the late 1990’s & am still so scathed 13 years later that I would never wear underwear from anywhere w/o washing it first.

    I don’t remember any period blood but the smoke and make up soiled returns did usually make it to the damaged bin. Despite the no return policy sometimes it just wasn’t worth the hassle of up turned mannequins and a call to security.

  8. IrishUp permalink
    May 18, 2010 12:05 pm

    I am picturing the new Heidi Klum ‘VC’s Certified Pre-Owned” ad campaign now….

  9. May 18, 2010 12:11 pm

    I don’t remember any period blood but the smoke and make up soiled returns did usually make it to the damaged bin. Despite the no return policy sometimes it just wasn’t worth the hassle of up turned mannequins and a call to security.

    I liked when old ass shit from like two seasons prior comes back all jacked up and folks are looking for cash money NOW. It was always middle class white ladies clenching their jaws and requesting the manager be called to the register so we could give her a full refund for some raggedy ass bras she was trying to return.

    Usually there was no tags and no receipt. Just canned assurances the item had been recently purchased from our store.

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