I'm annoyed with Ann Taylor.

Toward the end of May, I bought two sweaters (same style, different colors) at an Ann Taylor Factory Store. I wore one of the sweaters to work several times during my internship in July and August, and I wasn't terribly happy with how well it held up. (It's not falling apart--it's just not looking as good as an Ann Taylor sweater should after being washed and worn only a handful of times.) So I decided to return the other sweater. Unfortunately, between work, school, the CPA exam, and wedding planning, I didn't have a chance to stop by Ann Taylor until the end of August--and found out that a regular Ann Taylor store doesn't take returns of Factory Store merchandise. (My fault--didn't thoroughly read the return policy.)

The nearest Factory Store is two hours away, and I wasn't able to go until last Thursday. I took the sweater and my receipt into the store, and an employee told me that they have a 90-day return policy: After 90 days, they refund only the current selling price of the item--even with a receipt. Of course, the current selling price of my sweater is about $20 less than what I paid for it. I decided not to take the pathetically small refund offered to me and instead see about selling the sweater on eBay.

I'm glad I made that decision, because when I got home and looked closely at my receipt, I couldn't find any information about the 90-day return policy. The receipt says:
If you are not delighted with your purchase, simply return the unworn, unwashed or defective merchandise with your original receipt. We will be glad to credit you in the same form of payment with which your purchase was made. If you do not have your original receipt, we will issue a Merchandise Credit for the current selling price.
Granted, the policy doesn't explicitly state that Ann Taylor will credit the customer the same amount that the customer originally paid, but absent information to the contrary, wouldn't that be the assumption?

I'm planning to drive home again Wednesday, which means I'll be driving by the outlet mall. And I'm definitely planning to stop at the Ann Taylor Factory Store to try again to get all of my money back.

As a side note: Ann Taylor's profits have been falling recently (assuming that you put much faith in quarterly earnings numbers--many people seem to). I wonder if anyone in the company has considered that inadequate disclosure of return policies is likely to tick off customers and, in the long run, lose more revenue than is likely to be saved by stricter return policies?

UPDATE: I went back to the Ann Taylor Factory Store today and was able to get a full refund for that sweater. Apparently, their return policy changed August 1, but since my purchase had taken place before that date, it was covered under the old policy. I guess the employee who helped me last week had missed that little detail. ;-)

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