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How to Get a Refund on Clothing Items: Three Tips

A woman standing in front of a computer

Today I had an interesting experience involving my attempt to return two pairs of jeans and a scarf to a clothing store. After deciding to return the items, I called the store and informed them that I’d purchased garments the previous year and still hadn’t worn them. I also stated that I had kept the receipt. The associate informed me that I could indeed return the clothing. Shortly thereafter, I set out to take the items back.


The company’s narrative changed when I reached the store. Once inside, I stood in line until a cashier beckoned me forward. After I handed him the garments and receipt, I told him that the clothes had been purchased three months ago. Upon hearing this, the associate politely informed me that my opportunity to return the pants and scarf had expired and my remaining option would be to accept a gift card to the store. Using the sort of calm tone I try to maintain when bargaining or debating, I told him I had already received permission to return the garments from an associate I had spoken with on the phone earlier. I then stated that if I did not receive my money back, I would need to speak with a manager. The associate promptly informed me that he would refund me the full amount.


There are many lessons that I learned from this experience. Here are three.

  1. Be polite.


I personally believe the old expression about a good attitude taking you the world over is generally true. Moreover, even when people gain the things they desire by being pushy or rude, the individual accommodating them is often left feeling resentful and dehumanized. On the other hand, calmly proving one’s case in times when you are at odds with another is often perceived as your willingness to communicate rationally as well as your recognition of the other individual’s full humanity. This seems to be the case with respect to the aforementioned experience. The associate and I made eye contact and were amicable despite the fact that it appeared I was outside the parameters of the store policy. It is quite possible that if I had raised my voice or adopted a hostile disposition, I would not have been refunded.

  1. Bring Your Receipt.


This is important because-in the world of retail-receipts are ultimately equivalent to a legal document. When the associate I spoke with informed me that the date to return the items had passed, I stated that the receipt indicated nothing of the sort. After reviewing it, he agreed with me and proceeded to refund me for the garments.

  1. Ask To Speak With A Manager.


While some sales associates might view this as your attempt to be condescending or assert that you recognize there is a chain of command which you can access in order to usurp their authority, that should not be your primary goal in asking for a manager. Requesting to speak with a manager is an approach that should be adopted when you perceive that the store is not maintaining standards or abiding by the types of policies that make doing business fair and advantageous for all parties involved. After the associate working with me stated that I would be given a gift card instead of being refunded through the method of payment I had used originally, I stated that I understood but would need to speak with a manager about it given that I had called prior to coming in order to ensure that I would be refunded. Once I communicated this to him and he examined my receipt, the associate agreed to refund me the full amount without having to get a manager involved. Yet I am still glad that I requested to speak with one because I wanted her or him to be aware that someone had told me that I could get my money back prior to coming to the store.


Attaining a refund for purchased merchandise can be challenging. Changing store policies, miscommunication between staff and management, and ignorance of company protocol are all factors that can hinder you from receiving a refund for items you have purchased. Yet by following the three tips outlined above, you can greatly increase the likelihood that you will not face this challenge.

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