Listening (Level 5)

Top store hits back at 'wardrobing' fraud


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A chain of luxury department stores is trying to stop people buying expensive clothes, wearing them once and then getting a refund. About 65 per cent of U.S. shops have been victims of this. It is known as “wardrobing”. It is a form of "return fraud" and costs stores an estimated $8.8 billion a year. The store, Bloomingdale's, is putting large, black, hard-to-hide tags on the bottom of dresses that cost over $150. The dress cannot be returned if the tag is missing. This means anyone who thinks they can have a "free dress rental" would advertise the fact that they are wardrobing.

A retail analyst explained how serious wardrobing was, saying: "What people don't realize is that it's an illegal process." Wardrobing is such a problem that Bloomingdale's has risked annoying and losing customers to stop it. They have let go of the saying that "the customer is always right". Some customers believe the tags make them feel dishonest, while others think it's a good idea to stop sly shoppers. The National Retail Federation said: "It's a delicate balance of loss prevention and good customer service". It added that this relationship has to be handled very carefully.

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