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An upmarket chain of U.S. department stores has taken action to stop people buying expensive clothes, wearing them once and then returning them for a refund. About 65 per cent of U.S. retailers reported they have been victims of this practice, known as “wardrobing”. This form of "return fraud" costs the retail industry an estimated $8.8 billion a year. The store, Bloomingdale's, has started attaching large, black, hard-to-hide tags to the bottom of dresses that cost over $150. The garment cannot be returned if the tag is missing. This means anyone thinking they can have a "free dress rental" might have to think again. The tag means they would be advertising the fact at their party that they are wardrobing.

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Retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar explained how serious wardrobing was, saying: "What people don't realize is that it's an illegal process." Wardrobing has become such a problem that Bloomingdale's has decided to risk annoying and potentially losing customers in an effort to deter it. They have, in effect, let go a little of the sales mantra that "the customer is always right". Some Bloomingdale's customers believe the tags make them feel dishonest, while others think it's a long overdue solution to unscrupulous shoppers. The National Retail Federation said: "It's a delicate balance of loss prevention and good customer service, and the relationship has to be handled with appropriate finesse."



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