There have been several mini uproars recently on a popular beauty message board that shall remain nameless surrounding purchases and returns made using the Sephora gift cards. When I received my gift cards, they clearly stated that a $35 purchase was required for the discount to apply. I thought that this was fair--I was receiving "free money" and whatever conditions the company distributing it chose to attach, so be it. I made my hauls, happy to have saved some cash! Then a clever posted discovered that while the gift certificates clearly stated the minimum purchase, when using them online the system didn't require a minimum. Suddenly the board was afire with posts on how to utilize the offer to get as much as possible while spending next to nothing. Combination of free shipping codes, product codes, calling to stack gift cards, setting up new accounts to receive multiple offers. This wasn't exactly kosher, and definitely didn't sit right with me, but Sephora didn't take precautions to prevent it and I felt when they noticed the onslaught of sub-dollar orders they'd catch on quickly. Clearly an honor code is not alive and well among a large group of Sephora shoppers.
Eventually Sephora realized that they were being taken advantage of, so to speak, and pulled the no-minimum free shipping code that could be used in conjunction with the gift cards. The "how dare they" posts began! Apparently getting $20 in free product is not sufficient, one must have the free product shipped without charge, of course, along with free samples.
And just when I thought the greed had ended, the returns began. Posters were unhappy with the NARS shadow for which they paid all of 33 cents and wanted not only to return it, but to have their free gift certificate credited back to them! They'd now prefer makeup bag or a moisturizer. And while the gift certificates clearly state that refunds would only be given for amount of money actually spent out of pocket, this was not to be a deterrent. Return the product without a receipt, of course! Sephora will take anything back! How would they know how you'd paid? Turn the gift cards into a mini profit center!
I'm sure there are many naysayers out there who will read this and tell themselves that Sephora is part of a multinational conglomerate fueled by their purchases and so why not use a little ingenuity and work the system? What's wrong with feeling entitled to free merchandise and samples and shipping? I shop there regularly and who am I really hurting? Isn't it the company's own fault for not preventing this?
While I'm at it, why shouldn't I be able to return this lipstick I bought at Saks to Sephora since they don't require a receipt? No one will ever know and the company will never feel the hit. And wait a minute--why would I buy this eye cream or loose powder when I can just bring my own little sample jar and fill it up? Not only are things like this done regularly, but posted and bragged about on a public forum with bravado!
It's a slippery slope and I read posts of this nature all the time yet never cease to feel outraged. Am I the only one shocked and a bit disgusted by this? Call it being rule abiding, moral, a believer in karma, whatever. I find this behavior deplorable and it makes me angry, not just because the few bad apples will long-term contribute to increased costs and a lack of promotions offered, but because it shocks my conscience.
I'd love to hear other thoughts on this topic so please post in the comments and share your feelings.