Would You Wear Clothes Then Return as ‘Unused’?

Hey Skint pals,

A controversial one for you today: new research suggests that a quarter of Britons have been guilty of purchasing something and then taking/sending it back as ‘unused’ despite actually having used it. And, horrors, women are apparently waaaaaay more likely to indulge in the practice than men . . .

When more than 1000 men and women from around the UK were asked,  ‘Have you ever bought something, used it and then returned it as ‘unused’?‘, 24% of confessed to having done so.

And here’s the bigger shocker – of those 24%, two thirds of them (65%) were women. Now, this isn’t about getting something

returning clothes to shops after wearing Audrey Hepburn image

Holly Golightly wouldn’t think twice . . .

home, not liking it and returning it. It’s about getting something home, liking it quite a lot, wearing it to the club/restaurant/interview/birthday party, then taking it back to the shop.

Would you wear and return? Have you? How do you feel about it? 

What gets returned most often?

The study, conducted by offeroftheday, then asked ‘What type of items are you most likely to do this with?’ According to the results, the most common five items were as follows:

1.           Clothes – 47%

2.           Accessories (handbags etc) – 21%

3.           Jewellery – 17%

4.           Books – 15%

5.           Tableware – Crockery/Cutlery – 10%

So, how often does this happen? Of those asked, 17% said they did it ‘regularly’, 21% said ‘now and again’, but the majority, 46%, said that they’d only done it ‘once or twice’ before.

So, is it sinning?

When asked where they stood on this from a moral perspective, 42% said ‘yes’ it was probably wrong. However, a brazen 22% felt that the bigger stores ‘had enough money’ for them not to ‘worry about it’. 

As to why they did the dirty at all, 24% said that they liked wearing new clothes but ‘couldn’t afford to keep them’ and a morally-bereft 14% simply shrugged that they didn’t like ‘wearing the same clothes’ twice. 

So, where do you stand on this, my Skint chums? I view  you as a saintly lot, but I bet there are some cheeky ones amongst you who have been known to wear a dress to the club with the label still safely tucked inside, for ease of return . . . And me? Well, I’ll admit to having returned clothes to the shop after wearing them, though only because, (*adopts defensive tone), once worn, they didn’t suit me. I can’t remember buying something with the intention of wearing and returning once my date/party etc was over. 

Designer Bag and Dress Rental

There is another, more moral, way to wear and return and that’s renting your frocks, rocks or bags. Yep, for a small fee you could sport the dress of your dreams for a night out and take it back next day, guilt-free. 

You can check out a post on designer dress rental here, and designer bag rental here if you’re interested. Or, my friend, you can just keep right on sinning . . . 

Where do you stand on this one, Skint friends? Is it morally wrong to wear then return, or should the shops just expect it to happen and accept it as an occupational hazard? Have you ever wore and returned? What excuse did you give?



About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

32 thoughts on “Would You Wear Clothes Then Return as ‘Unused’?

  1. Ka'El

    I am late to this party but as a student who’s selling her clothes on Ebay, I’ve had this happen to me. It ends up costing me money on the initial listing, the packaging, the return (Ebay will make you pay if it’s not as described) and any cleaning bills… I’ve now tagged all items where possible or implemented a no returns policy/security marking to prevent switching. I’ve also noticed that it seems to be a lot of the .ac.uk emails that seem to have no issue doing this to others. :(

  2. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? […]

  3. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? […]

  4. I know a girls that does this all the time how sad!!!! That means your broke and live beyond your means!!! Just to show off !!

  5. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as 'Unused'? […]

  6. Really enjoy reading your blog posts, that along with SuperScrimpers has inspired me to make do and mend and try my hand at making stuff this Christmas and potentially selling it too if it is worthy enough for people to pay good money for. Look forward to reading your future posts.


    • Aw, thanks Kathryn! good luck with the making and mending – I’ll be trying the same this Xmas. If you make anything good I’d love to find out about it – come back and share with us! x

  7. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? […]

  8. I don’t think I could ever wear something out and then return it–I would just feel too bad. Specifically, not all stores re-was/clean items that have been returned, it seems kind of unhygienic to me.


  9. Having worked in retail, I have seen how much this affects the other end (the retailer). Sometimes the items are easily put back on the sales floor to be sold a few hours later. However, there are some people who wear and use the life out of items and still try to return it later. Put yourself in the retailer’s position. Its like borrowing clothes and staining it and getting a rip and trying to return it to your roommate as if nothing happened. Its costly for the store and not to mention, the damage forms are extremely tedious to fill out.

    Maggie A
    Love Mavin

  10. […] Lennon @ Skint in the City writes Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? – Would you wear clothes then return them to the shop to get your money back? What about […]

  11. No, I certainly don’t do this.

    I think it is morally wrong. If you want a product, you should be willing to buy it and you should want to keep it for the long haul.

    Also, the smaller the vendor, the more morally wrong this is. If you do it in a small, one-shop boutique, you are essentially stealing from that person face-to-face!

  12. […] Lennon @ Skint in the City writes Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? – Would you wear clothes then return them to the shop to get your money back? What about books and […]

  13. Amy

    Oh dear, this is exactly why I always wash things before wearing them! I did once return a book, I paid full price for it in Waterstones (which is really expensive compared to Amazon). It was terrible and I was pissed at wasting my money, I returned within a few days and no questions were asked. I had an excuse ready too! I’ve always wondered if other people do this on purpose.

  14. I’m all for saving money, but I think this practice crosses the line. Next time I buy clothes I’m going to be paranoid making sure that the “new” clothes I am buying are actually new.

  15. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? […]

  16. […] Lennon @ Skint in the City writes Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? – Would you wear clothes then return them to the shop to get your money back? What about books and […]

  17. […] Skint in the City: Would You Wear Clothes then Return as ‘Unused’? […]

  18. […] dear friend and blogger across the pond, Skint in The City, wrote a post recently on people who return clothes after they’ve worn them (25% of Britons, if you can imagine that!) and I thought it would be interesting to see how we fair […]

    • J$ – Thank you for the shout out and for taking my idea and giving it a sexy budgets twist! Can’t wait to see what comments you get on this one!

  19. I know someone who told me she watched a show on cable about someone who never removes the tags on his (yes! his!) clothes. He uses those clothes more than once and when he does the laundry he puts the tags inside a ziplock. Then whenever he feels the need to get new clothes he exchanges the used clothes with new ones. Awful. We’re all for being frugal but that practice is very unethical.

    • Marissa, that’s truly shocking! I kind of admire the guy’s nerve and ingenuity, whilst at the same time thinking that he’s being really badly behaved. How did he even come up with that idea? Thsanks for sharing that – it really made me laugh and shake my head in despair too!

  20. A book I would be way to lazy to care for it and make sure I read it not open enough to make a mark. Clothes I am not that into fashion so if I like something I would keep it, I don’t see the thrill of wearing a dress once and returning it, maybe for a fancy party but then I wouldn’t enjoy it either, too afraid someone may pour red wine on it and the night would cost $500.

  21. I haven’t done this and I don’t think I could. I think it’s wrong – I know most shops wouldn’t notice but it’s the principle of it! I have plenty of friends who have done though!

  22. olivia kirby

    No, I haven’t done this and never would!
    I feel if I want to be treated fairly as a consumer than I should act fairly as one too!

    • That is a very good point, Olivia. Do unto others and all that . . And I wonder if by bringing stuff back worn for a refund, it indirectly contributes to higher shop prices too? In the same way that we all pay the price of fradulent insurance claims. Honesty the best policy all round, I think!

  23. I haven’t tried to do this one. But for me it’s a big NO NO, why would you buy a thing if you don’t like it or just planning to return as unused? Here in our small city the malls have usually “No return, No exchange policy” so you better choose carefully before buying!

    • So interesting Clarisse to learn how things work differently around the world. ‘No return no exchange’ seems a clear enough way to deter returning stuff after wearing. Presumably you can still return if it’s fault, right?
      Here in the UK the usual terms are that you can get your money back if you return an item with receipt within a certain period – usually 14-28 days, which leaves people plenty of time to buy, wear, and return.
      Smaller boutiques might not offer returns but all the big shops do. Perhaps the UK needs a crack down on this?!

      • Wow! You can return an item for 14-28 days? That’s too long! No wonder people have a big chance to return the items after wearing it. Yes, you can return the items if you have a very good valid reason but you can do that for only 24 hours after purchasing the item. But I’d rather go shopping in the UK if I will have a chance.Ha ha ha!!

    • It’s funny, I will very very rarely buy from a store if they don’t have a return/exchange policy. While I don’t wear and return clothes I do find that often I want to buy an item of clothing to go with something else in my wardrobe. I will take the item home and try it on with whatever I was planning to wear it with to make sure they look ok together. This is especially true of tops and pants–I want to make sure the tops are long enough! Otherwise I would have to carry items from my wardrobe whenever I went shopping to make sure that anything new I bought fit with what I already own.

  24. I don’t do this, but I do have a friend who has. She even washes them and reattaches the tags!

    • Ha ha, you gotta hand it to her, Michelle. How does she even do that? She sounds like a real pro!

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