Sephora has long been the mecca for our hair, skin and makeup needs, with plenty of benefits to boot. The arguably biggest perk is its flexible return policy, which allows you to return products–both new and used–within 60 days of purchase, in addition to getting an exchange for anything (in that same time frame) without a receipt.
It’s truly a godsend for anyone who just doesn’t have time to read reviews or sample the product beforehand. And although it’s assumed that most of us are respectful of the return rules, time has taught the Sephora higher-ups that there are just as many shoppers taking advantage and doing the most, like returning twice as much as they purchased.
For that reason, a service called “The Retail Equation” is being used to vet the bad seeds, so they can be banned from doing just that in the future. According to the “TRE” website, its specific purpose is to “identify the 1 percent of consumers whose behaviors mimic return fraud or abuse.”
A Wall Street Journal feature (by way of Racked), says TRE does this by tracking customer returns and behavior via driver’s license and calculating a score based on frequency of returns, cost of said return and a few other factors. Once the shopper reaches a certain number set by the retailer, a ban can be authorized.
In a statement to Racked, Sephora confirmed its participation and emphasized why it’s joined over 34,000 other stores (including Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret) to use the TRE system:
“Sephora is dedicated to providing all of our customers with an excellent shopping experience. We make every effort to accommodate returns, but a small fraction of customers take advantage of our policy, in many cases returning more than twice as much merchandise as they purchase. This limits product selection and unfairly impacts other clients. When we identify excessive return patterns, we notify those customers that we may limit future returns or exchanges if no proof of purchase is provided.”
It’s long been rumored that Sephora has always tracked customer behavior, but now they’ve got an official system backing up their practices. This is sure to ruffle a few feathers for frequent shoppers, so if you’re on the fence about whether to buy something or not, remind yourself of this not-so-secret return tracker, too.