What was supposed to be a quick lunchtime errand for a Sycamore woman recently turned into a much longer ordeal, which she says left her shocked and disappointed by one of her favorite retailers.
"I felt like ‘Big Brother’ was watching!" Linda Hallstrom told NBC5 Responds.
Hallstrom headed to Carson’s with a few baby outfits to return—the result of a failed guess for this grandma. Her intuition said boy, but the ultrasound said otherwise. So she went back to the store to return the boyish outfits, and grab a few pink ones.
However, she never got past the return counter.
"So, I said, ‘here's some baby outfits I need to return because I'm going to buy some little girl things’," Hallstrom said.
With tags on the items and receipts in hand, this self-proclaimed loyal Carson’s shopper said what happened next left her blindsided.
"Out of the register came a slip that said, 'returns denied,’ I said to the cashier, ‘what is this? I have never seen a slip like that before,’ and she said, “Oh, we're getting a lot of them lately’,” Hallstrom said.
That slip not only prevented her from making the returns at hand, it also declared Linda Hallstrom ineligible for other returns for two months. Certain it was a mistake, Hallstrom says she asked for clarification- and neither the clerk nor the manager could help.
"She says, ‘well, I can't explain it. You're just going to have to do it as it says’,” Hallstrom said.
The slip said a California company named The Retail Equation was behind the decision to sideline Hallstrom from returns. TRE, which did not return our call for comment, works with companies to cut down on return fraud. That type of fraud is a major problem for retailers—but not remotely close to what Linda Hallstrom says she was doing that day. Her request for clarification, she says, got her nowhere.
"They simply said I had returned too many items in a period that dated approximately from 2009," she told NBC5 Responds.
When we asked Carson’s parent company for more details, a spokesperson told us the company would immediately lift the restriction on Linda Hallstrom, and offered the following statement:
“Regarding your questions on this matter, we would like to state that our return policy is displayed on signs next to each of our registers, is printed on the back of our receipts, and is also on our website in the assistance section. The current policy has been in place for nearly two years. The policy itself states, among other things, that "we reserve the right to limit returns or exchanges regardless of receipt."
Like many other retailers, we place a variety of conditions or restrictions on returns that we feel make sense for the cost-effective management of our business. As these conditions and restrictions are applied via computer systems and programs using complex algorithms, on a rare occasion the results might appear problematic. We regret any frustration or inconvenience Linda Hallstrom might have experienced and look forward to serving her in the future.
We thank you for the opportunity to share our perspective in this matter.”
Her retail timeout lifted, the Sycamore grandmother says the experience changed her mind about where she will go next to buy those little pink outfits.
"It made me feel tacky, unappreciated, and so what good is loyalty?" Hallstrom asked.