Return policies are for beauty fans what car insurance is to an adrenaline junkie with a Chevy Camaro: a really valuable safety net. That new chemical peel made your face break out in hives? Take that shit back (and maybe grab some cortisone). The red lipstick you loved so much in the store looks orange in every other lighting? It's time for an exchange.
Since choosing an eye cream is different than trying on a pair of jeans, most beauty stores offer free samples — and have a pretty reasonable return policy if you still aren't satisfied. With Sephora, you can make returns on any product, no questions asked, within 60 days with a receipt (or an exchange for store credit without one)... within reason. In the same way that some states keep score of your driving violations and then — should you rack up too many strikes against you — restrict your license, Sephora has a similar system in place.
As Racked reports, the retailer is one of many that uses The Retail Equation (TRE) to track customers' purchase histories, the amount of merchandise they're returning, and how often they do it. If you return more than you spend — whether it's repeatedly buying multiple makeup shades when you only plan on keeping one (like one Reddit user reported) or bringing in products you got on sale at another store — Sephora could then choose to limit that privilege. (For how long that hold will remain on your account, the company declined to comment.)
"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," a rep for Sephora said in a statement. "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."
Frequent Sephora shoppers across the internet are voicing their frustration, but here's the thing: Return fraud is a very real thing — one that, in 2017 alone, accounted for $15 billion in losses (!) across retail companies, according to a National Retail Federation survey. (Keep in mind that, unlike a blouse or a TV, beauty stores have to toss any opened returned items.) Given that number, the system's intention is to protect the company... not punish beauty enthusiasts for picking up the wrong face cream.