Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Bargain store bans sisters

Girls shop till they're dropped for too many returns

The Associated Press

BOSTON - A note to serious shoppers: think twice about returning those pants that don't quite fit, or that scarf that doesn't match your purse after all.

Two suburban Boston sisters, who say they've been loyal customers of Filene's Basement for decades, have been ordered to stay out of all 21 of the bargain chain's stores, after the store deemed they had returned too many items and made too many complaints about service.

Nancy Singer and her sister, who did not want to be identified, received a letter from the chain's corporate parent in May telling them they were no longer welcome in the stores.

"Given your history of excessive returns and your chronic unhappiness with our services, we have decided that this is the best way to avoid any future problems with you and your sister," wrote David E. Sherer, vice president of loss prevention at Value City Department Stores of Columbus.

Singer and her sister, who live in Newton, Mass., acknowledge they have returned many items, occasionally complained about the service and had a few incidents with managers, the Boston Sunday Globe reported. But, they said, their actions have never been excessive.

"The sales staff is always telling you to go ahead and buy it, and return it if it doesn't fit or look right," Singer said.

James McGrady, chief financial officer at Value City, said customer bans are "extremely rare," but said the sisters had returned an "incredible" number of items. Sales associates spent too much time handling the returns and complaints of the sisters, he said. "There comes a point in time when you say enough is enough on both sides," he said.

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