SheIn won’t issue me a refund for the dresses I returned

By | October 7th, 2016

SheIn may be “one of the most acclaimed online stores for women’s fashion,” but maybe Rosemary Janicki should have checked it out before she placed an order for dresses.

The site’s “About Us” page fills in a few details she missed. It claims that “SheIn’s team draws on rich experience and great passion on providing fashionable clothing for women from the ages of 16-35.”

Janicki is 84.

And that’s where today’s story of a botched return and a foiled refund starts: With a generation gap. A wide — but not an insurmountable one.

Janicki purchased four dresses from SheIn, but was dissatisfied with her purchases. According to Janicki, “I should never have ordered them. This is a young woman’s site (which I did not know at the time).” And the dresses were “foreign-made and quite shoddy.” She decided to return three of the dresses. Unfortunately, getting a refund would turn out to be more difficult than she anticipated.

Shortly after Janicki bought the dresses, the credit card she used to make the purchase was compromised. Janicki received a replacement credit card. But SheIn refused to issue the refund to the new card, claiming that it could refund the purchase only to the card that had been used to make the purchase.

Janicki went “round and round” with SheIn’s customer service agents, who later told her that they could issue her a refund through PayPal. However, Janicki does not have a PayPal account; nor does she want one. She describes herself as “not computer-savvy.”

She then heard from SheIn that “the matter was closed.” Obviously this was not true. She had returned the three dresses without receiving a refund.

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Janicki contacted our advocates for help, asking “Why can’t [SheIn] just send me a check?”

Good question. Why can’t businesses issue refunds in the form of checks?


Many businesses, including manufacturers, travel companies, and other big-ticket item sellers just don’t like to issue cash refunds. They offer vouchers for discounts off future purchases, loyalty points, or other “gestures of goodwill.” Or they declare that the purchase was “nonrefundable.” Our case files are full of stories of dissatisfied customers who can’t get their money back because the businesses they dealt with just don’t want to let the dough go.

Which is understandable — up to a point. After all, the businesses have overhead costs, payrolls, taxes, and various other bills to pay that require cash. Paying cash refunds to unhappy consumers, especially when they have a huge clientele, would cut deeply into their ability to pay their bills and balance their budgets. But consumers can’t use discounts and loyalty points with other businesses — and aren’t likely to want to do business again with a company that didn’t deliver satisfactory goods or services.

SheIn’s return policy, as outlined on its website, consists of the following:

How to return an order if I don’t like it?

Unsatisfied with your purchase? Please do not worry for we will be in your shoes.

The items can be returned in their original and unworn condition within 30 days from the delivered date. But please note that the return fee is on you.
Once your returned item is received and accepted, your refund or new item will be processed shortly.

Please keep the following in mind: the returned item will be reviewed by Quality Assurance department and the items with the signs of being wore [sic], altered, or damaged cannot be accepted for return.

The policy also indicates that some items are nonreturnable, none of which include dresses. But there is no language at all requiring that refunds be issued only to the credit card or other form of payment originally used to make the purchase. So it’s not clear why SheIn couldn’t issue Janicki’s refund to her replacement credit card after her original card was compromised.

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Our advocates reached out to SheIn on Janicki’s behalf. SheIn refunded Janicki for the three dresses she wanted to return, although we don’t have details of the form of payment SheIn used to issue the refunds.

Should businesses be required to issue refunds in cash at a customer’s request?

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  • Rebecca

    Ummmm……

    It’s ILLEGAL for a business to issue a cash refund when a credit card was used to make payment. It violates federal (and many state) banking regulations. It’s a rule to prevent money laundering. There are some serious fines associated with giving cash for a credit card return.

    If your credit card number changed, the company can still issue a credit to the old account. In some cases, it will automatically transfer to the new account. If not, you simply call the credit card company and they will manually transfer it over.

  • Annie M

    Refunds must be in the same form of payment unless a debit card was used. Then a cash refund can be done.

    She simply could have notified her bank that a credit was coming back on the closed account and the bank could have applied it to her new account it issued a check. It is not unusual for a credit to go back on closed card and most banks have a policy on how they handle it.

  • Travelnut

    I checked the website (realizing it will mean I see their online ads for weeks – ugh). How could the OP accidentally or on purpose order clothes from that site for herself? It’s clearly cheaply made clothes for women in their twenties. Also, the grammar suggests this company is not based in the US, although I didn’t dig further.

  • disqus_6gHRd4OpK5

    I was in the same situation recently. The bank assured me that any credit would be reviewed by their security office and applied to the new card.

  • Rebecca

    I did the same. The target age group includes me on the highest end, I’m 35. I wouldn’t order anything from there. And probably wouldn’t have 10 years ago either. I think it’s made for college age women that attend music festivals. Or at least that’s my guess.

  • Kerr

    Not computer savvy but buying clothes online? She needs to choose her online stores more carefully.

  • Michael__K

    Can you cite these laws / regulations you refer to please?

    Plenty of retailers allow cash refunds or adjustments on credit card purchases in various circumstances, sometimes even without a receipt. Though they may require a photo ID to track these refunds and prevent abuse.

    BTW, when my wife tried to return something after her credit card account was closed (there was no new card with that company) they were able (eventually, with approval from a manager) to issue a credit to an entirely different card.

  • Jeff W.

    On online-only retailer is more often than not going to insist that the refund must be in the same form as the original payment — to prevent laundering and theft — as others have mentioned.

    A brick and mortar store has a little more flexibility. They can check a photo ID and verify that you match the photo. And many retailers subscribe to a system, if not exclusive to the chain, to the activity.

    The only times I recall getting a cash refund when I purchased something via credit is when it was a partial refund. A grocery store purchase when one item is returned, out of many, for example.

  • Rebecca

    From the Department of Treasury:

    “An agency must not process a credit transaction without having completed a previous purchase transaction with the same cardholder and the same Card. The refund or adjustment indicated on the credit draft must not exceed the original transaction amount. If any merchandise is accepted for return, or any services are terminated or canceled, or price adjustment is allowed by the agency, the agency must not make any cash refund to the cardholder and, instead, must process a credit draft to the cardholder’s account evidencing such refund or adjustment, unless required by law. Authorization is not required when a refund is given to a cardholder. In the event that the account is closed, the agency should still process the return to the original Card.”

    http://tfm.fiscal.treasury.gov/v1/p5/c700.html

  • Michael__K

    From the top of that page:

    Scope, Applicability, and Network Rules

    This chapter applies to Federal agencies that are collecting or intend to collect obligations via credit or debit card (Card)

  • Rebecca

    Ok. It was the first result I found easily. I’ll find it, when I get a chance.

  • AAGK

    Not internet savvy but shops online, ships back returns and knows how to have her credit card reissued when she spots fraud. That’s all she needs to know. Of course the refund goes to the form of payment. That rule isn’t new, it’s been the around for half a century or more. Also, you can receive a refund on a compromised credit card account. Easily. It’s a nonissue. Very rarely the bank won’t apply it properly but it takes a phone call for them to find it. She wanted the cash instead.

  • AAGK

    Also, when she returned the dresses, the refund would be placed on her account before she called the merchant, even if she couldn’t locate it. If the store issued another refund with a check and didn’t cancel the original refund, she got paid twice. Her bank would have found the 1st refund by now and applied to her new card or mailed her a check.

  • AAGK

    I’ve gotten that once in an similar situation. They aren’t supposed to do it and it is a super exception. You have to be super friendly and persuasive.

  • Dutchess

    Illegal? No! Against the rules in the store’s merchant agreement with the credit card processor? Yes!

  • Dutchess

    I thought a store could issue a refund to a closed credit card account because of reasons just like this?

  • Rebecca

    Ok – there’s only a long answer, but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible. I was hoping I could find a link explaining it better than I can. Is there a law spelling out that a cash refund when paid by a credit card is illegal? No. There is for government institutions, like universities, for example. But not a general rule.

    That being said, it violates merchant agreements (ie the business signs a contract stating they won’t do it). I understand that doesn’t make it illegal. So I’m going to justify WHY I said that. What the regulations actually require is that senior management sign off and submit an AML (anti-money laundering) plan. This plan must spell out HOW a financial institution will monitor and attempt to prevent money laundering. This is always going to include the contract provisions about no cash for credit at POS. In other words, people are signing contracts promising they will take a specific action in order to prevent folks from laundering money through their businesses and institutions. These institutions are required to file a SAR when something flags them as suspicious. So, if a merchant were to repeatedly give cash back on credit card purchases, they know they’re not supposed to per their contract with the processor. But it goes further than that. Remember, the bank these transactions are running through has submitted an AML plan promising they won’t allow cash back at POS for card purchases. So, the merchant is violating more than just the contract with the processor. They can also get in trouble for running afoul of AML laws.

    I concede, it is more of a fraud measure. Certainly it is in the best interest of the business to do it this way anyways. BUT – there is more trouble to be had than just losing money (say, a customer gets a cash refund and then initiates a chargeback).

  • Michael__K

    Thanks, that’s more like what I figured. It appears that the AML ‘strategy’ used by some merchants is to require photo ID for these sorts of refunds and to track and limit the dollar amounts and frequency.

  • redragtopstl

    Google “SheIn”, and I can guarantee you that you will see one horror story after another. Their website shows designer clothing, but what you actually get bears little resemblance to the picture on the website, in fabric, construction or even color. The sizing is based on Asian models, meaning (for instance) that if you order a garment in size large, you think you’re getting a size 14 but when it arrives it fits like maybe a size 8! The companies are all based in Asia (usually China), and that’s where the merchandise is made.

    There are several of these websites; they all operate in the same manner, and they don’t like to refund your money if you return merchandise. They make so difficult to get a refund that most people end up giving away the clothes to charity and eating the loss.

  • William Leeper

    Illegal, no, but against the merchant agreement, yes, sometimes. It is however in the best interest of the merchant to refund to the card because in doing so, most credit processors will also refund the fees that they charged when the transaction was processed.

    In essence, there are circumstances where merchants can process a refund in cash, but they lose money doing so. The reason the merchant agreements disallow it generally is because cash advances are a significantly higher interest rate than purchases, and the bank is losing out on that interest because the transaction effectively becomes a cash advance.

  • Michael Anthony

    She’s 84. She’s attempting to keep up on life since its next to impossible for older adults now. Have some empathy.

  • Michael Anthony

    She’s 84, have some empathy. And if someone in their 80s wanted to wear 20s clothes, or vice versa, more power to them. It feels like high school.

  • The Cosmic Avenger

    When I’ve had credit cards reissued, I’ve had no problem with refunds being issued to the old card in a few cases; the credit was quickly transferred to the new card by my bank.

  • joycexyz

    Perhaps she has kept her girlish figure and wants to dress young. I guess the fashion police have decided that she must dress in old lady clothes.

  • Rebecca

    See below – I explained why I said illegal. I understand it isn’t specifically prohibited. But, you run afoul of AML laws when you violate that merchant agreement.

  • Travelnut

    Not at all. I’m all for people wearing whatever they want. The issue was that the woman ordered the clothing and seemed surprised when it was young women’s clubbing clothes. Clearly she did not want that style of clothing.

  • Tigger57

    Exactly!

  • Tigger57

    If she is not savvy enough to use pay pal – then maybe she is not savvy enough to make online purchases.

  • jsn55

    It boggles the mind that an 84 year old woman who isn’t savvy with computers is ordering dresses online. What was she thinking?

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