Why won’t T.J. Maxx refund my purchase on PayPal?

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By Christopher Elliott

 After Ekaterina Quinones returns her merchandise to T.J. Maxx, it agrees to a full refund. Then it fails to repay the money. What’s going on?

Question

I recently bought a clothing item online from T.J. Maxx and returned it in its original condition. I paid online through PayPal.

I contacted T.J. Maxx countless times to ask about a refund. First, a representative promised to refund me in “10 to 15 days.” Then the company said it would be another five days. Then another five days. And then it was “one to three days” to show up in my account. The T.J. Maxx refund did not happen. 

We went back and forth for over a month. Almost two months after I returned the item, I filed a dispute with PayPal. I enclosed the evidence, including tracking showing the delivery and their signature, email logs, photos of the item in original packaging, and photos of the return shipment with the label attached). 

PayPal sided with T.J. Maxx. 

Why wouldn’t they just refund me? This money is nothing for a huge retailer. And if they said they would, why wouldn’t they? Please, let me know if this is something you can help with. The help in my case would be figuring out why T.J. Maxx and PayPal have been treating me this way after the seller allegedly agreed to return the money. Thank you kindly. — Ekaterina Quinones, New York

Answer

You’re right, this is a strange case. T.J. Maxx agreed to a refund — you have the emails to prove it — but then ghosted you. Then, when you tried to retrieve a T.J. Maxx refund through PayPal, T.J. Maxx fought the dispute and won.

Based on the information you sent me, it looks as if this is the product of automation gone awry. I think T.J. Maxx had every intention of returning your money, but its systems just didn’t follow through the way they should have. That’s no excuse, but maybe it’s a consolation. At least there wasn’t an evil mastermind on the other end intentionally denying your refund. (Related: How can I get the refund that TJ Maxx owes me?)

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I’m troubled that PayPal sided with T.J. Maxx, though. You sent PayPal extensive documentation of your purchase and return. Why didn’t it do what it promised under its vaunted PayPal Protection program, which assures you that “We investigate and stay involved every step of the way”? (Unauthorized charges on your PayPal account? Here’s how to get your money back now)

Again, it looks like no human laid eyes on your claim. How disappointing.

I think a brief, polite email to both companies might have helped. I list the names, numbers and emails of all the customer service executives at T.J. Maxx on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I also publish the names of the PayPal executives.

A case like yours requires that you break through the automation barrier and reach a real person. That’s becoming increasingly difficult these days. I mean, sometimes when you think you’re in a live “chat” online, it turns out to be a bot. Come on, corporate America. You can do better!

Will T.J. Maxx refund the money?

“We have looked into Ms. Quinones’ concerns, and have been in direct contact with her to resolve this matter,” a representative said. “And we can confirm that Ms. Quinones’ PayPal account has been fully reimbursed.  We regret the inconvenience Ms. Quinones may have experienced, and as a token of goodwill will also send her a $100 gift card which can be used in any of our stores or on tjmaxx.com.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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