Victoria's Secret Destroys Unworn Returned Merchandise

Looks like we've got another H&M on our hands: if you return an unworn item to Victoria's Secret, the store will most likely destroy it. And we're not talking bras and underwear here — the wasteful corporate policy came to light after a Florida woman returned a pair of sweat pants, which had never before known the touch of human legs, only for the sales assistant to take a pair of shears to them:

The clerk happily gave her a refund, then took a pair of scissors and started cutting the pants in half.

"I was shocked, because, mind you, these were $70 sweatpants, and there's nothing wrong with them," [customer] Marie Wolf said. "The clerk just said, 'I know, but it's our policy.' "

Outraged, Wolf confronted a store manager, then called the parent company and found, indeed, Victoria's Secret does cut up some returned items so they can't be resold - even if they're in fine condition.

Apparently, the clerk's only mistake, Wolf said, was to cut up the clothes in front of customers, and not in a back room out of sight.

Perhaps this new corporate policy is in reaction to that incident in 2010 when the Today Show caught Victoria's Secret employees on hidden camera taking underwear made to look worn — the tags and those plastic hygienic barrier stickers were removed, the crotches had been stained with baby oil — as a customer return, and putting it right back out for sale.

Clearly, there has to be a better way. Gee, I bet if the smart people at the Limited Brands company really thought hard about it, they could come up with some kind of middle ground between putting disgusting, previously worn intimate apparel on the store shelves, and rendering all returned merchandise unwearable before disposing of it in a landfill. Perhaps Victoria's Secret could (like H&M, which was caught destroying unsold gloves and fiberfill jackets one cold New York winter) co-operate with one of the many charities that specialize in taking surplus new merchandise off retailers' hands, removing labels plus any logos or brands, and donating it to homeless people? The clothing has no resale value, which serves the store's interests, and people who need it get to wear it, which serves just about everybody's. There is no reason, other than corporate inertia, for the fashion industry to be so tolerant of waste.