This is what happened after someone at Gap accepted a return on a 17-year-old shirt

Chris Matyszczyk


Is this a world of infinite returns?

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

If you work in retail, you're confronted with many things you never expected.

Humans are peculiar. They come into your store and sometimes bare many of their peculiarities. There are people who try on trousers without bothering to go to the changing room.

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There are people who expect a sales associate to serve them immediately -- even if that associate is serving someone else at the time.

And then there's the person who brought a 17-year-old shirt back to GAP and tried to return it. Who would do that? And why? And what kind of day must they have been having?

A perfectly engrossing Reddit thread offers this tale.

The shirt was clearly an excellent one. It cost $24.50 in 2000.

You might think, though, that it's a little rich to bring a shirt back after 17 years. Don't stores limit the periods when you can return purchases?

It seems that the policy at GAP is 45 days. Even that is quite generous. H&M, for example, gives you 30 days.

Yet, as the Redditor -- with the handle thevintagekid -- explained, the GAP store accepted the shirt. I wonder if the employee accounted for inflation.

If they had, they'd have known that $24.50 in 2000 is the equivalent of $34.43 today. There hasn't been too much inflation over the years, you know.

I also wonder whether the employee accounted for what the boss might say. For the Redditor posted a fine picture of the shirt and a message that the store manager had attached.

"Who on Earth accepted this as a return?!?!?!" it began. Ah.

It continued: "This item is from the summer of 2000! That was almost 17 years ago!"

I fear this manager is a touch pedantic. 2017 minus 17 is an easy calculation. They didn't have to point that out.

The manager concluded: "If you're not sure, ASK!"

This might be fine advice, but in any given situation with a customer, asking might exacerbate things.

What if the customer was already perturbed that the employee scanned the tag and couldn't find the shirt in the GAP system?

What if the employee was new and didn't want to make it appear that they didn't know what they were doing?

And what if they just thought: "It's a $24.50 shirt. If I give a store credit, I'll please the customer. And, hey, this is GAP, we need all the customers we can get?"

In September, GAP was down 10 percent globally. It's struggled for quite some time now to occupy a place of relevance, as fast and online fashion has somehow made GAP's role indistinct.

Sometimes, a small gesture from an employee can build a little loyalty.

Of course it could be that the customers was a miserable old wart who started to get shirty and the employee thought the best and quickest way to solve the problem was to give the customer what they wanted.

It's only $24.50, after all.

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