Incurably Curious

How To Return Cosmetics (& Get Your Money Back)

Icon6- Complaining about MakeupBitchin’: it’s practically a national pastime. The British are the undisputed world champions at moaning, complaining, grousing, griping and bellyaching. Centuries ago, we used to channel all this discontent into stealing discovering other lands and dicking on spear-wielding natives, but these days we’ve lost our belly fire. Plunderin’, rapin’ and lootin’ have given way to giving strangers the stink-eye and, in extreme cases, tutting. Obviously this isn’t exactly a bad thing, but unfortunately we are utterly crap at acting on our dissatisfaction at all now. . We share a rooted objection to Being A Bother, or – even worse – Causing A Scene. As a nation, we need to change.

Now, I can say this because I have been genetically blessed with a natural self-righteousness and sub-par sense of shame. My mother, perhaps the most unembarrassed person in the country, is the kind of woman who will carefully check every receipt because Tesco once overcharged her by 72p in 1994. I remember as a child being mortified as she marched over to a gangly eighteen year old at the Customer Service desk to demand the reason as to why a BOGOF offer on avocados hadn’t gone through. I have no doubt in my mind that one of my ancestors, a daughter-in-law of Noah, boarded the Ark and immediately said, ‘Excuse me. Excuse me. Why do we have an inside cabin? We were promised a sea-view. And a balcony. How come the anteaters have a sea-view? AND it’s too small.’

Although her behaviour was mortifying at the time, I learned that it was important to complain about something that wasn’t right. If you pay money for something and it doesn’t work how it should, then you’re entitled to a replacement or refund. End of. There is nothing wrong or embarrassing about it, taking something back does not make you tight-arse or a miser. Cosmetics in particular seem to be something that people shy away from returning, and I haven’t the foggiest why. I appreciate not everyone has the natural ability to approach a snotty counter assistant and demand a refund for a foundation that brought them out in hives, so here it is, my handy-dandy guide to complaining about cosmetics and getting your money back.

Are you entitled to a refund?
This comes down to personal ethics and the brand’s refund policy. Generally, I’d say you should go for it if:

  • The product doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do;
  • The product caused your skin to react badly;
  • The product was missold to you (i.e. the BA sold you the wrong shade of foundation).

Some brands will also allow you to exchange products if they’re just not right for you or it was an unwanted gift (without receipt), but this is at the counter manager’s discretion. Do not try and exchange a product if you’ve bought one off eBay that you suspect to be fake. I had this happen to me three times when I worked at Benefit and I had two of them escorted off by security. Very embarrassing.

Keep your receipt
Always keep the receipt of a product until you’re completely finished with it; it makes getting a refund so much easier. Some department stores, such as House of Fraser, will not even offer you an exchange without one, even in the product is brand new and in its original packaging. You can usally still get something back if you don’t have the receipt, but it won’t be a refund and it isn’t guaranteed. The only exception is Bare Minerals; I once returned something without a receipt that I had reacted really badly to and the BA went straight to the till and gave me the cash, no questions asked.

Don’t be a dickhead about it
At the end of the day, it isn’t the BA’s fault that your new primer gave you pizza face. Going in guns blazing is just going to piss them off and they’re not going to want to help you. Keep calm, explain your situation and go in with an objective. You’re much more likely to get what you want if you’re after an exchange rather than the cash.  Grovel a bit too, that usually helps.

Write a letter
If the BA refuses to help you, you can ask to speak to the counter manager. Most beauty counters are concessions, which means that the counter manager has more say over her brand than a store manager. If they do tell you refunds are against company policy, ask for the details of Head Office or get them off the internet at home. Send a polite email explaining the situation and what you’d like in exchange. Tell them you were recommended to get in touch by their counter staff at whatever branch you visited. You probably will have to pay to post your item to them but generally you’ll get good service. When writing your email, don’t be an arsehole about it. Explain how much you like the brand and how disappointed you are with the new product you tried. If you ask for an exchange of something of slightly higher value and offer to supplement it with some extra cash they will usually waive the extra for you. Don’t be cheeky though!

Take to Twitter
Sometimes, when a company has been a little slow replying to my email, I’ve tweeted about how disappointed I am with the customer service and someone has got back to me within the hour. I did this for a friend with the Cambridge Satchel Company after her £120 leather bag started peeling after three weeks and they were ON IT. Three emails had been ignored but after kicking up some fuss on Twitter we had a new satchel on its way within 24 hours.

Premium brands’ returns policies

  • Generally, any company owned by the Estee Lauder group is very good with returns. Estee Lauder itself is a shining beacon of custom service – I tried Doublewear foundation and it was too heavy. After a few weeks I took it back without a receipt. They swapped me on to Doublewear Light, no questions asked. That too clogged my skin. After another few weeks I took it back and they put me on their Vita-Mineral Liquid Foundation.
  • Estee Lauder own over 25 other big name brands including Mac, Clinique, Smashbox, Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Origins and Creme de la Mer.
  • Urban Decay is an absolute nightmare to return stuff to: I was informed by an apologetic BA that they don’t ever refund or exchange cosmetics on counter, even if it’s faulty and you’ve got a receipt. I contacted Head Office and they not only sent me a replacement but also a cheque for the value of the dodgy mascara I’d bought. Lots of inconvenience but it paid off.
  • To return anything from Benefit you need a receipt, but when I worked for them we used to do exchanges too if people were nice and polite about it.
  • I don’t have any personal experience of returning things to Lancome, Dior or Chanel, but generally if you are a regular customer they will be looking to keep you! These brands are expensive, so when going in to make a complaint it’s worth not going in looking like a total bum – if you look like you’re a regular Chanel customer then they’ll try harder to help you.
  • Liz Earle are always wonderful.
  • Similarly, I have always found the staff at Bare Minerals to be excellent.
What about non-premium cosmetics?
Non-concessionary brands (otherwise known a ‘self-service’) are down to the discretion of the store. Go to the customer service department – till staff will usually end up having to call a manager and you’ll be waiting ages. The same rules apply: be nice and be sincere.  Apart from high-end department stores such as Harrods or Selfridges, generally I’d say House of Fraser is the hardest place to get a refund or exchange for cosmetics. John Lewis, Debenhams and Boots all seem to be pretty good.

 

35 comments on “How To Return Cosmetics (& Get Your Money Back)

  1. daisychain
    February 13, 2012

    fabulous post, and a must read for anyone!

  2. Catherine
    February 13, 2012

    Amazing post!! I’ve always shied away from complaining or returning beauty products – I just thought, if I’d used it then it couldn’t be returned, regardless of whether it had adverse effects/was the wrong shade etc. This has been so helpful! Thank you xxx

    • CuriousEmily
      February 15, 2012

      Ah, Catherine, thank you so much – I’m so pleased you found it useful! I think there’s just something that’s ground into us from birth here; as a nation we need to grow some balls! x

  3. love this post! I am guilty of never wanting to be a pain by moaning about something, but I should defo try and get what I deserve more! xx

  4. glitterkitty
    July 11, 2012

    Great post. I went to the estee lauder counter at boots to get a good concealer but got suckered into buying the idealist eye illuminator from the make up assistant. She applied the eye cooling cream which was in the medium/dark shade and put some of the concealer on top. She insisted it looked fab so i just went with it but couldn’t really tell in the shop floor ligting.

    The next day when i applied the eye cooling cream myself i realised it was way too dark for me, and did nothing for my dark circles, if anything else it just accentuated them. I know now that i should have got the light/medium shade as the make up assistant recommended the wrong shade for me.

    I tried on the lighter shade tester in john lewis today only to find that the lighter shade is so much better and makes my eyes brighter I compared it to the eye that had the darker shade of eye cream and the darker shade just looked ridiculous.

    Do you think estee lauder at boots would allow me to exchange this item which has only been used once in exchange for a lighter shade ? I feel the counter assistant has given me the wrong recommendation and has just assumed i would be a darker shade because i have a warm skintones. Sorry about the long story!

    • CuriousEmily
      July 11, 2012

      Absolutely! Estee Lauder are really, really good. I’ve taken half-used foundation back. If you just explain what you’ve explained below they’ll swap it for you for sure, even if you don’t have a receipt. :) t have a receipt. :)
      Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

  5. unkown
    August 25, 2012

    Chanel counter is full of Shit,the Rep that doesn’t appreciate anything from casual treats casual funny,,,bully’s casual around ill treats them.This is a new South african respect comes in different ways.You don’t treat people the way u do.Cause you wil always casuals in your life.Show your appreciation to all ur workers and be fair.Some of the permint staff give customers wrong make up,but casuals get ill treated,,,its so unfair to b ill treated @ work

  6. Bilee
    August 26, 2012

    Can i return a chanel foundation from Boots to another Boots store (Different City) and tell them i wasn’t happy with how the shade looked, even though i did try on a sample at the start.

    I wore a sample shade to the store and asked the chanel assistant if the foundation shade blended in well with my skintone in which she replied it did. So i went ahead and bought the foundation with my advantage card points.

    Upon trying on the purchased foundation later it looked as if the shade had yellow/green tones in it which showed up more in lighting, it also oxidized darker.
    I didn’t notice any strange green colours or oxidisation with the sample i tried but with the bottled foundation the colour was all wrong.

    Do you think i will be able to return it to another Boots store for a refund and explain i was recommended the wrong shade. I hate having to go back to the original store where i purchased it from because they might say i had already tried on a sample so therefore it is my fault for purchasing the wrong shade??

    My issue is that the sample colour did not look green and did not oxidize but the bottled foundation did. Do you know if other Boots stores accept makeup returns for purchases made from differnt Boots store? Or would i need to go back to the original Boots store i purchased it from?

    • CuriousEmily
      August 26, 2012

      No, you can go back to any Boots store. If you have the receipt, simply go to any Boots Chanel concession, explain you were recommended this foundation by a BA but you’ve found in the light it’s totally the wrong shade. They should allow you to get a refund, or at the very least swap it for the correct shade.

      Good luck! x

  7. Katie Rannard
    March 24, 2013

    I purchased a Bobbi Brown foundation from House of Fraser a few weeks ago and its not suitable for my skin whatsoever. I don’t want a refund but want to swap it for another foundation, do you think I’ll be able to?

    • CuriousEmily
      March 24, 2013

      I have no experience with Bobbi Brown, but I expect you’d be okay going to the counter, asking nicely and getting an exchange. :)

      • Katie Rannard
        March 24, 2013

        I’ll give it a try tomorrow and will let you know

      • CuriousEmily
        March 24, 2013

        Yes, please do! :) Good luck!

  8. niccakee
    March 25, 2013

    I bought some skin care products from boots (I know not cosmetics) from la Roche posay totalling around £30 and they are meant for sensitive skin. I have sensitive skin and they hurt my face. Do you think I would be able to get a refund or will even asking for one seem wrong?

    • CuriousEmily
      March 25, 2013

      I would give it a go, especially if you have a receipt! If not, try writing to La Roche and see what they say. :)

      • niccakee
        March 25, 2013

        Thanks! I’ve been reading your other blog posts, I particularly liked the one about the things men find unattractive. It had me in stitches!

      • CuriousEmily
        March 25, 2013

        So pleased you like them! :) Remember to subscribe if you want regular updates. :D *shameless plug*

  9. juliee
    May 17, 2013

    Hi Emily – just read your great blog and I’d be interested to hear how you dealt with Cambridge Satchel Company. I have had one of their bags (a full price one, not discounted/second) which I used daily for just over a year, when the leather attachment holding the strap failed. I’ve emailed the company, and received this in return: ‘If its the leather then I am sorry this can’t be repaired economically, the cost of labour as it would be done by hand is just to high so we can’t do it I’m afraid.’ I am, to say the least, not impressed. I will be taking to twitter if they do not respond to my follow-up, but I would love to hear how you handled it.

    • CuriousEmily
      May 20, 2013

      Hi Julie,

      I emailed them and got nothing, so I tweeted them and said I was really disappointed and the customer service had been crap and their products were shite. I had to make a few follow-up calls and be quite forceful but in the end we managed to get a new bag out of them. My advice is to take to Twitter and be completely shameless – properly browbeat them! x

  10. shafina
    June 23, 2013

    i recently popped into a Benefit boutique to try out the Sun Beam but felt really pressured to buy the item so i thought lemme buy it and just return it when i’m back again in a few days. However, after leaving the store i had a quick glance at my receipt and it said exchange only and i was not informed by the cashier! I went back to the store (10 minutes after buying the item) and they said exchange only.even though i only bought it 10 minutes ago. I had a check at the online terms and conditions and it said ‘we issue credit’ if you decide to return the item so i shall try ringing the head office

  11. lorraine
    August 2, 2013

    The clinique tried the 3 step set on my and the BB cream- I got both products but when I got home my skin had gone red red and sore- not used the product so can I return them? x

    • CuriousEmily
      August 2, 2013

      Clinique are really good – just take them back and explain. Helps if you have the receipt but you should be okay even without!

  12. Vino Chetty
    November 11, 2013

    Hi I bought Eestee Lauder double wear powder n I asked for a shade to suite me as I buy Rich ginger Foundation n found the powder to dark so I was on Leave n went to the Durban Bluff branch n the consultant helped me with a colour but when I put it my self it looks dark n I paid R455 for it how do I change it ,please call me as I am on leave n this is my work email 0825709304

  13. Daisy
    January 2, 2014

    Hi, a few days ago I bought the revlon 24 foundation and under the store lights the shade looked fine but when I got home it looked waay too dark. I kept the receipt, do you think they will let me exchange or get a refund? Thank you! :-)

  14. Anonymous
    January 5, 2014

    I purchased (well got talked into) buying some Givenchy primer and foundation from Debenhams. This was about a month ago and I have been using it, not every day but on special occasions (it’s pricey stuff so I must be sparing) and slowly my face as started to look like I have hives!! I still have the receipt and wondered if this period of time is too long to return the cosmetics??

    • CuriousEmily
      January 5, 2014

      I would give it a go – be polite and explain the situation – try to get the salesperson on your side. Good luck!

      • Jodi S
        January 9, 2014

        Thanks I’m just glad I found your site to give me the confidence to at least try.

      • CuriousEmily
        January 9, 2014

        Good luck!

  15. Anonymous
    January 7, 2014

    Ayah idea on what Elemis are like, bought a gift pack at John Lewis as a treat for myself to then find out my mum had the same thing delivered to my house the same day. Have all receipts and nothings opened?!

    • CuriousEmily
      January 7, 2014

      I can’t imagine how that wouldn’t be fine, just go back and tell the truth.

  16. Anonymous
    January 10, 2014

    I bought products from Origins online, went to the store to return them and they will only give me a piece of paper with credit. Very incompetent, if I pay with my credit card I expect my money back and not a piece of paper that can be lost or fade with time. I will start looking for other companies to buy my products unless Origins fixes this problem or train their people to do their job properly. Of course if their idea is to just keep your money, well in that case they are doing a horrible job. Not very nice Origins, not nice at all.

  17. Avril
    January 24, 2014

    Bought no7 stay prefect mascara. Used once. Removed with a wipe. Lost loads of eyelashes. Then read back. Which said use warm water. Same happened again. Lost my receipt.

  18. aprill
    March 8, 2014

    I bought a foundation today from boots the shade looked good looking at the bottle but got it home tried it and it’s very orange looking, do I have a chance at changing it for a lighter shade do you think?

  19. alyson
    March 25, 2014

    Ive had 2 Elizabeth arden product bought for my birthday (14th march) Mascara & make up palette. both totalling £60 thing is I love make up & wear it all the time but I like my own colours & this isn’t suitable, my sister bought it from house of fraser in London could I take it back to hof in my town, daren’t ask sis for receipt as don’t want to offend her

  20. jfmnsywkfc@gmail.com
    April 19, 2014

    Another awesome article on your blog, keep up good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on February 12, 2012 by in Good Advice and tagged , , , .

Live in London?

Curious London is my new blog for people looking for quirky shit to do in the capital.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,746 other followers

%d bloggers like this: