Beware: Retail's Dirty Little Secret About Lingerie

Beauty & Style | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/19/2014 | 11:00 AM EST

'Today' show's Rossen Report investigates disturbing reality about returning used underwear

Ever wondered where returned, used underwear went when returned to a retail store? Well, you’d be surprised (or not) to know that it may very well end up back on the shopping floor.

On the “Today” show, a Jeff Rossen investigative report discovered some outlets of Victoria's Secret, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, The Gap and Marshalls are taking used underwear back from customers and putting it back on shelves.

The dirty little secret was first exposed by the television program in 2010, causing said department stores to announce that they would “re-educate” their staffs. However, in a follow-up investigation of the matter, the Rossen Report found some retailers are continuing the practice.


In an undercover investigation, the Rossen Reports team purchased women's underwear from New Jersey locations and removed all the tags. Before returning the undergarments to the stores, the Rossen team put two little dots on each label with black marker to identify the items. Though stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and The Gap seemed not to have put the used underwear back on the racks, at Victoria’s Secret and Marshalls, however, they were quickly returned for customers to purchase.

If you’re thinking to yourself how foul such practices are, you’re not alone. There’s a universal consensus that it’s downright disgusting and a breach of customers trust of retailers. Who wants to purchase undies that may very well were worn by someone else?

In a statement to NBC News, Wal-Mart acknowledged that the results of the investigation were "absolutely unacceptable." Victoria's Secret said that what was captured on hidden camera was a "clear violation" of their policy, and Marshalls said they were "disappointed" that their "procedures were not followed."

All three companies again promised to re-educate their staffs.

All three retailers released statements in response to the investigative report, promising to address them immediately, adding that no merchandise that appears to be used or worn should not be accepted for return.

For your own risk, we encourage you to shop with caution. Pay close attention to the items you pick up for purchase and if necessary, do not hesitate to ask a sales associate to bring a new item from the back of the store to ensure that you’re getting an unused item.

(Photo: Safia Fatimi/GettyImages)

Do Your Underwear Fit You Correctly?

related stories


Do Your Underwear Fit You Correctly?


3 Stores Grown Women Shouldn’t be Afraid to Shop At


How to Accurately Clean Your Face

Beauty & Style

How to Achieve the ‘No-Makeup’ Makeup Look