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What CBS 2 found that some of the most famous stores in our area are doing is not only disgusting, it’s dangerous. Selling used lingerie. Shame On You went undercover and what we found is shocking. CBS 2’s Arnold Diaz has more on this dirty little secret.

Our hidden camera investigation of Victoria’s Secret and some other major retailers has uncovered a dangerous and appalling practice that shocked customers when we told them.

“It’s just disgusting.”

“I just think it’s pretty gross.”

“This is serious. This is real serious.”

John, not his real name, is a disgruntled former employee of two Victoria’s Secret stores. He came to us with the revolting allegation that it was store practice to take back used underwear and then resell it.

“When women would come in, I would be disgusted. I knew they were returning something they wore out to a date or just wore out to a club and it’s like, you want another woman to buy this?” said John.

Diaz asked John if there were there times that he put back underwear that he was pretty sure was used, “Yeah, all the time, all the time. I don’t even like touching it, I hold it by the tag because I don’t want to put my hands on that.”

Could this be true? To find out we bought thong underwear at two Victoria’s Secret stores, and at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomindale’s. We took them home, cut off the sales tags to suggest they’d been worn then marked each pair with two tiny black dots on the labels.

Every store took back our thongs without the tags, never asking if they’d been worn. Next our hidden camera caught the sales clerk at a Victoria’s Secret attaching a new price tag on our returned thong, hanging it up and then putting it back on the floor for sale. We know it’s the same thong because our two dots were on the label. Unbelievably, it’s not illegal in the tri-state area to sell used underwear, but “It could get someone sick.”

Microbiologist Dr. Lori Daane says dangerous bacteria like yeast and ecoli can survive for weeks on lingerie and can be easily transferred. “Given the fact that you can get these organisms on this clothing, especially thong underwear, it’s pretty likely you’re going to get some fecal contamination.”

We also found our returned thongs back on the sales floor at another Victoria’s Secret, at Saks Fifth Avenue and at Macy’s. Bloomingdale’s was the only store where we didn’t see our thong back on sale. Lingerie customers were horrifed at our findings.

“Who the heck wants to wear someone else’s underwear. That’s not a good thing.”

“I don’t think they should take them back at all. I mean I think it should be, you buy them once and they’re done.”

One woman approached us claiming to be a customer of Victoria’s Secret but turned out to be an employee.

When asked why she put used underwear back out she responded, “I don’t think we would do that. We would never do that.”

But when Diaz pointed out that there were pictures she said, “You do? I don’t think that’s fair what you’re doing.”

“I don’t think it’s fair you’re putting used underwear back out,” asked Diaz. “We would never do that,” was the employee’s answer.

In an official statement Victoria’s Secret says “Our policy is to not sell used merchandise. Rest assured, we will investigate your allegations thoroughly.”

Bloomingdale’s, where we did not find our returned thong back on the sales floor says, “…any garment that shows any sign of wear, including no ticket, is marked out of stock.”

Macy’s East says, “…we have guidelines and practices for merchandise such as intimate apparel, we train our sales associates to thoroughly inspect all merchandise [that is returned]. This should insure that only clean, sellable items are on our selling floor.”

Saks Fifth Avenue says, “if merchandise looks like it’s in saleable condition and has not been worn, we do put it back on the sales floor. We trust our sales associates to make good judgements about the saleability of returned merchandise and in most cases they do.”

But john says it’s not always obvious what’s been worn, “The only way you could, like, damage it out, is if it’s ripped or if it’s really, really stained and, you know, where it’s really noticed. But sometimes you can’t notice it.”

So into the CBS 2 Hall Of Shame we induct Victoria’s Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s for a filthy practice that puts their customers’ health at risk.

Interestingly, in New York it’s illegal to sell hats that have been returned but not thong underwear.

Some stores do refuse to take back underwear, a policy that should be posted. But the best protection for consumers is to wash, wash, wash your underwear before putting it on.


If you missed the point of the article “Always wash your panties before you wear them”.

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