For years, retail company Bath & Body Works has made headlines for its “generous return policy.” On Sept. 17, 2021, social media user Kristen Peden appeared to take advantage of that policy when she claimed in a series of Facebook posts that she exchanged three used items, including one used candle, at a Tennessee Bath & Body Works for new items. At the time of this writing, the post had garnered 90,000 shares.
Questions surrounding the policy have made social media rounds since at least 2018, and appeared in coverage by publications like The List and was posted to Reddit in 2019:
"Is it true that you can return used candles and swap them out for new ones? Ir is it a YMMV [your mileage may vary] situation"
Most of the reports claimed that if a customer keeps the receipt, they can return anything for any reason. And even without the receipt, customers could expect to receive store credit at the very least.
“At Bath & Body Works, you can return anything you buy, at anytime, for any reason. If you have your receipt, you may get a refund. If you don't, you'll likely get store credit,” wrote Good Housekeeping in 2018.
But does that apply to used items? Likely not.
A look at the Bath & Body Works return policy showed that an empty product cannot be return solely on the grounds that it has been used.
“We just want you to love it! Return anything, anytime for any reason. 100% Guaranteed,” wrote the company. “If at any time you're not completely satisfied with the quality of our products, you may return them to any of our Bath & Body Works or White Barn Stores in the US for a full refund, subject to the terms of our Return Policy.”
In a subsequent post, Peden corrected the post to note that the warranty extended to “ANY EMPTY CONTAINER FROM THIS STORE. PERFUMES SOAPS LOTION CANDLES!!!!” An update posted the same day said that she had gone to the store in question with her mother and successfully exchanged several items.
In the above post, Peden shared a photo of what appears to be Peden’s receipt (number 81217003463409172021) that showed three items returned without their original receipt and exchanged for three differently named items, including a candle, of the same value. The location listed on the receipt was for a store located at 373 W. Jackson Street in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Snopes sent the receipt to Bath & Body Works, and a company spokesperson confirmed that the customer returned a body cream, a fine fragrance mist, and a candle and received the same items in return. They were not able to determine whether any of the products had been used, but did refer our team to a return policy that noted Bath & Body Works only accepts products that do not perform properly.
“Our return policy is intended to help customers who have issues that are related to poor product performance or unsatisfactory customer experience and is not intended to be taken advantage of when a product performs as expected. If a product has been fully used, it would seem that it has met its performance expectations,” read the policy.
While it is true that Peden returned three items to a Bath & Body Works location in Tennessee in exchange for three items of equal value, we were unable to confirm whether that one candle exchanged was actually completely used. Snopes followed up with the company to further confirm the condition of the exchanged items but until we hear back, we have rated this claim “Unproven.”