Banana Republic Canada: Cheating its Customers

Last month I mentioned a Banana republic promo where, if you spent $150 you got a $25 gift card.

Gale left a comment on that post saying:

I received 4 of these giftcards and bought something with them. the item I purchased did not fit my husband and had to be returned when I returned the merchandise, the store credited me with the money portion but did not return the gift card. so much for banana republic and good cheer I will never go there again.

So in a nutshell, she used the gift card to buy something and when she returned it, Banana Republic just credited her the difference (original price minus the gift card amount).

Gale, I think that we shouldn’t let incidents like that go unnoticed. Ignoring them will only make us, consumers, more vulnerable to corporate greed in the future. Usually the main headquarters don’t even know about these appalling incidents. I suggest you contact their main office and explain what happened and hopefully they’ll resolve your issue. If you don’t want to contact them and would rather I do that instead please let me know. Here’s Banana Republic’s contact information:

1 (888) BR-STYLE
[email protected]

I suggest you phone instead of email. Companies take phone calls more seriously.

30 responses to “Banana Republic Canada: Cheating its Customers”

  1. rc says:

    I don’t think this is cheating its customers..maybe I am misunderstanding what happened but I wouldn’t expect people to be able to go spend $600…get $200 for free..return the $600 and keep $200..maybe you only returned a portion but same idea…

    People could scam them by buying, getting cards and returning the original purchase. So they are protecting themselves, don’t you think? same idea as if you buy something that is on sale for a limited time, then it goes back up to regular price..if you try to return the item without a receipt then most places will only give you the sale price back.

    and with all discount promo cards out there I have noticed they have a limited date that you can use them…so I wouldn’t blame a store for not giving full credit back to something that you can spend in the future on items marked down on sale if it was used with a card that already made that item on sale.

    meaning I spend $100 using $20 promo card..which makes it 20% off…I then return item and if I got full $100 back..I could use it a month later when item goes on sale 30% off..which really means I am getting 50% off…which means store takes a loss.

  2. Boo Radley says:

    I see your point rc… but as far as I understand she got 4 cards and then bought something with them:

    “I received 4 of these giftcards and bought something with them”

    so she didn’t return any of the items from her first transactions when she actually received the cards. The items she returned were the ones she bought using the gift cards.

    And even if it’s the way you mentioned. She would have spent $600 and received $100 worth of gift cards (not $200). If she then decides to return one item coz it was the wrong size, as a business who doesn’t want to lose customers that spend that much at my store I would sacrifice the gift card. I wouldn’t call that scamming since the value of the gift card is a joke compared to the amount the customer purchased and obviously the customer wasn’t trying to scam the system.

    If however you spend spend $100 using $20 promo cards and then return the items then that’s more like scamming since you returned all the items! Businesses should differentiate between scams and loyal customers who simply returned an item (out of many) coz it was the wrong size.

  3. dysonlu says:

    RC, I think what that post meant to convey was: that lady used the gift card to buy something and when she returned it, BR just credited her the difference (original price minus the gift card amount).

    The post was kinda confusing a bit I must admit.

  4. Boo Radley says:

    Thanks for putting this into 2 clear sentences dysonlu 🙂
    I’ll change my whole paragraph into these two sentences if you don’t mind 🙂

  5. rc says:

    well I remember on some promo they had it clearly stated that if you returned after getting discount – you don’t get cash value back BUT you were allowed to exchange item for another size or colour but not another item. It is quite possible if she was exchanging the sweater for a different size – they would have done that.
    Often there is a lot of fine print with these promos..and who is to say that she might not return the original purchase later at some point?
    I guess it depends on if she was getting cash back or a store credit. If the gift card promo was over then they wouldn’t have more gift cards to give back would they? and if it was cash back on a credit card then they would be losing $$ if they gave her the amount back on the card. I don’t know the whole story and people sometimes leave out certain facts.
    I have to deal with many customer complaints in my job and they always leave out something that changes the situation.

    I personally have never had a problem with returning items there and find the customer service amazing.

  6. JulieOnMyMind says:

    Why didn’t they just give her another gift card to cover the original gift card that she had used instead of leaving that portion of the purchase high and dry?

  7. John says:

    I worked at the GAP for a while and we had the same promotion. We could do an exchange for the items but we couldn’t refund the value of the card. I very much doubt that writing/phoning to head office will change this. The card has no monetary value (probably says that on the back of the card) and it goes into the system as a discount not as money.

  8. Danielle says:


    The same thing just happened to me with Old Navy (Same company as GAP, Banana Republic) I had a 10.00 coupon to use and bought a snowsuit for my daughter. It was to too narrow so I had to bring it back and exchange it for something else. When she rang up the exchange at the cash, they were not taking the 10.00 into account. I asked why this was the case and she responded that the coupon “was a 1 time deal” and was not re-issued to the exchange.

    I was not ready to accept this at all – I called Old Navy this morning and mentioned that although I did not expect to be refunded 10.00, I certainly should not have lost that value on an exchange.

    The agent was very nice and is now sending a 10.00 gift card to me in the mail yo compensate…

    The policy is the following (not mentioned to me at the time)

    If you buy something and need to return without an exchange – you lose the coupon

    If you buy something, return it for an exchange and the new item is of the same or greater value, the coupon reduction remains in tact.

    Hope this helps

  9. Nines says:

    I myself worked at the Gap for the longest time, and unfortunately this is not a new thing with these so-called gift cards ! They are actually not real gift cards but a sort of promotional card which is most certainly not the same. If you purchase something with a real gift card at GAP, Banana, or Old Navy you will be able to return items / exchange them etc. and your money will be put back onto a gift card.
    However with this promotion and a few others, it is nearly impossible to get your money back, because it is a one time deal. I personally think it’s not a fair policy and as a cashier always made a point of letting my customer’s know about this “fine print” that most people do not pay attention too.
    In the end, your best chances are to either ask if you can exchange the item against the same item in a differnet size or colour, but in my experience that is all that the manager’s will do for you (even though you might get lucky and run into a store that is a bit more lenient with their policy). The only other thing you can do is to call Gap customer services, and they most of the time will send you some kind of a gift card or so just to keep their customer’s happy.

    In the longrun, the best thing to do when you use any “giftcard” is to read the fineprint and ask the cashier about the exchange policy etc., before using the card to make a purchase because sometimes you will run into these problems and I myself have had hundereds of customers which were left standing there without a store credit or anything. It sucks, but it is actually part of their policy and I doubt you will be able to do much about it. The only thing that might change the mind of the people at the head office would be thounds upon thousands of complaints and requests to change their policy. You can always give that a try too.

    But for now, as I said, your best solution to this is to be an informed consumer, because this happens all the time, and you really will not find a lot of cashiers that will give you the heads up on these policies (because in the end it’s bad for bussiness).

    I hope all this works out for you guys though !

    Oh, and by the way. If you do make a huge purchase and get one of these facy little “gift cards” and you return the whole purchase, you still get to keep your cards unless you volunteer to give them back. I have never encountered a situation where that was a problem.


  10. Nancy says:


    I must share my research on gift cards. As I learn more and more about them, the more I hate them. Do you know that gift cards are just another way to get your money. Did you also know that 25% of gift cards never get redeemed. How many people got gift cards last year for the holidays and still have used them, maybe lost them or don’t really shop at that store anyhow. Meaning these companies pocket your dollars for nothing. That is 25 cents of every dollar. They talk about breakage. That means what is the number between the number of cards you sell and the number cards that actually get redeem. Some of the big stores have a 50% breakage rate. Oh, and don’t get me started on their admin fees.
    Ask yourself how many of you people utilize coupons? Research shows less than 2%. Gift cards are just another way to take advantage of the consumer in a marketing.
    Now credit card companies are on the band wagon providing gift card services because of the huge dollars involved.
    I have never bought a gift card and if I was to give someone a gift card, I would give them cash instead and they could spend where and when they wanted to…..

  11. frugiedh says:

    Wow! Excellent info from everyone. Thanks for letting us know all of this.

  12. mario says:

    If you chose not to use a gift card, or “forget about it” in your purse or wallet then its your fault! I worl at Zellers and you have 2 years–TWO YEARS before a GC expires–so customers need to manage ALL their cards more effectively…

  13. Anon says:

    Generally, businesses will issue refunds via the same method of payment used by the customer for the original purchase. In this case, the store should have given Gale cash and gift cards in the same respective amounts as she paid for the item. I would attribute this incident to a poorly trained employee.

    Recently, I purchased a pair of pants from a Banana Republic location, which I subsequently had to exchange because my tailor said he couldn’t alter them to fit me. I’d initially saved money because of a promotional deal, and the employee serving me tried to charge me the difference. But when I politely pointed out that she was overcharging me, she quickly dropped the charge.

    Gale, I don’t mean to be impolite, but perhaps you just weren’t assertive enough. I agree that you should have been refunded the full amount, but sometimes individuals will make mistakes. You’re much more likely to get what you want if you speak up.

  14. Lee says:

    FYI, ‘The Gap’, even at H.O. level, is not particularly interested in keeping you as a shopper … or not. That being said however, I’m with Boo; if you aren’t happy its always worth trying to escalate to H.O.

  15. TraCee says:

    Yep, I agree. She should have got back the GC so she could make another purchase in the future. She spent the initial $150 to get it in the first place and lived up to her end of the bargain. Who are they to just take it away because she returned an item partially paid for with the card? Not right at all! I say we all make a complaint!!

  16. mtlyorel says:

    Don’t ever buy things from Banana Republic. The clothing are sourced from the same supplier as Gap and Old Navy – they are owned by the same corporation – and the merchandise are randomly selected and priced for each store. This is from an insider who told me.

    In a nutshell, the clothes are of bad quality and overpriced. If you MUST buy from BR, at least buy them from the US outlet store where the prices are more reasonable. And only buy them at the outlet during their special sales.

  17. Jen says:

    I bought from BR using giftcards earned from a previous purchase also…spend $150, get a $25 giftcard. I received 4 cards. There was no minimum amount for purchase required to redeem these cards. When I redeemed the cards, I bought 3 more items, totalling $300, minus $100, I spent $200. When I needed to exchange one of the items (value $70) because I noticed it was DAMAGED after purchase, they would not refund the $70 !!! They wanted to refund me $70 minus a portion of the discount giving me $53 back!! When I complained and said that was unjust, and that the $100 discount should still apply to the other two items (or even just one item! as one item was over $100 itself) the explanation given was “That’s just how the computer does it.” How’s that for incompetence and justification of being ripped off?!?

  18. Christina says:

    Some people did not read the original post properly. The woman did not use a “Gift Card”, the woman essentially used a more fancy “20% off” coupon. When you think of it in those terms (getting a percentage off) it makes complete sense that you would not be refunded the full amount.

    Sorry, but I think it makes sense that if you wanted a refund you should not get the entire purchase price back, because you never paid full price to begin with. If I went into GAP and got a pair of pants on sale for $19.99 that were originally priced at $29.99, I wouldn’t go back and expect to get a refund of $29.99 simply because that was the original value of the pants.

    As for exchanges, it seems that the same idea should also apply, that if an item is of a greater value one should expect to have to pay more (but also have a discount applied to that item).

    Again, I think it makes more sense from the retailers perspective when you see it as a “___% OFF” coupon as opposed to this gift card/dollar value idea we seem to be attaching to what is only a simple coupon.

  19. Christina says:

    One last comment to the person who said GAP, BR, and ON is all just the same clothing randomly selected for each store:

    I encourage you to look at the quality of fabric, materials and craftsmanship of the clothing at Banana Republic vs. Old Navy and you will see it is not all the same just with different tags. Banana Republic caters to a business class who have a disposable income and are able and want to spend $90 on a 100% silk, satin or cashmere top. Then consider Old Navy, where you would be lucky to find even 10% of anything other than synthetic fabrics, or cotton and well crafted (I’ve even tried on shirts with one arm longer than the other)!

    The reality is, there is a huge difference between the chains and the quality the different stores sell. And as for the “Outlet” versions, they are just a lesser quality product with a name brand tag sewn in.

    Personally, I’d rather spend my money on the quality, not the tag.

  20. sami says:

    the terms are clear. If the total good purchased ( after the return ) don’t add up to $150 then customer doesn’t get the gift card!

  21. No more Banana for me says:

    I took advantage of the promo of 30% and bought jeans and other clothing. One of the jeans was not fitting right and so I have to exchange it, but seeing that there is no right size in that style I tried to exchange them but had to go with a different style and both were regularly selling for the same price.

    The cashier went to ask the store manager if the exchange could be done and the answer was no. Well, I guess this store perhaps does not want my business or it thinks that they have too much business.

    I will return all that I had bought which totalled $519.22. BTW, I sure am glad that manager at the Canadian Vancouver Oakridge branch on 41st Avenue was not managing my store.

  22. gen says:

    I think it’s incredibly misleading to call these rebate coupons “gift cards” in the first place. Christina is right: it’s just a form of rebate. I don’t think retailers should be allowed to call these cards “gift cards”. Would avoid a lot of confusion as well as bitterness. And I also think gift cards should be regulated in general. You are better off giving someone cash.

  23. Arthone says:

    Is there a way to become a content writer for the site?

  24. juliana says:

    I’m confused why people are freaking out about this. It’s not a real gift card. It’s just a promo coupon. I think it’s great. Just buy something you won’t return like basics.

    I think to stop the confusion they should call it a coupon and not a gift card.

  25. Charles says:

    I find a lot of businesses are getting pretty sneaky with these kinds of things, having promotions where you get “gift cards” that are only redeemable if you spend a certain amount – i.e. basically making them $10 off $50 coupons or whatever. Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Sears, HBC and others all do similar things, offering card-shaped coupons as part of promotions. I would just bear in mind that if it truly was a gift card with no catches, it would be much simpler for the store to simply give you a discount off the initial sale, rather than printing “gift cards” and making you come back and use them for a later transaction – i.e. most likely it will have strings attached.

    I find it kind of funny that Banana Republic is accused of cheating its customers, seeing as a “banana republic” is defined as the stereotypical corrupt military dictatorship often found in small, unstable countries.

  26. Tara says:

    I cannot believe how awful this company is. I purchased a sports jacket for my father at Christmas at full price which unfortunately did not fit him. He lives outside of Toronto and not close to a store location and my grandmother has been in the hospital for the past month so he did not have time to get into the store to exchange it. Upon trying to exchange the item he was told that the gift receipt “expired” on January 15th and that he couldn’t even get a STORE CREDIT for the full price paid. They said they were more than happy to give him a credit for the current sale price (which was $89, and I paid $270). I drove out to get the jacket and tried to take it back with the original receipt (which actually makes no statement about exchanges ONLY that full refund in 30 days or less) and was told that he should have shipped that jacket to the store in between driving to see his sick mother. NICE STORE, will never go back.

  27. Michael says:

    That’s a pretty crappy return policy, but realistically they can’t make exceptions to it otherwise people will post on sites like this what excuses they can use to get away with it. It’s got to be the same for all or it just isn’t fair – I wouldn’t want to be stuck with a product I didn’t want, or have to pay higher prices because someone else has a better sob story than me.

  28. So in a nutshell, she used the gift card to buy something and when she returned it, Banana Republic just credited her the difference (original price minus the gift card amount).

  29. Ivania says:

    Ummm…. how is a company supposed to make money if people expect companies to give them free money for nothing. The $25.00 is a coupon, since it was a a gratitude coupon for spending your money in the store you receive it. Once you return the item the coupon is invalid. It’s just like any other discount anywhere else. Seriously, if this is such an issue to you don’t shop there and understand that if you had a store and offered a $25.00 gift card and a customer returned the item you would not hand them over $25.00 dollars just because. Duhhhh

  30. heather says:

    I purchased some clothes at Banana Republic a few weeks ago, two of which were the double layer linen tees. I have very carefully washed both of them. One shrunk to almost half its size. The other one is exactly the same size. I brought the shirt in that shrunk with the receipt for a refund or exchange and I was rudely turned away. The young woman who helped me told me that I had incorrectly washed the shirt but she didn’t even ASK me how I had washed it! She also said that since it had been washed it couldn’t be returned! I wouldn’t have to return it if it hadn’t shrunk! When I told her that I didn’t want it because I couldn’t wear it she actually told me there was a garbage right outside the door!! Unbelievable.


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