An Ulta Beauty employee is going viral after sharing the brand’s policy for handling returned products.
The clip, which Levinson said she recorded in order to discourage unnecessary purchases and returns, reveals that employees are forced to dump out the contents of the items that customers bring back in.
“This is what we have to do,” Levinson says in the video, before dumping out a full bottle of hair product and scraping a pallet of eye shadow into the trash.
“I was truly shocked that this is how returns were handled,” Levinson told BuzzFeed.
However, Levinson was also quick to note that she loves working at Ulta, and did not film the video to make the brand look bad. She went on to post a series of follow-up videos explaining the policy.
“Ulta’s not the only place that does it. Every place does it to prevent contamination,” Levinson said in another TikTok video, adding that, due to Food and Drug Administration guidelines, the brand is also not allowed to donate the products to charity.
Levinson explained to her followers that, in addition to concerns about reselling contaminated products, Ulta also dumps out returned items in order to avoid dumpster diving, which is prominent in the beauty world.
“We also destroy [returned items] because people try to take it out of the dumpster and return it, or they will take it and try to sell it at, like, a thrift shop,” Levinson said.
Despite Levinson’s intentions, several commenters were still upset by the policy.
“It hurts me to watch this,” one TikTok user wrote.
“I wish big-name companies looked into another way of getting rid of returned items rather than creating more waste,” another added.
Levinson told BuzzFeed that although she understands the policy, she’s still frustrated by the waste. She estimated that, on average, around 70 percent of returned items cannot be put back onto the shelves.
“We most definitely have over $1,000 worth of returned items per week,” Levinson said. “One time, I had a customer come in and return more than $300 worth of makeup that had to all be thrown out.”
Ulta, meanwhile, responded to the viral video in a statement to Teen Vogue, telling the magazine that “health and safety” is its top priority.
“Our policies and practices do not allow the resale of returned, used or damaged products to avoid any issues, ensure product integrity and guest safety. We value Bianca’s commitment to Ulta Beauty, her passion for our brand and her team locally,” the brand’s statement said.
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