This is a story of good customer care but ultimately a feeling of frustration and disappointment.
Inspired by musicMagpie’s TV ads that said they’d buy second hand clothes from you that ran when I was busy purging my small flat of old DVDs and CDs I added clothes to the list. After all; I had plenty of clothes to sell. I’m prone to buying things in batches after only trying one thing on. I hate shopping. The result? Trousers that I’ve never worn because I only discovered they didn’t fit me when I got home. They still had their John Lewis tags on.
I’m still waiting on musicMagpie to decide how much the parcel I sent them will be worth (and perhaps a review on that later) but I don’t have to worry about how much those trousers and other bits of new, barely worn or old clothes are worth. MusicMagpie only took two items from me. Their prediction engine described my John Lewis trousers as ready for the museum.
I had already sourced a huge pile of clothes from the deepest corners of the wardrobe and so I was determined to find another site to sell them. There are a few; most look awful. Then there’s ReturnToEarn.co.uk that looks good and professional.
I liked using the Return To Earn site. It was function. Okay, they don’t say what they do with the clothes but there are charities mentioned and general feel good buzz. The site makes it clear what they accept; shoes, accessories, clothes (but not ethnic clothes) and what they don’t accept. You can’t send them wet clothes, clothes covered in stains or torn clothes.
I had the week off. This was perfect because Return To Earn sends you a bag to fill and a courier to collect it. I later found out that they use DPD as couriers and they’re certainly one of the best.
The first snag was that they’d only sent me one bag. I had a mountain of clothes and shoes all carefully sorted into plastic tubs so I emailed their customer support. I got a response back promptly and politely. They’d prefer I do one bag first as they have a high number of people who sent them clothes of poor quality. If the first bag was okay then I could have more.
The bag arrived along with a printed reminder of the quality of clothes they wanted. I thought at the time that the print out set an even higher quality bar than the website but wasn’t unduly concerned.
I quickly filled the first bag up with shoes, belts and a few t-shirts. I was being quick. I wanted to see if I could do two bags in my week off. It was easy arranging collection from the Return to Earn site and the courier arrived and took my bag way.
Return To Earn are quick. They confirm the arrival of the bag quickly; and compared to the DVD and book selling sites they do this with speed. They then pay quickly.
I was surprised to discover that less than half the bag of shoes was accepted by Return To Earn. At first I didn’t believe it but after resetting my password (not entirely sure why it stopped working; did I forget it?) I accessed the site and discovered Return To Earn provide some photographic evidence of their decisions.
They had found scuffs on the shoes. Fair enough. I had photographs. I hadn’t polished the shoes before sending them off. I had cleaned them. I had binned some shoes that were beyond cleaning. I had under estimated just how strict Return To Earn’s quality standards are.
I couldn’t get a second bag from the site. I emailed customer services again. I didn’t complain. I was flustered, still slightly surprised but I had faith. Once again I enjoyed a prompt response. They were willing to make an exception for me because they thought I’d cottoned on to their high standards.
A second bag arrived. This time, with help, I sorted through the “to-sell” pile of clothes and restricted myself to essentially brand new clothes or top quality old clothes that I thought didn’t show any signs of wear or tear.
This bag did just as badly as the first. Return To Earn accepted less than half. I was disappointed. I felt frustrated. I felt as if I had followed the rules very well and supplied only good, clean and untarnished items.
Once again I took to their photographs (13 of them this time). Whereas I put scuffed shoes down to my inexperience this time the photographs didn’t calm me.
This bag had included some branded t-shirts. Return To Earn refused them as “work wear”. The work wear category on the site suggests hard hats, gloves and that sort of thing. The bag had included a few rainbow and tie-dye (not done by me; as sold by high street retailers) items and these were dismissed as “colour run.” Other items were dismissed as heavily worn when I couldn’t see much wrong with them even in the photograph that they supplied.
Despite the pleasant customer care emails I found the rejection of the second bag to be more disappointment then I could tolerate. I can’t bring myself to use Return To Earn again.
This isn’t a 1 star review. I’m not shouting “rip off!”. I did get some money. I’m not equipped to determine whether their website gives suitable, fair trade level, descriptions of the quality they will accept. I can only tell you how I feel. I feel cheated by the system.