I wanted to try Cat & Jack's return policy, and I was surprised to receive $70 back on stained clothes

The author holding Target receipts
The author holding Target receipts.Courtesy of the author
  • Target allows Cat & Jack items to be returned with a receipt for a full refund. 

  • The items have to return any clothing within a year of purchasing it.

  • I tried returning my daughter's used clothes and this is what I learned in the process. 

In the two years my child has been on this earth, I've gained some pretty savvy shopping strategies to get the most out of her clothing since she grows out of it so quickly. I buy many things on consignment or secondhand and buy most things new, out of season, on clearance.

So when I heard about the viral Target Cat & Jack return policy, it definitely piqued my interest as a way to save money on kids' clothes. Here's what I learned when I took used Cat & Jack clothes back to my local Target.

I did as much research as I could at home

Before heading to Target, I read up on the policy, which states that they'll take used clothing that you have purchased in the last year. I gathered up as many Cat & Jack items as I could find. Truth be told, I had no idea whether I had purchased most of this or it had been handed down, but I managed to gather 11 items to try it out. Most of the items were ones that I had dug out of giveaway piles, and many had stains or were clearly well-worn.

A bag full of clothes ready to be returned to Target.
The pile of clothes the author chose to return to Target.Courtesy of the author

I attempted to verify what I had purchased in the Target app since it has a record of all my purchases, but for older items, the photo didn't populate to confirm. Since it was a small haul, I figured I'd take my chances and see what happened when I got there.

The associate had to hand-inventory my items

I was really nervous about doing this return because it felt wrong to me on some level, despite the brand advertising that its clothing is "guaranteed for one year" and  offers "free returns with a receipt."

I went early in the morning and without my child to make it go quickly.

Items must be from the Cat & Jack brand only, they must be damaged with holes, rips, stains, or tears, and they must have been purchased within a year. The associate stressed that they did not accept clothing in pristine condition and that the reason for return could not be that my child had simply outgrown them — there had to be some sort of damage.

Clothes being returned at Target
Some of the clothes the author returned.Courtesy of the author

He told me not to worry next time about verifying the items in the Target app because he still had to hand-type in each SKU on his end, which made me feel better that I had only brought in a few items. It took about five minutes total for him to inventory what I had.

There are two ways to get money back

The first way to get your money back is through a refund. You get refunded for the amount you paid for each item as it matches up in the Target system. Since I shop in the clearance so much, I got back a low amount of $17.63 for six items I had purchased in the last year. I was pleased about this, considering there were several pairs of shorts my daughter wore (and stained) only two or three times. The money was put back on my Target Red Card, which is linked to my debit card.

Target receipt
The author's final receipt.Courtesy of the author

The second way is through a merchandise return. After he had sorted out the six items Target had on record, he took the other five items and gave the full retail value of those items back to me on a merchandise return gift card. Each Target shopper is entitled to $100 worth of no-receipt merchandise returns a year, where you can essentially return any item at any time without a receipt for up to $100 a year. These are refunded at full retail price. I was shocked to see I was getting $49.28 back on a merchandise return gift card. The only catch is that you have to use merchandise return gift cards in-store only.

This could change the way I shop for my daughter's clothes

I felt weird about the merchandise return since it was stuff she used and loved, so I likely won't abuse the remaining $50 allotted for no receipt returns for the year. But getting a full refund for the clothing my child destroys was somewhat helpful in offsetting my ever-diminishing household budget. I used my refund to buy her two new dresses.

I'm still not totally sure how I feel about returning these clothes, mostly because they weren't defective, just stained, and I believe that the retailer just tosses the clothes instead of recycling them. But this policy could encourage me to buy more Cat & Jack clothing than I have in the past and to worry less about inevitable things like rips.

I also think it made a difference that I got a super friendly associate who was more than willing to help, but if I do this return again in the future, I'll make sure to keep the number of items returned per trip low and avoid high traffic times of the day,  since they have to hand type in each SKU, which can hold up the line.

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