Listen up, savvy shoppers! While I usually love the thrill of the hunt and brag about T.J.Maxx prices, my last few experiences shopping at T.J.Maxx left me disappointed. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me or a few one-off situations, so I did a bit of research and found that other T.J.Maxx shoppers are equally frustrated by the retailer. It turns out I’m not alone in the stop-shopping T.J.Maxx trend.
I figured it was time to call out one of the nation’s largest retailers and put out a caution to all the shoppers who don’t know.
Why is T.J.Maxx so cheap?
Ever wonder why T.J.Maxx is cheap or if T.J.Maxx is cheaper than Ross? The answer is yes, it is. That’s because technically, T.J.Maxx and Ross are off-price retailers. That means they both buy overstock inventory at discounted prices from manufacturers and other department stores, which allows them to sell these products at a discount as well.
That’s not the only trick they use to keep costs down. T.J.Maxx’s prices are so low because they buy past-season merchandise and even items from canceled orders at other retailers. T.J.Maxx also carries many of their own private labels, including Mercer & Madison, Bella Lux, and If It Were Me, which helps them further boost their bottom line.
1. T.J.Maxx’s return policy only gives you 30 days to return in-store purchases for a full refund.
Ever buy something only to have it break when it’s too late to return it? Well, T.J.Maxx isn’t super generous when it comes to their return window. If you want your full money back to your original form of payment, the T.J.Maxx return policy only gives you 30 days for in-store purchases and 40 days for online orders. After that window, you can return your purchase with a receipt and receive store credit. Compared to other retailers with more liberal policies, this really isn’t much time for returns.
Other retailers like Kohl’s give you 180 days to make returns. Even better, they have open-ended return windows like American Eagle’s return policy (which lets you return items at literally any time).
Related: We rounded up this list of retailers with the absolute best return policies. They give you more than enough time to test drive your items and decide whether or not you want them.
2. You can’t use any coupons when shopping T.J.Maxx.
I get it — you can usually get stuff at T.J.Maxx for cheap as it is, but the fact that they don’t offer promos, sales, or coupons of any kind takes the game out of getting the best price. Some other retailers (like Kohl’s and Target) welcome coupons and encourage shoppers to stack savings.
3. You have to sign up for a T.J.Maxx credit card to get any rewards.
Once upon a time, T.J.Maxx offered a rewards program called T.J.Maxx Access. Unfortunately, it disappeared forever a few years back. Now you can only earn rewards if you have a TJX Rewards Credit Card. As far as benefits go, it’s not the worst. You get 10% off your first purchase when you open an account and then 5% off all future purchases from T.J.Maxx and other TJX stores offering 5% cash back at T.J.Maxx and partner stores.
Related: Want free store rewards without having to open a credit card? These are all the best store loyalty programs that are not only free but FULL of savings benefits.
4. Watch out for weird off-brands when shopping T.J.Maxx.
Be wary of buying unknown brands from T.J.Maxx because a cheaper price may mean a cheaper product (so the ingredients in items like cosmetics may not be the best). For example, right next to the Pullio alcohol-free hand sanitizing wipes, T.J.Maxx is selling Zap, a brand only available for wholesale purchase.
At the time of writing this, Zap wipes were only available in bulk, which means T.J.Maxx bought them in a huge lot to sell individually. Even worse, at my store, they priced the Zap wipes at $4.99 for a pack of 100, marked down to clearance at $3 a pack. A quick look on the Zap website revealed the wipes are sold in 45-lot packs of 100, on sale for $107.70 (about $2.39 per pack.) So even at full price, these wipes were really only $3.99 a pack! And you know TJX negotiated a lower rate than what’s on the Zap website.
5. Beware: not all brand-name items at T.J. Maxx are the real deal.
As one KCL reader pointed out and NBC4 Washington reported, T.J.Maxx licenses their own designer clothing using labels from well-known brands. Yep, that piece from Christian Siriano or Nicole Miller may be a knockoff design that T.J.Maxx bought and slapped on their own designer look-alike labels.
How can you tell if something’s a T.J.Maxx knockoff? Flip the care labels over. The care labels are in that long white stack of tags usually sewn to the inside of the garment. If the last tag in the stack has “TJX Europe, Watford” printed on the back, it’s NOT the real thing.
6. Skip the $89 free shipping threshold at TJMaxx.com.
Want free shipping when you shop online at TJMaxx.com? You’re gonna have to spend $89 AND use a promo code! Most retailers offer free shipping at thresholds way lower than T.J.Maxx’s, and promo codes are usually meant to give you free shipping without a purchase minimum. Even non-Prime members only have to spend $25 to get free shipping on their Amazon purchases.
Related: Avoid those pesky shipping fees completely with this ultimate list of stores that offer free shipping.
7. Find better deals when you pay attention to T.J.Maxx price comparisons.
T.J.Maxx claims prices are 20% to 60% below other retail stores. They reiterate this by showing a “compare at” price on all their store tags. However, I found the “compare at” prices at T.J.Maxx are often overinflated, making the deal look better than it really is. Once in a while, you’ll find “compare at” prices that are underinflated (so take this with a grain of salt).
The “compare at” price on this bottle of Chi Shine Infusion Hairspray was $20. Target, Walmart, and Amazon all sold the same bottle for between $11.49 – $14.99. While the T.J.Maxx price ($9.99) still beat out its competitors, the discount isn’t as great as you may think (33% compared to 50%).
8. Prepare yourself for long checkout lines filled with stuff T.J.Maxx wants you to buy.
Is it me, or are the lines at T.J.Maxx getting longer every year?
Just look at the stuff they pack into the register line! Keeping you in line for as long as possible really does seem to benefit T.J.Maxx more than not. I’m not accusing them of anything, but it does seem to work out in their favor.
During my last trip to T.J.Maxx, it took so long for the people in front of me to get through the checkout line that I gave up. I left behind the dress I wanted to buy and walked out. It literally wasn’t worth the wait.
9. T.J.Maxx doesn’t offer price adjustments.
T.J.Maxx doesn’t offer price adjustments. Ever. Their reasoning is that store inventories turn over too fast, and they have no idea when markdowns will happen. So if you buy an item from T.J.Maxx and it drops in price a week later, you won’t be able to get the lower sale price.
10. Expect a disorganized mess when you shop at T.J.Maxx.
In my T.J.Maxx store experiences, I’ve found clothes on the floor, makeup open and smudged around the display, random items stacked on top of each other shoved onto an endcap, and about a dozen pairs of shorts stuck in a clearance rack without clearance tags on them.
Sadly, it isn’t just my store that seems to have a problem with keeping things tidy. Scroll through Yelp reviews and you’ll find plenty of other shoppers who have encountered the same chaos and disorganization at their local T.J.Maxx stores.
What do you think? Am I crazy or am I onto something here? Drop your feelings about T.J.Maxx in the comments and let’s discuss.