Listen up, savvy shoppers! While I usually love the thrill of the hunt and brag about the great savings at T.J.Maxx, my last few experiences left me disappointed. To ensure it wasn’t just me or one-off situations, I did a bit of research and found other T.J.Maxx customers equally frustrated by the retailer. I figure it’s time to call out one of the nation’s largest retailers and put out a caution on shopping there. Here’s what I’m talking about:
1. T.J.Maxx’s return policy is only 30 days.
Ever buy something only to have it break on you the day after the return window closes? Well, that return window is relatively tiny at T.J.Maxx (30-day returns for in store and 40 days for online orders) in comparison to other liberal policies. I like knowing when I buy something from one of the following retailers with the best return policies, I have more than a month to test an item’s quality and decide whether I want it.
- Bath & Body Works has a 100% satisfaction guarantee open-ended return policy.
- Kohl’s offers a 180-day return policy.
- Walmart offers a 90-day return policy.
2. You can’t use any coupons at T.J.Maxx.
I get it; you can usually get stuff at T.J.Maxx on the cheap, and treasure hunting is fun, but the fact that they don’t offer promos (other than for shipping) or coupons of any kind takes the game out of shopping. Some retailers welcome coupons and stacking, like Kohl’s and Target.
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 went bye-bye a few years back. Now you can only earn rewards if you have one of their credit cards. It’s not the worst credit card, offering 5% cash back at T.J.Maxx and partner stores. But, if you want store rewards programs without being tied to a credit card, look to other retailers like:
- Target: You can get a debit Target RedCard and earn 5% cash back every time you shop in store or online
- Old Navy: The Navyist rewards program lets you earn two points for every $1 you spend at any of their brands, including The Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta.
- Kohl’s: Sign up for a free Kohl’s Rewards membership to earn 5% cash back on in store and online orders, plus you can earn Kohl’s Cash during promotional periods.
4. Watch out for weird off-brands.
Be wary of buying unknown brands, especially for cosmetic products, because cheaper may mean a lower quality product (the ingredients might 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 that contains 75% alcohol.
Zap wipes are also only available in bulk, which means that 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 on clearance to $3 a pack, making you think you’re getting a deal. A quick look on the Zap website reveals that the wipes are sold in lots of 45 packs of 100 on sale for $107.70 (about $2.39 per pack.) Even at full price, these wipes were only $3.99 a pack! And you know TJX negotiated a lower rate than what’s on the Zap website.
What the heck, T.J.Maxx?!
5. Beware, T.J.Maxx brand-name clothing may be knockoff.
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 you think is a Christian Siriano or Nicole Miller may be a design that T.J.Maxx bought in bulk and stuck that brand’s label on. How can you find out if it’s a knockoff? Flip the care labels over (the long white stack of tags usually sewn into the side of the garment at the bottom), and see if the very last one has “TJX Europe, Watford” printed on the back. If it does, it’s NOT the real thing.
Before you read on, be sure to bookmark the KCL Apparel Deals page to stay informed about all the deals.
6. Skip the $89 free shipping threshold at TJMaxx.com.
Want free shipping when you shop online at T.J.Maxx.com? You’re gonna have to spend $89 AND use a code! Most retailers offer free shipping at thresholds way lower than T.J.Maxx’s; some, like The Children’s Place, don’t have a minimum. Here are a few:
- Bed Bath & Beyond offers free shipping on orders over $39
- Ulta has free shipping on any order of $35 or more
- Walmart offers free shipping on orders of $35 or more
You can even get free shipping without a Prime membership by spending a minimum of $25 on eligible items.
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 by showing a “compare at” price on store tags. However, we found that “compare at” prices are more often overinflated, making the deal look better than it really is. (Once in a while you can find comparison prices that are underpriced, so take this with a grain of salt.)
The “Compare at” price on this bottle of Chi Shine Infusion hair shine spray at my T.J.Maxx is $20. Target, Walmart, and Amazon all sell the same bottle for between $11.49 – $14.99. While the T.J.Maxx price ($9.99) still beats out its competitors, the discount isn’t as great as you may think (33% compared to 50%).
Many of our price tags include comparison prices, which are references to regular retail prices of the same or similar items at full-price department or specialty retailers. Where identical items are not available, we compare to products of a similar type, quality, and style. Prices vary among other sellers and change over time, but our buying staff’s goal is always to provide you with a useful comparison based on prices at which we believe substantial sales of the same or a similar item have been made at full-price department or specialty retailers in the area or online. Our mission is always to bring you and your family exceptional value every day – it is the foundation of our business.
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 out of control lately? Is it on purpose?
Maybe. Bear with me here on this logic. Look at the stuff they pack into the register line! It really is in T.J.Maxx’s best interest to keep you standing there as long as possible. I bet they even have a formula at corporate for how much money they make when someone has to wait five minutes to check out. I’m not accusing anyone outright, but it does seem kinda non-coincidental.
Recently I shopped T.J.Maxx, and it took so long for the people in front of me to get through the checkout line, partially due to having only one cashier, that I gave up. I left behind the dress I was going to buy and walked out.
According to a T.J.Maxx associate, skip shopping during the day. Instead, your best shot at getting through the lines quicker is during the evening and midweek.
9. T.J.Maxx doesn’t offer price adjustments.
Unlike most retailers, T.J.Maxx doesn’t offer price adjustments. Ever. They say the reason is because store inventories turn over too fast, and they have no idea when markdowns will happen. Here are a few retailers that have a price adjustment period of at least 14 days from your purchase date:
- Best Buy (adjustment window varies)
- Costco (30 days)
- Home Depot (30 days)
- JCPenney (14 days)
- Kohl’s (14 days)
- Old Navy (14 days)
- Target (14 days)
10. Expect a disorganized mess at T.J.Maxx.
During my most recent experience in T.J.Maxx, I 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. Sadly, this 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 here or onto something? Drop a comment and let’s discuss.