Christa Geraghty | 

Stop Shopping at T.J.Maxx? 11 Reasons To Think Twice About Shopping There

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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.

customers in line near tj maxx check out and returns signage

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, some retailers have year-long (like Ikea and Zappos) or 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.

woman purchasing items at tj maxx checkout

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 sales, coupons, or gimmicks (as they call them) outside of their SHIP89 promo code for free shipping on orders of $89+. This kind of takes the game out of getting the best price. Some other retailers (like Kohl’s and Target) regularly run promotions, 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.

TJ Maxx credit card and reward brochure signage

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 partner stores, including Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra.

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.

A store endcap with various brands facial wipes.

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, while it’s easy to spot Honest facial wipes on this end cap, I found a ton of off-brand wipes that resemble name-brands like Neutrogena.

I checked out the brands Global Beauty Care, SpaScriptions, Precision Beauty, IntensivEye, and Skin-Aid-Medics and found all of them are distributed by Global Beauty Care. While I can’t personally vouch for the quality of these products, I can tell you their behind-the-scenes stuff is questionable.

During my research, I found Global Beauty Care sells some of their brand products online at GlobalBeautyCare.com. However, the only way to contact them is via a contact form. No chat, no phone.

They do have a mailing address listed on their website, that is a home in Brooklyn (which is also home to a holdings company).

5. Beware: Shoppers may have sampled the cosmetics on shelves.

disorganized cosmetic shelves at tjmaxx

Unlike at Sephora where you can ask for a free beauty sample, at T.J. Maxx there are no beauty samples. So, customers simply help themselves and try things out. Unfortunately, as long as customers are free to open up packages and apply the cosmetics, contamination is a real possiblity. Before you purchase any makeup or beauty product at T.J. Maxx, inspect it carefully to ensure it has not been opened or damaged.

6. Skip the $89 free shipping threshold at TJMaxx.com.

A TJ Maxx delivery box on a doorstep

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 (Target $35, Kohl’s $49), 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.

Cans of Chi Hair Spray with T.J. Maxx price tags.

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.

long line of customers waiting in tj maxx checkout line

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.

someone holding a tjmaxx receipt next to an item with a price tag

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.

disorganized tables of items at tjmaxx

In my T.J.Maxx store experiences, these mountains of toys represent most of the areas in T.J. Maxx stores. 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.

11. Be aware of five finger discounts.

pet toys at TJMaxx, some of the packages missing items

When standing in the checkout line at T.J. Maxx I noticed two pet toys were missing parts (can you spot them?). How someone could remove those with people huddled in T.J. Maxx’s checkout lanes is beyond me. However, we all know that retailers are dealing with an increase in theft and are resorting to serious tactics, like locking things up, even laundry detergent! Sadly, I fell victim to a five finger discount (old name for a shoplifting) at T.J. Maxx.

someone holding up a set of bows with some missing

Caught up in the Christmas frenzy and excitement of finding Disney 100 hair bows at my local T.J. Maxx for my 2-year-old granddaughter, I didn’t realize until I got home that it was missing two bows. Of course, it was the only one in the store. And, although my cost per bow went up (from $1 apiece to $1.40 each) due to the missing ones, thankfully my granddaughter is too young to count them or inquire about the obviously empty spaces on the product card.

Call me an embarrassed cautionary tale. Just remember to keep your eyes open when shopping T.J. Maxx!

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.

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