Old Navy’s Insane Exchange Policy

Have I mentioned how hard it is to dress Cordy? The kid has a long torso, shorter legs, and isn’t lacking in hips or butt. (More proof that she wasn’t switched at birth.) As a result, very few clothes fit her well. Anything that fits her waist and hips is always too long, and if the length is right, chances are it’s skin tight around her middle.

But I still had high hopes that Old Navy would work out. After all, she can wear their shorts and t-shirts without any problem. She’s never been able to wear jeans, but it was time to try the jeans – she’s four years old, and she’s noticed that other kids wear jeans and she doesn’t. Just to be safe, I ordered a pair of boys jeans, which are always looser in fit than girls. I also ordered some knit pants.

My mom paid for the online sale as a birthday gift for Cordy. When the package arrived, it was a disaster. Everything was way too long – far too long to even hem. The size 6 pants fit well in the midsection, but you could fold the extra length back over her feet. The boy jeans were a little too relaxed – not only were they too long, you couldn’t even tell where her legs were in these clown pants. I had to return them.

When I went to Old Navy today, my primary worry was that the store wouldn’t have the same items in a size 5. But I found each item easily, and decided to try two pairs of jeans made for girls instead of boys. I walked up to the register and explained that I needed to exchange two pairs of pants, return one pair of jeans, and buy two pairs of jeans.

“Oh, we no longer do exchanges for online returns,” I was told, “We can only do a return and then you can buy them again.”

“But these were purchased as a gift. Can’t I just switch the sizes? Or get a merchandise credit?”

“No, they must be processed as a return and the money returned to the card it was paid with. If you have the same card, you can charge it back to the card again.”

“I don’t have the card – I told you these were a gift.”

“Well then you’ll have to use another form of payment.”

I was sure she wasn’t understanding me. “Let me get this straight: if someone buys my children a gift online and I need a different size, I have to return the items, and the money will go back to the gift-giver, and then I can then pay for the items with my own money. How does that make sense?”

“I’m sorry, but that’s the policy.”

“Well it’s a stupid policy then.”

I’m more than a little angry with Old Navy over this. Unless you read some fine print written on a different page on the website, you’d never know this was the policy. Instead they advertise their “Returns can be made online or in-store!” making you think it’s all so easy.

While I do like Old Navy’s clothing, this has discouraged me from ever buying from them online. Which means I’ll be buying less from them in general, since how often do I get the chance to go clothes shopping?

And I’ll never again suggest Old Navy if relatives want to buy clothing for the girls online. I don’t care how big the sale is – having to pay for the exchanged items myself and then ask my mom to send me a check when she gets the refund to her credit card is a hassle. Old Navy is unnecessarily complicating the returns process when I only wanted to exchange two size 6 pants for size 5 instead.

Sorry, Old Navy. You need to change your policies or you won’t be seeing me in your store again anytime soon.

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  1. Amelia – If you check gift, you can then choose to mail it back to them and get a gift card for the amount in exchange.

    I was going to buy the clothing, and mom gave me her credit card at the last minute, so I didn’t check gift.

    Again, it would take forever to get the card – it took over a week to get the clothing we ordered. It turned cold here quickly, though, and the kid needs some pants! 🙂

    • I went into Old Navy tonight to exchange three pair of mens khaki pants four different color same size same pants. Last night the pants were 50% off. Tonight the pants are full price. I had the receipt and the lady would not do an even exchange she said they’re not the same pants because they’re different color. I said the tag says they are the same pants and they’re the same size. I said so you’re going to let me walk out of here with three without buying three pair of pants and put them back on the shelf. She said yes I’ll lose my job. I said I hardly doubt that. I say you’re a terrible manager in a terrible business woman you just lost your company money for three pair of pants. So I took everything in my basket which was probably a couple hundred dollars and left it there. Screw them and their return policies

  2. Amelia Sprout says:

    Does that work the same even if you check that the items are a gift on the website? I would call them and complain about it, since that seems counter to some of their other policies.

  3. I hope they see this and contact you. That’s ridiculous.

  4. ?????

    Am flummoxed. That is totally insane.

  5. That is frustrating! I am going to be a whole lot more careful when I order from them online.

  6. When I lose some weight, I am going on an Old Navy shopping binge, but obviously it won’t be online and the closest store to me…90 miles one way….that sucks….I loved me some Old Navy, but come on..

  7. I hate stupid return policies. I have had problems at Macy’s too. I know I’ve said it before, but Kohl’s really has the best return policy. You can exchange anything as long as it has the same MSRP, and store credit is always an option, no matter what the method of purchase. And prices are comparable to Old Navy.

  8. The Woman says:

    I don’t even understand the thinking in that one. Why would you turn around and pay for something that has already been paid for its like telling that person who gave it to you that you don’t want it from them. duh

  9. Oh, and anything you purchase from Kohl’s online (or gifts purchased online) can be returned to any store, and anything purchased in-store can be returned to any store.

  10. Please contact corporate and link to this post to show just how dissatisfied you are! Back when I worked retail my company was tightening up its return policy, and I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to have to explain the ridiculous changes to customers when I couldn’t do anything to fix it or satisfy them. Contacting corporate is the only way to make your complaint heard by the people who make big decisions.

  11. I just ound your Blog and I can’t stop reading. Old navy is just crazy.

  12. This irritated me to no end when I ran across it last year while trying to exchange Christmas Gifts.
    It is very discouraging and frustrating.
    Target also has a very difficult returns program, although theirs is a bit more understandable as it was implemented in an effort to stop thieves and fraud.

    Either way, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
    We have also had an extremely difficult time finding jeans to fit our ‘booty having’ daughter.
    Walmart jeans have fit her perfectly! good luck!!

  13. I agree with C – send corporate and link your blog – they will do soemthign for you I am sure!

    Target is the same way – their return SUCKS without a reciept!

  14. a dumb policy indeed.

  15. T with Honey says:

    I ran into the same problem when my MIL ordered this hideous outfit from The Gap that Princess refused to even try on. The problem is that we knew she would be horribly offended if we returned it and they credited her card for the return.

    We’ve asked her to stick to Gymboree from now on.

  16. Would they have allowed you to just get a gift card and then apply it to the new purchase? Or would it have been better to just say you didn’t have the receipt and exchange? Sometimes, sadly, this is easier than dealing with receipts and stuff…
    Not that I don’t totally agree that this is a ludicrous policy- it so is! Their employees should have an alternate idea to what happened.

  17. As a fellow working – student RN – mother, I can empathise with the insanity and difficulty clothing a child. My 3 year old also has a long torso, shorter legs and oddly enough hips (ok, she is obviously mine) but she’s off the charts for height and barely on for weight. I always shop in the store and 99% of the time go secondhand to a MN store called “Once Upon a Child”. That way I can customize her wardrobe every few months for less.

  18. first time commenter here … my daughter is now 3 and wears a size 6, but when she was 18 months i had problems finding any pants to fit her (and it was December). she has very thick thighs, but wasn’t tall enough for anything that fit her thighs/waist.
    what i ended up doing was buying 4T capri-pants with adjustable waist and the length was perfect for her to wear as regular pants. the bonus was that then she started growing up more than out and she wore them as capris that summer. hope this helps you a little. fitting children in clothes is so frustrating!

  19. I hate to hear about your bad experience, but I’m glad you shared it – unless we spread the word about stores that aren’t “busy parent friendly” there will be no pressure for them to wise up and change their ways.

  20. I found your blog after experiencing my own insane exchange experience with Old Navy. I sent a letter to Customer Service and am drafting one to their executives. Not only is it bad customer service…it costs THEM more money to process it….and they are losing customers.
    Help me stop people from shopping there this holiday season until they change their policy.
    I’ve started a facebook group.

    And posted on Yelp.


    sent from: fav.or.it

  21. No…their insane policy says they cannot do an exchange without a receipt. If you don’t have a receipt…they will process a RETURN…then send you in 10 days the store credit gift card for the value at the time of return on the merchandise.

    sent from: fav.or.it

  22. i am an employee at an old navy store. In order to do a return or exchange, one always needs proof of that purchase whether we look it up on a credit/debit card or reciept of some sort- with online returns the customer should have recieved a slip with the package – that is needed in order to do the return. If it was a gift and you had the slip that came with the order the return/exchange is easy as pie. You simply return the items. The employee should have given you the money back on a gift card. then you could have made your purchase with the new pair of pants. Same prices are never a guarantee as online and instore are different some of the time. MAYBE THE EMPLOYEE WAS NEW TO THE STORE AND DIDN’T KNOW THIS…IVE BEEN WITH THE COMPANY FOR THREE YEARS…WE’VE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH NOT BEING ABLE TO DO THIS FOR CUSTOMERS. IM SORRY YOU HAD SUCH A HARD TIME!

  23. Today I me and my wife went to return a jacket at our local Old and the manager told us there was nothing she could do. You see we lost the reciept and they said they could look it up since we used our old card. Well guess what, since old’s registered listed the purchase as outerwear they said it was unclear what we purchased. So customer service then told us they would send us store credit in the mail. We told them to shove it and cancelled our credit card. It should be called store support not customer service.

  24. I just had a very similar experience with Old Navy. I just wanted to exchange a pair of jeans with the tags still on them for a slim version of the same jeans (I lost the receipt). They were bought in the store and they refused to exchange them in the store. All they would do was keep the jeans and mail me a refund. After the ordeal I was not comfortable with that and left with my son’s to big jeans. I did contact corporate and they sent me an email to call them. When I did the girl (Jessica) did not get my name or refer to my original complaint she just said basically yea that is the way it is. So I ended up hanging up on them so that I would not get further irritated. I for one will never shop Old Navy again.

  25. I tried to exchange a denim jacket that was a gift for the next larger size without a receipt, and Old Navy said that was against their policy. I would have to take them back, wait until I got a credit IN THE MAIL, and then go BACK to the store and re-purchase the jacket (which they would probably be out of by then, anyway.) I am telling my family NOT to by my children ANYTHING from ON!

  26. Ah, but Haley, I DID have the receipt. Even with the receipt, they refuse to exchange. The only option I was given was having the money go back to the card it came from. Others have been told they can ask for a refund mailed to them instead.

    A simple exchange, with receipt, should not be this hard.

  27. if the gift giver would have given you a gift receipt you could have exchanged your items, so its not old navy’s fault it would then be the gift givers, for not opting for the gift receipt.

  28. I received a sweatshirt as a gift, the wrong size. I went to do a simple change (the rack was 15 feet from the register) and I was told no receipt, no help.

    I say boycott the place. Let it fall like Circuit City, Linens ‘n’ Things, and others. In a down economy, Customer Service is king.

  29. Anonymous says:


  30. Anonymous says:

    I know this is an incredibly old post, but, in case you didn’t know, felt I should let you know that the policy has since been changed. 🙂 If you want a straight return it may need to go back on a card, but exchanges work just fine.

    In case it’s time to stop the boycott 😛

  31. I bought a white Long Sleeve TShirt for my son. I washed it inside out with the whites and lined-dried it. (I often line dry my things, even jeans.) After the second wash the fabric developed these weird little tufts everywhere, it looked terrible. I still had the receipt and the price tag and I tried to return it. The two women/cashiers told me that the policy is no returns on washed, used items, even if defective. They would only do an exchange.
    The second shirt did the same thing and they won’t take it back.
    So beware, if washing the clothes, however carefully, causes deterioration of the clothing in anyway, THEY WON’T TAKE IT BACK.
    This means they can use subpar quality materials that look good with sizing on the rack but doesn’t hold up to washing and wearing.
    I cancelled my Old Navy card and won’t shop there again.

  32. I just tried to exhange a pair of jeans (with all tags intact) that my son received for his birthday. They were a size 10 and he wears an 8. They were sent from a relative in AZ. They will NOT do an exchange and could only return them if I bought other items. THEN, they wanted to give me $5.99 credit for them. The best sale price I’ve ever seen was $10. I was going to have to return a brand new pair of jeans for $5.99 and then buy the exact same jeans in the smaller size for $14.99. I don’t think so. I promptly called today to cancel my credit card and let them know how incredibly ridiculous their policy is. I could see if I wanted money back, but I was just trying to exchange for the exact same item. I will take my business to TCP or Gymboree for they would be happy to treat the customer decently.

  33. As a former employee, yes they were following policy however I would have, if in the same situation ran this as an instore purchase return without a receipt and exchange it for the items.