Trenton, NJ – An online website selling boutique children’s clothing that made headlines last fall for refusing to accept returns from several Orthodox Jewish areas has agreed to change its policies after being advised that they may have been violating New Jersey state law.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2kCsNct), the California-based Shan and Toad return policy refused returns from customers in Brooklyn, Lakewood, Passaic, Monsey and Monroe.
Owner Shana Laub explained that she had instituted the policy after noticing that customers in these areas would often order items in multiple sizes and then return them days or even weeks later, depleting her stock, leaving her unable to fill orders and sometimes returning merchandise in unsalable condition.
New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino said that two agencies within his office, the Division on Civil Right and the Division of Consumer Affairs, had advised Laub that her policies may have been in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws.
A settlement agreed to by Shan and Toad, requires the company to revise their return policy with no restrictions placed on particular customers based on their place of residence if that policy would have the “effect of discriminating based on any protected class … such as religion.”
The settlement reached with the attorney general’s office did not require Shan and Toad to admit any wrongdoing and imposed a $10,000 suspended penalty against the company which will be dropped within a year if it complies with the terms of the settlement.
While the settlement applies only to Passaic and Lakewood, the Shan and Toad website has lifted all location-based return restrictions. The new policy advises buyers that the retailer reserves the right to “restrict or refuse future transactions and returns” from those who have been identified as having “an unreasonable return pattern.”
An online petition posted on an unspecified date also called on California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris to conduct an investigation of Shan and Toad’s return policies to determine if the site was guilty of anti-Semitism, or if customers were taking advantage of the site’s return policy to return merchandise that had been worn or damaged.
Laub said that she had reached an amicable resolution with the attorney general’s office and that defending her position would have been too costly and time consuming for her business. She expressed disappointment that the attorney general’s office had created a situation that forced her to institute a universal no-refunds policy because of those who abused the site’s return policy.
“It is unfortunate that a stricter return policy needs to be in place for all areas, as I believe it will have an adverse effect on the business,” said Laub. “Rather than protecting small business, it seems that the state is more concerned with protecting people that will not adhere to a store policy.”