Luxury brand Coach announced it would no longer destroy in-store returns of damaged merchandise in an Instagram post Tuesday, a statement that comes after a TikTok video showing the brand’s pursues, allegedly slashed by employees, went viral.
“We have now ceased destroying in-store returns of damaged, defective, worn and otherwise unsalable goods that are unable to be donated and are dedicated to maximizing such products reuse in our Coach (Re)Loved and other circularity programs,” Coach said in an email to USA TODAY.
Coach’s policy change follows a TikTok video by Anna Sacks, who goes by @thetrashwalker on the app and Instagram. In the video, Sacks shows a number of Coach pursues that have been slashed.
“As you can see, they’re all slashed, which is Coach’s policy. This is what they do with unwanted merchandise. They order an employee to deliberately slash it so no one can use it, and then they write it off as a tax write-off under the same tax loophole as if it were accidentally destroyed,” Sacks said in the video.
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However, Coach disputed the tax write-off claim.
“The company is not claiming any tax benefits for in-store returns that damaged, defective, worn and otherwise non-saleable and not able to be donated that were destroyed in store,” a Coach spokesperson said in an email.
The TikTok video has gathered over 575,500 likes and 2.5 million views since it was posted Saturday. The merchandise pictured in the video was found in a dumpster in Dallas by Tiffany She’ree, who goes by @dumpsterdivingmama on Instagram, Sacks said.
Sacks said she was planning to bring the items into Coach and ask for the merchandise to be repaired through the company’s repair program.
Coach isn’t the only company destroying its own merchandise, which is often done to maintain a brand’s prestige. In 2018, Burberry came under fire after it was discovered the company destroyed $36.8 million worth of merchandise. Other brands, like Louis Vuitton, Nike, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret and J.C. Penney have engaged in the practice, according to a 2017 report from Vox.
“It’s not just Coach. It’s widespread and it needs to be addressed in a widespread way,” Sacks said.