Accusations that Ulta Beauty had a de facto policy for reselling returned and used cosmetics as if they were new are moving from individual store managers to the executive level.
Kimberly Laura Smith-Brown, an Ulta shopper who launched in early February a proposed class-action against the beauty retailer after employee-supported rumors of its alleged reselling practice had spread online, is accusing Ulta’s regional vice president Chrissie Mollicone of being “involved in enforcing these unsanitary practices.”
Smith-Brown also accused Sara Ramsey, a district manager for Ulta, of the same thing in urging an Illinois federal court late Friday to put the lawsuit on an expedited discovery schedule that will force the company to provide more information more quickly. While Smith-Brown is looking for class-wide damages in the form of refunds for any Ulta customer’s purchases, she’s also looking for information to support a possible motion to put “an immediate stop” to the alleged reselling practices, should there be reason to believe the practice is ongoing.
“Given the mounting evidence regarding Ulta’s improper practices; the fact that plaintiff’s investigation to date has revealed the identities and involvement of several Ulta management members [among others]; and the fact that these executives are still employed by Ulta, the plaintiff respectfully submits that if Ulta has failed to halt its practice of requiring employees to reshelve used beauty products as new and/or putting used products out as testers in the stores, there is a serious health risk to the public,” Smith-Brown wrote in her motion.
She also suggested that it may be “appropriate” to force Ulta to post a notice in all of its stores directing customers to bring any product for sale that appears used to the attention of a manager so it can be disposed of.
Considering the unsanitary aspect of her allegations, and the fact that Ulta has publicly assured shoppers that it does not resell used cosmetics, Smith-Brown argued that an expedited discovery schedule is warranted. Without it, Ulta would have until at least the end of May to hand over any requested information.
An Ulta spokeswoman said the company intends to oppose the motion for expedited discovery and that it’s now pushing for a dismissal of the complaint outright.
“Our policy does not allow for the reselling of used, damaged or expired products,” the spokeswoman added. “As the nation’s largest beauty retailer, we take protecting the integrity of the products we sell very seriously. The health and safety of Ulta Beauty guests is a top priority and we remain confident that in each and every Ulta Beauty store they will have an exceptional experience including the highest quality products. That is our promise and commitment to all of our guests.”
When Smith-Brown initially filed her complaint, the Ulta spokeswoman denied the allegations outright and said the company intends to “vigorously” defend itself.
Since Smith-Brown’s lawsuit, a second class-action has been filed in Illinois over the same issue have been filed, as has a shareholder complaint, accusing Ulta of concealing a company practice and therefore making “false and misleading statements” as to its financial position and liability.
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