Ulta Beauty is being accused by a shopper of repackaging returned, used products and putting them back on store shelves.
Shopper Kimberly Laura Smith-Brown claims a former Ulta employee disclosed on Twitter that store managers directed employees to repackage or reseal products returned by customers, including “used cosmetics, among many other products,” and put them back out for sale, at full price.
Referring to the former employee as a “whistleblower,” which generally only applies to active workers who report employer misconduct and are afforded legal protections from being fired or retaliated against, Smith-Brown said since the Twitter post “dozens of other current and former Ulta employees from retail locations all over the country confirmed that substantially similar practices also occurred at the Ulta stores where they worked,” according to her complaint filed late last week in Illinois federal court.
“Indeed, many Ulta employees commented that they would not shop at Ulta as a result of these unsanitary practices,” Smith-Brown added.
The Twitter user is @fatinamxo, who appears to be an aspiring beauty influencer and took to Twitter in early January after she allegedly was unable to contact someone in the corporation with her concerns.
She subsequently posted more than a dozen direct messages from other Ulta employees at other stores, which she attempted to confirm by requesting their store number, saying they witnessed or were asked by store managers to clean, reseal and sometimes even “repress” used cosmetics.
One Twitter user posted an exchange she claimed was from three years ago with a representative on Ulta’s app after she complained about the reselling practice, and the company said it was “looking into these disturbing claims” but that it was not the company’s policy. @fatinamxo claimed on Twitter that managers at the Ulta store she worked for “trained” staff to “restore” products.
An Ulta spokeswoman said the company intends “to vigorously defend against the allegations.”
“Our policies, training and procedures are aimed at selling only the highest quality new products in our stores and online,” she added. “The health and safety of Ulta Beauty guests is a top priority and we strive to consistently deliver an optimal experience every time they shop with us.”
Smith-Brown claims that Ulta “has continued to deceive consumers for years” and that had shoppers been aware of the company’s alleged reselling practice, they “would have paid less for the cosmetics they purchased or would not have purchased them at all.”
Given this, Smith-Brown is looking to recover any amounts she, and all other shoppers, paid to Ulta, and asked the court to certify a class of any Ulta shopper with similar claims.
“As a result of Ulta’s practice of reselling used and returned cosmetics, every customer who has purchased cosmetics at Ulta since this practice began was put at risk of unwittingly purchasing used, unsanitary cosmetics and this risk reduces the desirability and value of all cosmetics sold by Ulta regardless [of whether] the cosmetics were new or used,” she said.
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