Ask The Readers: Bad Customer Service At Old Navy?

Updated April 29, 2024 by Kyle James

I am looking for some feedback on store coupon policies. A couple weeks ago my wife bought some summer clothes for our 3 kids at our local Old Navy store. She found some nice deals and ended up spend a little under $50. A couple days later we got an Old Navy coupon in the mail that was good for 20% off your order when you use your Old Navy credit card, which we have.

Ask The Readers: Bad Customer Service At Old Navy?

So my wife says, “Bummer, I just bought the kids some clothes from Old Navy a couple days ago.” Which I responded, “Not a bummer, I’m sure they will honor your coupon.” In my head I am reasoning this with a few things.

  • First, since we are Old Navy credit card holders, I am sure they will bend over backwards to keep us happy.
  • Secondly, it is just good customer service to honor a coupon in this way.
  • Thirdly, they would never say “No” because people would just return the merchandise and buy it again with the 20% off coupon.

So my wife agrees with me and the next day she goes back in the store with the coupon and clothes in the original bag. I should also point out that the clothes still have the tags on them and have not been used or washed. She walks up to the register, where she actually got the store manager, and the conversation goes like this:

My Wife: “I was just in here a couple days ago and bought these clothes. Then I got this coupon in the mail for 20% off and I was wondering if you would be kind enough to honor the coupon on this purchase.”

Old Navy Manager: “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

My Wife: “But I just got this coupon in the mail”.

Old Navy Manager: “Sorry, ma’am, that is just our policy. But you still have a couple weeks to use that coupon on another purchase.”

My Wife: “What is to keep me from just returning it and buying it back with the coupon?”

Old Navy Manager: (Glaring at her like she is a cheap, crazy woman.) “Nothing I guess.”

Ticked off, my wife left the store and called me. I had a few choice words for Old Navy customer service.

Not helping the situation, she hung up on me and decided she was just going to return the stuff. Then maybe in a couple days go back in and use the coupon.

She returned the clothes and we have yet to go back into the store. It just left a bad taste in our mouth.

I don’t think we are swindlers or cheap people. Or are we?

Or is Old Navy just acting on a sound business model by not honoring the coupon in this way? What is you opinion?

It reminds me of the whole Apple iPhone thing when they lowered the price $200 overnight and essentially said “tough luck” to those loyal Apple users who bought the phone at the original price.

After taking a heat wave of criticism, Steve Jobs finally offered a $100 store credit to anyone that bought the iPhone at the original price.

In my example, we are the loyal user who is left holding the bag of clothes at full price.

So give me your opinion! Do you agree with the Old Navy coupon policy?

Have you had a similar experience with a different outcome at Old Navy or another store? I look forward to your comments.


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I don’t shop at places that treat me like crap anymore. If they want to keep their customers in good standing they should have honored their coupons.


I am surprised that the store wouldn’t allow you to do that. I rarely have a problem using coupons at Old Navy or Banana Republic. In fact, I get coupons and rewards points a lot from them and I think I definitely get my moneys’ worth. I don’t blame you for being annoyed though. I would have done the same thing. I am still mad at Office Max from months and months ago. 😉


Everyone here seems to think of cheap old navy clothes as a bargain. But there are “externalities” involved in such production. Goods are produced very cheapy in China, with poor environmental and labor controls. As a result, there are HUGE problems with air and water polution in China–I was just in a factory outside of Shanghai for work and saw this first-hand. I really encourage other fruglies to think of the TRUE cost of cheap consumer goods – to the planet. These are costs our children will pay. Are $3.99 (poorly made) kids’ polo shirts really worth that??


I’ve worked retail for the passed five years and it’s very common for people to go in a couple of days later with a coupon wanting to use it on a previous purchase. Of course, the manager’s first response is no because technically it is the store policy. Also, it tells you on the coupon not on previous purchases however, being as that may we usually did honor it because in retail the customer is always right. The only thing the manager would say is, we’re not suppose to do it but i’m going to do it for you this one time only. Also, the only time the manager wouldn’t honor it was when the customer was very rude and very demanding from the get go. The final thing i want to say about retail is, every manager is different. Some are lenient and some are very hard to break. I think they should have honored it, but once again every manager is different.

Old Navy employee

I know this has not been active in 2 years, but I came across this post and felt the need to give my opinion on this subject.

I’m an Old Navy employee, and have been working in retail for almost 6 years now.

Some quick info about working at Old Navy:

–We’re trained to work and communicate with the customer “with ease”–meaning as quickly and efficiently as possible.

–During our shift, as well as working the register, we’re responsible for:

1. Keeping the store in order (folding, putting things back in their proper place)
2. Assisting the customer with finding merchandise
3. Assisting the customer in the fitting room area
4. Assisting customers on the phone
5. Getting as many customers as possible to sign up for the email list
6. Getting as many customers as possible to sign up for the Old Navy credit card
7. Processing shipment
8. Doing returns and exchanges, etc, etc.

As with any corporate retail store, we’re often extremely busy and extremely understaffed, making it near impossible sometimes to complete all of these tasks as efficiently as possible.

In a perfect world, the economy would be flourishing, the company would provide the right amount of hours for coverage, employees would be paid well and not taken advantage of, and so things would run more smoothly and in turn, produce happier customers.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in today’s world, and anyone who believes that a store should “bend over backwards to make them happy” is either sadly misinformed or just plain narcissistic.

Nothing makes me blood boil more than when I hear people complain about, “Whatever happened to good customer service?”

What’s happening is this:

The employees come in to work and are immediately bombarded with stressed out managers who are pushed by the corporate office to meet impossible quotas over email captures and Old Navy Card applications, and as a result, overlook simple things like putting people in zones, which makes the entire day disorganized.

Plain and simple, the economy is bad, which means less hours, fewer employees, fewer raises, etc. Obviously this also that ten employees have to do the job of what twenty employees should be doing at less pay, which makes it more stressful and demanding for everyone. And raises are few and far between, or almost unheard of.

When an employee is doing 12944793 tasks as well as ringing up a customer, we also have to ask for an email address, ask for them to sign up for an Old Navy card, listen to them scream at their children, try to communicate with them effectively while they’re on their cell phone, explain why a sign that says, “$5 Shirts” doesn’t apply to the pair of pants that they want, explain to them why a coupon that expires in 2005 won’t work in 2011, enforce store policy, and then listen to them act like a five year old throwing a tantrum when they don’t get their way while their unsupervised children destroy the entire store, which we have the pleasure of cleaning up later.

And I’m waiting for this question:
“If Old Navy is so terrible, than why do you work there?”

Old Navy is actually a pretty good company to work for, especially compared to former companies that I’ve been with. Any problem that I’ve experienced seems to originate from the corporate level. Despite retail worker stereotypes, I’m not lazy, stupid, or have a bad attitude. I have a four year degree, and am going back to school, and I also happen to be pretty friendly and a hard worker. Old Navy isn’t a career choice for me–it’s a part time job that pays the bills until I receive my degree and move on in life, which is the case for most people in retail.

I firmly believe that all retail companies should integrate a new policy into their stores that goes something like this:
“Our employees are trained to be efficient, respectful, and friendly towards our customers–thanks for treating us the same!”

Again, unfortunately, in our time, that will never happen. My belief is that things will only get worse as the economy changes and people get used to “getting their way” by calling the corporate office and having their bad behavior rewarded with a coupon.

I’m confused about why you think you and your wife (and anyone else on this page) believe you were treated unfairly and received poor customer service. I suppose that you think poor customer service means upholding the company policy, which I find to be absolutely ridiculous.

The manager did not seem to be behaving rudely towards you or “having a crappy day and taking it out on a customer”, and I’ve done plenty of “returns and repurchase” in similar situations as yours without incident. No one told you that you could not do that, you simply decided to make an issue over it by yourselves. And the fact that you have an Old Navy credit card suggests to me that you’re a frequent shopper–you received the coupon after you made the purchase and did not want to “return and re-buy”–realistically, why would it be so hard for you to save the coupon for the next time you were shopping?

Anyone who wants customer service “like the good old days” in modern corporate America is kidding themselves, to be blunt. Low prices are in demand, so you’re going to get what you pay for. If you want someone to “bend over backwards for you,” maybe you should stick to local stores, boutiques, high end department stores, etc.

Everyone in retail is pushed for time and overworked. We clean up the tornado of clothes after you and your children leave the store. We explain simple company policies to you countless times with no avail. We compete for your attention with your cell phone just to do our job. We deal with your temper tantrums when you don’t get your way.

Not every customer is this terrible, but for those who are and then complain about “horrible customer service”:

Why on EARTH would you think that we would EVER want to “bend over backwards to keep you happy?!”

My hope with this comment is that it provides insight into the minds of those who believe they are “being treated unfairly” and probably never worked a day of retail in their lives.

Sincerely Frustrated,

An Old Navy employee.

Old Navy employee


I think you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make about customer service, so I’ll try to explain myself further.

I (as well as anyone else I’ve ever worked with in retail) have no problem with the basic level of customer service that I’m required to do as part of my job. Basic meaning: greeting the customer, being friendly, inviting them to join the email list, inviting them to sign up for the Old Navy credit card, helping them find items, assisting them in the fitting room, looking for sizes in the backroom, etc.

However, I DO have a problem with: ridiculous demands (“I want the size you don’t have and I want it now!”), general rudeness (cell phones, bad attitudes), people who think store policy doesn’t apply to them (trying to return things past the 90 day return period, returning items that have clearly been washed and worn), people who abuse the coupons, etc.

How do I treat “difficult” customers compared to the “normal” ones? Exactly the same–same greeting, same questions, same service. THESE, however, are the people that I refuse to “bend over backwards for” because that’s NOT part of my job requirement. If a situation arises, we are trained to call a manager over to deal with it, and they can settle it as they wish.

And quite honestly, it’s not my job to “bend over backwards” for anyone–my job, defined by the company I work for, is to sell the product, abide by company policy, and provide customer service in the ways I listed above. It is not defined as “bend over backwards trying to please every customer who walks through the door, completely ignoring any company policy, and letting them do whatever they want just to keep them happy.” That sounds the job description of a nanny who is hired to watch a spoiled child.

Again, poor customer service does not equal not abiding by the store policy, and I find it a bit odd that you think that to be the case. It is there for a reason. To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact reasons–all I know is that my job is to enforce it. Imagine if someone had purchased something two years ago, and wanted to use a coupon they received yesterday on that purchase.

I do not see myself as rude or as having a pessimistic view on customer service. Anyone I’ve worked with is the same way. I have worked in retail for years and have never really had problems with my job. There are annoying and difficult customers from time to time, but it usually does not bother me, and often makes for a good story among coworkers later on. I’m not sure how long ago you worked in retail or where you worked at–perhaps your training in customer service was more extensive than mine–but I’ve never worked anywhere where they trained you to “bend over backwards.”

And just in case you were wondering, if I had been the employee that your wife had spoken with at the register, the conversation would have gone something like this:

“Hi, did you find everything you were looking for today?”

“We got this coupon in the mail, but bought a bunch of clothes the other day, and wanted to know if we could redeem this coupon for our previous purchase.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but with the company policy, you are unable to do that. But you’re more than welcome to hold on to the coupon for another time.”

“Why can’t I just return the clothes and re-buy them with the coupon?”

“Oh, that’s fine, did you bring your receipt with you?”

Again, I do not see the big problem with your situation. Clearly, you could have returned the items and repurchased them with the coupon. And even if the manager was extremely rude towards you, why is that such a big deal? The world goes on, and not everyone is going to treat you fairly, even though it would be part of her job to do so. If it bothered you that much, don’t shop there anymore. If the policy you don’t agree with bothers enough people, then you know the company will eventually change it, because you are right–customers do keep companies in business. And in being rude to you, she would have clearly overstepped a boundary–but you were doing the same in thinking that the store policy did not apply to you.

It makes me wonder, why did this situation leave such a bad taste in your mouth when clearly there was a simple solution (return and re-buy the items)? Is it because you think rules and policies don’t apply to you for some reason? If that’s the case, then I feel bad for all of the customer service related people you will encounter in the future.

I may be coming off as harsh, but I’m hoping that my comments help you see things in a different light from the other side of the counter. I deal with about 10 similar situations as yours each day, and rarely does it seem that anyone leaves the store feeling mistreated like you did over something so incredibly minor. From my point of view, it could have been easily fixed and really did not have to be a such a big deal for anyone involved.


Just try using your old navy rewards from your credit card – if they sell you an item online and there is a problem with the order -example not having a size after you’ve ordered or having a defective item and not having a replacement – you loose the points. This has happened to me twice now, so why should I use your crappy visa card to accumulate the points if you’re not going to give me full credit for them. I’ve emailed and phoned and never gotten anywhere with them. I’m so canceling their card and shopping elsewhere – and I’ve been a card holder since 2000. They don’t give a crap about anyone but themselves!


Normally the coupons state. Exclusions as well as saying presented at the time of purchase. No adjustments on previous purchases. Not to be combined with other discounts.

I would inform the guest of this.
I would let them know as a courtesy, I would allow it at this time.
I would also let them know that any previous sales which they had gotten may not apply today.
Normally when coupons go out, prices are different.