My girls, who are in middle school, love to shop at H&M. So when I heard about H&M’s Long Live Fashion campaign, which gives you a discount for donating your old clothes to any H&M store, I was game.
Have you heard of it? For each bag of used clothes you donate to H&M, you’ll receive a voucher for a discount on your next purchase. Donated clothes are shipped to a processing plant to be marketed worldwide as secondhand goods, converted into other products, such as cleaning cloths, used to produce energy, or recycling into insulating materials for the auto industry, as filler, for example, in seats.
According to H&M, tons of textiles end up in landfills each year and as much as 95 percent of them can be recycled. That’s why they’re collecting clothes at all H&M locations—clothes of any brand, quality or condition. Zero waste is the goal.
This promotion sounds like a wonderful idea. But, as I found out, participating in it wasn’t as easy as H&M’s Website made it sound. Here’s how it played out on a recent Saturday. First, I felt a little silly walking into my local mall with six bags of our old clothes. But my 11-year-old daughter, Amelia, and I were on a donation mission. So off we went to find the nearest H&M. Amelia knew just where it was. At the checkout, there stood a medium-size cardboard collection kiosk with “Long live fashion!” on it, a visible sign that the program was truly happening. Whew!
But when we told the sales associate we were there to donate our clothes, we got the runaround. Before she could do anything, we had to go online and get a code, she said. So I went onto the H&M.com from my iPhone, but found no mention of any code of any sort. Finally, I just Googled “code for Long Live Fashion” and up popped a Twitter feed with the code, which is 40404 for the U.S.
Triumphant, I got back on the checkout line and made my way to the front again. “The code is 40404,” I reported to a different sales associate. With a panicked look, he told me he needed to fetch a manager because he didn’t know what to do with the information.
Finally, after about 20 minutes, the manager came along. He didn’t care about the code that I worked so hard to find. He just opened a drawer behind the register and gave us two discount cards for 15 percent off one item of our choice. (You’re allowed two donate two bags of clothes per person per 15 percent discount card.)
We ended up donating all six bags of clothes, giving H&M two bags of clothes for nothing. The manager also gave us two promotion cards with codes that allowed us to “upgrade our discount and enter to win one of many great prizes” if we entered these codes at hmconscious.com. I started to feel like schlepping our old clothes to the mall had been worth it after all. But when I tried to enter these codes on my home computer later, nothing happened. The codes wouldn’t take.
The moral of the story? Promotions like Long Live Fashion mean well. But if personnel aren’t properly trained in how to handle the promotions for customers who participate in them and all the online components aren’t working, they can be a big hassle. It certainly would have been easier just to donate our used clothes to the Goodwill.
I'd love to hear about your experiences though. Have you participated in any discount or promotion programs that turned out to be too much trouble—or, to the contrary—worth whatever you had to do to get the promised reward?