Donate your old clothes to H&M? Hmmmm…

By Sandra Gordon on April 22, 2013 12:01:00 am

Thinkstock166668138_SSBLOG_SHOPPING_donationMy 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& 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 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?

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Sandra Gordon

Sandra Gordon

Posted at 12:01:00 AM in
Beauty & Fashion | Charity | Clothing | Fashion | Featured | Money & Shopping | Sandra Gordon | Saving money | Shopping

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Nancy Monson

01:49:20 PM on Mon Apr 22 2013

Oh yes, been there, done that, Sandy! I agree completely that these promotions are a great idea but stores need to train their employees to expect customers who donate and know how to treat them. Good for you showing the girls how to do a good thing and get a reward!


07:47:42 PM on Fri Jul 19 2013

Does the 15% discount voucher have an expiration date? I have prepared a bag of clothes for the H&M donate for discount program. Thank you for sharing your experience. This is very helpful before I schlep the bag to the nearest H&M in a mall.

Robin Melen

02:28:33 PM on Mon Jul 22 2013

Hi Grace~
Sandra says she's not sure about an expiration date, but that H&M’s Long Live Fashion donation campaign is still going on. Here’s more
Info from the website: Go ahead and schlep your donated bag to the nearest H&M. Two bags are allowed per customer.

Bria Branch

03:19:36 PM on Tue Jun 17 2014

I can not find the closest location to drop off these clothes...does anyone know where the H&M drop off is in the state of Virginia closest to Suffolk??


12:48:39 AM on Mon Aug 25 2014

Thank you so much for letting me know this info now i can donate :)


07:34:11 PM on Mon Feb 2 2015

I just asked the representative of H&M through online chat. They told me the voucher was 15% off the entire purchase. And they would accept 2 bags max per day. I'm going to an H&M store this weekend. Hopefully it will work as what they said. I think 15% off for only one piece is too little. They do make big profit from their products and they even collect ours to make new ones.

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