(WSVN) – Ulta Beauty is facing two new lawsuits that accuse the retailer of re-selling returned cosmetics as new products.
One lawsuit filed last week in Illinois alleges the company has a limit on how many returned items can be thrown away.
“The managers will take the used products out of the damaged bin and if they look good enough to resell they’ll put them back on the shelves and resell them so that they don’t exceed their quota,” said attorney Tom Zimmerman, who represents the woman who filed the lawsuit.
Zimmerman provided examples of products purchased from a Chicago Ulta location, saying the products were either missing items inside or appeared to be previously opened. He says the danger comes in the form of pathogens, which can remain on the products for weeks.
“There was E. coli and Klebsiella bacteria, which is commonly found in your intestine and it’s expelled with your fecal matter,” Zimmerman said.
The Illinois lawsuit follows a previous one filed last month in California, accusing Ulta of similar claims.
“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,” the lawsuit states.
All of the allegations come following the now-viral tweets of a woman who claimed she used to work for the company and detailed their practices of repackaging and reselling used products.
Twitter user @fatinamxo posted a series of tweets about what she says are unsanitary practices at some stores, where she said managers had employees “clean” and repackage used items that customers had returned in order to sell them again.
“They would resell EVERYTHING (makeup, hair care, skincare, fragrance, hair tools, etc.),” she said in another tweet.
The ex-employee then posted photos to illustrate her claim, showing new makeup next to used items that were repackaged and sold after being touched up to make them look new.
“For example this foundation ( even sticks) they would clean it with a q-tip to make it look new. I’ll attach a photo of a NEW foundation vs. the one they repackaged and put back on the shelf. ( NOT SANITIZED ),” she captioned the photo.
She said the “last straw” for her was when a manager put a used liquid lipstick back on the shelf after cleaning it with alcohol.
She decided to share the photos because she believed “makeup lovers should know what’s going on behind closed doors.”
Her tweets prompted a flood of comments on the social media site, with other current and former employees coming forward saying they too have witnessed the practice at their local Ulta stores.
“Can 100% confirm this is true. Shopping at any ULTA in Frisco, Mckinney, Denton, Sherman, Allen, basically the entire Dallas area and around they train every single employee to do this. All the stores in the area do this,” one wrote.
“This happened when I worked at Ulta too and I made sure to make a point of how hazardous it is to customers and how its shady and deceiving to sell ‘reused’ makeup at FULL price. One of the many reasons I left Ulta,” another said.
But other Ulta Beauty employees said their stores never cleaned and re-sold used makeup. The company itself released a statement disputing the claim, saying used products are supposed to be thrown away.
“Our store associates are trained to catalogue and then properly dispose of any used or damaged items,” an Ulta Beauty spokesperson said in a statement to Today. “If associates have concerns that this or any Ulta Beauty policy is not being followed, they can anonymously report it through our third-party hotline. Our policies, training and procedures are aimed at ensuring that only the highest-quality products are sold in our stores and online.”
When asked about the lawsuit, Ulta released the following statement: “Our policy does not allow the resale of used or damaged products. We are aware of the lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend against the allegations. The health and safety of Ulta Beauty guests is a top priority and we strive to deliver an optimal experience every time they shop with us.”
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