Of course business should be able to treat different types of customers differently. Orthodox Jewish communities in America do tend to abuse return policies much more than WASP communities. Orthodox Jewish kids do tend to cheat more in school than WASP kids. That does not make Orthodox Jews inferior to WASPs, they are simply in some times and places inferior to WASPs in certain forms of morality while superior to WASPs in other forms of morality (such as taking care of their own).
Pegida reports: “Austria imposes night-time curfew for migrants after soaring sex-attacks on women.”
Different groups of people tend to behave differently and should be treated differently.
Even if the shop’s prices may be criminally expensive — take for example this $1,085 cape dress — its two-tiered return policy is not illegal in either NJ or NY, which stipulate that businesses must post a clear return policy on their websites, but does not put any limitations on these policies.
Perhaps surprisingly, the owner of Shan and Toad, Shana Laub, is herself an Orthodox Jew and a mother of five girls.
Orthodox Jews tend to have a more clear-eyed perspective on the ethics of other Orthodox Jews than do many non-Jews.
As a convert to Orthodox Judaism who has lived among Orthodox Jews for more than two decades, I have seen that abusing return policies is common (though Modern Orthodox Jews in this respect tend to be more ethical than traditional Orthodox Jews).
On Wednesday, JTA reported that Shan and Toad, a high-end children’s clothing retailer, had a very specific return policy: Customers could return non-sale items for a full refund — except for residents of five communities in New York and New Jersey, all of which have a significant Orthodox population.
Those living in those zip codes, which include Brooklyn and Passaic, New Jersey, could exchange unworn items or return them for store credit only — a policy that some decried as discrimination against Orthodox Jews.
But in an e-mail to JTA sent Thursday, Shana Laub, the owner of the online shop, denied allegations that her company’s return policy was in any way discriminatory against Orthodox Jews.
“Thank you for the opportunity to explain my return policy and its genesis and hopefully repair both any damage done and my reputation,” the message read.
Laub emphasized that her store accepted returns from all areas, and that residents of these five areas could still return unworn clothes for store credit. She said she implemented the more restrictive return policies because “the survival of the business had been threatened by abuse of its return policy among customers in a few concentrated areas,” she wrote.
She continued: “Those customers would place large orders and return all, or nearly all of the items they had purchased, often in poor condition, and only after a substantial delay.”
According to Laub, a mother of five girls whose LinkedIn page lists her as living in the “Greater Los Angeles” area — and whose blog says the company was originally launched in Jerusalem — these mass orders would deplete her stock and affect her ability to process other orders, which proved destructive for her small business. “If I continued to offer returns to these neighborhoods,” Laub wrote, “my business and my income would be destroyed.”
She added that she knew of other businesses that also implemented similar return policies out of concern for their fiscal well-being. She did not reply to a JTA request seeking follow-up comments.
Laub also claimed that, since the release of the story about her company’s return policies, she has “experienced a firestorm of legal accusations, public humiliation, and a host of the most vile and vituperative e-mail and phone messages.”
“If I unwittingly insulted or hurt anybody, I sincerely ask forgiveness now,” Laub added, “I had never intended to. I was merely trying to survive.”
Is all this publicity about Orthodox Jews’ dirty dealing a Kiddush HaShem (sanctifying God’s name)? Sad!