Rent the Runway Alters ‘Predatory’ Late Fee After Daily Beast Story
This April, The Daily Beast reported that Rent the Runway’s 200% late fee policy caused women to be charged hundreds of dollars in fees. Now it’s changed.
Rent the Runway has changed its late fee policy a little more than a month after The Daily Beast reported on it in April, lowering its “20-day penalty” charge for late or missing dresses from 200 percent of the retail cost of each dress to just 100 percent of the retail cost of each dress.
The women’s retailer rents designer dresses originally retailing hundreds of dollars to women across the United States for as little as $35 per item.
After a designated number of days, renters must return their items through a UPS store or drop box in a pre-labeled package that Rent the Runway supplies to them.
The April report from The Daily Beast uncovered that the company’s fine print 200 percent late fee policy caused a handful of former renters to pay hundreds of dollars for discounted dresses due to shipping mistakes, some by their own fault (dropping the package at a USPS instead of UPS, the package carrier that Rent the Runway works with to ensure returns to its Secaucus, New Jersey warehouse), or due to UPS losing the package.
In either scenario, the late fees still applied. As early as 2014, women wrote disparaging reviews on Facebook, Reddit, the Better Business Bureau, and other review sites to warn others about the company’s former “predatory” policy.
In April, UPS lost the package that Mary Taylor Renfro, a teacher from Charlotte, North Carolina, had dropped off at one of its dropboxes.
Renfro rented the $35 dress for New Year’s Eve and claims to have returned it exactly as instructed. But her package went missing and she didn’t realize so until Rent the Runway charged her credit card account: At least three charges for $53.52, two charges for over $200 and $400, one last charge for $1,072.36.
Rent the Runway claims they only charged her $1,125.98 total—a number that contrasted with what appeared on the receipts Renfro showed The Daily Beast.
In April, Lena Auerbuch Anderson, the company’s director of communications, told The Daily Beast that Rent The Runway enforced the 200 percent policy to cover the cost of the lost dresses.
“If someone loses a piece of clothing, we have to purchase that piece all over again. The reason it’s doubled is because we have to refund whoever we rent it to next,” she said.
The Daily Beast became aware of the late fee policy change on May 31, 2018 through a Twitter user who accidentally dropped her UPS package off at a USPS and could not locate it.
According to tweets, Rent the Runway gave her an extension, but ultimately, she would be responsible for late fees—”probably” around $800—if the package failed to arrive.
“Looks like they changed the 200 percent thing at least,” she tweeted, only with a screenshot of the company's new policy on its site, confirmed by The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast reached out to Rent the Runway to ask about the policy change, but has not heard back. We will update this story if we do.