If your bedroom floor isn’t constantly covered in a layer of H&M clothes, are you even a millennial? One of the largest retailers and most popular brands in the world, H&M pioneered the fast fashion movement, causing runway designs to be readily available to the masses. It’s pretty amazing how quickly, seemingly revolutionary and uncommon designs will pop up in stores before taking the whole store over. Can you imagine a trip to H&M now without sorting through 43 racks of ruffled tops? Exactly!
Because H&M is one of the worlds largest clothing retailers, the company produces a lot of waste. In its effort to save money and cut costs, H&M has engaged in some very sketchy behind the scenes behavior with its employees, often misleading them upon hiring and providing a different experience once they hit the sales floor. How is the sales floor? Most employees would tell you that it’s a disaster.
From incompetent managers to corporate employees who are hopelessly out of touch, H&M employees have to deal with a lot of garbage. Sometimes literal garbage in the change rooms. Conversely, it has to be said that even H&M employees themselves can be caught carrying out sketchy behavior. We’ve compiled a list of 15 shady practices H&M doesn’t want you to know – concerning money, toxic waste, crazy people, and the recent racism scandal involving the monkey sweater. Which one do you think is the most surprising?
15 Retail Staff Was Not Really Affected By The Racism Controversy... Except In South Africa Where Stores Got Destroyed
In a thread on Reddit asking H&M retail staff about their experience with the racist sweater drama, most of the users had the same response. It didn’t really affect them personally. While they all disapproved of the image, there wasn’t much change on the ground in their stores.
One user said, “I don’t think anybody quit over it or anything,” while others said they didn’t really notice anything amiss at all.
While this isn’t meant to minimize the racism, it’s clear that the brunt of the controversy played out through the media rather than in the stores themselves. Employees in multiple stores across South Africa, however, probably can’t say the same. Following the controversy, protesters destroyed and looted stores, leaving them in total disarray before making off with trendy jeggings and ruffled off-the-shoulder tops. Who was left to clean up the mess? Regular minimum wage employees.
14 Employees Get A Pretty Cool Compensation Package, But It Can Change Or Be Taken Away At Any Time
H&M offers a pretty interesting compensation and benefits package, with goodies like a clothing discount and your birthday off, but did you know that the conditions of the package can be revoked at any time? Certain benefits are only available to full-time employees as well, and it seems that H&M suffers the same problem that every retail store does: They hire as many part-time workers as possible instead of paying full-time employees. This way, they can avoid paying for certain benefits while maintaining an army of diligent workers. It really sucks to be told that you have to be on-call on your birthday, or that suddenly you don’t qualify for vacation pay even though you were hired on the condition you’d be working enough to receive them.
13 Managers Force Arbitrary Time Limits To Help Customers, So Being Too Nice Could Get You In Trouble
Customer service is not one of H&M’s strong suits. Part of the reason why this is true is that at H&M, the clothes sell themselves. Employees are generally needed for more important tasks like stocking, counting, doing runbacks, and organizing. Whereas employees in other stores might be sought after for advice or styling tips, employees in H&M stores might be given a time limit to help certain customers.
Once they go over that time, they might be reprimanded for wasting time and talking. What is the time limit? About 3 minutes.
Any more than that and you’re probably having a little too much fun. In order to avoid being chastised for being helpful, employees try to help customers as quickly as possible, although the customers could probably help themselves more if they read the signs on the racks a little more closely.
12 Employees Have Been Caught Racial Profiling Innocent Customers... And The Company Paid Big Time
After being followed around an H&M store by security and then being detained and searched, 59-year-old Brenda Moaning was able to collect $105,000 in damages, having been falsely accused of shoplifting. Moaning, who is African American, contended that the incident occurred because of racial profiling, and many of her supporters were inclined to agree. A simple YouTube search turns up dozens of results of different customers’ experiences being racially profiled in H&M stores. Before the racist sweater controversy, the Brenda Moaning payout was the largest H&M had ever paid before and the closest the company had come to a racism scandal. While the jury wasn’t able to conclude that race was a factor, the court still ruled in her favor, granting her the considerable sum.
11 H&M Pays Factory Staff Less Than Minimum Wage, While Lying About It To The Media
While H&M seems to be making some improvements when it comes to manufacturing, the company still has a long way to go before it’s no longer exploiting impoverished third-world citizens. External investigations in Bangladesh determined that conditions in H&M’s nearly 200 factories are still largely unsafe, despite the laws passed after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 that killed 1129 people.
Employing nearly 1 million factory workers, H&M promised to raise its factory salaries to pay workers a “living wage” by 2018, but here we are with little change.
Because a “living wage” can change depending on region and laws, it seems as though the company is doing its best to putting off any change as long as possible. How much would it cost to pay factory employees a living wage? Some writers believe only 25 extra cents per shirt, fronted by the consumer.
10 Sometimes Employees Steal So Much It Makes Headlines
H&M clothing is notoriously cheap, so can you imagine how much clothing Shamone Williams had on him when he was seen removing more than $2000 worth of clothing on security cameras? After being arrested, photographed, and shamed, Williams was released on bond and put under house arrest. Loss prevention is a huge problem at H&M, with thieves becoming craftier by the year. In Germany, a number of female H&M employees came forward to complain that their manager had forced them to remove their clothing to prove they weren’t stealing undergarments by wearing them out of the store. Creepy. When the company was questioned, the spokesperson mentioned that while the manager was disciplined, stealing in that manner “does indeed occur from time to time.” Stay classy.
9 American Employees Don't Get The Same Vacation Benefits As European Employees, And It Can Actually Make Them Sick
According to Time Magazine, the USA is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t legally obligate employers to give workers paid vacation time. Sweden, where H&M originated, obliges its employees to take 25 paid vacation days per year, while Australia permits workers 20 days.
The only other country than America that doesn’t offer paid vacation days? Japan.
H&M’s vacation policy changes depending on the year and region, but studies show that while Swedish employees benefit thoroughly from their 25 paid vacation days per year, burned out American employees can suffer from chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Because of the stressful nature of H&M’s storefront, burnout among employees shouldn’t come as a surprise.
8 One Employee Was Charged With Two Terrible Crimes While He Was Working
In 2017, Shaun Ivy of St. Charles, Missouri, was indicted on charges of assault and abduction. He stalked and attacked three women after seeing them at his job as a loss prevention officer at H&M. It is assumed there are more victims, but only three came forward following the revelation. Ivy would watch them through the security cameras, accuse the women of stealing, then force them into his car, bringing them to his house. He would assault them there. Unfortunately, this largely went unnoticed until victims decided to come forward. It’s always sad to see somebody use their position of authority to exploit others. Initially, it was believed that there were only two victims, but the third was inspired to come forward after seeing him on the news.
7 Staff Have To Deal With Disgusting Change Rooms And Customers Who Destroy Clothes
You know what they say about customer service: The customer is always psychotic. There’s something about changing rooms that draws the most insane people in. Employees on Reddit shared stories about finding everything in change rooms from garbage, spilled coffee, feces, to destroyed clothes with the tag on. Maybe think twice about grabbing something you know will be too small?
Also, perhaps it’s not a good idea to try a new liquid foundation before pulling a white blouse off over your head unless beige streaks are your thing.
Customers have a tendency to pick apart displays and racks and discard items on the floor. Unfortunately, some poor college student will have to pick it all up just to start all over in a couple hours. Next time you’re in an H&M, think of it like doing yoga. Relax, set an intention, and use all the strength you have to not pass gas in the changing rooms.
6 New Hires Are Forced Into Legal "On Call" Status Without Getting Any Shifts
Depending on where you live, being “on call” might be illegal. That doesn’t stop a multitude of retailers from engaging in the practice. H&M’s Glassdoor reviews are full of complains by current and former employees that they were hired on the pretense of being scheduled to work full and part-time, but instead, are left wondering if they will be working at all. Being on-call makes it difficult to carry on side projects, study, socialize and even schedule doctor’s appointments. When the majority of your staff are college students, it’s pretty clear why this practice is a problem. Unfortunately, H&M store management appears to be in the habit of not treating its employees like people, preferring to leave them wondering if they even really have a job at all.
5 Even The Busiest Stores Are Usually Understaffed And Deal With Heavy Turnover
One of the worst parts of any new job is the training. Working at H&M is being surrounded by people who are training all the time. With little opportunity for advancement and chaotic working conditions – at least according to employees on Glassdoor – the turnover rate is very high.
H&M stores are often very busy, but management purposefully does not allocate enough employees to work on the floor in order to cut costs.
The bottom line at any company is to save as much money as possible, but for H&M, this means turning its busiest stores into war zones. When the conditions are too stressful, employees buckle under the pressure with little motivation to continue. This is why H&M is always hiring! If you’re looking for your first job ever, you should totally consider H&M. If you can handle it there, you can handle it anywhere.
4 Employees Aren't Allowed To Discuss Salary In Order To Conceal The Fact That Nobody Gets Raises
Most employees at H&M only receive a raise once every few months automatically. Very few raises and bonuses are given out as a result of performance, and while there are some exceptions, employees are discouraged from discussing salary anyway. This means that most H&M employees have to suffer long, busy days, making slightly more than minimum wage but not enough to make a huge difference. Like we said before, the bottom line is cutting costs, even at the expense of the employee experience. One Glassdoor reviewer mentioned that she was reprimanded by a manager after discovering that a new higher was actually being paid more than standard minimum, and was told that employees are actually not allowed to discuss salary matters in order to avoid hard feelings. This isn’t actually a rule, but it seems pretty common.
3 Employees Will Take Your USED Clothing To Offer You A Discount
Depending on the store, you might be able to get a discount by bringing in your used clothes. They don’t necessarily have to be used H&M clothes, but we’re guessing that if you knew about this before, you probably shop there frequently enough to have a pretty consistent wardrobe. Even then, some shoppers bring used clothing every single time they shop in order to obtain a discount. If you’re into the ethics of fast fashion, that might seem to be a good idea, but
the reality is that 0.1 percent of donated clothes are recycled into materials to be used by H&M’s Conscious Collection, which in itself has been labeled as misleading consumers into believing they’re buying anything more than faux-green marketing.
Maybe skip H&M and donate your clothes to charity.
2 ... BUT Employees Are Forced To Destroy Unsold Clothes With Scissors And Razor Blades
In 2010, the New York Times published an article about H&M’s practice of destroying unsold clothing before discarding. A woman had witnessed an employee shredding perfectly usable clothes with a box cutter, leading to the revelation that the company purposefully ruins the clothing to prevent resale and return fraud. You would think that one of the largest retailers in the world would be a little more open to recycling, but alas… In 2017, an undercover investigation by Danish journalists discovered that H&M incinerated upwards of 60 tons of unsold clothing, more than their typical average of 12 tons per year. Maybe the company can spend some of the money it’s saving by preventing return fraud on developing methods to recycle high volumes of clothing? Global warming called. He wants his pink shirt back.
1 Allegedly, Customers Rarely Buy The Cringy T-Shirts With Random Words On Them And Even The Staff Hate Them
Have you ever been rifling through the racks at H&M and found the perfect millennial pink sweatshirt, or maybe the perfect Kylie Jenner inspired camo pant, only to find the words "I LITERALLY HATE MONDAYS" plastered across the back? Why do they do that?!
There’s actually a clever reason behind it.
By putting specific words and graphics on their clothing, they can tap into a specific trend knowing that it will be bought and then soon discarded once the season passes.
That will bring the customer back to the store to buy more heavily season clothing. The only problem? Nobody’s buying them! Why is this problematic? Because regardless of whether or not they’re sold, they’re going in the trash.