5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-JCPenney Employees

Former associates say to be aware of these things when shopping at the department store.

JCPenney is a staple at your local shopping mall, and you may be one of those customers who's frequented the department store since you were a kid. It was first founded back in 1902—later establishing stores across the country—so it's safe to say the retailer has also had its fair share of employees over the years. In fact, several people who used to work at the store have some words of caution for loyal shoppers, which you'll want to heed both in-store and online. Read on to find out the five warnings ex-JCPenney employees have for you.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Former T.J. Maxx Employees.

1
Workers hide items in the back.

taking clothing off rack
Iryna Imago / Shutterstock

Shopping in-store at JCPenney is great. Unlike shopping online, you can leave with instant gratification and a new outfit in hand. But the items you want aren't always available, and if you can't find your size on the rack, an employee may have had something to do with it.

An ex-JCPenney associate took to TikTok to reveal that former employees take it upon themselves to determine what's left for you to sort through. "I used to work at JCPenney, and any full priced items a worker wanted, we would just hide in the back until clearance hit, then we would buy it," the social media user wrote in text overlaying the Dec. 2020 video. So, the next time you ask someone to check for additional sizes in the back, keep this warning in mind.

2
There is security surveillance in unsuspecting places.

trying on clothes in mirror
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Another secret revealed on TikTok came from a former employee using the handle @hanl552.

"You all want to see something cool that not many people know about?" the TikToker asks in a Sept. 24 video, which now has almost 50,000 likes. He then approaches a mirror and clothing rack in the clothing department of a JCPenney—calling them both "unassuming"—and opens the mirror to show "security surveillance" in the form of a small, empty room.

In an explainer video posted the same day, @hanl552 clarifies that someone would sit behind the mirror and use raised platforms to "look through air vents and surveil people that are shopping to catch shoplifters." The TikToker notes that binoculars were still in there from decades ago.

"Back in the '80s and '90s, before video cameras and security cameras became a big thing—this is how JCPenney would do their security surveillance," the TikToker claims. "Best part of it is that nobody that works at JCPenney even knows it's there anymore."

It seems too odd to be true, but some commenters said they actually knew about this system. "Can confirm!" one comment reads. "I worked at JCP in the 90s and we caught so many people with this lowtech security!" Other commenters said this tactic wasn't exclusive to JCPenney and that Macy's had a similar system in place, as did Sears and Kohl's.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Secrets Kohl's Doesn't Want You to Know.

3
They're going to try and sell you a credit card.

credit cards stacked on laptop
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Shopping at major retailers almost always includes them asking you to sign up for a store credit card. Some offer this under the guise of a "credit payment program," while others flaunt the ability to save a certain percentage on your first purchase after signing up. But applying for a credit card on a whim isn't always the best idea, and it can immediately ding your credit score. But JCPenney still wants you to sign up, and employees are encouraged to entice you.

"Basically, they tell you to inform customers about the JCPenney credit card, and to explain why they should sign up," an employee wrote in a review on the employment website Indeed, adding that the retailer doesn't encourage associates to advertise the account-opening discount.

According to JCPenney's website, the 15 percent off coupon "can be used multiple times within 24 hours after first use," both online and in-store, and can be combined with coupons and JCPenney rewards. However, according to another review from 2019, the JCPenney credit card isn't a great choice.

"The interest rate is horrendous so I encourage customers to pay off their balance right away," one reviewer wrote. "This was the part about working at JCP that I could not stand."

The ex-employee noted that they only receive a $2 commission for every signup. While the reviewer said that this wouldn't "make or break" them, they did add that employee reviews include a section on credit card applications, so they might not get a pay raise if they don't meet their goals.

4
They'll take almost anything back.

opening package unsure
tommaso79 / Shutterstock

Some stores have stringent return policies, time limits, and parameters around whether you can receive a refund or store credit. At JCPenney, however, ex-employees say that the retailer doesn't discriminate when it comes to returns.

"Former JCPenney employee. They'll take almost anything back," a Reddit user wrote on a thread about "behind-the-scenes stuff" at major retailers. The user went on to explain that a customer came in to return a pair of pants she'd bought months before, and she didn't have her receipt.

"She explained that she had worn and washed them several times since buying them but one of the legs got a small hole in it, and she 'just didn't think they should be tearing up already,'" the ex-employee recounted. "The manager accepted the return and gave her store credit."

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5
Employees often get the best deals.

jcpenney store
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

If you've ever had a job in retail, you know that it's no joke, and customer service is taxing, to say the least. But if you're an avid shopper and you're exploring the job market, take a second and think about a role at JCPenney. According to reviews from former employees posted on Indeed, employees can receive up to 25 percent off as of 2020, and an extra 15 to 20 percent during JCPenney Friends and Family Sales events.

Other employees noted that the discount changes depending on your payment method, but the rate was "impressive" regardless. So, if you're a devout JCPenney shopper, this might be all the more enticing when filling out your applications.

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