Skip to content

8 Warnings to Shoppers From Former T.J. Maxx Employees

You might think twice about some things on your next T.J. Maxx visit.

T.J. Maxx is famous for having epic deals, from absolute steals on designer dresses to stylish home goods for way less. But even if you consider yourself a Maxxinista, you may not be aware of what's really happening behind the scenes—and only those who used to work there are fully in the know. Fortunately, ex-employees are spilling their tips and tidbits so you can proceed with caution the next time you put a snack in your cart or debate opening a credit card. Read on for their eight biggest warnings to shoppers.

RELATED: T.J. Maxx Has Secret "Runway" Stores Where You Can Save 60 Percent on Designer Items.

1
Be wary of luxury items.

T.J. Maxx HomeGoods Franchise retailers selling fashionable name brand clothing, shoes and accessories. including household items at Assembly Row in Somerville.
Shutterstock

Even though T.J. Maxx is known for having affordable luxury items, specifically handbags and shoes, a former employee named Jess who goes by She's the Posh on YouTube, shares in a video that she would be wary of them.

"Some of the items we would get, especially the designer pieces like the Michael Kors and different things like that with the shoes, sometimes they were failed concept ideas which means the shoes that we got were just something that never made it to the shelves," she explains.

However, a pair of recent TikTok videos from shopping experts said many of the designer items may not even be overstock merchandise. TikToker @itslaurendeleon said that they're actually "white label" products.

She explains that these are products "anyone can buy in a wholesale capacity and put their own label in it and call it theirs." She adds that these items typically have a sticker on the tag.

In response to the video, user @kingkattoo expanded on this and said that nearly all clothing at T.J. Maxx and other off-price retailers is manufactured specifically for that store by holding companies.

As the Daily Dot broke down, "holding companies will directly contract them to make specific pieces at a specific price point. These designers will then go and make these pieces which are designed to sell for a set amount of money, which are then sold by these budget retailers."

So, whichever scenario is true, you may be assuming some risk that your designer duds are not quite as designer as you thought.

2
And be warned that returned designer items could be fake.

T.J. Maxx Retail Store Location. T.J Maxx is a discount retail chain featuring stylish brand-name apparel, shoes and accessories III
Shutterstock

Another potential issue with the designer items at T.J. Maxx can arise if they are returned.

"Unfortunately, when somebody buys a luxury item from Marshalls or T.J. Maxx and returns it, there's nobody there to verify its authenticity," said TikToker @fashionnoodle in a July 2023 video. "So what's happening? Folks are buying fakes and returning the fakes and keeping the real."

In response, a former employee said, "This is very true. Used to work there a couple years ago and managers would take back any bag even if we knew it was fake."

RELATED: Former T.J. Maxx Employee Reveals the Best Time to Go Shopping at Its Stores.

3
There are better times to shop for certain items.

T.J. Maxx Jewelry
Helen89/Shutterstock

In a TikTok video, a former T.J. Maxx employee who goes by @maddyy.y99 shared the inside scoop on when you'll have the best odds of scoring certain merchandise.

She says usually employees restock men's and women's accessories, along with makeup, in the morning since they're smaller items. Women's clothing tends to get restocked in the afternoon or evening. "This varies from store to store, but most of the time this is true," she says.

She also reveals that if you're a Dunner, a fan of the cult favorite pottery brand Rae Dunn that's sold exclusively at T. J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods, "We put all that stuff out in the morning typically."

If you're not a fan of the brand, you should still take note because the home aisles may be extra crowded at this time.

4
Check expiration dates on food.

man buying chips in grocery store
Shutterstock / bodnar.photo

In a TikTok video, user Adam Ohmand showcased the many snack options in the T.J. Maxx checkout line and referred to them as "years old" items that don't look right.

An ex-employee agreed that the products "were old," a comment which received more than 66,000 likes.

"As a current employee I saw expired coffee," another wrote.

However, be sure to take the viral video with a grain of (hopefully fresh) salt. Current and former employees took to Reddit to debate the viral expiration-date conversation.

"When I worked markdowns, part of the requirement was to check expiration dates on food," former employee Desperate_Smile commented.

Commenter Only-Cry2632 agreed: "As someone who used to work closely with the markdown team, food audits were done pretty regularly. Every time we got a shipment of Starbucks coffee, the [expiration] date would be like in 2 months."

Do double-check the date when you're shopping, but don't be too worried if you're a huge fan of the delightful snacks that tempt you on your way out.

RELATED: 9 Secrets Kohl's Doesn't Want You to Know.

5
Don't test the makeup.

makeup at tj maxx
Shutterstock

If you're a Sephora or Ulta shopper, you may be accustomed to testing out beauty products before purchasing them. It's tempting to do the same at T.J. Maxx, especially if you're considering picking up a high-end item. But Dale O'Keeffe, a former employee of TK Maxx (what the chain is called abroad) warned on TikTok that once a product is tested, it has to be thrown out.

"There's no testers for makeup. If it's been opened, at the end of the day it goes in the bin," he said.

6
Stop swapping the stickers.

T.J. Maxx HomeGoods Franchise retailers selling fashionable name brand clothing, shoes and accessories. including household items at Assembly Row in Somerville.
Shutterstock

You might think you're being crafty by switching a more expensive item's ticket for a different, much lower price, but the staff knows how much items cost, and they're not afraid to politely call you out on it.

"We absolutely know when you're trying to con us by switching tickets. So when we say, 'Oh, that doesn't appear to be the right price!' that means we know you switched the ticket and it's definitely not that price," O'Keeffe warns in his viral video.

Avoid the mix-up by keeping the correct stickers on your items, especially since it is considered shoplifting or retail theft to do this in most states.

RELATED: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-HomeGoods Employees.

7
Don't feel pressured to get a credit card.

tj maxx store
Michael Vi / Shutterstock

If you're checking out with your haul while an employee tries to persuade you to invest in a credit card, it's because they're receiving major pressure to meet their goals.

In a Reddit thread titled "What are your BIGGEST pet peeves about working at T.J. Maxx/Marshalls?," commenter ACatsWhiskers responded, "When I worked there years ago, mine were…THE PRESSURE FROM MANAGEMENT TO SELL THE CREDIT CARDS."

"It really gets old after a while, to be scolded for not harassing customers after they politely decline once," they said, explaining how employees are told to ask multiple times and explain the benefits, even when people reject the offer.

"I felt bad for recommending these cards to college students, old people, etc. knowing it could very well damage their credit score. Or cost them much more in interest than they know," they continued.

Multiple ex-employees also complained about the pressure to sell the cards, especially since they didn't have worthwhile benefits.

8
Think twice before making returns.

A young woman holding shopping bags in a store with a stressed look on her face
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock

While TJ Maxx is known for having relaxed return policies, don't try to return an outfit or shoes that you've worn repeatedly.

In the same Reddit thread about the biggest pet peeves at the store, ACatsWhiskers goes on to say that another gripe is "customers returning used merchandise expecting to be reimbursed," especially when they're "turned down by management, and complaining to corporate."

It's also possible to get banned from making returns if you make too many without a receipt. "The ban is meant to combat return fraud, (which we get a LOT of) so it's pretty strict," wrote employee godisntrad on Reddit. They recommend selecting the option to have your receipt emailed to you in the event you misplace the paper version.

NOTE: Best Life only includes information from social media and job boards when there is corroboration from multiple sources. These comments have not been independently verified, however, and are the opinions of the people who posted them.

Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
Filed Under