Members-Only Clubs Mislead with Markdowns

What: If you’re still on the waiting list for one of thoseĀ  “members only” shopping clubs – like Gilt Groupe and Beyond the Rack – don’t feel so bad. Turns out those exclusive “70%” markdowns are sometimes just rip-offs. At least according to an anonymous blogger who discovered the dirty underbelly of private, invitation-only retail sites: the original list price of a SofiaCashmere neck warmer was sited as $300 by Gilt Groupe, but $195 by That blogger’s bubble wasn’t the only one burst – “shopping blogs and forums have been abuzz with complaints about instances where an original price was inflated or misrepresented on a members-only Web site.”

What They Say:

“We offer 2,000 items a week,” says Gilt co-founder Kevin Ryan. “There’s no way we can guarantee every item is going to be priced better here than someplace else.”

What We Say: We’re inherently skeptical of sites that put loads of pressure on us to make a purchase, like members-only and “limited time offer” sites ( However, we tend to trust retailers when they tell us something has been marked down by so much.

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  1. says

    I wasn’t so much upset with the waiting list, I got invited to Gilt almost immediately, what I felt disappointed by was that they claim to be so exclusive as if you’re really getting a deal but pretty much any and everyone can join. There’s something fun about thinking you were “special” enough to get invited while others only wish they could.

  2. Sarah says

    I found that it was impossible to do a return on TopSecret which promised I could do a return in a 30 day time frame. They would never get back to me on who and where to address the return. I now have a dress by an english designer that I thought I should purchase in a British size. Surprise, the dress was in American sizes so the size is almost double what I wear. It probably will be no deal after I get it tailored.

  3. says

    Eh I’m aware it’s not really so exclusive, it’s so easy to find some way to join. But I don’t buy things over $150 anyway, so I don’t think this really affects me that much. I’m not saying lying is okay, but if you’re spending as much as you USUALLY would on clothing, to me it doesn’t matter.

  4. Portal Princess says

    I’ve resigned from all these sites – the merchandise is too trendy, too expensive & shipping fees and return policies are terrible. Don’t waste your time or money.

  5. Amy says

    Great post! I’ll keep shopping as long as I get a deal, but this is definitely something we all need to be catious about.

  6. sandi says

    Gilt sold a pair of 7FaM’s in this purple/grey shade three different times. Twice as a final sale at $109, then during a regular sale at $99! So while you could return the $99 pair, the final sale jeans were more money and not-returnable! That annoyed me to no end.

  7. Christina says

    Just wanted to chime in. I’ve been a “member” of a couple members-only sites but haven’t bought a thing, primarily because many items seem overpriced, or my size isn’t available, or the item is sold out (as in a recent Mystique sandal sale). HOWEVER, I’m a dedicated Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s shopper (Ross stores are generally really messy with low quality merchandise, typically) and I trust their pricing. I shop online enough so that I do often recognize merchandise and prices. I stop in as often as I can and do a quick scan. If the store seems picked over, I don’t waste time there. It helps also to ask what days new shipments arrive. TIP: Yesterday at Marshall’s I purchased a pair of dark rinse straight leg J Brand jeans on clearance for $59.99. I did some research on my phone while at the store. These are the real deal, regular retail is $150. At my store, they have lots of premium denim at that sale price point, including 7 for All Mankind (Dojo). Good luck!

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