Fact check: Viral TikToks on Bath & Body Works candles encourage abuse of return policy

·3 min read

The claim: Bath & Body Works will give you a free candle if you return empty jar

Over 90,000 Facebook users have shared a post claiming customers who bring their empty jars back to Bath & Body Works will receive a new candle in return, echoing several popular TikToks from recent months.

"YOU CAN TAKE THE EMPTY CANDLE JAR BACK TO BATH AND BODY AND GET A BRAND. NEW. FREE...YES FREE CANDLE," reads a Sept. 17 post by user Kristin Peden. "Now I'm mad at myself because I can't tell you how many old jars I've thrower away (sic)."

A photo of a nearly-spent "watermelon lemonade" flavored candle accompanies Peden's post.

But the post is misleading in several ways.

Peden called returning the candle "recycling" in a comment. However, Bath & Body Works does not have a program to recycle customers' used candles. Instead, TikTok and Facebook posts about free items are based on the store's return policy, which says that "if at any time you’re not completely satisfied with the quality of our products, you may return them."

Bath & Body Works told USA TODAY that a fully used candle "has met its performance expectations," so the return policy is not intended to apply in that case.

USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the claim for comment.

Bath & Body Works candles.
Bath & Body Works candles.

Return policy not intended to apply to fully used products

Based on receipts Peden posted on Facebook, she did successfully exchange a watermelon lemonade candle, body cream and fragrance mist for new items at a Cookeville, Tenn., store the day she made her post, as also reported by Snopes.

Bath & Body Works spokesperson Tammy Roberts Myers confirmed to USA TODAY that Peden made a return that day, but she couldn't confirm the condition of the candle.

In any case, the post overstates the nature of this transaction.

The post claims Bath & Body Works will exchange any fully used candles for new ones, but Myers told USA TODAY the company doesn't have a recycling program for customers' used candles or glass jars.

Before commenting was turned off, one user questioned the ethics behind the claim, writing, “Isn’t that kinda like stealing? You wouldn’t wear a pair of tennis shoes for months and then take them back and say they didn’t fit right."

A socially distanced line of customers wait to shop at Bath & Body Works during Black Friday shopping outdoors at Deer Park Town Center Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Deer Park, Ill.
A socially distanced line of customers wait to shop at Bath & Body Works during Black Friday shopping outdoors at Deer Park Town Center Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Deer Park, Ill.

"No its recycling," Peden responded to the comment. "I found a loop hole I shared the info. What you choose to do with the info is 100 percent your decision."

Myers said the company intended its return policy and 100% guarantee to ensure customers have a product of satisfactory quality. She suggested used candles have met that standard.

“Our return policy is intended to help customers who have issues that are related to poor product performance or unsatisfactory customer experience and is not intended to be taken advantage of when a product performs as expected," she told USA TODAY in an email statement. "If a product has been fully used, it would seem that it has met its performance expectations.”

Our rating: Missing Context

We rate the claim that Bath & Body Works will give you a free candle if you return the empty jar MISSING CONTEXT, based on our research, because without additional information it could be misleading. A Bath & Body Works representative told USA TODAY the store's return policy is not intended to apply to products that a customer has fully used, given that those products have performed as expected.

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Bath & Body Works does not have a candle recycling program