Swapping tags has become an unfortunate trend with shoppers at thrift stores, including Value Village in downtown Victoria.
The trend involves switching the price tag of an inexpensive item with a tag of a more expensive item to save money.
The scam has gone viral on social media, with many TikTok users posting videos on how to swap tags at Value Village. Due to the increase in tag swapping, many Value Village locations have become more alert to the scam.
But Rylie Tarry, owner of Rise Consignment in Victoria, felt the thrift store’s vigilance when she says she was falsely accused of swapping tags at the downtown Victoria Value Village. She was shopping with a friend at the store on May 17, finding what they thought were exceptional deals.
When they approached the cashier and put their items down to pay, according to Tarry, the cashier “just kinda picked up the whole pile at once, like barely looked. She was like, ‘All of these tags have been swapped.’ We were like, ‘How do you know this?”
Tarry said the cashier told them: “You’re trying to steal from us, this is inappropriate.”
Tarry is still puzzled by the incident.
“I think that’s a little rash to be accusing us of that right off the bat. She didn’t really have any proof or reasoning behind it, she just told us she thought we were just swapping all the tags.”
The cashier then took all of their items to the store manager to get them repriced, Tarry said, to validate which ones were swapped and which ones were authentic.
“They all came back way higher in price,” said Tarry. “So we had one thing that was $6.49 and it came back at $28.”
This seemed outrageous to Tarry, as she prices the items in her consignment store the same way and the price ranges of each store were greatly different.
“She did kind of threaten us as well when she said, ‘I’m not going to take your picture for our wall of thieves today, but I know for a fact you’re trying to steal from us.”
Black Press Media contacted Value Village multiple times for comment, including in person, but did not receive a response.
Tarry said she’s not the only one who has been falsely accused of switching tags and has heard other stories from people after taking her story to Instagram.
“I had a lot of responses from people experiencing similar things,” Tarry said. “One person said that she was at the self-checkout and somebody took a dress straight out of her hand without saying anything and repriced it to $12 higher.”
Tarry has filed a complaint with a federal government agency, claiming that Value Village violated section 74 of the Competition Act. According to the Government of Canada, the act prohibits the sale of a product at a price higher than its advertised price. In the context of price tags at Value Village, Tarry gives the example that, “if the sale tag on the shelf says $10.99, but the register scans at $20.99, they have to honour the shelf price.”
“Finding out they will directly invalidate the federal law made really upset as well because I know they’re just getting away with this,” Tarry said.
The consignment store owner isn’t the only Value Village customer who claims to have experienced this.
“I have been accused of switching tags at Value Village,” said Oak Bay High School student, and frequent thrift shopper, Emily Wolf. “After they accused me, they decided to take a photo of me for their security. I felt kind of uncomfortable since I was falsely accused.”
Along with her complaint to the feds, Tarry filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which is mediating the dispute. Tarry has not heard back from the complaint she made directly with Value Village.
Tarry has not gone back to Value Village since the incident and says she is “keeping up to date with my followers, educating them on Instagram, as well with the actions that I have been taking.”