Generations of shoppers remained loyal to Marks & Spencer, comforted by the knowledge it had the most generous refund policy on the High Street.
For decades there was no time limit on returning a skirt or pair of shoes, providing they were unused, there was a receipt and it could be put back on the racks.
However in 2005, the store triggered some anxiety by imposing a maximum return date of 90 days.
And now it has now emerged that the deadline has been reduced again, without any fanfare, to just 35 days.
Internet forums reveal that a number of shoppers are unhappy about the change, which appears to have been prompted by cost-cutting at the store which is celebrating its 125th birthday.
It seems to be part of a rolling policy of money-saving measures that have previously seen M&S abandon its commitment to British manufacturers in favour of cheaper foreign factories.
Shirley Read, aged 53, was caught out by the changes when she was told she could not return a £45 dress to the M&S store in High Wycombe.
Mrs Read, from Beaconsfield said 35 days was too short a time.
She said: 'I had lost a lot of weight and needed to buy a whole new wardrobe. I bought two dresses of similar design, but different colours at the end of June.
'I decided to return one, but thought it would be fine to leave it until I came back from my summer holiday because I have never had any problem taking things back to M&S.
'However, when I returned to the store in August I was told that I had missed the deadline for a return. I couldn't believe it, I had no idea items had to be taken back within 35 days and other people don't seem to know about it either.
'I felt like I was treated very badly. I was told the receipt was no longer valid, but that I could have a refund of £15 which was the price the dress had been reduced to in the sale.
'It was very stressful. I had a terrible headache and felt quite ill. I nearly collapsed in the store and they had to call a First Aid helper for me.'
Mrs Read said: 'Essentially they were trying to fob me off with £15 for a dress that I had paid £45 for. It was in pristine condition, it had never been worn and all the labels were in tact.'
She said the change would make her think twice about buying Christmas and birthday presents from M&S.
'In the past I have bought gifts earlier in the year because I don't like the crowds around Christmas. But if I do that now, I am worried that people will no longer be able to return them,' she said.
The change in policy came into effect in April, however it arrived without fanfare and many people are unaware of it.
'I think M&S should have done far more to alert customers to the change in their policy,' said Mrs Read.
Following the change, M&S now prints a date on the bottom of the receipt as the final 35 day deadline for getting a full refund.
A spokesman for the store said: 'The M&S returns policy is the best on the high street.
'We offer our customers a full refund or exchange on goods returned within 35 days, which compares favourably to our competitors, many of which offer just 28 days.
'The last date for return is clearly printed on the till receipt and the overwhelming majority of our customers return unwanted items well within this period - in fact, two thirds of them return within two weeks.'