Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two things that suck: Target kids' shoes and Target customer service

It's been a while since we had a good, old-fashioned nastygram here on My Adventures in Tucson. Fortunately, I've got a juicy one for you today.

In September, I bought these shoes (Toddler Girls' Genuine Kids by OshKosh™ Ariele Athleisure Shoes - Pink) for Miriam at Target:

So cute, don't you think? She calls them her "pink shinies" for obvious reasons.

Well, pink shinies they are no more. The metallic pink at the toe of the shoe has started to peel off already. Miriam doesn't even wear these shoes every day, and when she does wear them, it's not to rough places like the park or playing outside. Under what I would consider lighter than normal usage, these shoes have started to fall apart. So I asked myself, am I satisfied with my purchase? The answer was no. Naively, I took the shoes back to Target this morning to get my money back. I sometimes forget that not every store is as consumer-savvy as Costco.

I was expecting resistance, reluctance, or perhaps a little of both from the customer service people. But I did fully expect to get a refund, or store credit, or something. What was there to argue about? I, a Target customer, was not satisfied with my purchase and furthermore, could show that their product was defective. What kind of shoe falls apart under light use after less than two months? I really thought I had an airtight case.

Apparently, I underestimated Target's ability to train their employees to never give money back, ever. I talked to a regular employee, a supervisor, and the manager, and each was more dull-eyed, unhelpful, and obstinate than the last. It must have been a slow day, too, because while I argued with them, a gaggle of half a dozen slack-jawed Target employees gathered around the customer service desk to watch the fun.

Basically, it went something like this:

Me: Hi, I would like to return these shoes. As you can see, parts of the shoe are starting to peel off.
Target Employee: Well, those shoes have been worn, so we can't take them back.
Me: I am fully aware they have been worn. I am not trying to pass them off as unworn. I just want my money back so I can buy my daughter a pair of shoes that will not have to be replaced in two months.
TE: We can't take something back if it's been worn.
Me: All right then. Let me simplify. I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH MY PURCHASE. Can I have my money back now?
TE: Well, it's our policy not to give refunds on merchandise that has been used. If we can't re-sell the product, we can't take it back.
Me: I am trying to tell you that you should NOT be selling this product because it is a piece of junk (I may have actually said 'crap'). Please take it back and give me my money.
TE: I'm sorry, we can't do that.
Me: Are you telling me that even though I, a Target customer, am not satisfied with my purchase, you are refusing to give me back my money as a show of good faith, since it goes against your policy?
TE: Yes. You can return something if you're not satisfied, but it has to be new and unused.
Me: How the sam hill am I supposed to know if I'm satisfied or not if I haven't even used the product??
TE: [Blank stare. Obviously, they're not programmed to handle defensible arguments, just the indefensible ones.]

To summarize, Target and I reached an impasse when my desire to return a used item for reasons of dissatisfaction conflicted with their policy to not allow returns of used items, because dissatisfaction was only a good enough reason if the item is unused. Got that?

The really aggravating part was when they got me to leave by giving me an 800-number and telling me that the people there could help me. Guess what the 800-number was? Target customer service. Guess what they did? Put me on hold, called the store I had just come home from, got the story, and then came back on the line to tell me that their policy was not to accept used items for returns. I asked if I could call the manufacturer of the shoe with my complaint, but she said that this particular manufacturer does not deal with customers directly - my only choice was to deal with Target. Foiled again!

I hope the Google gods are listening, so that when someone searches for "Target kids' shoes," or the incorrect, non-apostrophied version "Target kids shoes," or "Target customer service," or "Toddler Girls' Genuine Kids by OshKosh™ Ariele Athleisure Shoes - Pink," they see this blog post review and think better of it. Take that, you obstructionistic, soulless Target store employees.


Liz Johnson said...

PLEASE tell me that you have a major nastygram being sent off to Target corporate headquarters. That is absolutely ridiculous.

Bridget said...

Oh, you'd better believe it.

Amanda said...

Oh man. I really haven't tried to return anything to Target since my wedding. In my experience, you can have a receipt, sworn affidavits saying that it was, in fact, you that purchased the items, and copies of the security tape of you actually buying the item and at most they will only give you store credit to use in the department of your purchase. I have an extreme love/hate relationship with Target.

ThomasCL said...

I remember thinking it was weird when Anna and I took some stuff back to Target after our wedding. They told us that you are allowed to return three items a year to target if you do not have the original sales receipt. We had about five things, so we stood at the service desk and talked over which three items we wanted to get in store credit for. What kind of store caps your yearly returns?
But they do have the cheapest milk.

The Ensign's said...

I get a kick out of your poor customer service stories. Maybe that's mean to say, but after working in retail/ customer service my whole life (I'm gettin up there. I'm no youngin anymore) they amuse me. Partly because I hear this from customers ALL day. Let's say I see both sides. However, a hint.....
someone's bound to give you your money back. If you go high enough up someone will do it because it's not worth everyones time for a pair of two month old shoes.
For example we had Wal-mart change our oil like a year ago and found out this Aug. that they actually broke something and it cost us like $400. I called up the district manager and got it taken care of.
Good luck with that..... It's too bad that everyone's not like Costco. Then again I wouldn't want to pay memebership fee's to every store I shop at just so they can afford to take back everything that I think should be returnable.

Bridget said...

To be fair, I do kind of see their (totally unjustifiable) side. In their minds, my story sounds something like "So, this lady's kid wore the shoes, and now they're getting worn out, and she wants her money back. Policy says no. The End." I just wish customer service people would look beyond the cold facts once in a while and see the reality. I understand there is a policy, and I understand that it's there for a reason. But there have to be exceptions.

Jennifer said...

Don't even get me started on Target's return policy. I get so frustrated with their policies that are so obviously not made to satisfy the customer. However, my experience seems to be that with an "unexpired" reciept, they are pretty willing to work with you. I've returned a curling iron that I opened and didn't like, but since I had the reciept they took it back. That totally contradicts what they told you. I wouldn't even shop there except that they have great prices, selection, etc. Sigh. Good luck!

Kristen said...

The difference, Jennifer, is that they can probably re-sell the curling iron you opened, because it probably did not show any signs of having been used, and was in its original packaging, right? I see the reason for their policy on the shoes, because it is literally just money down the drain for them on a product that the customer did, in fact, get some use out of (although not nearly enough to justify their purchase). What I wish is that someone in management could see an opportunity to provide the kind of service that creates "raving fans" (Kenneth Blanchard's term)like you are of Costco, instead of dissatisfied, nastygram-writing customers. With a store like Target, I have to assume that they assume that enough people will continue shopping there in spite of these policies that it would only cost them money to bend policy, without the benefit of saving a potential lost customer. I could be wrong, but I'd bet that everyone who has posted comments in agreement has been back to take advantage of Target's good prices and selection time and again. Will you stop shopping there now because of this? It's a frustrating caveat of the bargain store that is Target. And the ensign's makes a good point about Costco's membership fee. Wow, that unintentionally turned into a bit of a rant. I DO see your point on the shoes, and it's ridiculous that Target won't buy your consumer satisfaction for their cost of the shoes, which was probably like two and a half bucks.

JackJen said...

Contrast this story with my last trip to LL Bean, where my cousin (who has very small feet) wanted to buy a pair of clogs. She was told that they didn't make clogs in sizes smaller than 6 1/2, but gave her a special phone number where she could call....and promised that LL Bean would do something to compensate her for the inconvenience of not being able to get the clogs at our local store.

Sometimes I hate box stores like Target. Target really is the great satan....a lesser satan, mind you, than wal-mart, but a great satan none the less. (Who happens to usually have excellent sale racks in their women's clothing department).

Bridget said...

Kristen, I'm sure that's exactly what's going on here. But that doesn't make it right.

Especially because in this case the product was a piece of shoddy workmanship. To return something because I was done using it or whatever - that's what their policy is meant to guard against. Not legitimate situations like mine, which they refused to acknowledge do, occasionally, exist.

By the way, I checked on the Target.com review site for this pair of shoes and I am not the only one who experienced this exact problem.

To answer your question - yes, actually. I don't think I'll be buying more shoes from Target. At the very least, I'm not going to that particular Target anymore. This is just the most recent in a long line of complaints I have about that Target. I know that doesn't mean a lot for the corporation as a whole's bottom line, but if it will make a difference on a local level, I'll drive across town.

Liz Johnson said...

Good for you, Bridget. Way to vote with your wallet. I do that with gas stations and everything. Yes, it may be more inconvenient to me, but I simply refuse to patronize a store that doesn't value me as a customer.

EmmySue said...

What is even worse is when customer service won't admit they have made a mistake. One time I was shopping for some clothes and since I have kids, I don't try them on in the store... I simply say, "I'll just bring it back if it doesn't work". When I checked out they didn't give me my reciept, but I didn't realize it until I got home and looked everywhere for it. Of course I had to return an item, and so I called the store and told them my cashier didn't give me my reciept. I even told them the register number. They said they did not have it. Therefore, that same day I took my return back in for cash back. Because I didn't have my reciept (because they didn't give it to me) they would only give me the sale price from the past 30 days, even though I had paid full price that day. They said they could look up my reciept if I had used a credit card... but I had used cash. I wasn't about to just give Target $5 becuase they didn't give me my reciept. I made them look for it until they found it... and they did find it... in that registers TRASH! Did I get any kind of apology? None... Just another day of business at Target... Ugh! Sorry for your bad experiece.

Scotty P said...

I just searched "target customer service shoes" on google and your blog is the number one entry.


Bridget said...


Discout Shoes said...

Nice information blog thank you for writing.

Kelline said...

I really dispise bad customer service....I try and avoid Walmart for that reason.

The Payne Family said...

Hi Bridget,

I found your blog by way of my friend Mikael's blog...

I have returned something (a hair straightener, out of box) to Target after using it and being unsatisfied. I think it's completely ridiculous that they wouldn't take those shoes back. I also have a two year old and I would appalled to have to replace a pair of shoes just two months after purchasing them. There should always be exceptions to policies based on the situation.

Artemis said...

You got your wish! I was thinking about getting our daughter some shoes from Target, because she was finally out grown all the hand-me-downs she's worn for the last 15 months. Now I will AVOID Target kids shoes at all cost!!

Kristen said...

Ha ha ha. Sweet satisfaction!


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