I haven’t posted to this blog in almost a year – mainly because I’m busy with the kids and I usually write things for my work. But Target inspired me yesterday. Thanks Target.
My son’s birthday is tomorrow. And my daughter wanted to pick a present for him. So I left work early yesterday so I could pick her up from school and have a little time to shop for a present. A little father/daughter time is always a good thing.
After looking at a number of trains, tractors, cars and other boy stuff, we found the most awesome gift ever – a Thomas the Train pillow. My son LOVES Thomas. It was the perfect gift for a soon-to-be two year old Thomas fan.
And then came the fun.
When I went to check out, the cashier person was super nice. She was friendly to my daughter and greeted me warmly. But when she got to the Thomas pillow, she couldn’t scan it. She apologized and said that it wouldn’t scan. And she said she would have to call someone for a price check. And she apologized again. No problem.
When her call was answered, a mid-manager person came over and looked at the pillow and tried to scan it again. Then she looked at me and said, “I’m going to have to do a price check.”
“Right”, I said. But she didn’t move. She stood there looking at me with a furrowed brow as if she expected me to give up and go about my day without my son’s most awesome gift. “So…are you going to do a price check?”, I asked.
With an audible sigh, this person called another person. Soon, there were 3 Target employees gathered about 10 feet away with Thomas pillow in tow. The cashier moved my other things to the side and began checking out the next people in line.
After about 5 minutes, I noticed that the price check was not happening. The 3 employees holding the Thomas pillow were having some sort of discussion that involved a lot of laughter.
So I walked over to them and asked, “How’s the price check going?”. To that, they started asking me questions about where I found the pillow, were there others, did I see a bar code, etc. Now I’m starting to get annoyed. So I offered, “Should I look it up online? I can do that quickly”. No reply.
I pulled out my handy iPhone and about 20 seconds later had the Thomas the Train Toddler Pillow loaded from Target.com – score!
Proud of my quick search abilities, I hand my phone over to the cluster of Target employees engaged in the “price check”.
“It’s $12.99,” I say. They fiddle around a bit with my phone and then ask me, “does it have the numbers?”. “Yes”, I reply. “It’s $12.99″.
Unimpressed, the one manager-type informed me that I needed the numbers and their website didn’t have the numbers so she wouldn’t be able to ring it up. “So, you’re going to refuse to sell me this item that is posted on your website, with the price clearly stated, because of some other missing numbers?”.
It was at that point that one of the 3 walked away and, finally, went to conduct an actual price check.
After about another 5 minutes the guy returns and says, “It’s $19.99″.
“Seriously? It’s $12.99 on the website and $19.99 here?” I just wanted the pillow. So I shelled out the extra money just to get out of there. Oddly enough, it turns out the price was entered manually and was not even for the right product. Those “numbers” that were needed? They weren’t required after all. Notice how the item is just a “pillow” from the Home section, not a “Thomas the Train Toddler Pillow”.
You might think that Target’s poor customer response may have ended here. But no, it did not.
I left the store and posted a tweet making fun of the experience. Immediately, I got a response from @askTarget, Target’s robot-controlled, non-personal Twitter account. It replied to me and thanked me as if I were giving them a friendly shout-out. AND, to make it even funnier, included a link to Target’s wonderful price match in the post. Nice.
Is it not a bit ironic that the entire reason I’m writing this post is because Target wouldn’t even price match their own store? Forget the competition. If you offer something online, just let me pay the same price in the store instead of randomly choosing a different, higher price.
Dear Target, two pieces of advice:
1. Train your managers. If you can’t make them care, train them to pretend that they care. Ensure them that they can actually sell something without having “the numbers” and that it is not the customer’s responsibility to provide said numbers.
I have never had an issue with any cashier, ever. But the managers in the Northlake Target store could use significant training on how not to make people hate your store.
2. Hire a real person / people to manage your Twitter account. You’re a multi-billion dollar corporation – the country has an unemployment problem. It’s a win-win. Although I got a giggle out of the ridiculousness of your Twitter management, it really wasn’t that funny. And while the crappy string of store experiences inspired me to write an overdue blog post, I’m not happy about wasting both time and money at Target.