Target is dead to me.
When some of the fruit and vegetables in my fridge inevitably go bad in the coming week, I will have to resist the urge to pack them into bag and let them ferment even more, drive to the store at 2 a.m. some night when I get out of work and use the giant bulls-eye sign as the literal target it is.
Because hurling gooey cucumbers, moldy melon and rubbery celery at it would feel very vindicating.
Call me crazy, but when a customer has an unused item with original packaging and tags still intact, that customer should be able to make a direct exchange without much hassle.
When perusing the baby aisles a few weeks ago, I noticed that my shopping cart protective cover now comes in pink, and I had to have it. The blue one is great and all, but, um, did I mention I could have it in PINK? With tan and white stripes? And more PINK?
Having nearly ripped all of my hair out over the store's return policy after my baby shower, Jerry reminded me that it probably wouldn't be as simple as I was assuming. Because I didn't have a receipt. And the Target police only let each customer return TWO items each calendar year without one. And they keep track of it by scanning your driver's license. And next they'll put a microchip up everyone's sphincter using an anal probe attached to their shopping carts.
But Jerry was forgetting that I am a woman with finely tuned social skills. After decades of shopping, I have perfected the art of working the customer service desk. Whatever the problem -- lack of receipt, mangled tags, unscannable bar codes -- I can always talk my way into at least a store credit.
I walked into Target with my best smile and friendliest demeanor. I explained that the seat cover had been a gift and I simply wanted it in pink. Because isn't pink just the best?
Then the sales clerk asked for the receipt, to which I replied that I didn't have one. Then he asked for my licence and discovered I've maxed out my measly return allotment until 2009. And my husband's allotment. And my mother's. And most of my close friends and relatives, too. Then he asked me to print out my baby registry, but the computer terminals were malfunctioning.
Then I asked to talk to his supervisor.
She explained there was pretty much nothing she could do. So I tried to convey to her how frustrating it is that I can't take one product and swap it with the SAME PRODUCT.
We stood at one of the registry terminals for about 20 minutes waiting for it to chug through my requests only to find out that my registry has been deleted and is no longer in the system. Which is too bad, she told me, because that would make all the difference.
At that point I was fuming. Basically, I could go home, get on a computer, create a registry, add that ONE PRODUCT to it, go back to the store and they'd return it.
When I told her that, she didn't seem to follow.
"No, because it would need to show up as purchased," she said.
"Yeah, I can do that online," I said. "I could make it say I received 10,000 of them."
When I got a blank stare and a I-don't-know-what-else-you-want-me-to-tell-you shrug, I was ready to scream.
She offered to call the company's 800 number for me and let me talk to a national customer service rep. I guess talking to someone who answers phones for a living will magically make the situation much simpler than, you know, just allowing me to hand over the blue one and take home a pink one.
Sure, I probably should've given up, but it was the principle of the thing. In my mind, it was the essence of what's wrong with corporate America. Fifty years ago, a shopper with the same request likely would've been met without any resistance. It would've been in a small store downtown, without bar codes and exchanging of photo ID and phone numbers and ZIP codes. And the clerk probably would've smiled and known me by name. And I would've known his.
Instead, I was transferred to a man with a thick Indian accent spewing fake pleasantries while asking for my first name.
"What? No. Kelly. With a 'K'."
After assigning a phonetic word for each letter, we muddled through my first and last name. When he went on to my ZIP code and phone number, I lost my patience.
"I'm sorry, I don't see what this has to do with anything. You haven't even asked me why I've called yet and I'm in a hurry. I'm on my dinner break," I explained, completely exasperated.
After talking in circles, explaining upwards of a dozen times about the blue and the pink, and the simple exchange, and the handing over the item number and discussing the debacle that is my now-defunct baby registry, he asked me a final question:
"Do you have a receipt?"
"WHAT? ... No! Of course I don't have a receipt! If I had a receipt, why would I be calling?"
"Well, I can't help you then."
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Forgive me, but I've had it. Why bother asking for all of my personal information, including what type of tampons I use if it all hinges on a receipt? WHY wouldn't you ask that FIRST? This is ridiculous!"
With that, I slammed down the phone, looked at the guy who originally had tried to help me, his supervisor, and the crowd of other red-shirted employees that had gathered to see the crazy woman who was losing her shit, and started envisioning their heads all exploding one by one.
Then I took a deep breath.
"I know it's not your fault, but can you at least see how absolutely crazy this is?" I asked.
They all nodded. Every one of them.
And the supervisor handed me a postcard-sized comment card.
"Oh, believe me, my complaint won't fit on this card," I said. "I'll be writing a letter."
I turned to leave, but I was so enraged, my feet took over. I walked back to the baby department, set down the blue seat cover, picked up a pink one and walked out of the store.
And I know it's nowhere near as groundbreaking as Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus at the pinnacle of the anti-segregation movement, but it felt every bit as vindicating and justifiable.
Every time I put Alli in that seat, I'll know I stood up for what should've been.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Circumventing the first bit of red tape I wasn't able to cut through
Target is dead to me.