Over the years I’ve generally been a big fan of Target, particularly the ambience of its stores and its product selection. However, I just had the type of disappointing experience with Target.com that makes me wonder if things are starting to unravel as this well-respected retailer.
Our son, who recently moved to China, gave my wife a Target.com e-gift card for Christmas. Redeeming it this afternoon, however, proved to be a major ordeal. First, when when I tried to enter the payment information, I got a message saying that e-gift cards can’t be used on target.com–even though the email announcing the gift made it clear that e-gift cards can only be used on target.com. After wasting several minutes of my life trying to figure out what was going on, I stumbled upon some fine print informing me that the problem was that we were doing the transaction as a “guest”, and that e-gift cards can only be used if the recipient has a Target.com account.
So is this a ploy by Target to force people to create online accounts? Or, worse yet, is it a ploy to frustrate gift recipients and induce them to help Target’s bottom line by simply giving up on redeeming their e-gift cards? I don’t know the answer, but I know it’s not good for Target to have its policies create such questions in the minds of its customers.
Anyway, I then created an online account, but the site wouldn’t accept the password I created–and didn’t tell me what, if anything, I was doing wrong. So I had to call their toll-free number, where a very nice–but very hard-to-understand–telephone rep was finally able to set up a password for me that worked. (What had I done wrong in trying to create the password on my own? Nothing, according to the rep.)
Home free? Not quite. When I placed the order, the cost of the least expensive shipping option was $17–or 4 times what Borders.com had charged me an hour earlier for a heavier and larger shipment.
So now I’m left wondering if Target has suddenly become greedy, incompetent, unethical, or some combination thereof. I know they and the financial analysts following them have been disappointed in their recent revenue trends, but whether this is resulting in pressures to cut corners on customer service in order to boost the bottom line is impossible to me for say.
What I can say is that, in my mind, the service I received today has served to replace Target’s red bullseye with a red flag.