Oh, Target. I’ve loved you so, and now you’ve broken my heart. I’ve been a loyal customer since you came to Arkansas, but when I turned to you for help, you let me down.

I got no satisfaction from you.

Yes, your receipts clearly state expiration dates – clearly if you look very closely and the register has good ink that day – but it never crossed my mind that the expiration date would apply to defective merchandise or something that breaks within days of expiration. 

Silly me. I thought it meant for “Oops, I bought my grandchild the wrong size”- or “You know, these shorts don’t look as cute as I thought they did in the store”-type returns.

Nope. When I called eight days after the expiration date to say I needed to exchange a defective table that had just that morning dumped all my sewing things on the floor, the “Leader of the Day” told me I was out of luck.

Here’s how the conversation went:

“Hi, my name is Laura Hardy, and let me start by saying I love Target and am a loyal customer. I haven’t set foot in a WalMart for years.”

His response was nothing. No “thank you” or anything else.

“I bought this table in March and it was defective from day one – the locking mechanism never worked, but it was useable and I needed it that day, so I didn’t return it.” (It was also the only one in stock, so returning it that day wasn’t an option anyway.)

“It’s been unsteady but useable, but just this morning, when I tried to scoot it a bit, it folded up in the middle and dumped everything. So I need to go ahead and exchange it.”

The LOD, as he was called, told me no way could I bring it back, huh-uh, no way, lady, since it was past the date. In fact the whole situation was my fault anyway, he explained. By using defective merchandise, he stressed, I accepted it “as it was” and was therefore out of luck.

I tried to reason with him, but to no avail. He said it was against policy, but even if he did want to let me bring it back, the computer system wouldn’t allow the receipt to be scanned because it was past the magical date.

Guess he never heard of manual override or an executive decision. Of course, he isn’t an executive at all, just a young man serving as LOD. Higher-level thinking skills are not employed by employees who are in fear of their bosses, and customer service suffers because of that.

Sadly, customer service in this country has taken a nosedive. Actually, I’m afraid it’s hit the ground at many establishments. Mr. LOD said it wasn’t his problem, he couldn’t help me, and Target wasn’t going to do a thing. But, he added, I was welcome to take it up with the manufacturer.

You can bet I did, and the experience was divine. The defective table, made by Office Star products, was definitely a fluke – I’ve used two others and they’re great. My friend Rhonda uses one for her jewelry business, and she left it here on long term loan for a while. We used it for a couple of parties.

When WAND, (Women’s Action for New Directions, an organization I belong to) needed a reliable 6-foot folding table, I went to Target and bought an Office Star because Rhonda’s was so nice. 

The WAND table, which lived at my house for over a year, was perfect, too. So I immediately knew there was a problem with the one I bought in March, but as I said, it was the only one in stock and I needed it that day.

Then it worked well enough until it didn’t. Shame on Target. Shame, I say. But kudos to Office Star in Ontario, California, and to Monica Castillo, the delightful, helpful and customer-service-oriented parts manager, who is sending me a new table scheduled to arrive Monday.

Monica has no idea I write a blog or that this post was coming – she just did it because I’m a repeat customer and it was the right thing to do. Makes my heart sing.

Small thing in some ways, but a huge gesture in others. My temporary disillusionment has returned to my much more typical optimism that things usually turn out all right in the end.

Thank you, Monica, for the table and for restoring my faith.

As for Target, I won’t break up with you, not yet – a girl has to shop somewhere – but I’ll never look at you the same way again. You’ve broken something by refusing to exchange an inexpensive broken table.

That’s sad. But I’m glad that I could write this happy ending.

2 thoughts on “Satisfaction

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