Policy on Defective Merchandise
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA -- On July 30, 2007, my husband purchased a Men’s 27” Mountain bike from Target’s Shingle Creek Store in Minneapolis, so he could enjoy an after dinner ride with our children. After riding it about 10 times over the course of a month, the chain fell off while he was out with the kids. This past Sunday, and within the 90 day return period, he returned it to the store for a credit or replacement. He came home with a repair ticket, as that is Target’s policy-repair only on bikes. He wasn’t given a completion date, as their bike repairman only comes in on Fridays. If the repairman has the part, he will fix it, if not, he will order parts; and there is no estimate when the part will come in.
I felt this was not good enough; a retailer like Target would want to take care of their customers, so I went over to the store to speak with a manager about this defective bike. At no time during any of my dealings with Target personnel was I anything but rational and calm, because I know nastiness will get one nowhere. The manager showed me the bike Hubby returned, I identified it as ours, and was told that Target’s POLICY was repair only on broken bikes, as they do not accept a return on used merchandise.
He and I went around and around the point, my position being that we bought this bike in good faith, it had a defect that would not be discovered without actually using the bike, and any responsible retailer would either refund or replace. Again, we went round and round, his point being that they could not replace the item because they could not resell a used bike after they had it repaired. I asked him if our $400+ per month business was worth losing over an $80.00 bike, his reply was he would hate to loose any business, but POLICY was POLICY.
He finally did offer to replace the bike from one in stock, and went to get one. He came back with a bike that was a different model, and asked if it would be acceptable. The replacement bike had the plastic envelope on it, with the price tag, but he did say that this bike from the floor looks like it has been used, and pointed out to me the dirty tires, scratched frame and wear on the seat stem. I asked him why could he bring to me a used bike from the sales floor, when he couldn’t offer me a credit for my broken bike, repair or return to the mfg. the broken one.
Also, if it were against POLICY, why would he try to pass it off as new a used bike, like his store was obviously doing with this used bike from the floor? I also mentioned the fact that when we purchased our bike, there was no owner’s manual for it, which leads me to believe my husband was sold a used bike in the first place. The lame answer I got from him was someone needs to be trained in Target’s POLICY on defective merchandise. Take it, or leave it was his final offer. But, this story gets better.
I told him that we had paid for the bike with a credit card check, he has the bike, and I have a repair claim ticket. He could keep the bike; I would initiate a charge back through the credit card company. At that point, he tried to get me to remove the bike from his store. I told him no, keep it; I have the paperwork, and the grounds for a charge back. Being a customer service professional myself (who was trained to never, ever utter the word policy), I decided to give Target Corporate the chance to turn me into a satisfied customer. The first C/S rep I spoke with listened to my story, took all the information from my sales slip, and put me on hold. She was very professional, and I actually thought she was going to issue me a credit. She came back on telling me she had to transfer me to a specialist. The Specialist again took all my information from my receipt, my name, phone number, address and firstborn’s blood type, and had me reiterate my story. She listened to it all, and instead of offering me a refund, said she would have to call the store where the bike was purchased.
Again, I was on hold. When she came back, she said she spoke with the Team Leader I had spoken with on Sunday. She explained that a Team Leader is the manager of the entire store, and had the final authority over a customer’s issue, and that per POLICY he had handled mine correctly. I told her that I feel the way Target handles defective merchandise is very poor customer service, and the POLICY makes purchasing anything there a bargain of bad faith. She also reiterated the company’s POLICY, said she would pass my comments along to management, and asked if there was anything else she could do for me.
I told her that yes, there was. She could pass on to management my comments regarding the music they play while one is on hold for customer service. It is the same music Target uses in their commercials; a scratching, screeching, howling cacophony of rap music which in no way projects a professional image, or is soothing to someone who is calling a legitimate business seeking resolution to a problem. This to me has become the anthem to Target’s retail presence: a greedy company grasping at keeping ‘A Little Bit More, A Little Bit More’ pennies of it’s profit margin at the expense of many dollars in customer good-will.
The real kicker in all this is the Hubby paid for the bike with a check that the credit card sent in a statement. That form of payment offers no consumer protection by way of charge back, and further, is subject to a $10.00 service fee. Live and learn. So, Darling Husband will have to go back to Target, and tell the Team Leader that he wants the bike after all. No doubt it will be pushed to the bottom of the repair list, and the part will have to be ordered from China. No doubt it will be shipped on the slowest boat available.
On a personal side, Target is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since we have moved here, we have found attitudes and policies like Target’s to be the norm, rather than the exception. Minnesota Nice is just a marketing ploy. Spend your hard earned dollars with companies that are based anywhere else. I will miss Target’s Archer Farm’s bakery goods.