Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Delicate Tackle

I have kind of hemmed and hawed over posting on this subject since I hate to bad mouth any store or employee, so I will do my best to delicately tackle how best to cope with poor customer service.

My love/hate relationship with Target stems back to my bridal registry days when I was unable to return anything that we had received duplicates of... regardless of whether the item was on my registry. Then, Target changed their return policy for general purchasing to only twice per year, then to only returns for the exact identical item (pink stripey shirt size M, for pink stripey shirt size M). Ridiculous. But I digress...

Then I became a 'hard core' coupon spender.

Target's racks and shelves (and especially their clearance end caps) are filled with all kinds of good stuff. Manufacturer coupons and store coupons- and even stacking these coupons for extra great savings keeps me returning to the store.

But, unfortunately, it is often customer service at the store level that raises my blood pressure.

I like to keep local money local, shopping in my own neighbor keeps my neighbors employed, and I like that. I like to get to know my store employee's, learn about their kids/grand kids/nieces and nephews, I like to become a familiar face and I try to be known for my kind words and attitude and for having the world's cutest kid! (I'm partial!)

But this is tricky for me at my neighborhood Target. I unfortunately have the dirty stigma of 'the coupon lady.' Dirty stigma since my Target is NOT coupon friendly.

It isn't every shopping experience that is stinky... just most.

Usually I'm scrutinized. (OK, to be honest, managers are alerted by cashiers when I enter the store... seriously!!!) My coupons are scrutinized. Checking out takes FOREVER. And more often than not, Target employees are rude or huffy.

I could just give up shopping at my local Target and find a new one, but there are no guarantees that any of the above would change, I'd just be spending more time in the car driving.

So how should I handle poor customer service?

Well, it depends on the situation.

1. If a store employee seems to be having a bad day, I do my best to offer kind words- I know what bad days can feel like and so I first try to over look crankiness. If the store employee is cranky with me, than I use me "go to" phrase of "Have I done something to offend you?"

This phrase usually catches the store employee off guard enough to end the cranking for me. Be bold, but speak in a kind voice.

2. If a store employee is dramatically slow at scanning my wad of coupons so (s)he can verify each coupon matches each item in my cart, than I kick it into 'helpful high gear.' I will help speed the process along by finding items that have already made their way into my bags, or I will set each coupon on top of the item it is intended for. Helping the transaction along helps me to keep my crankies at bay.

3. If a store employee does not accept a coupon I first assure the employee that I am in no way upset with them, but that I'd like to discuss the reason for my coupon not being accepted with a manager.

When the manager arrives, I share what coupon I planned to spend on which particular item, and I go into great detail (so the manager knows that I am well educated in coupon spending) as to why I believe my coupon should indeed be accepted.

At my local store, nearly every shopping trip requires me to interact with a manger. Sometimes the manager changes his/her mind about not accepting specific coupons, and other times I choose to take the item(s) that I had intended to purchase with coupons off of my order and when I get home (OK, it more like I have the ear of a customer service rep. before I turn my car's ignition on) I call Target corporate services to share my store experience, ask questions and verify whether my coupon spending intentions were indeed valid.

Talking with delightful/helpful customer service representatives helps to iron out disagreements between coupon spenders and the store itself. It would be nice to be able to skip this 'middle man' step, but I will gladly accept their help when I need it!

Previously, I would call corporate services as a follow up to my shopping trip, but recently, following the advice of corporate services, I called corporate services from my cell phone while I was still in line at the checkout.

While this forced me to stand in line for a longer than usual- I did get my desired outcome without having to either give up purchasing the items I intended or having to return to the store.

I don't like to make a stink in the store, but I do like to have the store following the same rules set by corporate that I am required to follow.

If you are experiencing some of these same frustrating issues at your local Target here is my advice:

1. Keep you cool. Its just 'stuff' that you are purchasing.

2. Be aware of Target's corporate policies for redeeming coupons.

* Target accepts two kinds of coupons: Target-issued coupons and manufacturer-issued coupons.
*Target accepts one Target coupon and one manufacturer coupon for the same item, unless either coupon prohibits it.
*Target can't give cash back if the face value of a coupon is greater than the purchase value of the item; in that case, we'll adjust the value of the coupon to equal the price of the item.
*Target can't accept coupons from other retailers, or coupons for products not carried in our stores.
*All valid (non-expired) coupons should be presented to the cashier at the time of sale.

3. Call corporate services at (800) 440-0680 as soon as possible following your experience. Make sure to have the store's location, the time of your experience and the names of the store employees to better help the service representatives. (In fact, enter numbers 1,1,1,2,5,4 when prompted to quickly access the correct branch of service representatives.)

I hope this has been encouraging and helpful!

11 comments:

Anonymous

I would just like to comment that I agree with you 110%. I too shop at my local Target, I am given dirty looks by the managers, my coupons are overly scrutinized, and many times, I end up taking numerous items off my order b/c my coupon wont be accepted. If I didn't love the Target store so much, I would never shopt there agian b/c of the Target employees. I have called corporate as well, but I dont think they do anything to educate their stores/employees. I follow lots of coupon blogs and websites, and this seems to be a universal problem with Target. They are just not coupon friendly!
Did you notice that they've changed the wording of their Target web coupons to say "one per transaction"? The manager at my store even said I couldn't come back until the next day (I said I'd leave, come back in, and use the 2nd coupon) because she would know! I wish something could be done because I dread going to Target and I think they've probably lost a lot of coupon-using shoppers.

Becky C

I just returned from a frustrating trip to my local Target. I was just online looking for the phone number for Target Corporate. :-)
Same old story...they refused to accept my coupons ($1 off any Tide, expiring 8/31, the item is priced at 97 cents--I had 7 coupons and 7 items).
The cashier, the manager, and the person at customer service insisted they COULD NOT accept a coupon with a value larger than the price of the item. I explained that I had purchased this same item with this same coupon in the past. They refused, and I left the store without buying anything. I will call corporate in the morning and maybe try again.
I agree, I seriously consider not going back, but I really want to keep going until they get it right...how many times do you think that would take???

1-2-3 Save

I am on board with everyone about Target. I used to shop and post their deals often but now, it must be a really good deal and I always put a link to their coupon policy so people can print it and take it with them. If I want the item bad enough for a hassel then I will go:)

Carrie

Thanks for the info. I struggle with the Target closest to my work. They will not accept Target coupons for $1 of an item, if the item is .99 . I also got scrutinized yesterday for trying to use the $1 Target Printable for Gerber Feeding Accessorie for a Gerber Bottle. I was told it was only for the item pictured (silverware). Hello, what else do babies eat? Milk. Is a bottle not a feeding accessorie? I later tried it at the Target near my house and they took it without a second look. Frusterating. They are on the edge of loosing another coupon shopper. I think I am going to try your advise before I swear them off for good, and that would be hard.

Anonymous

I know you are local to me and wonder what Target you are shopping at. Is it Grand River and Merriman? I generally shop at the Grand River in Wixom store and do not have much trouble. They are nice and try to help me. That store is also not as busy as others and nice to shop at.
Terry

Laura Webber

Hi Terry,
I'm not comfortable disclosing the store on my blog... but I don't shop either of the locations you mentioned. Maybe I need to switch!

Anonymous

I've found it often depends on the cashier. I went Sunday morning and bought a book, 8 intuition razors (had more coupons, but didn't want to clear the shelves for the non0early birds!), a bottle of water and a box of granola bars. The book was 22.xx. I paid 17.xx for everything.
The target +manu intuition coupons gave 1.01 overage per razor...Cashier never batted an eye...(of course, nothing beeped!).
I've had good transactions at stores that friends have had bad ones, and vice versa. I just always look for young, male, bored-looking cashier =)

Mikekimpohlandfamily

I just emailed Laura about my very poor and frustrating experience and never even seen this post. Of course I have a few questions I am waiting for her to answer on but in all my experience felt just as most of you discribed.

I was never much for Target shopping, except right before my daughter when they had under $1 clearance clothes. Then a bit ago we started buying their brand diapers because the little girl I watch wears them and they seeem to work great. Now I have found myself endulging in the coupon world as I follow this blog so I found myself at Target only to feel the size of a penny. URGH!!!!

Mikekimpohlandfamily

Well I just got off phone with Target. I learned that 2 of the coupons I was trying to use indeed I was in the wrong. I also learned that the other coupon, which was a MF coupon with Kmart symbol at bottom, can not be used as long as the symbol is on the coupon. She told me that removing it is my choice. I chose before not to remove it but sense it is not in the obstruction of the coupon I will probably remove it.

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