Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Fine Line

What is the fine line between standing up for yourself and being obnoxious?

Almost exactly one month ago, we were in the next town for a hockey game. They have a Target there, and we stopped in to pick up a few things. One of the things I purchased was a t-shirt. A $9.99 t-shirt. It is the same t-shirt as several I bought last summer. When I find a good t-shirt, I buy lots of them in different colors. I was delighted to discover they had this same line (or very similar) of shirts again this year.

I took it home. I washed it. I hung it up in my closet.

The other day, I pulled it out to wear and I noticed that after I had washed it, the hem at the bottom had become all puckered. Clearly, the stitching on it was defective causing the puckering.

No problem. I knew I was going back to the next town today and I could exchange it. I didn't have my receipt, but given that it was a recent purchase and I wanted to exchange it, not return it, it seemed like it would be OK. As an aside, it was very strange for me to not find the receipt. I'll probably find it tomorrow.

So, I went into Target. I explained my sitaution and said I wanted to do an exchange.

They said no.

I was dumbfounded.

And the reason they said no wasn't because I didn't have my receipt. It was because I had washed the shirt.


Girl at counter: Our store policy is that it has to be new for you to return it. Since you washed it, now it's not new.

Me: But I didn't even get to wear it. I washed it and the puckering appeared.

GAC: I'm sorry (waving at a sign behind the counter). That's our policy.

Me: So I'm stuck with a defective shirt. (A statement as opposed to a question)

GAC: According to our policy.

Me: But that's not OK. You sold something defective and that defective quality didn't appear until after I washed it. At some point I was going to have to wash it. You're saying you won't replace this defective item? I would understand if I were trying to return this, but I like the shirt. I just want one that is actually constructed correctly. You won't do an exchange?

GAC: I can't according to our policy.

Me: Can I talk to your manager?

GAC: Actually, I am the front of house manager.

Me: Well then, I need to speak to whomever you report to.

GAC goes away to find her manager.

Declan: Are you mad?

Me: I'm getting there. I'm more frustrated than anything.

Declan: It doesn't seem like she's listening to you.

Finn: Are you going to swear?

GAC comes back. My manager says we have to stick to the policy.

Me: OK, so here's what's going to happen. I spend a lot of money in this store each year. If you refuse to exchange this shirt, I'm walking out of here without shopping today. I will never come back. I live in the next town. I will go home. I will blog about this. I will put it on Facebook. I will tell everyone I know about how you treated me in your store today. Do you really want to have that happen over a $10 shirt?

GAC: I wish I could help you but it's not our store policy to return the item.

Me: OK. Please have your manager come over and tell me this herself.

GAC disappears again. Other manager comes out.

I run through my spiel emphasizing that I want this shirt, but this shirt is defective. I just want a non-defective shirt.

The second manager returns the shirt and offers a refund or store card. In good faith, I take the store card. I use it to buy another shirt. I had to get a different color though--they didn't have my size in the original color.

I felt like Target did the right thing, because seriously, was I so out of line to expect them to take back a defective item even though I didn't have the receipt? Again, I wanted an exchange, not a refund. It was current merchandise.

I'd be so curious as to what you guys think.

As an aside, I worked retail all through high school and college. Apparently you have to fight for your customer service rights these days.


Kristie said...

I think the funniest part of the whole story was Finn asking if you were going to swear .... HA!!!!!

PS. Not only should they have taken the shirt back, you shouldn't have had to ask more than once. FWIW, the Targets here don't need a receipt, as long as you paid with a credit card they can look it up that way. Not that I would know that or anything (ahem)

Elizabeth said...

Natalie, of course you were right! That's ridiculous that they put you through that. It was a good teaching moment for the kids, too. I agree - funniest moment was "are you gonna swear!" haha

Anonymous said...

I would expect them to exchange it. I'd be pretty annoyed, too, with the GAC.
If you happen to ever try this in Germany, HA!


Anonymous said...

I've never had a problem like that with returns @ Target... love that store. I'm going to have to check the return policy online now because I'm curious. =)

Rachel in ND

Lucinda said...

That burns my toast...I hate it when stores do that.

I bought a pair of pants at CJBanks for school and after wearing them for a few times, the hems started fraying. On a visit to the store, I casually mentioned that it had happened. They told me to bring back the pants and they would exchange them for a new pair. No questions asked. That's what keeps me shopping there. (Mostly.)
Finn's comment also made me laugh out loud!

M said...


Never had that experience at Target...and no you weren't out of line...and I probably would have sworn by then!

Nanci said...

I had the same problem at Target one time. My son bought an I-Pod Touch cover with gift cards. The next day it broke. He had already thrown away the receipt AND the packaging. We wanted to exchange it, not return it. The person at the return counter (new person) went to check with her manager and they said they wouldn't exchange it because it looked "worn" (the fabric looked kind of frayed, which they all did). I stormed out of the store saying I would never shop at that store again (rather loudly AND embarassing my children). I SHOULD have asked to talk to a the "head" manager. We went to another Target and had NO problem exchaning the the item!

Amber said...

A couple years ago, I purchased a swimsuit from Lands End about halfway through the summer. The following summer, I tried it on a few days before leaving for the beach and the elastic in the top was completely shot. It had no more than 6 weeks of use. So I called, they accepted the return, sent me a new swim suit at the same discounted price I got the original one, and over-nighted it to me. All I paid was the difference in shipping. I had absolutely no problems with them. Kohls is usually pretty good with returns too.

jean said...

My experience w/Target is the same as Kristie's - as long as I have my debit card, I don't need my receipt. Very convenient, but really kinda scary if you think too long about it. And Kohl's is good about returning things, but what annoys me about them is that they advertise this great return policy, but I got STORE CREDIT the last time I returned something - WITH my receipt. Why can't they just credit my card? UGH.

Kati said...

Target has the WORST return policy. I love them as a whole but never even bother trying to return things there because it is SO difficult (I'm sure that's a tactic they use to make more money off of me).

I'm super impressed with your ability to NOT curse. I totally would have and then probably embarrassed myself more by crying or something. I'm also super impressed with your demand as hearing it from a higher power... All in all I'm just super impressed.

Beth said...

Or course you were right! But I had a similar incident with Target. I had a Target brand box of zipper plastic sandwich baggies. We went through half of the box and then discovered that all the rest of the baggies were defective--the zippers wouldn't/couldn't zip. I brought them back and they said they wouldn't let me have a new box. "If you've used half, then there's nothing we can do." Pissed me off.
Fortunately I was without child, so I was able to make my intent known.

Good for you to keep calm and carrying on. What would we do if we didn't have Target??

Jennifer Freeman said...

Our Target can look up your purchases if you us a debit or credit card. So no reciept shouldn't be a problem unless you paid with the green stuff.

You were within your rights, look at Land's Ends policy.