Friday, November 28, 2008

Tick Tock Target....your time is almost up!

Last week I bitched and moaned about the Target disaster. So far, 33 individual comments have been left in that post so I know I am not alone in wondering what in the hell Target will do to make ammends. I have not had the luxury of time to really open a can of whoop ass, and quite frankly, I am have not been damaged by their actions- I am just disappointed and irked. This explains why after I blogged and wrote to the CEO of Target I let it go. For now. Here is an update on what has happened since I first wrote about the fiasco- I wrote a letter to the Gregg Steinhafel the CEO with Carbon Copy (cc.) to: Janet Shalk, EVP Target Tech Services, and to the Better Business Bureau, Britax, and https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.

Here is the letter I sent (cut and pasted)-

Attention Gregg Steinhafel:

I am writing with regard to the recent pricing error on Britax Marathon car seats on www.Target.com. Along with a large portion of the online parenting community, I was thrilled to see that your store was offering an incredible deal on a top quality child safety seat. Parents want to provide the best, safest, most comfortable seat for their child, but at almost $300 these car seats are unattainable for a good number of families, families of multiples, and expecting families whose gift registry is a source of revenue for Target. Finding that discount was like winning lottery ticket for many of your loyal customers, and they were, like me, dismayed and disgusted to find out that Target will not be honoring the listed price. A price that was listed on two different varieties of car seats, on Target.com and Amazon.com for more than 3 days before it was supposedly discovered to be an error.

I find it hard to believe that this problem was truly a listing error. Perhaps if the price was supposed to be $242.99 and the first 2 was omitted, that would be understandable, but to go from $279.99 to $42.99 hardly seems like a plausible mistake. It seemed to truly be a clearance of what appeared to be seats based on the fabric colors. Additionally, if this was not an attempt at bait and switch, or increase website traffic from your valued guests, how is it explained that there were two different seats at two different clearance prices? One mis-priced seat is an error, two separate mis-priced items is suspicious.

I understand that your company would be taking a financial hit by doing the right thing from a customer service standpoint with honoring the sales. However, I don't think you've taken into account the sales that you will lose from those very same customers who were so thrilled with your company just 24 hours ago. Prior to your cancellation e-mails, you were getting some of the best free advertising imaginable- the internet is a big place, and the online parenting community possesses an enormous portion of it. Parents across the country and the world were involved (thanks to the World Wide Web) and were absolutely gushing over the wonderful bargain they found on your site. There were probably additional items found in your web-store during their visit. What a relief to be able to provide their children with a level of safety and comfort that their finances would not otherwise allow. Those same parents are now discussing boycotts of your website and your stores- not a good thing just over a month from Christmas in an already lagging market for retailers! You may have saved Target a few thousand dollars by canceling those orders, but your actions will have far-reaching results that may ultimately cost you hundreds of thousands more when people choose to purchase their big ticket items, toys and holiday clothing elsewhere.

I've worked in retail sales and marketing for over 15 years, and I've seen time and again that if you take care of your customers, they will take care of you. Likewise, if you don't take care of your customers, the negative word of mouth advertising and loss of tangible business dollars can multiply exponentially. With all of the community involvement and responsibility that Target claims to support, I expected your company to take the customer service high road in this scenario. We are your customers, members of the communities that you allegedly support and that keep your business afloat, and you've pulled the rug out from under us! I understand that someone goofed when they input the price and that they created a problem for your company, but in my honest opinion the person who made the call to cancel those orders created a bigger one.

Target has lost my business for the remainder of the holiday season and beyond, because I will not support a company that can't respond ethically and responsibly when things don't go their way. Based on the negative word of mouth advertising I've already seen plastered on my own personal blog and other web-sites I will not be the only one.

Please contact me with your reply; I would welcome any comments you may have about this situation.

Thank You,

Helene Slutsky


So there you have it. Tick Tock, the time is ticking away Target- please decide how you are going to make it right, or make it feel better for those of us who really wanted to buy those seats on clearance. I have heard grumblings that some of the customers received a coupon code for a future on line purchase, so, nu? C'mon, we are waiting. Some of us just want to be recognized as your valued guests and won't let you just cancel and delete this problem.

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