Dear Target: you suck.

A few months ago I purchased an Odesa Firebowl from Target.  What I received instead was a piece of garbage that would not assemble.  The screws were made of too soft a metal, so when I screwed them in with the provided Allen Wrench, they stripped instantly.  This prevented my firebowl enjoyment, so I took the partly assembled item back to Target (I made sure I brought back all pieces).

Unfortunately, I bought it on sale a few months back.  I hadn’t yet assembled it since it had been either raining or snowing consistently.  I still had the receipt though, and they still stocked the item, so I didn’t think this would be an issue.  How very wrong I was.

Target’s policy is, according to the representative, the manager, and her manager, iron clad.  Nobody at the store has the power for any reason to accept a return past 90 days under any circumstances.  It doesn’t matter that it’s a defective product, that it’s branded with Target’s name on it, and that they still carry it.  If the receipt is over 90 days, you’re out of luck.  If you don’t have a receipt, you’re out of luck.

The middle manager was actually quite nice about the whole thing — she even mentioned that the problem has come up a lot before with people that have registries; if the gift-giver doesn’t include a receipt and you get a duplicate, you’re out of luck, unless you plan on calling up and asking for a copy of the receipt.  The store manager completely erased all good-will she generated when he told me “nobody can override the policy” and was generally rude (he told me not to even bother calling the 800 number since they won’t accept the return either).  He also said he doesn’t care if a product is defective or what the situation is.  90 days, that’s it.

So dejected I took the half-assembled firebowl back to my car.  As I left, a truck drove by and stopped, the driver asking if Target had any more in stock.  I told him they were junk, they don’t assemble, and they won’t take a return despite that.  I told him to go to another store (Fred Meyer) and get one that will actually go together correctly.  He said thanks and drove off.  A few seconds later, as he was exiting the Target parking lot, he stopped again, thanked me, and said that was the only reason he had been coming to Target.  He then drove off across the street to Fred Meyer.

That felt good.  That felt like fate.

So I purchased a new firebowl because I wanted a firebowl, and I’d already bought the wood to burn.  I take that one home and it doesn’t assemble either!

Fortunately Target’s iron-clad policy is in my favor this time; we’re well within the 90 day window for returns.  I load it up in the car and head back to Target.

On the way in, a couple people in an SUV ask why I’m returning the firebowl.  I tell them what I told the other guy — it’s junk, won’t assemble, etc — and they said they were considering buying one but, now, will make sure not to buy it at Target.  Again, awesome.

I go back to check out a sale on Xbox 360 points while Aarthy returns the firebowl.  I figured it’s best I stay out of it anyway; I said some rather choice words to the two managers the previous day.

One of the people who was working the return counter told all the other representatives NOT to help her.  When she got to the front of the line, the girl who was available was quickly assaulted by the other employee who accused Aarthy of lying about the firebowl, attempting to defraud the company.  She got hostile and was quite agitated.  When Aarthy didn’t leave, she called the manager.  The manager told her to accept the return (after about 5 minutes of her tirading).  He didn’t apologize for her irrational behavior; he just said she was “protecting the company” (not sure why they aren’t interested in protecting the customer — we  just bought two products that were both defective).

Long story short: I got the return, Target lost two immediate sales, and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon.

Who do these draconian policies make sense to?