Somewhat off Target


About a month ago I picked up the Sunday Target circular and saw a lof of hot deals, including OptiFree Express contact lense solution for $11.99 a twin pack and a “hot” frozen food sale that had several items at 5/$10.00, and Target was nice enough to throw in an insulated re-usable bag for free. Plus, a starburst in the circular stated I could save an additional 5% if I opened a Target charge.


I happily drove to one of the two Target stores in my town, went to the courtesy desk, waited on line and asked to fill out a credit card application. The associate directed me to one of two touch screens and told me to fill out an electronic application. All I had to do was supply some basic information: name, address, date of birth, Social Security number. I have to admit I was thrilled by how easy it was. Technology has definitely changed since the mid-1980s when I filled out an application for a JCPenney card at a cardtable set up outside The Galleria store entrance. Back then I was rewarded with a “genuine” gold chain that I proudly wore until my neck turned green. Now I was being rewarded with the promise of saving 5% on everything that I bought at Target — FOREVER!!!


However, my thrill soon turned to worry when the Target associate approached me and said, “I’m sorry. There seems to be a problem here.” All kinds of thoughts started running through my head: Did I enter the wrong Social Security number by mistake? Did it come up in the system that I used to have a Target charge but stopped using it once they took the liberty of changing it to a Master Card without my permission? Did A&P tip them off that I tried to redeem a $1.00 coupon for Charmin when buying only 1 multi-pack even though the fine print on the coupon clearly stated (in English and Spanish) that two packages had to be purchased?I know that stuff all goes into “the system.” I saw it on Seinfeld when George tried to return a book to Brentano’s that he had taken into the bathroom.


In any event, the associate quickly put my mind at ease when he said, “There seems to be some problem with our system being down. Please enter your information again and if it doesn’t go through I’ll tell my manager and we’ll give you a $5.00 Target gift card, to make up for the 5% off you would have received.”


Fair enough. I filled out the online application again, and he disappeared to find the manager. He came back a few minutes later and said it once again didn’t go through. He said he asked the manager and the manager said that they couldn’t give me a $5.00 gift card. I was starting to get a little ticked, but figured I would just buy my hot deals and fill out the credit card application on my next trip to Target. I went to buy my frozen foods only to find that section of the store was walled off with a sign stating that a “whole new grocery store” was coming soon, March 24 to be exact. OK, so the frozen foods were out.


Next I went to get my OptiFree Express solution. There was only one package on the shelf. I scanned it to check the price at one of the price check scanners they have every few aisles and it said there were more in the stockroom. I asked an associate walking near the Pharmacy department and he said I would have to ask “one of the associates down there,” pointing to several who were working along the back wall. He then walked into the stock room.


I walked down that aisle and was going to ask one pleasant looking associate, I’ll call her Tanisha, but I saw she was too busy talking on her cell phone. I didn’t wish to disturb her so I asked another clerk who was standing around. He took my OtpiFree Express box and scanned it and also saw that there was more in the stockroom. He disappeared with my box for what seemed about 10 minutes and finally came back with a case of OptiFree Express.


Then this past week I got a postcard from Target in the mail with a coupon for a free dozen of eggs to celebrate the grand opening of their supermarket. I stopped by late Sunday afternoon on my way home from the gym. The line at the courtesy desk was 3-deep, so I decided not to try for a credit card application on this trip. While I got my dozen eggs OK, I was shocked — shocked — by the condition of the food department. The shelves were absolutely bare! All that was around were some 2-pound clamshells of grapes, a few limes, milk, eggs and frozen ravioli, and case ready chopped meat. I was in a Pathmark on Saturday and even though they are bankrupt their shelves were fully stocked.


Something is wrong with this picture. There is really no excuse for Target being out of stock on just about every grocery item. Either their scan data isn’t being properly recorded, they aren’t getting enough shipments, or they don’t have enough people to stock the shelves. I was really put off by the experience — although I did get a hot deal on frozen Welch’s grape juice. It was only $1.41 a container. At Pathmark it was $2.99. So maybe I will be back…

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