Saturday, March 29, 2014


We’ll never again shop at Target. They lost our business for good. And all over a measly $25.
I suppose our spending is chump change to the retail behemoth, compared to the estimated $400 million it lost from its recent REDcard hacking. Still, wouldn’t you expect this besieged retailer would have superior customer service after that debacle? After all, Target calls shoppers its “valued guests.”

Here’s what happened:
·        Feb. 3 (Monday) – Paid Target credit card bill in full ($128.27) via bank transfer (due date of Feb. 2 was on a Sunday).

·        March 3 (Monday) – Paid Target credit card bill in full ($27.34) via bank transfer (again, due date of March 2 was on a Sunday).

·        March 11 – April bill arrived, which my wife, Eva, noted included a $25 past-due penalty (plus  interest). Checking further, she found that the March 3 payment I made had been solely for a $25 past-due penalty (plus interest).
The upshot: Target expected us to pay a $25 late penalty (plus interest) on a $25 late penalty (plus interest), all for being less than 24 hours late on that first payment, which was impossible to pay on a Sunday due date via our regular method of bill payments through the bank (which, of course, is closed on Sundays).
One might think that a call to Target’s customer service would straighten all this out. After all, we had perfect credit (until now), paying balances in full and on time every month. If one thought that, however, one would be wrong.
Target’s customer service rep agreed to waive just one of the late fees. Talking to her supervisor changed nothing. “I can understand your frustration,” she purred.
“No, I don’t think you do,” Eva retorted.
At the close of this heated conversation, Eva explained that the dispute over $25 would cost them a loyal customer.
Ever-so-helpful to its valued guest, the Target supervisor offered, “If you like, I can assist you with cancelling your card.”
I’m sure that somewhere in the fine print of Target’s credit card agreement it explains that Sunday due dates can’t be paid on Monday. I’m sure that I would happily have paid any future Target credit card bills due on a Sunday on the preceding Friday, given a rational response from Target’s customer service people. You know, lesson learned and all that.
Twenty years ago we had a similar experience with Sears over a defective Kenmore washing machine, which the Sears people refused to fix. Until then, Sears had been our go-to store for appliances, Craftsman tools, kitchen supplies, and other miscellany. I can’t estimate how many dollars we had spent at Sears over the years. But I can tell you exactly how many we’ve spent at Sears in the last two decades – zero.
At Target, we used to buy groceries, furniture, pet food, office supplies, music, electronics, and so on – I’d guess thousands of dollars in purchases every year. Going forward, though, I can tell you precisely our Target budget for as long as we live – zero.
“It’s a matter of principle,” as Eva told the Target lady.
From now on, we’ll be more frequent guests of the Walmart.


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