Below is a copy of the email I just sent to Guest Relations at Target.  Customers are a valuable commodity, and I for one am tired of being treated as if businesses can survive without us.  Because, well, they can’t.

1/28/2011

I usually shop at Target at least twice a month.  You could run my credit card purchases and see hundred of dollars spent with your company each month.  And until today I was happy to do so as I found your items, prices and customer service to be far superior to any of your competitors.

I have a 4-year old daughter who has literally had thousands of outfits from Target, and dozens of pairs of shoes.  Again, perfectly content with the quality of your items, most notably your CIRCO items.

In early fall I purchased a pair of brown faux-seude boots, size 9 (toddler) for $17.99. I purchased them long before she would actually wear them, because I know your merchandise goes quickly and if I wait, I usually miss out.  So I purchased them and left them in the closet until cooler temperatures hit.  She began wearing them in early November as it was unseasonably warm almost through Halloween in Cincinnati. She has probably worn them once, maybe twice  a week since that time.

I was incredibly disappointed when I picked her up at school today to discover that a loose thread, pulled by her, led to a 2-inch hole along an upper seam.  She’s four years old, so it’s not like she possess massive strength.  For one, the boot should not have had loose threads as it’s reasonable to assume antsy toddlers will fiddle with anything.  And I would hope shoes would be more reinforced then one simple string that can be manhandled by a four year old.

But knowing the high value Target places on their customers, I figured all I would need to do is present this obviously sub-standard product and simply ask for an exchange.

I returned to the same store where they were purchased – your Cincinnati store on Marburg Avenue.  I spoke to Erin, who I assume is in some sort of management.  She was very pleasant, said to go back and find a replacement pair and she would do the exchange.  Unfortunately, your store no longer had the boots in size 9, you actually only had 4 pairs of these boots (now on clearance) and all of them were size 12.  I picked up the size 12 and figured she’d likely be wearing that size next season and I could just keep the new ones until then.  I would obviously prefer the size I originally purchased, but I was trying to make lemonade…

I shopped a bit ($208 worth of purchases) and then headed back to the returns counter.  Erin was on break/lunch and they instead called Steve up to do what needed to be done to exchange the defective boots for a suitable replacement.  Once he arrived, I was told he could not do any type of exchange as 1) the purchase was over 90 days ago and 2) the store didn’t have another pair in size 9.

Rather frustrated at this point, I explained that I’d gladly take a size 9, that was my preference.  I showed him the gaping hole and said while I understand you must have a return policy of some sort, surely there must be allowances for slack when your product fails to last even half the season for which it was intended.  Again, purchased in early fall, not worn until November and here we are at the end of January.  The soles of the shoes barely show any wear, and yet the stitching failed horribly.  As I told Erin, I wasn’t expecting the shoes to go with my daughter to college, but I thought they’d at least last til Spring.

I also wonder why the exchange was approved by Erin and then unapproved by Steve.  The inconsistency of the store’s stance on this issue confounds me.

Steve was uncooperative, unpleasant and said there was nothing he could do.  Is this really  the level of customer service Target prides themselves on?

And please keep in mind – the boots are on CLEARANCE, they are priced at under $9 now.  I assure you there was no mass swindle or fraud being perpetrated by my family.  I simply think that if you sell me winter boots in the fall, I should be able to count on them for more than a couple months.  I wasn’t asking for a refund of purchase price, or store credit for same amount spent.  I just wanted a pair of boots for my child that did not have a whole in them.

As I said before, I understand the need for a return/exchange policy.  I do find yours to be a bit on the aggressive (read: not very customer friendly) with the 90 limit, but I get you need some protocol in place.  And your 90-day policy is fine except in circumstances where your quality has failed.

I hope you’ll take a look at this issue and get back to me. I plan to call Monday morning and I will continue to contact anyone I can in the hopes of arriving at some sort of satisfaction. I don’t wish to become a disgruntled customer that never shops at Target again.  I love Target.  But I think I make a reasonable point here and I believe if you care about your customers,  you’ll find some sort of remedy.

Again – all I want is a replacement pair of boots.  Or in the alternative, you can pay to repair them?  Although my guess is that a suitable repair would cost more than they boots cost originally.

I will happily take photos of the hole if you need them for further examination.

Amy Cribbs