Posts Tagged ‘Target


marketing makes the world go ’round

Did anyone else notice this at the US Open?

An undesirable urge between Games to go out and buy a Mercedes?

Branding, branding everywhere.

The latest: on college campuses. The two noted culprits in a recent NY Times article: American Eagle and Target.

University of North Carolina vice chancellor Winston B. Crisp, commenting on the clothing retailer American Eagle paying people to wear company T-shirts and to “volunteer” to help freshman move into their dorm rooms : “They are not supposed to be using the opportunity to help people move in as a way of forwarding commercial ventures.” This spoken while he’s STANDING NEAR THE CASH REGISTERS AT TARGET while upperclassmen hand out free Vitamin Water and miscellaneous snacks to students who have been BUSED IN FOR FREE  to  a university-sponsored midnight “event” at a local Target store.

One presumes he spoke without irony, although the reporter of the article doesn’t weigh in on that.

In one of the most blatant examples of spin I’ve heard recently, employees such as T-shirt clad movers are referred to as “brand ambassadors.” There are also such jobs available for companies such as HP, where part of your job is to plant yourself in a prominent location with your HP laptop and engage those around you in casual conversation, while working in positive references to your hardware computer equipment.

(Phew. Glad I caught that. For a minute there I sounded like I was talking about Ladies’ Night at the local pub. Or was I. . .?)

And then we have what might be one of the most stupidest naive people left on the planet:  “When you know that the company is not just there to get your money, they’re actually willing to, like, help you as an individual in whatever way possible, it makes you respect them a lot more. . . I’m definitely going to give American Eagle, like, a second thought when I go by next time.” This spoken by 20-year old Kiley Pontrelli, who volunteered along with her sorority to help the American Eagle employees help freshman move in.

Yeah, you’re probably right, Kiley. AE just wants to, like, help.



“customer service” iii

I think of myself overall as a pretty accepting person. I’m not saying that I never get angry, but I try to choose my battles carefully, and only to rage when I’ve been pushed beyond reason. Of course, this happens fairly frequently when driving, as most people behind the wheel are morons, probably have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time, and are too busy talking on their cell phones to pay attention to the task at hand.

I can also “lose it” when dealing with Second Son and his habit of leaving whatever dishes he’s used to accumulate at “his” end of the dining table for us to stare at grimly over our eggs and coffee in the morning, or when my dear lovely daughter waits until the last minute for the 457th time before collecting her belongings to head out the door for school or gymnastics or to go to her dad’s on Fridays.

But nothing pushes me over the edge like trying to deal with customer service people by phone.

So here’s the story.

I bought Second Son a videocamera for Christmas at Target. It cost $300, quite a bit more than I usually spend on Christmas presents, but I had helped buy First Son a computer, and Second Son is planning on going to college to study film next year, so I thought it would be appropriate and fair and I’ll just buy him less for his next 3 birthdays or something. I had a feeling he would maybe rather have an iPod touch, but thought I would encourage what I thought might be something more “useful” to him (as if!), and this way, if he had it in his hand, he might at least consider it. Therefore, I included a note with the gift that said “If you would rather have an iPod touch, do NOT open this package, and you can exchange after Christmas.” I purchased the camera with my Target redcard, to take advantage of the 5% discount.

You can all imagine what happened. He wanted the iPod touch, so badly in fact that he wanted to know if he could go to Target on Christmas Eve to exchange it. He goes to Target the day after Christmas (he actually sets his alarm so he can be there by 7 a.m. to beat the crowds; this is the boy we never see before noon on weekends). He takes the videocamera, the receipt, and my Target card. They accept the camera, but rather than credit the redcard and then put the iPod back on the redcard, obviously applying the same 5% discount they had applied to the videocamera, they credit it via a “giftcard” and then use the giftcard to purchase the iPod. Of course, they tell him, since they aren’t using the redcard for the iPod purchase, they “can’t” give him the 5% discount. Right. They “can’t” use the redcard to credit the original purchase, but they “can” use the redcard to charge the difference, resulting in the loss of the discount. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

He’s 17; he’s been taught to respect authority, plus he has a new shiny iPodtouchwithretinadisplay, so he says ok.

Well, not ok. I’ve been ripped off, and I’m not happy about it.

So today I finally decide it’s time to do something about it. As I review the original receipt before calling, I notice that I was also charged twice for the purchase of one movie. (Has anyone ever noticed how those mistakes almost always go in the store’s favor? Anyway. . .)

I get the phone number off the internet. I dial it. It’s 1:03 p.m. I weave my way through a tangled web of automated instructions, including entering the last 4 digits of my redcard and the last 4 digits of my social security number. (Has anyone noticed that these automated systems always ask for this information, but when you finally get an actual person they ask you for it again? Is this just a way to keep you busy so you don’t realize that you’re actually on hold for 20 minutes? Sometimes they ask so many questions I’m surprised they don’t ask what color socks I’m wearing or I have Prince Albert in a can.) Because of “high call volume,” there will be “an unusually long wait time.” I wait. At 1:14 I get a helpful young woman who agrees to put the 2nd movie, the one I didn’t buy, “in dispute,” assuring me that until it is resolved I do not have to pay that part of my credit card bill. Well that’s a relief.  I explain the rest of the problem (for full effect, go back and read the 2 paragraphs above which explain the predicament). Unfortunately, she is “not qualified to help,” but can forward me to “someone who can.” She helpfully gives me the direct number, in case the call is lost, and forwards me onward. I then weave my way through yet another tangled web of automated instructions, instructions which sound an awful lot like the automated instructions I followed at 1:03 p.m., and after another long wait, because of high call volume, I get Neil. I repeat my tale of woe (go back and read those 2 paragraphs again). He informs me that I have apparently followed the wrong series of prompts, and have reached someone who is unable to solve my problem. He forwards me on to “someone who can.” I find myself looped back to exactly where I started, so I hang up and dial the number Customer Service Representative #1 gave me earlier; remember? in case the call is lost? It is now 1:27. I’m not very happy right now, and I’m afraid it’s going to start being apparent in the tone of my voice. The last time I was this angry at Customer Service I pissed the lady at Comcast off so badly she twisted my internet service into so many knots it took 3 managers and 36 hours to fix it. So I take a few deep breaths, redial the number, follow the tangled web yet again, wait an “unusually long time” and end up with René. After repeating my tale of woe a 3rd time (go ahead, read it again; I dare ya’!) he apologizes that he can’t help me, and offers to forward me to “someone who can.” At this point I interrupt, tell him that I have spent the past half hour following instructions and prompts and waiting and being forwarded to people who are purported to be able to help me but can’t, and that I have no interest in being sent on yet again. He then apologizes for the inconvenience, and says to me, and I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP: “The reason you keep getting looped around is because that department is closed.” He then recommends that I call again tomorrow.

Do they do this on purpose? It’s $15; do they figure that if they jerk you around for long enough you’ll just give up? Is this Day 3 of their job training?

I’m calling back tomorrow. And maybe, in the process, I should offer to send them a bill for the time I’ve spent trying to remedy their self-serving fraud.

Grrrrr. . .


A Note to New York Times Style Magazine.

Now, I’m no fashion expert. I’m writing this in a pair of gray sweatpants that I bought at Target and a CW washable-silk/linen sweatshirt that is older than my oldest child and has more holes in it than swiss cheese, but some of this stuff I just don’t get.

This (click on the link, then on “view print magazine,”), pg. 8 —  looks like a lampshade.

I didn’t like the girls on pg 18 in high school and I don’t like them now.

I find it hard to believe that the man is more in love with the handbag than the woman is (pg. 26).

The woman on pg 32 has a very cute face and nice smile, but is one rice cake away from needing an IV.

I’m quite frightened of the woman on pg 39, and wonder how much ozone was damaged in the styling for pg 46.

I like the dress on pg 48, and the leather jacket in the Banana ad. The Hermes ad on pg 10 is just stunning, and has caused me to consider growing my hair.

I really like the idea of “Not My Daughter’s Jeans” but wonder why it’s automatically assumed that we WANT to look a full size smaller. Couldn’t they just fit?

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