Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And Retailers Wonder Why We Hate to Shop...

This morning, I attempted to place an order with Target.com, navigating to the site via Upromise.com from a link that promised “Free shipping on $50+ order.” Note that there was no asterisk on this promotional link that explained other requirements to receive free shipping, although there were detailed caveats from other vendors regarding their promotions on the same web page. But even though I clicked through on this promotional link and had items in my online shopping cart totally $122.92, the cart still added shipping fees totally $25.56 to my order.

In case I had done something wrong, I repeated the exercise several times. Each time, your site adding shipping fees, rather than providing the free shipping that was promised.

Thinking that there must be technical glitch (I’ve been a Upromise member for years and have used these links before – including linking to target.com – without problem or incident), I called the company using the 800 phone number listed on the web site for online orders. I explained my situation to the customer service rep who answered, and using my email address, she pulled up the order. In her opinion, I was not receiving the free shipping because not all the items in my cart had the “free shipping with orders over $50” tag. I explained to her that that isn’t what the promotion said – I had seen that promotion on the target.com site, but that I was linking from a promotion that said only “Free shipping on $50+ order.”

We went back and forth about this several times. She insisted that to receive truly free shipping, all the items would have had to have that “free shipping with orders over $50” tag – I explained again and again that that wasn’t what the Upromise web site said.

Finally, I asked to speak with her supervisor. At first she refused to transfer me. She said that all supervisors were busy and that I should call back another time. Then she kept me on hold for more than 35 minutes, coming back on the line only occasionally to suggest that I give up and call back, or that I should call a different customer service line if I wanted to complain.

Eventually, someone else came on the line. He repeated the same story. He said that although he knew of the relationship with Upromise.com, he could not go on their site and see the promotion I was talking about. He suggested that I talk to someone at Upromise if I wanted to get the promotion listed on their site. I insisted on speaking with his supervisor. He said that she was not available. When I persisted in wanting to speak with someone else, he said that there was no one else at Target that I could speak with. When I insisted that he transfer me to someone else, he put me on hold for a moment and then hung up.

At no time was I abusive or insulting to deserve such treatment. Instead, I was politely persistent.

By this time I was more than just annoyed - I was really angry and determined to get my discount. So I called the main Target customer service number. The representatives there were very nice, although they explained that they worked for Target stores, which is a separate entity from Target.com. But the supervisor there agreed to hear my story and pass it along to someone who could help. I explained my objectives:

1) To have someone familiar with the Upromise.com relationship will research this incident. None of the representatives I spoke with could access the member Upromise page and so couldn’t see the promotional link. But clearly, someone at Target has responsibility for this relationship and should be able to see the free shipping offer.

2) To have someone at Target will get back to me and:

a. Either provide me with a way to complete my order using the free shipping offer, or

b. Continue to insist that the Upromise promotion is not in effect. In this case, I told them, I will not place my order – at this time or ever again.

Within an hour, someone emailed me, apologizing and offering to refund the shipping fees once I placed the order. The email said, "Please go ahead and place the order now. Once you receive an e-mail that confirms your order has shipped, just e-mail us again with your order number, and we'll refund the full shipping charges to your credit card."

So I placed the order and still didn't get the refund - instead I received an email saying that I have to wait until it ships. Within a short time, I received a shipping confirmation for a partial shipment.

I wrote to them, "Well now it has (partially) shipped. So now just do the right thing give me the full shipping refund - don't try to tell me that now I have to wait until the rest of the order ships to get my refund. It shouldn't take so many calls and emails to get the free shipping you offered via Upromise! And if you really want to offer good customer service -- the kind that will get me to shop at target again -- go above and beyond -- refund the full $25.56 of shipping plus tax and then send me a gift card or a real letter of apology or flowers -- just something to acknowledge that your company has really botched this transaction!"

Update: I did get a response saying that I'll be credited for the entire shipping fee and related taxes. But the rest? I doubt it!

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