Mom upset by Target's tune in iPod case; teen celebrates rocky birthday

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by alebar14, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. alebar14 macrumors regular


    Jul 14, 2007
    Auckland CBD, New Zealand
    Star-Telegram staff writer

    Regan Ritter's mother searched for a video iPod at a rock-bottom price and bought one at a Target store in Fort Worth. Regan was ready to rock when she opened the gift on her 14th birthday.

    But there was no iPod inside the box. Instead she found rocks. Not rock music. Rocks.

    Someone had apparently taken the iPod, replaced its weight with rocks and then put shrink wrap around the box to make it look unopened.

    Quite a scam.

    Regan and her mother, Melanie Ritter, returned to Target and asked for another iPod. The store took her at her word about what had happened, but the iPod she wanted wasn't in stock. The Fort Worth woman asked for a refund, but because she had paid $350 using a new Target credit card to get a 10 percent discount, the store would only give her store credit.

    Target employees were apologetic but said that was store policy, Ritter recalls. Only customers who paid in cash could receive a cash refund.

    It didn't matter that Ritter had immediately paid the entire balance on the card. It didn't matter that she hadn't gotten what she paid for. No cash refund.

    Employees did call other Target stores to find a video iPod for her and found one in Grand Prairie.

    So on Regan's birthday, her mom drove her to the second Target. Inside, they explained what had happened and asked whether they could open the box before making the purchase. An employee said they would have to buy it first.

    So they did, and then Melanie Ritter opened the box in front of Target employees.

    Rocks were in that box, too.

    Again, the mother asked for her money back but store employees denied the request.

    Because it was her daughter's birthday, the mother decided to stop arguing. She told her daughter to pick out $350 worth of items around the store to use the credit on.

    They left, disappointed. Then the mother contacted The Watchdog.

    I contacted Target's media relations office. It took two weeks for Target to get back to me with an answer. "We regret any inconvenience this situation may have caused Ms. Ritter, as it (was) never our intention to disappoint our guests," Target spokesman Amy von Walter told The Watchdog in a written statement. "Our Guest Relations department will contact her directly to discuss the situation."

    The statement concluded: "Our Investigations team is actively looking into this matter and will partner with local law enforcement as necessary. As this is an active investigation we are unable to provide further comment at this time."

    A spokeswoman for Apple, which makes iPods, did not respond to a call and e-mail from The Watchdog.

    I called von Walter with further questions. In a series of calls and e-mails, she wouldn't say much about the case.

    But she wrote me that the store employees who would not give Ritter a cash refund were following store policy.

    In a second note, she wrote, "In the end, we're pleased she was able to use her store credit in full to make other purchases."

    That infuriated Melanie Ritter.

    "That's not the way to do business," she said.

    "It wasn't fair that I had to buy stuff that I really didn't want. I thought they didn't handle it properly."

    Joel Evans, a Hofstra University business professor who co-authored Retail Management: A Strategic Approach, says: "Target is known as an excellent customer-service company. ... Over the years, Target has tightened up its policies to prevent bogus things from happening."

    In an unusual incident, he says, stores should consider being flexible and giving a full refund to a customer. He says "employee empowerment" allows employees to make on-the-spot decisions to satisfy customers.

    "You get large chains that end up with standardized policies that sometimes don't give employees the ability to bend the rules," he said.

    Customers concerned about refunds should consider making big purchases with major cards like MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express in stores where the store credit card refund policy is similar to Target's.

    With a major credit card, if you contest an item on your bill, the credit card company acts as your advocate, Evans says.

    "In a situation such as this, a customer who uses a store credit card loses the credit card company as an advocate."

    Target promises to keep us informed about the progress of its internal investigation into the missing iPods. Any information that comes, we'll share with you.

    Let's hope that the culprit is found and gets to live his or her own version of the Elvis song Jailhouse Rock.

  2. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000


    Oct 31, 2005
    Twin Cities, MN
  3. calculus Guest


    Dec 12, 2005
    It's astonishing how some companies think that their 'policy' somehow trumps consumer law...
  4. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you

    I don't think that consumer law says anywhere that a retailer has to give a CASH refund to somebody who paid with credit. I don't know of a single store that does that. The article doesn't mention whether or not target offered to refund the amount to her credit card. I'm assuming they offered to, but that would have resulted in her losing the 10% off offer that one gets when approved for the card, causing her to refuse.
  5. TheQuestion macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2007
    Location is relative, no?
    The question is how can these companies stay in business when their policy defies and all ethics and morals. Customer no-service at it's finest.
  6. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."

    Target was opening unopened PS3's when they were being returned. It seems they're not bothering with the iPods so they're getting screwed...
  7. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Two boxes of rocks, each from a different store.

    I wonder how many more boxes of rocks they have laying?

    Definitely a bad situation fro the mother and daughter. I wonder what Target will do, if anything, to fix the situation now that it is getting published?
  8. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    Where Target messed up was that they should have accused the mother of putting the rocks in the first iPod and not given her a refund. Now they are in this big mess.

    One thing I've learned is that you should always blame the customer, if possible.

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