Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Militant to Target: YOU SUCK!

Anyone here shop at Target Stores? Hey, the Militant seems to like that store...up until now. Low prices, stuff is easy to find, relatively good selection, and even that cute TV commercial with the two college freshman dormmate girls dancing around to some catchy dancehall tune, why not? And though the proliferation of Target stores in Southern California has gone seemingly out of control, and contributing to the generic chain store homogenization of the area, well at least using less gas (or no gas at all) in traveling to a conveniently-close Target store must make sense.

On Saturday night, the Militant went to the Target "Greatland" store in Burbank to make about $300 in unspecified purchases. When he asked one of the electronics department dudes to open up the case so he can get a relatively pricey item, the electronics dude asked him, "Would you like to save 10% on your purchase?"

"Um," asked the Miltant.

"All you have to do is sign up for a Target Card," he said.

"Um, no thanks," replied the Militant, not at all interested in adding any sort of line of credit. With the way the financial situation is going in this country, having your money float around in credit isn't such a smart move. And besides, the Militant hates using credit cards, except for emergency situations. Instead, he prefers to make purchases using his bank's ATM/Check Card, which doesn't involve bills or interest rates - it just deducts it from the existing money he has in his checking account (BTW, if any of you people use your bank's ATM'/Check Cards, ALWAYS select "Credit" rather than "ATM" or "Debit." That way the purchase will not incur any ATM or point of purchase fees). The Militant avoids credit like the plague, instead opting to save money up to a certain amount before he makes the actual purchase (gee, what a concept...).

The electrnics dude just set the item in the cash register clerk's conveyor belt, and the Militant, without having to give the electronics dude an answer, soon dealt with the clerk.

She asked him if he would like to sign up for the Target card.

"No thanks, I don't need any other credit card," the Militant firmly replied, as he swiped his ATM/Check Card in the card swiper terminal. The little screen gave him the PIN number prompt, and at that point he selected the "CREDIT" button. He then used the little plastic stylus to write his signature (more like a horribly-pixelated scribble) on the touchscreen, which almost always never resembles his actual pen-written signature.

Then it happened.

The clerk's computer terminal said, "CARD NOT AUTHORIZED. ENTER LAST 4 DIGITS." So she manually entered the last four numbers of the Militant's trusty ATM/Check Card.


WTF? Now wait a minute, he didn't have a problem using the card in the past few days. In fact, he just made an ATM withdrawal the previous day. And he didn't make any online purchases registered to another country, as what happened the last time his bank put a protective hold on his card's activity.

The Militant then re-swiped his card, selected "CREDIT," attempted to scribble his horribly-pixellated signature, and then the "LAST 4 DIGITS" prompt came back.

"Would you like to sign up for the Target Card? You can complete your purchase and save 10%. You can just pay it off."

The Militant again politely declined.

"You're pre-approved..."

Oh not not the "pre-approved" bullshiat again. Pre-approved the Militant's ass. How do they even know what his name is? The ATM/Check Card was "declined," after all.

The Militant just decided to cancel the entire order and walked out of that store, empty handed (yes, he did remember to get his card back).

On Sunday, the Militant went to a different store and purchased the same higher-priced electronic item there. No credit card BS, the card was accepted as normal.

The nerve.

Look, as a consumer you are supposed to have the right to not only choose what you want to buy, but how you want to pay for it. You can use your ATM card, a debit card, an ATM/check card, a store card, a credit card, a gift card or something called cash, which is actual, tangible money.

Rigging the cash register terminal to refuse other forms of payment is downright fraudulent (it could have been worse, the Militant could have actually been charged for those items (twice!). They've even gone so low as to decline gift cards! After swiping them more than once, but a quick check to his bank's online service revealed that no purchase had been made after all...phew!). Target clearly does not care about customer choice, and fools their customers to believe there is a problem with their credit/debit cards, and forces their customers to sign up for some lame store card, and even worse, more credit/interest fees to worry about.

Oh yes, the Militant is fully aware that the store forces its sales staff to push these card signups to customers. And it seems like they're really hurting for more card signups. But again, you have a right as a consumer to accept or decline it.

The Militant will not shop at Target anymore, which is too bad, since he likes what they have. But doing stupid-ass tricks to get you to sign up for something you don't really want is a major turn-off. The Militant urges his readers to NOT shop there anymore, and if you must, then ONLY pay in cash. Target sucks!


Alex said...

Well, I do prefer to shop at local businesses and will gladly choose an independent store over a chain any day of the week. But that doesn't make those indie shops any more customer-friendly.

For example:

I love Amoeba, but I could sure do without the snooty "better-than-thou" schmucks they have working there. (Their perceived sang-froid is a real turn off). Regardless, I still go back for their amazing selection. I can just as easily ignore those idiots and continue on with my benign existence.

Give Target another chance, Militant. I say if they pull that crap again, then by all means boycott them.

(Thanks for the debit vs. credit tip.)

Militant Angeleno said...

Alex: But being denied a basic consumer choice is a vastly different problem than snobby sales staff.

Anonymous said...

Um, did you consider the possibility that your card stripe might be de-magnetized?

Militant Angeleno said...

Anonymous: Um, did you not read the part where the Militant was able to purchase an item with the same card the following day at another kind of store without incident?

Alex said...

send your story to . If your experience is not unique, this is a big story.