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I am a very loyal Target shopper. I love love love Target’s store layout, lighting, quality merchandise at cheap prices. I’ve decorated my new home in almost all Target stuff! Love Target.

My loyalty is waning. The one thing Target has never figured out (especially during holiday shopping) is that one of the critical components of customer loyalty is the moment when we part with our money. The check-out process at Target has always sucked IMHO. But I put up with it.
I got the Target Red Card a few years back. I got it for a couple of reasons.

1. Cash flow. I’ve been known to lay down some serious coin at the TarJay and it’s nice to have 30 days to pay it off.
2. Discounts. When you use your red card you get these nifty coupons in the mail for lots of money off.

But the number one reason? So the Target checker will stop asking me “Would you like to save 10% today by opening a Target account?” Gawd! Every single time. Now I use my Red Card religiously. Pay it off each month.

So, I’m at the Albuquerque Target this week loading up on Christmas stuff. My cart was FULL, but I had my 10% off your entire purchase coupon burning a hole in my pocket, so life was good.
Grand total $211.36! Wow – swipe my coupon – $190.23. Sweet! I just got my Christmas ornaments for free! Swipe my red card.

Checker casually says, “Your card was not approved.”
“Just swipe it again,” she says, bored with me. Swipe. “Nope, still not approved.”

Even though I KNOW that my balance is zero on this card, you still feel like a deadbeat when you get this news. And I’m sure all the people in line behind me thought the same thing.
I’m embarrassed so I swipe my debit card.

NOW she says, “Oh, if you don’t use your Red Card, you can’t get the 10% discount.” Seriously?
“Okay, can you tell me WHY my card is not working?” I asked.
“Nope, they don’t tell us that,” she says pointing to the computer/cash register.
“Is there a number you can call?” I calmly asked.
“I don’t know,” she replies.

She asks me to step into the penalty box (which is near the returns) and she’ll have a manager help me.

Arty was great.

He said, “Sometimes it’s just the terminal, let’s try and ring this up here.” So he took this cool suspend slip with one bar code on it that magically tallies up my load. Fun to watch. Swipe red card……same message.

I flipped the card over and suggested “we” call the number on the back. Arty lets me.

So now I’m standing in the penalty box on my iPhone screaming into the receiver because Target’s customer service line begins with the voice activated menu from hell and it’s picking up all the noise around me….finally the “computer” says…”I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you, let me transfer you to the next available agent….” Whew. Finally.

On hold message reminds me that the Red Card can save me 10% on all purchase and if I’d like to apply for one, I can visit their website at!!!

“Thank you for calling Target Corporation, how can I help you?”
I explain to him that I’m AT a Target and my Red Card isn’t working.
Punch, punch, punch.
“Nope, says here you have $500 available on your card. Should be fine,” he says. I hand the phone to Arty. Arty listens, hangs up.
“Well, let’s try it again.” Swipe. “Nope, still not working.”

Now I try to reason with Arty. I’ll gladly pay with my debit card but can I still get my 10% discount? And here’s where it goes to sh*t.

“No. We can’t control that, only the computer can (again, pointing to the computer/cash register. You’ll have to use your debit card and lose the 10%. Oh, and we’ll have to take everything out of your cart and re-ring it!”

Poor Arty.

But my favorite part – and I’m NOT making this up. As Arty’s ringing up my purchase he says,

“Would you like to save 10% today by opening another Red Card?”


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December 2008