Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday MADNESS!

Oh, Target.

So, long story of yesterday short:

Went first to Sammy's, dropped off film. Well, first, got high. But then went to Sammy's and everything was hitting on all four cylinders. Then to Target to buy a water filter.

Our Pur had broken, no doubt out of self-loathing; its little gauge window pissed a fine jet of water out, and a seating that never quite worked on the faucet eventually led to its just falling off. After dicking around on the internet (finally finding a phone number on Consumerist), I talked to some guy "Tyler" on the phone, who assured me that nothing like this had ever happened before but by the way we're going to send you a coupon for a free water filter with no more questions asked.

Since we bought the filter at Target, we figured we'd get the new one at Target too. We spent a little time milling around, Amy getting some sweaters and floss, me picking up stuff absentmindedly, then setting down five boxes of glowsticks in the foot care aisle. We found a similar filter, noting that they'd gotten rid of the one that we bought prior—since I saw identical complaints all over the internet, contra "Tyler," I assume they discontinued it due to its crappy mount, but the new ones had a spring-loaded mount that couldn't have been as secure as threading. Whatever. The salient point is that we got as close to the same one as we'd had, in part because that's what the extra filters we already had fit.

We get up to the line, Amy pays for her stuff, and I try to pay the tax on the new filter. Well, except that the register keeps responding with "No Such Item Found—Manager Override Required." The coupon I have from Proctor and Gamble says that it's for any filter system up to $55, and is redeemable anywhere that sells Pur products. So, the poor girl at the counter doesn't know what to do. She calls her supervisor, who tries a couple of times, then tells us that Target just doesn't take coupons like this. I point to the sign right next to her head that says "Target accepts all manufacturer coupons." She looks blankly, tries it again, and calls her supervisor, who tells her we don't take it. I ask to talk to him, to someone who has the authority to accept the coupon.

We wait a little bit more—Amy gets walked on by some lady's cockatoo, who she's brought through the checkout (complaining all the while that it's like having a two-year-old that she can never leave except when he's asleep, while the bird watches her with a demonic red-rimmed eye). The manager, a burly dude built like a football player, comes out (he never introduces himself). He starts telling me that they can't take the coupon because they have no way to get paid back for it from the manufacturer. He keeps saying, "As a businessman, you have to understand that." My point is this: The register says that it simply needs manager approval. How Target gets paid back for the manufacturer coupon isn't my concern, though I'm certain a mechanism exists. Both Target and Proctor and Gamble are huge concerns, this can't be the first time. The item that we bought prior, that we're replacing, is no longer sold, so we can't just get a new one, and the coupon says it's for any system up to $55, and Target has clear signage that says they accept these coupons.

We get to the point where he's just telling me that no one can do it, that it's impossible, that he won't do it because it would be the same as us stealing from him.

"I asked to speak with someone who had the authority to authorize this," I tell him.

"There's no one. That person does not exist. No one has the power to authorize this," he says.

"Really? No one in the company can say that you're going to honor this coupon and sort out the details on your end? No one?"

"No one at Target."

"Well," I say, "You clearly don't have the power. What phone number do I call to speak to your supervisor?"

He gives me the 1-800 number for Target, the broadest number they have. I wait through the phone trees, I muddle through the counter-intuitive menus, going through Returns and then Customer Experience, though neither's really what I want. I finally reach some guy with a thick Indian accent who asks for my information about three times—he has a hard time understanding me, I have a hard time understanding his replies—all while the manager sits there scowling at me. I tell William what happened, he asks a few questions, then asks to speak to the manager. At this point, I find out that the manager's name is JD ("No, Jay Dee. No. they're initials. No, Jay Dee"). JD starts giving the same argument, then gets quiet. Yeah, they've tried keying it in. Yeah, but… Yeah… But how do they get paid… "I just submit it?"

JD pushes my phone back to me across the counter, keys in the code, and I hang up on William without thinking about it. Then JD says, "Oh, he still wanted to talk to you." After a moment of watching the rest of the transaction, he walks off. He does not apologize. Neither does the other supervisor who was the one who finally charged me my $3.30.

How grim, this computerized service economy. For the rest of the day, I was all keyed up, especially from that bit where I had to keep asking who had the authority. If I were rewriting it, that's where the dramatic music would swell, and I'd turn in a performance like Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino. "WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY!" I'd thunder. Instead, it was just stressful and obnoxious and took about an hour and I didn't even get an apology.

So, the lesson? Next time, just fucking walk out with it instead of waiting for some jackass to get read the riot act by some Bangalore phone center operator who they've outsourced all the courtesy and competence to.

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