Consumer confidence in a retailer can be a fragile thing. Once loyal customers may find themselves looking for alternative shopping destinations after being disappointed with a given merchant over time. In my case, the most current example of this is Target.
Before 2010, I thought Target could do very little wrong. That was the year we discovered following a trip to the local store that some of the coupons we gave the cashier were not redeemed properly. Later, we found this was a problem that affected many other "guests" (Target parlance for customers) besides us.
Like others, we had some hiccups doing business with Target.com after it split with Amazon before the holiday season of 2011. This relationship has improved in some respects, but given the choice, we're likely to default to Amazon if the same product is available.
The following year, if memory serves, was the year that Target's P-fresh initiative was rolled out locally. Trips to my local store often left me shaking my head. There were holes on the shelf inventory, freezer burned packaging in the frozen section, leaky milk cartons and past-date items in the refrigerated case. Although there are fewer out-of-stocks, many other aspects of the store's performance have failed to improve substantially.
Last year was the data breach. Had we been victimized by Target's failure to protect our personal information, I could safely say we would have moved elsewhere. Luckily, at least to date, it doesn't appear as though Target's failure to protect customer data has affected my family. We were also happy to take advantage of the 10 percent discount Target offered as an "apology".
That brings me to the present. I was extremely pleased to learn that Target was including its unscented private label baby wipes in the company's new online subscription program. As added bonuses, Target.com gave five percent off for scheduling regular deliveries plus another five percent discount when it was billed to REDcard. In total, Target's receipt says in bright red that we saved 10 percent and got free shipping to boot.
But there was a mystery to solve: on an order with a subtotal of $57.96, a 10 percent discount would come to $5.79. Instead, our discount was $5.65. This prompted a call. A pleasant person explained that Target gave me a straight five percent off my subscription to bring the price to $55.06. It then took five percent off that number to arrive at the final price of $52.31 — a nice discount, but clearly not 10 percent for those of us who have some grasp of percentages.
Will this latest issue stop my family from shopping at Target or on Target.com? The answer is no. But, it does make me wonder how we'll react to the next little problem that makes us further doubt the chain. It also makes me wonder how many others have already given up and moved on. I know the thought has crossed my mind.
How many chances do you typically give a retailer before shopping elsewhere?