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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.
If it's not against the law, it ought to be...

I absolutely hate Target, and I'm not sure that HATE is even a strong enough word to convey how I truly feel...

Last night, I did some Christmas shopping at Target. I don't go there often, but without fail, every time I go they end up overcharging me for something. Last night was no exception, and one of the items I purchased ($30) rang up as $50.

Normally, I always watch them scan each item, and stop them when it happens... but last night I got distracted and missed it at the register. On my way out of the store, I was reading my receipt and I noticed it, so I turned around and went back in... over to the customer support desk and explained my situation. The lady was nice enough, and explained that since I paid with my debit card, she would VOID out my entire transaction, and then ring it up for the $20 less. Sounds ok to me, so I ask her how it will show up on my account at the bank. She proceeds to tell me that I will see a debit, then a credit for the same amount and then the new debit. Fair enough.

Well, this wouldn't be much of a blog post if I was happy, now would it?

I get home and check my account balance. Hmm... Looks like there's a debit for $453.xx (hey I said it was Christmas) immediately followed by another debit for $432.xx. Unfortunately there is no credit there... ok so I let this sink in for moment as I start to get annoyed. I think to myself, well... it's only been an hour, maybe the debit won't show up until they do end of day processing. I check it again around 1:00am and there's still no credit. Ok, I'm pretty annoyed at this point but I think, well I'll just go visit my bank in the morning and see if maybe there's a credit somewhere in the pipeline, that just isn't showing up on the web view of my account.

I head to the bank around 9:30 and they inform me that there is NO pending credit in there system, but there are definitely 2 debits, within 10 minutes of each other. They explain to me, while smiling, that I'm completely screwed until at least Monday because it's the weekend. Apparently they can't even begin a dispute until Monday because the system has post dated the transaction for 12/5. Nevermind the fact that the money came out instantly, getting it back requires an act of god or congress.

edit: I almost forgot this part: Then she tells me that she can post $450 to my account that I can use as needed, but that it will disappear at midnight and if I end up overdrawn then of course I'll have overdraft charges... Yeah lady, that's helpful!!

So I get a phone number for the branch manager, who is still smiling at me, and decide to head over to Target. The first person I talk to at Target looks at me as though I were a complete idiot and says "well everybody knows it takes 3 days to get a credit from a refund." Resisting the urge to choke the living sh!t out of this person, I ask for her manager. I calmly explain (again) that I didn't return an item for a refund, that I had a transaction voided due to an overcharge, and that I was assured I would not have a double charge on my card. She acted annoyed with me and rudely told me to "stay there" and that she would be back. Naturally, I followed her back to her office.

After explaining my situation 7 more times, to 3 more people and waiting just under 3 hours... I finally got an answer. "Sorry, but we can't actually prove anything went wrong so we aren't going to give you your money back. If you want, you can come back Monday and talk to our manager." This idiot actually smiled at me as he said it.

At this point, I less than politely inform them that not only have they brutally raped my bank account for nearly $500, but they have also completely trashed my Saturday by making me spend 3 hours of it sitting around Target waiting for them to extract their heads from their collective assi.

That got him to stop smiling, briefly. I also mentioned something about unethical business practices and a class action lawsuit as I was leaving.

So that got me seriously considering things... how is it ethical or legal for them to be able to get the money from my account near instantly, but take 3-4 days (according to them) to give it back when they make a mistake. I sorta understand if you bring in something as a return, that it might take a few days, or they give you a gift card... but this was not the case. They were supposed to void the transaction. It never should have happened. I shouldn't have debit credit debit... if you void it, there should just be a single debit, the end.

Anybody here ever start a class action lawsuit before? If they have the technology to take money out of my account instantly, then surely the same technology exists to put it back just as quickly. They're making money off the interest in the 3-4 days it takes to show up. That's MY money... and MY interest.

Considering that Target overcharges me for at least one item every time I go, it's almost like they are banking on the fact that it isn't worth the hassle to you to get it corrected... especially considering the hassle they've put me through this weekend.

Edit: 12/5/05 - update: I still haven't gotten my money back. Spent the morning at Wachovia talking to a very nice lady who is trying to help me, but she can't actually fix the problem herself.  Target has made no visible effort at fixing the situation, and has, at this point, lied to me several times regarding promised return phone calls that never happened. Basically, they're not even acknowledging there is a problem. There is still no pending credit to my account (according to Wachovia.)  Do yourself a favor and shop at WalMart from now on, but pay cash!!

Edit: 12/6/05 - update: More lies from Target. The lady I spoke to on the phone at the local Target store assured me they would reimburse any overdraft charges, and I just got a phone call from Target saying that it wasn't their problem, they didn't cause it and they were NOT reimbursing any overdraft charges. Their exact words were: “take it up with your bank”

Target will never, ever have my business again. I understand mistakes happen, we all make them. Mine was shopping at Target. This goes beyond a mistake. This is undeniable proof that they don't give a damn about who they screw over. LAWSUIT!!

Posted on Saturday, December 3, 2005 12:00 PM General Interest | Back to top

Comments on this post: criminal behavior

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
Did they give you a receipt for the refund/void?

I usually like Target--I've never had a problem with overcharging.

Good luck getting this straightened out.
Left by BradC on Dec 03, 2005 2:15 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
yeah, of course. But that hasn't helped the matter any yet. I still don't have my money. Thanks though.
Left by Chris Williams on Dec 03, 2005 3:10 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
This is too bad. I usually like Target. I hate that you get repeatedly hosed. It does seem a tad fishy though!
Left by Codesailor on Dec 03, 2005 5:37 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
I know this doesn't help you but I will say that many... MANY years ago I worked for Radio Shack and my manager used to make me NOT post refunds during a big sales day, like a weekend during the Christmas rush. She wanted to make her sales numbers look better. :-)

That is of course just beyond stupid on her part but I wanted to share. I was 17, I didn't really care at that point in my life.

I agree with you, if they can so easily take why can't they give back? I imagine it has everything to do with corporate policy in the handling of refunds. While it was of course NOT a return or refund but merely a mistake being fixed I'm sure it looked just like every other return in their system.

Like most other big business in America they really only care about the consumer until they get our money and at that point we are... well not even on their radar. There are always exceptions but it doesn't appear as though it was the case for you. Just remember, the majority of your anger is due to the poor handling of your problem by the Managers on duty... not Target specifically.

I too have fought the urge to smack a store manager before... many times. I have also been that manager wondering if I should duck. :-) Retail sucks and I feel for anyone who has to work in it, especially this time of year.

I wish you luck with Target. I'm sure you'll get your money... too bad the real damage is already done.
Left by Eric Hammersley on Dec 03, 2005 6:33 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
It's so frustrating, words simply fail me. I don't know why this keeps happening to me, and I'm sure its not JUST me, but... those bastards completely screwed my weekend.
Left by Chris Williams on Dec 03, 2005 8:08 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
For larger purchases like that, I opt for my credit card instead of my debit. Partially because I collect AirMiles on my card and I can just pay the amount with online banking when I get home, but more importantly because i've found credit card companies are more than willing to help out a customer with a wrongful charge. I was overcharged by a hosting provider once, called Mastercard, and they promptly wiped the charge off and notified the business it wasn't valid.

However, you've got an excellent point: why is it that
a) Large companies like Walmart and Target think they can get away with poor customer service just because they're big-box stores? Best Buy is a big box store, and I've NEVER had a customer service issue there. It drives my wife nuts that everytime we go to WalMart, there's no carts inside and the reason we're told is "the guy is on his break". Um...anyone ELSE got two legs and two arms and can go out and get some carts?!
b) Banks should be CONVENIENT. They should also take care of their customers. We're different in Canada, as we only have 4 major banks nationwide that the majority of people use (so we're not dealing with smaller outfits), but STILL: 4 major banks nationwide, and my customer service at my bank is amazing! Not so much at my former bank (another of the top 4) who just didn't seem to give a rats @$$ about the customers.

But look...Chris...just return the XBox was a nice thougt that you were going to buy it for me, but I've already got one.

Left by D'Arcy from Winnipeg on Dec 04, 2005 5:29 AM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
LOL you give me too much credit... there aren't any XBOX 360s to be purchased, even by me.
Left by Chris Williams on Dec 04, 2005 8:32 AM

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Damn Chris - sounds like my luck is starting to rub off on you. That's pretty damn brutal.
Left by Bil on Dec 04, 2005 9:21 AM

# re: criminal behavior
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Chris, you've just encountered one of the dark secrets of banking. I've worked in retail for the last 15 years, and this is a constant problem many people don't know about. The laws covering debit cards allow Visa and MC to wait up to 72 hours before posting voids or refunds to accounts. These same laws allow banks use the same waiting period, so it can take a week for these funds to be put back in someones account. Yes, in both cases, the CC companies and banks are getting an intrest free loan on our money for 3 days. I guess this is what we get for electing so many lawyers and bankers to congress.
Left by Richard on Dec 04, 2005 6:39 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
The more I think about it and the more feedback I get, especially when I read posts like the last one (Richard), it just adds fuel to the fire... this law needs to be changed. Or a class action suit needs to be filed... or something.

I try to stay "cash only" most of the time... but I shouldn't have to.
Left by Chris Williams on Dec 04, 2005 8:32 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
Sorry to hear about these problems, boss. I've always thought is morally reprehensible and unethical to debit your account instantly, but take the full amount of time to put it back. That just isn't right. It's happened to me more times than I can count, too. It certainly does encourage one to use cash only. Thanks for the "heads up"; I wasn't aware that Target was so particularly bad about it. But then again, I rarely shop at Target anyway.
Left by Theo Moore on Dec 05, 2005 4:37 AM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
Wow, sorry to hear Target trashed your bank account. If you had run it through as a credit card instead of debit would that have solved the issue??

Guess I should use cash or checks in the future
Left by Maryanne Sweat on Dec 05, 2005 12:34 PM

# re: criminal behavior
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Target left me a voicemail today, stating I should receive a credit in my account in 2-5 business days. Bastards!! This really should be illegal.
Left by Chris Williams on Dec 05, 2005 7:41 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
At least they are willing to acknowledge the mistake at present. You might actually get your money back soon enough to allow to you use it for Crimmas.
Left by Theo Moore on Dec 05, 2005 9:48 PM

# re: criminal behavior
Requesting Gravatar...
Hope you finally got this mess all straightened out! It's frustrating, for sure!

My daughter and I went through this very same thing with the Bank a couple weeks ago. I made a deposit in my branch bank to her branch bank - with her CA number, but a written in one. (mistake! - some people can't read at the clearing house!). I made the deposit before noon on Thurs - it came out of my bank the next day - but wasn't in her bank by the following Tuesday, not even pending! Took us over 3 hrs - her and her bank and me at mine, threatening to stay there until it was fixed - and they got it fixed. Someone had put the money in a wrong account, and it took pressure for them to find it. I told the guy I wasn't leaving until it got in HER account before 2PM that day! And, if something had of bounced, they'd pay her back the charges!
Left by Barb on Dec 27, 2005 8:50 PM

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