Wedding Bliss? Not at Target

Yesterday I stood in my local Target store announcing loudly the free availability of my Wedding gifts! Read on to find out why…

Recently I got married. Yes, even geeks get married – probably more often than you’d think – and there’s a good chance that you know someone who’s about to get married right now. The whole wedding experience has been a really good time in my life, and I’d really recommend it if you’re having doubts. (Of course at this point a lot of people always point out the pitfalls of marriage too from their ‘bad’ experiences, but let’s focus on where I am now… still in that high point. They even have a name for it – The Honeymoon Period.)

But anyway, when we announced we were getting married, we did what every couple does – we selected a couple of wedding registries, choosing local stores as we thought that would make life simpler. Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. At this point I have to say (being from the UK) that I have been completely blown away (gobsmacked) by American generosity when it comes to giving gifts. I think that American’s really are the most generous people I’ve come across, and I don’t mean that as a means of getting kudos with anyone, I’m simply stating a fact. There are showers, showers and more showers and then all the wedding gifts too! People are amazing! Of course wedding registries play a big part in that. They simplify life by enabling you to help your friends and relatives know the types of things you’d like to help start your new life together.

Back to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond… Now both stores are similar – you walk in and friendly staff welcome you and ask if you need help finding something (or maybe this just happens to me because I always look lost?!) You scan little lists and have a website to tell your friends about. I have to say that the Bed Bath and Beyond website goes beyond the call of duty. It has guest list trackers, gift trackers, seating arrangers… the list goes on, but I digress – I’m not here to talk about websites. Functionally both work well and actually the Target.com use of the Amazon.com checkout enabled my UK guests to by gifts for delivery in the US – something they wouldn’t have been able to do with most other registry sites.

So we have some friendly stores. Both are as helpful as they can in enabling you to choose your gifts, but this is where the similarities end.

After the wedding you find that people have been so generous that they’ve got you things that are not on your registry. So you get duplicates, things that are slightly the wrong size. You know the thing. It’s kind of like having the most amazing Christmas present time of your life, and find that you need to make a few corrections!

So you visit the stores to do returns. Bed Bath and Beyond are amazing. They value the fact that you’ve just generated $1000’s in business for them and will return things no questions asked.

In Target, they don’t. They state that they only return items with a receipt. That they can only give you $20 back for an item with Target plastered all over it that cost $100. That even though you had 2 ‘king’-sized pillowcases on the registry list and the person bought ‘standard’, that they cannot return them to swap them.

Now I’m a principle man. I just can’t work out why a company won’t return gifts even when there is no doubt the item has been bought from them! I tried asking for the store manager, the area manager. The excuses fly – “Sorry, they’re at lunch” (despite it being 7.50 in the evening). “They’re unavailable”. “It’s policy, sir”.

I tell you this, Target give their employees good training for dealing with persistent customers. Training that would be better focused on teaching customer satisfaction!

Eventually I got frustrated, and decided that I’d rather give the things away for free than return them for pennies. My loud announcements of free nonreturnable Crok-Pots and the likes didn’t really work. Well that’s not quite true. I left the store having returned the items, so I guess persistence past the point of annoyance did eventually pay off, but I have this friendly advise:

If you want people to be able to return undesired wedding gifts (and I’ve heard that baby gifts have the same issue), then I suggest you remember the unfriendly red tape at Target. It’s even painted on the walls to help remind you!

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