How to handle Target customer service

I almost can’t even tell this story because it makes rage brows break through my Botoxed forehead. But for you, dear Internet, I will endure this pain. Okay. [shakes it down] I’m ready to talk about the process of dealing with Target customer service when they screw up your furniture. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention, these are first world problems. Feel free to see yourself to the door if you were hoping for a story about drought economics.

Back in September I was in my old house, the one in the city, drinking grocery store wine and enjoying the light from the $20 Ikea chandelier I installed above our deck furniture when I saw some super cute beds on the Target website. No seriously Heather, super cute. After some hand wringing about whether the baby was ready for a twin bed we (I) decided these were to be ours. I ordered two twin beds at the sale price of $299 each and was excited. Yay me. Yay Target. We’re going to basically kill this adorable big girl room thing. Please document that this event occurred September 4, 2012. I don’t know if you want to inscribe it on a lantern and let it glow for the rest of the story, but I would not be offended if you did so. The beds were ordered in two colors: pink (naturally, if you’ve ever talked to a three-year-old) and blue (if you’ve ever been a mom of two girls and think you might vomit if you see another pink item, which would suck for you because guess what color Pepto Bismal is.)

LESSON ONE: Be damn sure when you order from Target online that you want the product.

The next day brought a siege of panic through the hearts of millions when I realized I don’t care what the three-year-old says, I’m over the damn pink and purple is way cooler. I can splash it with some arty turquoise bird fabric I have and embrace the idea that this whole toddler phase is pleasantly twee. In the 90’s we had sarcasm, in the 2000’s we have irony but I think the next wave of dealing with each other is in the form of being earnest. So let’s buy a bed we like, cut the crap and kill the pink. Deal! So I called Target to see what’s up with changing the color of a bed I ordered yesterday, a bed that was backordered, could not be delivered for six weeks and whose wood was probably still pulsing in a Chinese rainforest.

No go.

Basically what I learned through a series of phone calls is that Target’s online store, and thus shipping warehouse, is run through Amazon. A customer has 30 minutes to change any detail about an order, but beyond that point, it’s in the hands of an automated system whose goal is to pack, ship and complete. Being timely is extremely important to Amazon and by extension, Target, so not only do customers who order furniture not the get the luxury of changing their minds and having long, emotional conversations with interior designers like they are accustomed to when they order furniture (just saying) but the frantic workers who carry out this mission have to work in 115 degree heat and are carried out on stretchers but they get the damn job done . Kudos. Plus I feel sick. But hey, the Internet gets their orders with Jimmy John levels of expediency, right? Target consider this a win. There’s no fighting it anyway because the customer service reps are at one of two overseas locations where English is a second language.

LESSON TWO: The overseas Target customer support is extremely limited in their power. You will need to pretend you are placing a new order if you want to speak to an American on the phone about an online order. I recommend this trick and don’t let them transfer you back to the second world.

I still didn’t want a pink bed, so I decided to get the real skinny on how to change the color, I’d need to talk to a native English speaker. That’s not a judgement, that’s a fact of communication. I decided to call the Target store three blocks from my house that employes people who live in my neighborhood. Surely these would be the voice of insight. I began my phone call with, “Hi, you probably know me because Im in your store a lot. I’m a neighbor. I’m having a bit of trouble changing an order on Target dot com . . .” and I got my answer. I thought. They gave me the tidbit about Amazon and told me that every item bought online may be returned in person. The lovely person chatting with me from down the street  gave me the brilliant suggestion of just ordering the bed I wanted (purple) and when the bed I didn’t want (pink) came via UPS, to just return it in the store. No prob! Fantastic! I love Chicago! Thank you, person down the street for being realz.

A detail I forgot to mention thus far and that you will want to scrawl in your Hello Kitty notebook is that we were planning to move and these new beds were for the new house, the one in the suburbs, where all the assholes like me who don’t care about natural resources or the declining state of urban humanity live. (Side note: not true! I totally care about the state of urban decline! I just can’t afford private school for two kids. Also, I don’t want us getting shot. See my much-criticized thoughts about jerkiness of attitudes toward the suburban sprawl here.)

Back to my kids’ beds. The site mentioned they were on a six-week backorder. I suspected this might be a mistake, so at the point of ordering I had called Target customer service to confirm. It was confirmed. Six weeks, no if-and-or-buttholes. So the shipping address I used was the one to my future house, the one I hadn’t bought yet, a house in another town that had some other family living in it. Lo, just three days after I ordered the “backordered” beds, I got a shipping notice. They shipped. They weren’t actually backordered. They were furiously on their way from some overheated shipping facility with stretchers standing by going to a house I didn’t own.

I will not even go into the details of the headache of trying to reroute the package to the house where I currently lived. I’ll just tell you Target didn’t help and their people were rude. “It wasn’t [their] problem” that their delivery date was five weeks different from reality. It got worked out because the woman I was buying the house from turned out to be a pretty swell human being. She found my cell on the packing slip and we arranged a pick-up. Whew! When the pink (unwanted) and blue (wanted) beds arrived, I picked them up, put them in my car and ordered the purple bed that I wanted and felt good. Very good. I love cute stuff. I LOVE TARGET! I also love humanity and the fact the current owner of the house was cool about two 81-pound packages arriving at her door while she was trying to pack a four-bedroom home to move to Hawaii.

If you will recall, the matter was unresolved about the unwanted pink bed. I needed to bring it to a Target store ASAP for a refund. I am a 130 pound woman. Sure, I’m made of titanium and could arm wrestle a dinosaur (okay, a t-rex, because their arms are tiny) but carrying an 81-pound package containing an unwanted pink bed was kind of annoying. Nevertheless, I tredged on. I dragged the two boxes (headboard, rails) into my car, drove them from the future house nine miles to my local Target, loaded them into a red plastic cart and with sweat beading and voice cracking, I hiked up to the second floor ready for my refund.

Target refused to accept an in-store refund.

But what about the phone call I had made to my friendly neighborhood Target? Where was that manager? Stacey or something? What about the boastful, “in-store returns!” business on the Target website? Oh, that is for most items. The particular items I bought were special. They were mail-in only. The good news is Target pays for return shipping, the bad news is I was responsible for lugging the bed to a UPS store.

LESSON THREE: It took me awhile to wheedle this secret, but if an item weighs over 75 pounds, Target has a special rule they don’t want to tell you about that they are obligated to send UPS to pick up the return. You really don’t have to schlep like I did.

Eventually the return was accepted and credited back to my account and the new (purple) bed arrived. Yay! The story is over right? NO. Once we got to the new house and tried to set up the beds, we realized one of the twin beds was shipped with full-sized rails. What I am about to tell you took three months and the mailing of five twin beds back and forth internationally, guzzling who knows how much gas and costing me about $40 for reasons that are too enraging and insane to spend another moment on. I will now think of puppies and sparkles. Ommmmmm. You don’t have to return the whole bed. They will tell you that you do, but they are lying.

LESSON THREE: The way to solve the problem of mis-matched pieces of a Target bed ordered online is not to send the bed back and order a new one. They will just screw it up again, as many as four times and you will spend ten hours on the phone with customer service listening to elevator music about lemons. You must call customer service, pretend to place a new order so you get to talk to an American, then request “replacement parts”.

The beds were finally assembled December 12, just three months and eight days after I placed the order with Target.

The upside? They’re freaking adorable. YAY TARGET! YAY HUMANITY!


The lamp, the fuzzy pillow and the blue bed are from Target. I sewed, painted, reupholstered or gave birth to everything else in this room.

How to make roman shades, High Gloss style (Read: Just 18 medium-hard steps and commentary)

How to make roman shades, High Gloss style (Read: Just 18 medium-hard steps and commentary)

Like any bored housewife, I, too, am smitten with Pinterest. Well, I should say I go to Pinterest seeking to be smitten, but after seeing all the perfect homes and inspired, crafty uber-moms, I feel like getting drunk on a … Continue reading

Don’t be afraid of ugly craft projects

Do you want to know the secret of doing things? You just have to do them. You can’t think about them too much or worry about doing it wrong, or get too caught up in the fact you spent $30 on this fabric and it might wind up just a pile of glue and holes. Sure, it might, but it also might be totally cool and you’ll never know unless you thread that needle. The Grinch did it!

Sewing and decorating are my therapy. It’s a safe area of my life that I can take risks and what’s the worst that can happen? Maybe my Pinterest-inspired roman shades end up looking like industrial tarps concealing a fiery collision? Big deal! I have a herniated disc in my spine and two mortgages. There are bigger things to worry about.

I’m not really sure where this blog will go. I’ve been writing my whole life, from the school newspapers in high school and college, to my various blogs including my parenting and opinion blog High Gloss and Sauce on Chicago Now, which has been featured on CBS Chicago, the Chicago Tribune site, the Huffington Post, The Examiner, Jezebel, The Bump Chicago magazine and I’ve appeared on WGN and Comcast. All of that makes me sound important, which is funny, because I’m just a stay-at-home mom with a big mouth. And besides, 70% of that is the internet: a free cess pool of opinions.

For the next few weeks I’m going to be talking about this room:

. . . and how to do all the projects in it, like how to make a duvet cover, a tutorial on making roman shades, how to deal with the rage of returning furniture to Target etc. Stay tuned! In the mean time, you can find me on Facebook here. Also maybe in my sewing room destroying a pillow.