Target Won't Refund New iPod Box Found Full Of Rocks…Twice

Melanie Ritter thought she was buying a video iPod from Target for her daughter’s birthday, only to open the box and find rocks inside. Imagine how much more disappointed she was the second time this happened.

I’ve heard of rocking out to your iPod, but this is ridiculous!

When Ritter tried to exchange the first iPod, they didn’t have the same iPod in stock. When she asked for a full cash refund, Target said they could only give her in-store credit because Mrs. Ritter had bought the box of rocks on a store credit card. She drove to a second Target which did have the iPod in stock. She asked to open the box first but the store said she had to buy it before she could open it. She did, and opened it in front of the employee, only to find it too was only filled with rocks. Defeated, Mrs. Ritter told her daughter to pick out $350 worth of merchandise around the store for her birthday present. Then Mrs. Ritter contacted a consumer reporter who has only been able to get pat boilerplate answers out of Target so far.

Sigh. Ok. Here we go. One, Target obviously has a supply chain problem in the Fort Worth, TX with assholes replacing iPods with rocks. Two, Mrs. Ritter might have had more success getting a full refund at that first store if she had called Target’s 1-800 line while she was in that store, or asked for a manager. Escalate. Don’t just accept the laminated notebook answer the grunts give you. This was obviously an extenuating circumstance where the no refund policy should have been waived, and it takes someone in a position of higher authority to do that.. Shoppers have a policy of their own, it’s called the “we don’t accept rocks in place of my iPod” policy.

Mom upset by Target’s tune in iPod case; teen celebrates rocky birthday [Star-Telegram] (Thanks to Ryan!)
Rocks found in place of girl’s brand new iPod… twice [ArsTechnica]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Wormfather says:

    Were they iRocks?

    OK, seriously, I wouldnt have been leaving that store without my money. If stores like that can make a shoplifter sit outside for a day with a sign saying “I stole from xxxx” then damnit they should have the decentcy to do what’s right.

  2. louisb3 says:

    Why would she basically throw away $350 of store credit on merchandise she didn’t want? Couldn’t she have come back when an iPod (not rocks) was in stock? I understand that it was her daughter’s birthday, but wouldn’t the kid rather have an iPod in two weeks instead of a bunch of crap today?

    It’s not really relevant to the riduculousness of the store policy, but it is pretty odd. You can only expect so much from elevating the issue if you’ve already spent the credit.

  3. Parting says:

    She’s lucky there was another rock in the box ;) Employee saw it, so it proves that she was telling the truth in the first place.

    As for the refund, escalate.

  4. Falconfire says:

    @Wormfather: Exactly after she opened it up in front of the guy WITH rocks in it, I would have at that point asked for a manager and told him if he did not refund her money ASAP the police would be called to the site immediately for fraud.

  5. anatak says:

    Target: 350, cutomer: 0

  6. remusrm says:

    very expensive rock… maybe it was pearls…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow! That’s some awesome customer service!

    I would’ve raised such HELL.

  8. ironchef says:

    All boxes are factory sealed with tamper resistant labels. It should be clearly obvious the second box she got was opened.

    Target is not that stupid you know.

  9. Shmonkmonk says:

    I love shopping at Target and to their credit, they do a pretty decent job of creating a shopping environment where you don’t really need to interact with any of their staff. Good thing too ’cause their staff is… well lacking.
    While I’ve never worked at Target I’ve worked as a retail manager long enough to know the industry standard and norm. If one Target employee tells me something that sounds like BS, I just find another one until I hear what I want to hear. Most employees there are poorly trained on policies and often say “No” not because the answer really is “no” but because they don’t know the answer or the next step and saying “no” is easier than looking up policies or finding someone that does know the answer. And while it’s frustrating I almost sympathize with them. Every time I have asked an associate to find me a manager, it’s a huge ordeal that takes way too long. I’ve heard them asking for a manager over their radio and they practically have to beg the manager to come talk to me. A store the size of Target probably has, at all times, at least three members of management working. What are these managers doing? I was always trained to drop whatever I’m doing and respond to a customer help. I’ve been pulled away from lunch, meetings, going home, etc. to handle customers. Maybe there are just so many dissatisfied customers that it takes awhile for them to get to me?

  10. MeOhMy says:

    @ironchef: Evidently target IS that stupid because the “expensive electronic item replaced with dead weight” gambit is becoming increasingly common.

    I have two solutions here:
    #1 put windows back in boxes. Let the customer see without opening the box that inside that box there is indeed the expected item (or at least a VERY convincing replica).

    #2 published weights. Packaged electronics should have the same weight from box-to-box. Weigh the item before purchase and if the weight doesn’t add up, you know something is amiss. Sure someone might take the time to replace the product with the exact weight needed but since we now have a window in the package per item #1, at least the customer might notice that there are rocks in the package and think maybe something is amiss even though the weight is correct.

  11. Uriel says:

    @ironchef: “All boxes are factory sealed with tamper resistant labels. It should be clearly obvious the second box she got was opened.
    Target is not that stupid you know.”

    If they sold the boxes with rocks in them, at two separate locations, apparently they are.

  12. Xerloq says:

    @ironchef: Tamper resistant does not equal tamper proof. With patience anyone should be able to figure out a way around those things.

    When I was in retail this happened all the time. Rocks, beans and rice, even old-busted computers. I actually would open the packages (carefully) in front of the customer at the point of sale to confirm that all the parts were there, and I’d make a note on the receipt. I had someone bring back a car stereo box with a bag of rice, claiming it came that way. I checked the receipt, saw the note, and called loss prevention.

  13. chili_dog says:

    Even if the boxes were resealed after the iPod was removed, I am simply amazed that there isn;t more to this. Product tampering en route is a huge problem.

  14. ideagirl says:

    I have run into similiar problems trying to return and even exchange expensive items at Target. Out local store does everything in it’s power to just say no.

    My policy is do not buy anything that costs over $100 there. For expensive electronics, I go to the expensive electronics store now. End of problem.

  15. Ben Popken says:

    @ironchef: New stickers and shrink wrap are not hard to come by. Just about every retail store has a shrink wrap machine in the back.

  16. MrFreshy says:

    anyone else gotten rocks instead of ipods?

    i am sceptical of this story.

  17. Geekybiker says:

    @MrFreshy:

    This sort of theft happens all the time. Especially so at stores with generous return policies. Customers will return boxes with junk in them, and they dont get checked before going back on the shelves. Its always a good idea to check the seals on any boxed item very carefully before you buy.

  18. topgun says:

    @Nero Diavolo:
    I would say “dumber than a box of rocks”.

  19. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @Shmonkmonk:
    I’ve had only really good interactions with Target employees. When I was pregnant, I couldn’t lift anything over ten pounds. A gallon of milk weighs 8 or so, to give you an idea. There is a guy who works at my local store who, if he saw me, would automatically carry my things out to the car. I only ever had to ask once, if I recall correctly, and every other time he or someone else was there to help. Contrast with Wal-Mart where I had to demand that they not overstuff (and thus over-weight) the bags) when the checker insisted that they *had* to fill the bags to the top, no exceptions.
    And before and since, if I’ve needed price checks or an item from another store or in the back, the employees at my local Target have been great about getting the item or calling the next nearest store to get it. I really appreciate that they seem to go the extra mile for their customers. I’m sure it is a reflection of good management.

    That said, I will never again buy anything big-ticket at Target or anywhere else without opening it and looking at it right there on the sales floor. If I have learned one thing here, it is that once this sort of thing happens, it is your word against theirs and you aren’t gonna get your money back without a fight, if at all.

  20. bonzombiekitty says:

    Yeah, you buy something with a credit card, they aren’t going to give you a cash refund. I’m not aware of any company that does that.

    They should just make a credit back to the card.

  21. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @topgun: I can’t believe someone didn’t get that sooner.

    Next on Consumerist News: Woman’s Merchandise Replaced With Sack Of Doorknobs, Bag Of Hammers

  22. Murph1908 says:

    Bravo to the woman for insisting on opening the second one there in the store.

    Boo to the woman for not escalating this to HQ right there. I would not have left without my money to be able to buy it at a different store (and I like Target).

    If the threatened to call the police, I would have welcomed it, and filed my own complaint for fraud as another poster had mentioned.

  23. Murph1908 says:

    @Murph1908:
    And by ‘without my money’ I mean, in this case, a credit to the card and not store credit.

  24. topgun says:

    @CumaeanSibyl:
    Yeah I know. It was just sitting there for the taking.

  25. infinitysnake says:

    This story doesn’t ring entirely true to me- if you buy on a Target card, Target wants to refund the card- store credit is a second option you have to ask for. AFAIK, target never does cash refunds on credit purchases, they refund the card- which is standard industry practice (for good reason).

  26. Trixie.in.Dixie says:

    I worked at Target when the first store opened in my area back in ’92. The training back then was customer-focused, and we were expected to be out on the sales floor, visible, offering assistance and generally making the shopping experience pleasant. In general, the security was tight, and plain-clothes security guys and gals kept an eye on everything, including the big boxes that went out the door – people had discovered that you could take a bulky baby item or child’s toy from a box and refill it with a lot of cds or videos. When people had returns, it was pretty much a hassle-free process, and even without a receipt, back then anyway, you could get a store credit. I realize that this doesn’t really work now that people are much more devious and steal things just to return them for money. The thing is, if any of us had treated a customer the way this woman was treated, we would have been answering to management for it. The idea back then was that we were there for the customers, not in spite of them.

    The thing that just makes me crazy about Target now is how absent the employees are and how surly they are when you do encounter them. I don’t know what’s happened to the standards or the management, but shopping at Target now is an experience in contrasts. They keep making the stores and the products more modern and trendy, but the employees have lost of their luster.

  27. WraithSama says:

    The problem likely lies in a distribution center somewhere, not the Target store itself. One thing I do like about Target is that they will not use manufacturer displays, which do tend to be obnoxious. Unlike Wal-mart, where you’re tripping over manufacturer displays every time you turn around.

  28. amoeba says:

    I am more skeptical with the rocks than the cc/cash refund. I would like to believe her, but I find hard to think that you will find rocks in a row inside an apple product. I would believe if the ipod is missing and she just got the instruction manuals and the earphones, or just the ipod inside. It would be more credible to Target, so they would expect that a previous costumer returned it without its contents. But twice? I don’t believe. And yes, I agree with many of you, you don’t get cash with a credit card purchase, and sometimes if it is debit they won’t refund cash either.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I work at a Target as one of those “grunts”, and trust me, if this had happened at my store, this would have been escalated extremely quickly. This screams incompetent team members and leaders at that store, especially after they opened the second box and found the same thing – I would have went straight to my LOD or STL and asked him to call corporate and chew their heads off for sending us fake merchandise. While I’m sure that corporate already knows what store this is from, this woman would be very well served to file some complaints about this store and get those idiots thrown out of the company.

    And InfinitySnake is (I believe – I work on the sales floor, but I know the people and policies in Guest Service well enough to comment) correct – we do refunds to the credit card on returns, as long as the guest brings their receipt back. Without a receipt, I’m pretty sure we only can offer store credit, but in a case like this, with a little escalation TLs or ETLs can easily override this to make sure the guest is happy – something which should have been done immediately after the second box was opened and found to be fake as well.

  30. bonzombiekitty says:

    @Trixie.in.Dixie:
    I’m trying to figure out exactly how she was treated badly. She got a fake product, which happens – it’s hard for a store to control that perfectly.

    She was told that since she made the purchase on the target card, she wouldn’t get a cash refund. Duh. That’s standard policy, or else it’s easy to totally rip off companies. Refunds on a card are either put on the card or store credit.

    She was told to open the next box only after purchasing it with the store credit, which makes sense for Target, if she opens it and it’s good and suddenly doesn’t want it for whatever reason, the store loses out. She got another bad box. Sucks I know. Target does have a supply chain or security problem. But I don’t see where she was treated badly.

  31. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Shmonkmonk: Not to defend anyone, but I’ve been the retail guy before, and I agree with you 100%. Most of the time when an employee says they can’t do something it’s more that they either don’t know how or don’t feel like doing it.

    It sucks that it takes 10 years to get a manager but here’s I think why. Yes there are at least 2 Manager Managers on the floor at all times, as well as anywhere from 4-8 department managers. These people have to set up displays, make sure merch is where it’s supposed to be, make sure the night crew is doing their job, etc. If this stuff doesn’t get done, there’s no excuse. You can’t say “I was helping customers so I didn’t get those price changes done, sorry.” The bigger bosses just don’t want to hear it. The more you can get done, the more they expect of you, and a cycle begins, the result of which is that you can’t help any customers because you’re too busy doing other stuff.

    Places like Bed Bath and Beyond go back and forth on this. They’re very customer centric on the corporate level, but if you’ve got a results-driven manager you can bet the service level will be in the toilet. They do have pretty accurate mystery shops though so that keeps them in line.
    ___________________________________

    As for the story at hand:
    If she paid on her credit card as credit, they should apply the credit back to her card. Trouble is that this isn’t always an instant thing. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to process, whereas a target store credit is instant, and can be used right then and there. I’m sure she was exasperated at having gone through 2 ipods-o-rocks and just wanted to get her daughter a present and get the hell out of target. I would have. Debit usually gets cash back, but that’s generally only for bank cards. The problem was that she took the merch credit from the start. She may not have had much choice but once they’re done they’re done. AFAIK it’s very very difficult or impossible to take a merch credit and put the balance back on a credit card. This is the whole point behind them, to close any loopholes for thieves to turn merch credits into cash. Plus, the second store had no interest in even trying, since all they had to go on was her word about what had happened at the first store. It’s a very unfortunate situation.

  32. XianZhuXuande says:

    I’ve worked with retail long enough to know how this probably went down. If the iPod was open-box then this should have been seriously considered and likely refunded (without good reason to disbelieve the customer). Folks should also check their open-box products in the store, but that is irrelevant to concerns.

    If this is a new product, though-supposedly still factory sealed-then it is a different matter entirely. People love to fill boxes with rocks and other stuff to make them feel full in hopes of getting a free iPod/product. People try some really dumb stuff, and it isn’t just belligerent teenagers-this includes adults, people wearing suits, mothers with a baby in the cart, and even elderly folk. As there is no consistent reporting of iPods leaving the store with rocks instead of tunes, if the box was factory-sealed on purchase, I would not have refunded her money either.

    She can probably solve this through Target corporate or Apple corporate.

  33. calvinneal says:

    The entire story is just BS.

  34. SVreader says:

    I really want to believe this, and the fact that she opened the second box in front of employees is quite convincing, but it seems odd that twice, in two different stores, she happened to get a box with rocks in it. And there have been no reports of this happening to other customers? She just happened to get the two iPod boxes out of hundreds that were filled with rocks? In different locations?

  35. Falconfire says:

    @SVreader: Despite being different locations, they likely are coming through the same supply chain since they are all close to each other.

    @calvinneal: Thank you for that 6 word insight nitwit.

  36. Catperson says:

    I don’t know about the box of rocks twice thing, but I can tell you that Target has absolutely horrendous return policies on big ticket items and I refuse to shop there because of them. I don’t care how much they try to position themselves as the friendly alternative to Wal-Mart, they’re still a giant corporation with no love for the consumer.

  37. rdm24 says:

    @louisb3: Good point. Why buy a bunch of crap you don’t want?

  38. Anonymous says:

    For the record, I had a similar thing happen to me. As a result, when I buy a dvd or vid game, I open it after buying it in front of the cashier.
    Here’s what happened: A game I wanted came out and I went to best buy to buy it 2 days later. I drove home, stopping on the way for dinner. When I got home, I ate and opened the box. Inside was a pirates of the carribean game disc from circuit city – a promotional item with a cheesy, cut rate game on it.
    I rushed back to the store and was told that it was impossible and they wouldn’t accept the return. I told them that I wasn’t about to spend $60 on crap – that I had purchased a game. I escalated, twice, and finally got a manager to approve it. They insisted that it was impossible that a BB employee stole it, switched it out, and put the circuit city crap in the box, then resealed it.
    WAKE UP retailers. You have the shrink wrap machine in the back and the keys to your security boxes are readily available to the staff.
    It’s quite simple to steal if you are an employee. An enterprising theif can easily rewrap a product well enough to fool a customer. The security stickers on movies and games can easily be carefully peeled back and replaced. And management tends to be complacent about internal security because they are, well, lazy. They aren’t careful about staff selection, they do virtually no monitoring of employees, and begin trusting their employees. But here’s the deal: as a former employer, I know from experience that if people CAN steal from you, they inevitably WILL steal from you.
    At one bar I ran, staff was sneaking beers in the cooler when management wasn’t looking. I couldn’t figure out why my liquor costs were so high for the life of me. I did regular inventories, double checking everything. One day, a customer walked up to me and told me that they thought I was awesome for allowing my staff to drink while working and how it was a dream job. I asked who she was talking about, pulled aside the waitress, and she was hammered. Fall down, speech slurring, stupid drunk.
    That’s when I figured it all out.
    I fired the busboy with the keys to the beer cooler, I fired the waitress, I fired the bartenders who didn’t tell me (the one’s that knew what was up and didn’t say anything) and replaced them all.
    For the next year, I forced staff to do nightly liquor reconciliations, random garbage bag pulls (a common scam for cooks is to put a garbage bag in a bin, put expensive meats in there, then top it with another garbage bag with garbage and ‘pocket’ the meat) and randomly pulled waiters and waitresses into my office for chats to see if there were signs of intoxication.
    People will steal. The customer always ends up paying.

  39. SVreader says:

    @Falconfire: I know that, but it still seems odd that she got (as far as we know) the only two iRocks out of all the iPods in the surrounding Targets. Was she just super lucky and got the only tampered ones, or did the other people who got the rocks either not bother to complain or mistakenly attempt to download music on said rocks?

  40. BlondeGrlz says:

    I worked at Target for 7 years, from cashier on up, so here’s what happened and what should happen in the future:
    The people at guest service are just cashiers who’ve been taught two extra things – refund and refuse. Some GS team members with take back anything with no questions asked. Thats how empty iPod boxes end up on the shelves, no one checked a return. (Although it might be someone on the stocking team or truck team or back room team…thats a different issue.) If you take the box, the packaging, and your receipt back in a timely manner, talk to the Cashier Supervisor. Then talk to the Guest Service Team Leader. Then talk to the Store Team Leader. Any Team Leader can override the return policy, and if you explain nicely and clearly with NO YELLING they should be happy to make you happy. Really, Target has much better guest service than other big bix retailers, so try and give them a little slack.

  41. chooseaside says:

    The supply chain from manufacturer to customer is filled with people only slightly more well qualified than those in the TSA. The risk involved in a retail purchase is roughly proportional to the volume of said retailer. Your butcher and fish monger are less likely to rip you off because they might often be staring you in the face the next time walk through their door. Not to mention they require repeat business if they are to survive. The larger the retailer, the more human insulation exists between the policy makers and the customers they presume to serve. The best thing you can do is do business with a reputable distributor… one that actually cares if you are in fact satisfied. These are becoming harder to find as smaller customer focused businesses are increasingly being replaced by volume retailers. The reason… price. Selling at volume allows the retailer to offer the same product at a slightly discounted rate. That said, as long as people continue to shop at Targets, Walmarts, and other volume retailers, expect the service to continue to diminish.

  42. infinitysnake says:

    @SVreader: Yeah, that does seem super unlikely.

    Also, to be fair to Target, they never owed her a cash refund- they extended her credit, and so technically it was their money.

  43. MYarms says:

    I have a story about rocks and electronics but it involves a broken Xbox instead of an iPod. I also happen to know that some rocks are roughly the same weight and size of a Xbox hard drive. Some might say that back in the day you could buy a new piece of gear (from a reputable dealer like Walmart) and swap out your broken parts with these new ones and then return a faulty Xbox filled with rocks.

  44. UpsetPanda says:

    There are several things that just scream “urban legend” to me. One, is that this iRocks thing happened to the same woman TWICE. What are the odds? If I were Target, I would get a store manager from every store in the area, have them open up all of the boxes and check to see whether there were more iRocks. If there are, okay this woman is telling the truth and she is just unlucky. If there aren’t any, what are the odds she would get two defective boxes?

    Second, box of iPod and box of iRocks feels very different. I know how my iPod came to me, it was the small black iPod box with the even smaller iPod box inside. There was a weight distribution to it that let you know where the iPod was (since everything else was lighter). I think I’d be suspicious unless guys happened to put down rocks only in the slot where the iPod was supposed to go AND made sure that they wouldn’t rattle around.

    iPods at Target (or any big ticket item) are locked behind a case. No attendant ever suspected rocks? I mean, these aren’t woodchips, they must have rattled, right? And if they didn’t, then they were packed in enough that they pushed against the box, wouldn’t that cause some bulging? This is not expanding mayo here.

  45. Ben Popken says:

    Skeptics – This story is a link to a published article with quotes from Target verifying the incident took place. Sheesh.

  46. ArtDonovansLoveChild. says:

    @Ben Popken: Actually, Ben, read your own articles. All they have from Target is a pr line that says they regret a customer was inconvenienced. They never in the article verify that the woman received two boxes of rocks. Again, unless there are other complaints in those 2 stores I would also find it hard to believe she just happened to get the only 2.

  47. Rando says:

    I’m still with Target on this one. Target has every right to refuse. There are millions of people out there trying to scam companies for money, and this is one of the easiest ways to do it.

    When buying electronics, make the cashier open the box and check for the item, idiots.

  48. HungryGrrl says:

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Sucka should have checked the second box while IN THE STORE.

  49. Tzepish says:

    @HungryGrrl: She did.

  50. Tzepish says:

    @RandoTheKing: So just because this is one of the easiest ways to scam a place, Target has every right to screw over an innocent customer?

  51. UpsetPanda says:

    One thing that caught my eye – “It wasn’t fair that I had to buy stuff that I really didn’t want. I thought they didn’t handle it properly.”

    She told her daughter to go and pick out $350 of stuff, and then said that it was unfair she had to buy stuff she didn’t want? It doesn’t make sense that Target wouldn’t refund her money the second time around – that time, it’s obvious it isn’t a scam. Target doesn’t just let people take big ticket items off a shelf, the clerks have to open the case and take it to the register.

  52. SaraAB87 says:

    I believe Sam’s Club has a policy where they slash all factory seals on an item at the register and check to see that the item is actually in the box, I remember buying a DVD player there and they opened the box, verified the contents and sealed it back up with tape. This is a really good policy, could you imagine the look on a kids face if you gave them a Xbox360 box full of rocks or bricks for christmas while not knowing it?

    I think it would be kind of hard to compare an Ipod with rocks, I can see it happening with a larger item, because there are other things you could fill a box with besides rocks, if there were rocks in there, it would feel disproportionate or you would hear the rocks rolling around in it.

  53. Scazza says:

    Arnt the serial numbers for the iPods printed on the boxes? Can’t they contact Apple, file a fraud claim and as soon as some dumb fuck plugs in the ipod into Itunes, they will be found?

  54. louisb3 says:

    @Scazza: Happily, Apple has not turned its business of selling iPods into an Orwellian police state.

  55. lestat730 says:

    That is quite an expensive Pet Rock. No really, it’s obvious Target has a bad problem with employees stealing the devices somewhere along the chain. Now the question is, are they actually planning on figuring out who is doing this. Reminds me of the scam where people sell presumably stolen big screen TV’s in store parking lots and sell the person a box with a few bricks in it.

  56. benjimandodd says:

    Ok something is wrong here.

    I worked for target for 2 years. I worked at the service desk all the time.

    If you bring in your receipt then they will give you a full refund on whatever you paid with. You used a credit card they put it on the card, you use cash they give you cash but you HAVE TO HAVE THE RECEIPT

    BUT it says she used a store credit card. If she had her receipt ORRRRR her card they would have put it back on her card.

    SOmeone is lying here.

    PLUS they don’t give 350 dollars worth of store credit w/out a receipt. i’ll swear on my grave for this.

  57. Scazza says:

    @louisb3: They do it with cellphones, and many other high priced electronics. theft is theft.

  58. benjimandodd says:

    plus she went to another target to find another one with rocks in it? and there were no other ones in the store?

    i call bull.

  59. LionelEHutz says:

    Somehow, this is all the customer’s fault. I don’t know how yet, but I have a gut feeling that isn’t related to the burritos I ate yesterday.

  60. tiredofretail says:

    This is actually nothing new. First off, there have been similar instances this has happened. I think it was 2005 during Xmas when this sort of thing happened at WalMart, and I believe they found it to be internal. Since she did open the second box in the presence of the Target associates after purchase, then I find it hard to believe she is scamming the store. It is pretty hard to believe it happened twice, I do not think it is totally unbelievable. I know when new electronic items such as the Ipod, XBox, etc are released, most stores may only get one or two during a shipment. If these items go through a distribution center, it is highly likely that an employee in the DC is doing the switch. And, since the stores are close, then they obviously share the same DC.
    Also, the commentor who asked why the box did not budge or rattle? First off, my Ipod came in an acrylic case, too thick to “bulge”, with an interior sheathing that kept me from seeing my IPod. Usually, these thefts are not spur of the moment, but well thought out in advance.

  61. usaeasy77 says:

    my advice is similar to others, i always open the product package to inspect the contents before leaving the store. since ive been doing this, ive saved many trips back to the return counters. sometimes, for expensive items i have a clerk open the box for inspection before i go to checkout. i have never been refused this request at any type of store. but when and if i am refused, i don’t buy.

  62. SaraAB87 says:

    Another thing thats puzzling if she bought it at the first Target store, couldn’t they just go into survellance records and find her purchasing it on the camera, if something funny happened where she tried to pull a switch in the store, the camera would have caught it. Target also has reciept lookup so if this was purchased on credit or debit they should be able to access the reciept on the computer (which would also give the time and day she bought the ipod so they can check suvellance records), this might even work with gift cards.

    If you buy a 350$ item at a retail store and don’t save your reciept then your an idiot and I am sorry but there is nothing else I have to say about that, the store doesn’t have to do anything for you in that case since there is no way to prove that you bought the ipod from that store if you don’t have a reciept or cannot use reciept lookup.

    At the very least they should have a suvellance record of her buying the second ipod, I cannot imagine her pulling a switch especially since the employee usually has to walk it right to the counter from the case for her to pay, but again they should be able to look at survellance of this to find out if its a real scam or not.

    If target really did stock ipods with rocks, then they have every right to own up to it whether the problem is in the distribution or the store, they should make it right for the customer.

  63. Jamie Beckland says:

    Maybe this is a tertiary issue to this particular story, but why is she using a store credit card with such a crappy refund policy? At first I thought this was a store credit, but if this is a credit card, this is a terrible card policy.

  64. So… what happened to the iPods?

  65. BensAngel says:

    There’s something fishy about this story. Are we expected to believe that the second Target had exactly one iPod, it was sealed and it was really an iRock?

    The probability of this is astronomical, now compound this with the probability of the same person buying two iRocks at two stores on different days with no other reported incidents.

    Right’o.

  66. yetiwisdom says:

    1: Cut a hole in a box
    2: Put your rocks in that box
    3: Make her open the box
    And that’s the way you do it

    Sorry. I just had to.

  67. rawsteak says:

    is chris angel involved with any of this? maybe he planned a magic trick and just didn’t make it to that target store yet… ?

  68. gmardre says:

    This happened last night at TARGET in Montgomery Alabama: I purchased a brand new 80GB iPod Classic for $250 plus the Montgomery 10% tax for a total of $275. Got it home and opened the box and inside was a used scratched and dented 30GB iPod. Went right back to Target. They would not allow me to return it. What to do now?

  69. gmardre says:

    I bought, last night, at Target, a brand new 80GB iPod, took it home to my daughter. She opened it to find a used scratched and dented 30GB iPod. Target will not allow me to return it. What do I do now?

  70. ironfist says:

    I’m a Target employee.

    Once you walk out of the store Target can’t do anything for you. You need to open the package when you buy it, or have the employee check it for you. Return fraud isn’t really THAT common, but it exists.

    I’ve worked in electronics, and I’ve had to verify returns of PS3 and high-end electronics with wrong serial numbers, and their stories sound a lot like this blog post. Maybe they’re telling the truth, maybe not, but the only thing that’s relevant to us is whether or not the serial numbers match up and if the product being returned is the one that was purchased.

    Some people may not like or understand this policy, and Target probably is a big enough company to shrug off these minor losses since the majority of customers are good people. But rules are rules, and if you learn them and play by them then you won’t get taken for your money.

  71. capNj1545 says:

    Ok, first off, I am a team member at target [have been for 3 years now], and work as a GSA, and also the guest service counter at my local store. I do apologize to the author of this report and those of you who have had negative experiences as well. This would never have happened in my store, however, some locations are not of the same caliber. As for the policy, it’s straight up. Keep your receipts and there arent many problems. Also, if a guest purchases an item with her target credit card, the first option is to return it to the card. If she declines that, its a gift card [store credit] next.

    In our first day of training at target, we’re told that it is all about the guest. However, there are always going to be boundaries. Unless you work the return desk, you can’t even imagine the things people try to get away with!!! Our ETL’s [managers] cannot override much on the register. And anything they can override, anyone can… we just need permission, or it’s our job on the line. It’s misfortunate the second one was like that also. With stores the size of Target, a lot of merchandise comes in just as it goes out… A few mistakes will be made. To err is human, and underneath our red and khaki, that’s what we are too.

    Now my personal message… As i read through the comments everyone left, i couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I’m a 22 year old college student, working here to make my way through school. Ive had to deal with my fair share of assholes, bitches, crackheads, overbearing parents, liars, cheats, and all other sorts of society’s parasites. There is nothing wrong at all with going up the ladder… they may have some insight that the service desk team members don’t. however, its important to realize a few things… most of the people behind the desk make less than $8 an hour. Before you start screaming at us, PLEASE realize that. We are more than willing to give you the information necessary to contact corporate office. They make enough to deal with anger and the verbal abuse we get dealt. If you want to work something out, that’s fine… but please don’t treat me like Im an ignorant worthless kid b/c I cant give you your way. Most of us do what we can, but in some of these cases, the extenuating circumstances are quite comical.

    So, again, im sorry to hear that stuff like this happens… but there will always be crime, and this will always come up in the world of retail.

  72. Triterion says:

    Wow! Video iPods cost $350 back then?! We’ve come a long way baby! iPod touch’s go for $215.00 now- and they’re so much better! I feel so lucky to be living in the future!!