It seemed reasonable enough to Mark: his local Target gave out more tickets to purchase 16 GB iPads than they had iPads, and he was the last person to reserve a ticket. The store had plenty of 64 GB models left, though, but Mark didn’t want to pay that much and tried to leverage the situation into a discount on one of those. Some employees agreed that the company should make this happen, and others claimed that it wasn’t physically possible. Mark began a quest to get his promised discount, but it looks like he’ll be running Flash on his iPad before that ever happens.
I called my local [redacted] Target store around 3pm PST [on March 11] to inquire if they had the iPad 2 and if there was a line yet. I was told they had 15, but there was no line yet and that they would hand out tickets at 4:45 to reserve one. So I got to the store right around 3:30 and asked the electronics desk if there was a line yet for the iPad 2. Much to my surprise he said they were handing out tickets now to reserve a model for pickup at 5pm. Wow, good thing I didn’t wait until 4:45!
So I got my ticket for a 16GB model complete with a number marking inventory and the words “On hold until 6:00 PM only.” I came back to the store with my girlfriend and we signed up for the Target RedCard to start saving 5% on our purchases at Target right before heading to the electronics department. What great timing! So shortly after 5pm we went to pick up my iPad 2, but when they opened the locked drawer, the 3 models they had left were all 64GB for a whopping $200 more.
They were certain my iPad 2 must be there because they had individually numbered the tickets after all. After taking much time to search the security tapes of the area they became much less certain and suspected their 15 iPads actually had 16 tickets. Doh. Amy, the store manager, wanted to know if I was interested in a discount on the 64GB model. If it was significant, I said yes. At least a hundred.
Well that offer didn’t last, she couldn’t put a discount into the system because there was a “hard lock” that allowed no price adjustments. I made mention that the fault had nothing to do with the specific product or Apple, this was a loss Target would need to absorb. She agreed, but said she had only seen a hard lock three times while working as a manager for Target (for a number of years) and that there was no way she could override it. I suggested a gift card since we do a lot of shopping at Target (even groceries now with their expanded food selection), but the only way she could give us a gift card is if we spent a lot more money there that night…like $1000. I don’t need that many groceries.
She gave us the number for guest relations and suggested I call them (she wasn’t allowed to call them for me). I called (800) 440-0680 on the spot with my iPhone 4. I got a call center in India. After a 23 minute call which required explaining everything 3 times, I finally got confirmation that they would take $100 off the iPad 2 64GB with DPCI 057-10-1832, bringing that item specifically down from $699 to $599. He said he could take $100 off, but not a dollar more. I reluctantly agreed and I was given the confirmation number: [redacted]. He said the store would need to call back from their phone system and reference that confirmation number. I asked him to hold on the line while they did that and he said no, just trust him, the reference number is all I would need.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” Yes, you can stay on the line so I make sure this goes through. No, I can’t do that. What is your name? [redacted]. May I have your last name and extension? You only need the reference number. May I have it anyways in case someone needs to verify this with you? No. So then I asked him a bunch of other questions I didn’t care about to keep him on the line until the store could verify the reference number on their phone. They verified, so I ended the call. I turned on voice memo on my iPhone just in case it could come in handy later.
It felt like another half hour went by with the manager’s call to guest relations ([redacted]) verifying what I was told and trying to get the discount to go through, but they couldn’t override the hard lock. That is when [redacted] in Minnesota recommended calling India back and talking with the original advisor. The manager called guest relations again and after a very long wait finally got a supervisor. The supervisor in India, [redacted], said Target already offers the iPad2 at $100 off the price Apple charges so he can’t give me an additional discount. What?! Apple sells it for the same price. So what about the $100 off the $699, bringing it down to $599 for this specific DCPI: 057-10-1832 as I was told precisely? No we won’t do that. What about accountability for the “Guest Relations” employee that said you would and for the accountability of promising a product to a customer and not honoring that promise? We can’t help you.
I looked with disbelief at the manager and I’m pretty sure she felt as bad as I did. She was great and did everything she could, but her hands were tied and tightly at that. So I left empty handed a bit before 7pm (but not without our brand new REDcard). Corporate policy wouldn’t allow for any exceptions. It was suggested I email guest relations to tell them about my story, but keep in mind that was the same guest relations that wasted my time and promised me something they then refused to deliver on.