Target Apologizes To Rebuffed Students; Walmart Ups The Ante With More Cash

Yesterday we brought you the story of an Ohio middle school teacher who penned an open letter to Target after an employee told her that she and her group of 25 students would not be permitted to do their annual holiday shopping to benefit a local charity. As you might have predicted, once this news hit the web that goes worldwide, Target had a change of heart — and Walmart made a nice counter-offer to the put-out teacher and her charges.

According to WKYC-TV in Cleveland, the Target that had so recently shrugged off the teacher — in spite of the fact that her students only shopped in groups of four, and all their purchases were to be put on one dedicated charge account that the teacher had been using for this occasion for the last five years — now has felt the warmth of the holiday spirit (or rather, the heat of the internet’s torches on its butt) and apologized, saying the group is now welcome to come do its shopping on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, over at Walmart, they said their doors are open to the middle schoolers and that the store would throw in another $250 to help the kids’ cause — a local crisis nursery.

After hearing the news that both stores are courting her, the teacher told WKYC she hadn’t decided which one she’d bring the kids to on Friday. But the Walmart store says it plans on donating that extra $250 regardless of which store she chooses to patronize.

It’s a Festivus miracle!

Teacher uses Facebook to take on Target [WKYC.com]

Thanks to Scott for the tip!

Comments

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  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Never miss a chance to jump on some good publicity. Also, money. :U

    • Harvey The Wonder Hamster says:

      Agreed!

      On the other hand, now what do we do with all the commenters here on Consumerist who in the original story complained that the teacher is ‘doing charity wrong’ because:

      a) She is buying goods for the charity rather than just donating money

      and/or

      b) She isn’t buying from a small, local business.

      Can we shame those commenters into a retraction? :D

      • jenniferrose76 says:

        Considering how short-staffed a lot of charities are, some of them actually prefer people to donate goods. A lot of them publish lists of items they need, because sometimes it’s pretty tough for a staff member/volunteer to get out to pick up goods. Plus I’m guessing the kids get more out of it, actually picking the stuff out, and having this interactive experience.
        I don’t know about the area where you live, but generally the goods at my local mom and pop, indie stores are overpriced, which makes a donated dollar go a hell of a lot quicker. $2500 worth of goods from Target probably stretches a lot further than $2500 in goods from any of the indie shops in my area.

  2. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Public shaming shouldn’t be necessary to resolve customer service issues.

    I’m surprised that Wal-mart was able to respond so quickly to the situation, that’s a lot more agile than I expected from a company of this size.

    • Don't Bother says:

      It’s like that husky kid in gym class. Slow to start running until the dodge ball is zooming towards his face.

    • MarineCorps says:

      Not necessary but a lot less heartache and pain along with a lot more effective.

    • Veeber says:

      Walmart actually gives its local managers a lot more authority than you would assume. During Katrina they basically told them to do whatever they needed to do. Some of them were using forklifts to break open the warehouse doors to distribute supplies.

    • vliam says:

      Came here to add the same statement.

      Retailers, especially in the current environment, shouldn’t have to be talked into accepting a person’s money. It’s good to see that consumers have some influence. It’s sad that it’s only to force a retailer to do their job.

      As a former retail store manager, I cannot imagine turning away a customer except under the most severe circumstances. I’m at a loss.

    • dourdan says:

      250 seems a little small though. i was expecting maybe 2,000 dollars extra from them.

      • maxhobbs says:

        Are you kidding me? A different company, not involved at all, is willing to give free money and you question why it isn’t enough?

    • Not Given says:

      Big companies have people that spend their days googling for the company name and responding to stuff like that.

    • xamarshahx says:

      I believe Wal Mart gives their managers a bit of flexibility in dealing with issues like a lot of other successful companies.

      • finbar says:

        They are certainly given the flexibility to avoid promoting women to management.

      • MMD says:

        On the local level? Really?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        I recently read an article about Walmart’s policy of what employees can and can’t do and how that list grew longer over the years as Walmart grew in size. They have finally realized that they are too big to govern by a super long list of rules and have leaned towards a policy of letting employees use their good judgement when making decisions. This policy has a name though I can’t remember it off hand. Whatever it’s called, I believe that they will find it paying dividends in goodwill and free publicity in cases such as this when normally the manager could only have shrugged his shoulders and said I wish I had the authority to do this.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      your phraseology just made me realize what i want to see in the future: the CEOs of WCIA winners in the stocks for people to ridicule and pelt with rotten vegetables.

  3. momtimestwo says:

    $250? Walmart can afford to make the “donation” more meaningful.

    • humphrmi says:

      Given that they made the donation offer almost immediately, it was probably a store manager’s discretion fund.

    • RocheCoach says:

      You think Wal-Mart had the charity in mind? They saw this as an opportunity to trade $250 for what the teachers says will bring thousands of dollars of revenue to a store. It’s just good business, especially because it’s national news now.

    • StarKillerX says:

      And how much is your donation?

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        Considering the percentage $250 into $15B Net Income represents, if the average person flicks a penny at them they’ve already given five times higher the donation.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          except that that is a stupid analogy. Do you think the charity would rather have $250.00 from wal-mart or $10.00 from me. I can guarantee that the $10.00 from me is a much higher percentage of my earnings.

          • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

            It’s also a stupid assertion that you need to give a bigger donation than Walmart to criticize Walmart’s donation size. You don’t think that’s a patronizing dollar amount for a huge corporation?

            • bender123 says:

              WalMart may give much more to other charities (which arent listed here) and the $250 may be the individual store managers limit for discretionary giving, without the need for Regional beancounter sign offs.

            • Bsamm09 says:

              “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are in the second year of a $2 billion cash and in-kind hunger relief campaign that extends through 2015.”

              And this is only one of their charitable works.They do many more. I’m not even going to get into the whole “Net Income is not how much cash you have left over at the end of the year” you apparently think it is.

        • minjche says:

          It’s $250 from an individual Walmart, and this individual Walmart doesn’t represent the entire $15B in net income, so I disagree with your analogy.

          As many other commenters have pointed out, this is probably discretionary spending from the individual store manager, and really $250 is better than nothing, so personally I don’t mind it.

    • rlkelley says:

      Based on my limited experience looking for donations for various organizations, $250 is the individual store level donation they can give away without having to go up the food chain of management to get it approved. This also answers why Walmart responded so quickly, since the only guy who had to get involved was the local store manager.

    • Stickdude says:

      They make a completely unsolicited donation to a local charity, and all you can do is complain that the donation isn’t large enough? Seriously?

      I so hope you get nothing but coal in your stocking this year, Scroogy McScrooge!

      • NumberSix says:

        Its a question of scale. That would be like me donating a penny. It’s meaningless to the point of being insulting.

        • Stickdude says:

          Only in a Walmart-hater’s mind would a $250 donation be considered an insult.

          Would you be happier if Walmart changed their mind and rescinded the donation?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yeah, that charity should totally turn their nose up at that “donation.”

    • GMFish says:

      Walmart can afford to make the “donation” more meaningful.

      Keeping its thumb on the working class doesn’t come cheap.

    • Broke_Daddy says:

      Quite frankly, WalMart does contribute to the communities it’s in,. Given the number of WalMarts that adds up.
      I don’t work there, and have no business relationship with them, but I do know most of the stores make charitable donations of time and money to their communities, whether it’s a check or employees signing up to maintain roadsides or contribute labor.
      I don’t approve of everything they do, or the manner in which they do it; however to be fair you have to give notice to the good, not just the bad.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m actually surprised Target didn’t say they would donate some – seems the usual reaction.

  5. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Ahhh, the smell of public shaming in the morning. Why is it that it always has to resort to this? It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t take an open letter, gone viral to a news station in order to get a company to realize “Oh crap! We screwed up!” I figured if they didn’t do anything, I’d put them to the bottom of my list for any shopping needs whatsoever, even if they were cheaper.

    • deejmer says:

      I think its good. The more these public tar and featherings happen, the more companies will get nervous about providing bad service. This threat of humiliation might just be the thing that gets companies to listen to their customers again.

  6. Coffee says:

    That Walmart manager is going to get some recognition from his/her superiors today…that’s probably the best $250 Walmart has spent on pub in a good long time.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    Can someone tell me, what is a “Crisis Nursery”.

    Evergreens that have addiction problems?

    Underage broccoli?

    Rose bushes suffering PSTD?

  8. humphrmi says:

    It’s obvious that this teacher put quite a bit of planning into this; for instance, if only four students were in the store at a time, that means she arranged for someone to stay outside with the rest of the children while they waited to go in. So, I’ve got a proposal that the teacher should give to Target:

    1. The store manager will now act as chaperone for the students waiting outside.
    2. Said manager will be on hands and knees on the ground, and give each waiting student a free “horsey back ride”
    3. Free milk and cookies for kids waiting for horsey back ride.

    If Target doesn’t agree, go to Wally World.

  9. Sanspants says:

    Thank Alvis this all worked out!

    • Demonpiggies says:

      Believer, you have forgotten the true meaning of Alvis Day. Neither is it ham, nor pomp. Nay, the true meaning of Alvis day is drinking. Drinking and revenge.

  10. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t see the problem with having 25 students in a store, over here they drop off busloads of tourists and shoppers completely unannounced, and some of these buses consist of 50 or more people. I am sure the students know how to behave in the store, so I doubt they would cause any problems. Sometimes they even drop these buses off at dollar stores, yes the whole load at a time, and the dollar store does not flinch or complain or anything. The 25 students here would be like a drop in the bucket.

    I think this Target manager should be fired, if I was going to spend 2k or more at a store and I was treated like that I would immediately take my business elsewhere no matter what. I would also make it clear that I would not be considering that business again for my charitable donations. She was already treated rudely by that store, regardless of what they do to make it up to her the original incident still happened. Public shaming should not need to take place to get an incident like this resolved. If I was going to take my business to Target after this incident I would not take my business to that individual store, I would take my business to another location at the very least.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Every middle-school aged child is equal to half a busload of people.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Thank you, these were my sentiments exactly. 25 additional shoppers in a 7-Eleven? Yeah, that is a problem. 25 shoppers in a TARGET? I don’t think so. If I was the teacher, I would head to Walmart, as the Target gesture is pretty much too little, too late, IMO.

    • Frankz says:

      It wasn’t the store manager the teacher was dealing with originally.
      Store manager told local tv news that he didn’t find out about it till the next day, when all the bad publicity started.

  11. cameronl says:

    Target did not change its mind in the face of bad press… they are trying to make right and fix the stupid action of one employee (or store). I’m certain corporate would have done this even without the whiny open letter on FB if she had just moved a rung or two up the ladder.

    • amuro98 says:

      Why should the teacher have to do that? She’s been doing this event for years, and never had a problem until she got that manager with a bug up his rear. The damage has already been done. Even in her letter she said they’d just shop somewhere else if the manager wasn’t interested in the $2000 the students were going to spend.

      I’m sure Corporate has better things to do than deal with petty store managers, and I’m sure the teacher has better things to do than deal with a store that clearly doesn’t want their money.

      Target just lost $2000 in immediate sales, plus some unknown amount from the teacher and the families of the kids not shopping at Target for the foreseeable future. I’m also pretty sure having the story hit the news will encourage others to switch to Walmart, either out of disgust for Target, or because of Walmart’s show of generosity.

  12. Cat says:

    I like buffed students. Why did they need re-buffing?

  13. Frankz says:

    “the heat of the internet’s torches on its butt” was just getting warmed up, too.
    Another day or 2, and they would have called the fire department, thinking the whole store was about to burn down from all the flaming going on, and not just all on the internet.

    Cleveland tv news got in on it, Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper got in on it, the open letter on Facebook that went viral by itself, and then the Consumerist article, and an EECB or 3.
    With that local publicity of tv and newspaper, I wouldn’t be suprised if people went to the store and complained.
    They were catching hell from all angles.

  14. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    That evil Walmart, just wanting to make profits off unsuspecting school kids! Profits!

    • Coffee says:

      I know you’re being snarky, but if that little $250 gesture gets the attention of twelve people across the country and causes them to shop at Walmart this Christmas instead of Target, they’ll be making profits indeed. It was both a nice gift and a shrewd move.

  15. DanKelley98 says:

    Target just continues to suck. From pricing errors to employee relations to this. Just my opinion.

  16. snarkysniff says:

    Im surprised that Target didnt offer to MATCH what the woman spent dollar for dollar. I personally think that would truly show a heartfelt apology from Target.

  17. SteveZim1017 says:

    I clicked on the tag for more about “HAPPY ENDINGS” and was sadly disappointed

  18. BorkBorkBork says:

    Curses…where’s a transcript of Target’s apology. I want to play Corporate Apology Bingo with my predictions from the other thread

  19. Gorbachev says:

    Maybe Target could throw in $50 to make her Kate Gosselin haircut disappear.

  20. NumberSix says:

    250 whole dollars Gigantic Mega Corp? Gee, are you sure you can spare it?

  21. impatientgirl says:

    You guys love to blame the entirety of a corporation for the idiocy of a MANAGER.

    Once the corporation knew about it they tried to remedy it. Case closed as it should be. I bet if she’d called their corporate office to tell them what happened she would have gotten the same result ie Target saying yes please come in the manager was wrong.

  22. BCGA82 says:

    Walmart is full of shit. In high school, my psychology class went there to buy stuff for a local toy drive and they flat out told us to all get the hell out. “OMG 30 high school students are in out store! The world is coming to an end!”

  23. akronharry says:

    Dear Walmart Haters: They gave a donation and you dod not. STFU regarding what they gave.The kids got some extra money and they learned something from it. Everytime that the word “Walmart” is used, the same old hipsters rise in protest to make their well known and weary comments.
    Go out and find a job, move out of mommies basement, and do something constructive in life.
    No, I rarely shop there, but have no problem going there if I need to.

  24. PLATTWORX says:

    Public shaming has worked many a miracle for me. It’s on top of my ways to get a company to totally change course. ;)

    I trust Target Corp. (who probably learned about this via the news) has fired a few staffers at that store. The bad PR has to have cost them tens of thousands in other sales easily.

  25. GrandizerGo says:

    Ehh, Target gets a pass from me on this, It was obviously NOT Target that turned them away, but a soon to be remanded employee…

    Target has Donated over 5 Million dollars this year to schools. Saw it on the Ellen show. They get a pass from me.

  26. ungeheier says:

    Im really hoping to have a ‘Holiday Happy Ending’ as well. Just gotta talk to the wifey about this.

  27. Coupon says:

    You can literally walk to the Wal Mart from the Target (I grew up right next door). You just gotta cross a busy street. Not sure why she didn’t drive the kids there after being turned away at Target!