Target: Putting Merchandise In Correct Bins Not Our Responsibility

Reader Marie went to the Target store in Biddeford, Maine and was told by the on-duty manager that “it is not the responsibility of the department manager or stocker” to ensure that the store’s bins actually contain the items that they are supposed to.

Really? Whose responsibility is it? Is it Marie’s responsibility?

What do the readers think? Does Target have a responsibility to keep their merchandise in good order? Or is that just the risk you take when you shop at Target?

(Photo:What Rhymes With Nicole)


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  1. bnet41 says:

    It depends. This article is very unclear. Was stuff knocked around? I used to work in a grocery and customers would knock the tags and product around. The people then would get mad at us for the tags being in the wrong place, or something being moved to the wrong area by a customer. We can’t monitor those display cases 24/7.

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    She should have just shown her receipt.

  3. MickeyMoo says:

    context, por favor….

  4. Abusiveelusive says:

    I agree. More info is needed.

  5. ncboxer says:

    I can’t tell from the post what exactly the problem was. Was the store in total disarray and she was complaining about that or were some things moved around on the shelves in a small area? If it was the whole store, I say she has a legitimate complaint- usually some of the quality of a store can be determined by how well things are picked up and placed in there proper place. I remember shopping in TJ Maxx many moons ago and the place was constantly trashed. But that is a reflection of shopping at that store.

    If just a couple of things were out of place, Target can’t be expected to keep things perfect always. You are always going to have customers picking up things and throeing them down or kids playing around and moving things. Target should have roaming people in the department look around their areas when they have time and fix things. Probably a direct relation to how many people you employ, to how orderly the store is.

  6. enm4r says:

    Based on the article alone, I have to side with Target. The complete lack of information leads me to believe that merchandise was place, more than likely by another shopper, into an area that it was not originally intended, and Marie was confused.

    She could have used one of the 50 little UPC price checkers around the store, or if the price rang up at check out higher than she expected, she could not have purchased. Those are always the consumer’s responsibility, so I don’t really understand what the complaint is.

  7. MameDennis says:

    I agree–I’d like some more details on this one.

    If the post means that there’s a bin filled improperly–say, Lite-Brite pins where the Miracle Gro is supposed to be–then, yeah, that’s the store’s boo-boo.

    If it’s a matter of customers dropping full-price items in a sale bin, the store can’t prevent that.

  8. MickeyMoo says:

    or loose cakes of rat poison in the “Free Sample” tray… oh wait – that’s WalMart

  9. nctrnlboy says:

    I’ve seen products placed in wrong spots by night stockers before (Walmart)… usually when they dont have enough of one product (meaning empty shelf space) & too much of a neighboring product (not enough shelf space)…. they end up putting what they have too much of in the wrong spot…. making you think it is the price shown …..VERY annoying!

    If its one item… then odds are a customer just changed their mind about a purchase & just stuck it somewhere instead of taking it back to where it belongs, but if it is more than one product…. then it is the stocker’s fault.

    You’d think that the employee in charge of their own department would make sure that everything is kept in order. That’s how it was when I worked at wal-mart many moons ago.

  10. Sherryness says:

    This type of problem has been around since bar-code-scanning checkouts started becoming comoonplace about 15 or more years ago.

    By now, customers should know that there is always a possiblity that something is not going to cost what the tag that APPEARS to correspond on the shelf says it will. It may well be the wrong tag, be for the wrong-sized or variety of item, etc. I have been known to check the actual bar code numbers on the item against the shelf tag in order to be assured I have the right information.

    Fortunately in Target, they have scanners throughout the store for customers to use in case they are unsure of the cost of an item. I have often used these and they make my life a lot easier. I can’t stand arguing with cashiers and will avoid it when at all possible.

    That being said, there is still a reasonable expectation that a store do everything in its power to see that information about cost is as easy to obtain as possible. And that includes making sure things are in the right bins when it can be helped.

  11. nffcnnr says:

    Years ago, i got a pair of super nice folding camping chairs for about half the price cuz they were on the wrong place on the shelf. They were above a tag for a cheaper chair, and when the clerk rung me out up front, i noticed the price and said nicely, “Oh, i thought these were only $13.99, that’s what the tag on the shelf said,” cuz fer reals i did think they were. She goes, “Really? Okay” and manually changed the $ for what we thought they were. i was like, “sweet.” And my girl was like, “sweet.” thank you please.

  12. AceKicker says:

    I’d say it’s as much of the Manager’s and stocker’s responsibility as it is their responsibility of customer retention and satisfaction. And I’m guessing that if you asked them how much that was their answer wouldn’t shock you.

    I wouldn’t say use that alone as a reason not to shop there anymore, but if it leads to problems I’d say that’s a pretty strong case for it.

  13. DeeJayQueue says:

    IIRC, there’s a law saying that if you don’t have your items individually priced then you have to have a shelf tag that has not only the product name but another identifying detail like an item # or upc code on it, so that it can be restocked correctly, and to avoid confusion over price.

    The manager might have meant that it was the night crew’s responsibility, or just not his team’s responsibility, but that’s bunk because the closing crew does recovery every night anyway, when they’re supposed to put strays away and make sure things are where they belong.

    In any case, it IS the store’s responsibility to make sure that product is labelled correctly for sale, which means that it has a home on a shelf somewhere with the appropriate pricing details. If some stuff gets scattered around, that happens but it’s a mistake, not SOP.

  14. ShadowFalls says:

    Exactly, if anyone looks at these tags, the price is Big and Bold, the name of the item is small, some cases very hard to read for people. Misrepresentation of a price for an item whether intentionally or not is unacceptable, and in some cases illegal. Target could theoretically be sued for false advertising, they are advertising a price in front of a product that is the product they are advertising. That is a type of false advertising.

  15. InThrees says:


    Here’s an example of Ohio’s shelf law – Target Corporate would probably be very interested to learn that the manage feels it’s not his employees’ responsibility to straighten shelves and bins, because it’s a potential huge money loser.

    This likely varies by state (that site came up first with a ‘price shelf law’ googling) but odds are most states are similar.

  16. davidaegger says:

    I think the woman was just looking to get a deal. Bad actors should not be rewarded. If the store really screwed something up, fine. But there’s no info and when there’s no info the Consumerist just takes their regular militantly anti-business stance. It’s like a business has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they didn’t do anything wrong on here.

    The Consumerist provides a great service, but this kind of militant anti-corporate stuff when there’s no actual info available makes the blog look like a bunch of whiny WTO protesters.

  17. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Without further information, I’m on Target’s side. Experience tells me that customers enjoy throwing things around, hanging them on random hooks, and leaving them on the floor. A properly-run store is able to clean up the obvious messes, but they’re not going to spot every single misplaced item.

  18. soldierblue says:

    Can’t possibly be worse than a local Wal-Mart, at most stores employees are tasked with returning merchandise the customers move to where they should be. They don’t do that too often. The place is a complete mess.

  19. SaraAB87 says:

    There is a lack of information here so I don’t know what really went on. But if it was just one item misplaced, then they should expect to not get the lower price, customers do this all the time. However if it was a whole shelf of items or a whole bin of items with the wrong price on it then it should be honored by the store if the wrong price was put on the tag and it rings up a higher price when coming to the register. Most stores over here would honor the price. Most stores here honor old ad sign prices that have been left up by accident too, as long as you bring the sign up to the register, even when the dates on the sign are highlighted in color. Most stores (that still use price tags) also honor mis-tagged items that were mis-tagged by the store. Its really hard to switch a price tag at most retail stores now so I don’t see this being a huge problem anymore. Its also hard not to honor a mis-tagged item that is tagged with a usually generic price tag, there is no way for the customer to know their item has been mis-tagged.

  20. RandomHookup says:

    Since most big box stores have decided against individual item pricing as a cost control measure, the burden falls on the store to make sure prices are accurately posted and that the item is adequately identified.

    Lots of states have pricing laws and some chains have decided that they would rather pay the fines than spend the time and energy to make sure everything has an individual price tag.

    Advantage: consumer, pending further review

  21. LowerHouseMember says:

    Having worked at Target in the past, I know that it is impossible to police the location of every single item in the store, because customers come in and shuffle items around constantly. Throughout the day and especially at the end of the day an attempt is made to put everything back, but you just can’t always find everything. People really need to be more understanding sometimes.

  22. categorically says:

    I agree, how about some context here…

    In the end, Consumers need to pay attention to what they are buying, not just dump everything out on the belt and pay with a credit card. If people would look at the prices ringing up and not talking on their cell phone, there would be less issues with people returning crap.

  23. luckybob343 says:

    As someone who has worked enough retail jobs to last a lifetime, and as someone who regularly shops at Target I’m siding with Target on this one.

    Anyone in retail is familiar with the C.R.P., or Customer Re-stocking Problem. I could restock and reorganize shelves for three hours, and within five minutes SOMETHING would be out of place thanks to a customer. At every Target I have been to, the products are typically with their price tags (even during remodeling/expansion). The price tags are also easily readable. My experiences are within Philly, where people are brutish, ignorant swine. I can’t imagine how Targets are in nicer parts of the country.

    What has been said above rings true: Target has a bunch of the UPC readers throughout the store. Failing to locate and read the price tags AND failing to use a UPC reader shifts the burden to the shopper. This isn’t something you can pin on Target.

  24. Kezzerxir says:

    I worked at target when I was in high school as cashier, yes I know. One day and lady came through very distressed looking and very short with me. She had purchases some jeans and 2 pies that were marked for a 1.00 and they rang up a 1.00. Well when the pies came up for a dollar this lady got very angry and she told me that she got them from a back corner of the store under a 50% off sign. I asked her where and she pointed towards seasonal. In most circumstances I would let .50 cents slide and change the price. Though, I didn’t particularly like this lady so I explained to her they were a 1.00 and that pies that would found in seasonal

  25. Caroofikus says:

    I used to work at Target, and everytime this would happen we would manually change the price. I worked at a store in Alabama as well as in Wyoming, so it’s not an isolated matter either. The funny thing about Target is they always try to have their stores neat and tidy with everything where it’s supposed to go.

    Also, just so everybody knows, the Target registers have a price override feature on them. They use a “$20 dollar rule” on determining price overrides. If the item price is under $20 and the disputed difference is less than $5, the cashier is supposed to override it on the spot. Anything else and they are supposed to call a manager. I personally overrode anything that wasn’t unreasonable no matter the price – there’s no need to call a manager to override $117 to $113 – they would just say okay anyhow.

  26. Youthier says:

    I’ll seventh or eighth the fact that we need more information on this one although the manager does sound like he or she was a bit dismissive.

  27. andymadrid1 says:

    I believe that if the store is going to use a self service method then it is responsible for keeping the store in order. (It is obvious that with self service, stock will be handled and possibly misplaced by other customers and it is the burden of the store to correct this in order to) avoid mislabeling and errors in pricing.

  28. Kwummy says:

    Shouldn’t The Consumerist also have a responsibility to provide a little more details to the story?

  29. dbeahn says:

    It sure sounds to me like another customer put a high dollar item into a bin marked with a low price. I don’t think it is the store’s responsibility to follow every customer around and make sure no one moves anything to anywhere it isn’t supposed to be. If you see a $300 digital camera in a bin that says “$5!” and it’s the ONLY camera in a bin full of DVD movies, it’s unreasonable to go find a manager and demand they sell you the camera for $5 because it was in the $5 bin.

    Faced with a customer that was doing someing so absurd as demanding a $300 item unrelated to everything else in the bin be sold at $5, I can see where a manager might say “it is not the responsibility of the department manager or stocker”

    I personally think it’s the responsibility of the customer to at least pretend to have a brain.

  30. Kezzerxir says:

    Part II (Hit the submit button to early, please add a edit function)

    that would be found in seasonal were obviously miss placed. Since pies have to be refrigerated, they wouldn’t of been placed by the store on just a table. She demanded to see my manager and I called him over. The lady must of annoyed my manager as well cause he backed me up and refused to discount them. We ended having to kick her out of the store cause she got very angry still arguing they were .50cent even after we showed he the correct place for the pies. The moral of my story is even though the consumerist likes to paint a picture that you as a consumer are god, and every company should been to your will is wrong. I’m a human just like you, but I just happen to work at target. Some days I won’t like you, and some days my manager won’t like you too.

  31. bugsbenny36 says:

    Target is notorious (at least in my area Targets) for not having the right items in their right place.
    I’ve actually stopped shopping there as a result!

  32. @ncboxer: “If just a couple of things were out of place, Target can’t be expected to keep things perfect always.”

    That’s true, but it’s still the staff’s RESPONSIBILITY to see that things are in the right bins and whatnot. Obviously there will be an error rate and obviously staff can’t always keep up with customer destruction. But to claim that it’s not their responsibility? Alarming.

    I spend most of high school working at a store with a large craft section with lots of “by the piece” (and of course by the yard) goods for sale in bins. ALWAYS a catastrophe. As soon as I got through to the end cleaning it I had to start back at the beginning because it was always already destroyed again.

    But it was still my RESPONSIBILITY to keep the department in good order and be sure things were properly marked/binned/tagged/etc. 100% perfection never occurred (at least not once the store opened), but that didn’t make it not my responsibility.

    (And really, the right answer here is to either apologize and politely explain the mismark to the customer — most customers get it — or, if it’s a small purchase or a small price differential, to apologize and ring it up at the lower price. We could also give our employee discount to customers when that happened if it was too large a price differential to give the lower price. Not to say “It’s not our responsibility” and act like the customer is somehow at fault for believing your labeling.)

  33. Myron says:

    Half the stuff in Target doesn’t have a price displayed anywhere. That’s why they have those little price scanners scattered about (at least the Target I go to does). If you don’t like it go somewhere else.

  34. DeeJayQueue says:

    This reminds me of when I used to work for Bed Bath and Beyond. They individually price all the merchandise there because they don’t really have planograms or shelf tags. They do this so that they can remerchandise stock quickly and easily (and often). Since I was the only one there who knew the business end of a mouse, I was often the one making signs. Typically corporate would send a batch of signs which got printed and cut out. They had UPCs on them, prices, item descriptions, etc. Occasionally though we’d merchandise something a little differently or the sign would be the wrong size or something, and I’d have to make a custom one. At first I would just do a price sign, an otherwise blank sign that just had the price on it.

    I got in so much trouble for that. From then on we had to put exactly what item was for sale at the sale price on the sign, to avoid confusion.

  35. elf6c says:

    This post is a bit of a disaster. When half of the comments are calling for more details you know you dropped the ball.

    Stuff gets misplaced by the customers in all sorts of stores. Customer needs to exercise some common sense here. Why was this even posted, and why done so poorly?

  36. killavanilla says:

    This is what killed ‘Venture’.
    Do any of you remember Venture? It was a predecessor to Target.
    The stores were a mess with everything in shambles. They had good prices, but finding anything was always a crap-shoot.
    The brand died off because people decided en masse that they would rather pay a little extra to, you know, be able to find the merchandise they wanted to buy.
    Alas, Target has lost it’s way…

  37. VA_White says:

    The Target I shop at is very good about keeping the shelves straight. I took two sets of very heavy garage shelves to the register and when they rang up at twice what I thought they should, the store manager walked back to the shelf with me.

    Turns out there are two grades of steel garage shelves, one rated for far less weight than the other set and priced twice as much as the other set. I didn’t need or want the heavy duty ones and I offered to swap them out for the smaller cheaper ones but the store manager said since they were stocked in the wrong spot, she was going to sell me the heavy-duty shelves at the lower price since that’s where there were when I picked them up.

    No hassle, no questions, and half-off the shelves. Maybe he was at a crappy Target.

  38. girly says:

    I agree that as long as the items are individually priced they aren’t “required” to keep things in order.

    Of course I’m sure they’d have some health/saftey issues if the items are all over the floor or something.

    But if they’re just in the wrong bin, I guess it is up to Target if they want to put in the effort of earning the customer’s respect.

    Marie’s Target has made its decision: “enh, why bother!”

  39. acasto says:

    The stuff people complain about just amazes me sometimes. To bad Target dosen’t sell common sense. But even if they did, and it was somehow placed a shelf below, she’d still be out of luck.

  40. karmaghost says:

    Was the item in an area with like items or was it completely out of context? Did she look at the tag and read the description of the item to make sure what was on the shelf matched what she had in hand?

    It’s the responsibility of the stores to keep their products in good order, but sometimes things get mixed up. If the labels were wrong, Target should take the hit and say “I’m sorry, here you go” and fix the mistake so it doesn’t happen again. But stores can’t be expected to allow customers to come up to them and say “this was here, so it should cost what this label says” every time, otherwise you’d have people purposefully making such “mistakes” all the time.

  41. ChChChacos says:

    I really don’t understand this article. I used to work for a Target in Florida. We were always told to make sure things were in the correct places on shelves, and if we didn’t know where to place them we were supposed to scan them at those handy dandy price checkers at the end of aisles, which gives you an aisle number and then hunt down a spot from there. I’ll admit though that sometimes I was a lazy Target “Team Member”..and I misplaced items, but it has to be company policy somewhere to ensure items are placed on the shelves somewhere. geesh.

  42. andrewsmash says:

    I would say that both parties are responsible – Target needs to make a good faith effort to keep things straight and the customer needs to double check the price if it seems to good to be true. Don’t they have those little scanner stations everywhere? My local Target does, so if I find the Sopranos Super Gold box set in the $0.99 bin, I can take a second and double check. But on the other hand, if Target wants to keep customers happy, they should be willing to cut a deal now and then. The only people who shouldn’t be blamed are the stockers. It is hard and thankless work for awful pay and you usually get stuck doing three people’s work due to the constant understaffing.

  43. goodguy812 says:

    if they aren’t responsible why even have a bin? why not scatter everything on a warehouse floor and not price anything? it would be as effective. lol

  44. Dibbler says:

    They don’t have the responsibility to place everything in the right spot. I guess I couldn’t really find the article except for the small part at the top. Are you complaining that you found an iPod in with the $0.59 sample shampoo and are mad because they wouldn’t sell you the iPod for $0.59 or what? I guess I’m confused as to what the problem is…

  45. Dibbler says:

    …but on the other hand if they don’t keep the store clean and organized they’ll get the same reputation as K-mart and slowly start to die as a corporation.

  46. Major-General says:

    It’s Target’s responsibility. Sure, customers move things around, but one of the duties of someone working a department is that they are supposed to try to make sure things are in the correct location with the correct label.

    If it isn’t Targets responsibility, then I want the 10$ price difference back on the game I bought my nephew for Christmas that was mis-marked in a locked security case.

  47. Katharine says:

    I think this story needs more info. The Biddeford Target is the one closest to me and honestly I think it is in pretty good condition. Much better than the Biddeford Walmart. The main problem I find at most Targets is that the stuff in the dollar bins isn’t always current but everything is a dollar so what is the big deal.

  48. nancypants says:

    I understand that even the best stocking team in the world isn’t going to have everything in the right place all the time, because customers will move things around.

    I work retail and sometimes I’m left scratching my head at what’s supposed to be on the hook/shelf/in the bin at other stores. Sometimes your only clue is what’s on the same hook. There are a lot of customers who need to pay better attention, but some of the blame rests with retailers, too.

    I’ve been to stores where all the stock of a certain item had switched hooks with the stock of another item, and that’s a stocking error. If the people who work in your store can’t figure out what goes where, how is a customer supposed to figure it out with no context clues and no Telxon?

    Retailers, adjust the price for your stocking errors and start printing tags that can be understood. Customers, pay better attention. That Sopranos boxed set is not 20 dollars, don’t even try.

  49. Voyou_Charmant says:

    Regardless of context, you cant trust the location of an item to be 100% accurate. People place things in the wrong place constantly. Otherwise why not say “hey i just found this 42″ Sony HDTV in the dollar bin. JACKPOT!”

    The customer needs to take some level of responsibility when determining the price of an item. For anyone to go into a store and just assume that every single item is in it’s place is impossibly naive.

  50. Whoa says:

    @bnet41: I worked at Trader Joe’s for a few years, and with the (easily moveable) handmade signs they use, this could often be a problem for us, too. I’m certainly not accusing Marie of this, but we had one guy who would often come in and either look for stuff that was in the wrong place (e.g. organic eggs in the regular section), or move the product/sign himself, and then come up and ask for the discounted price. It was our general policy to comply, but eventually I’d tell someone on the floor to keep an eye on him if he came in while I was on a reg.

  51. SaraAB87 says:

    Hey, at least Targets will do small overrides and price adjustments without making you wait 20 min to get a manager like you have to in Kmart for a 50 cent price adjustment and then you also don’t have to wait another 10 min while the clerk tries to print up the price on an override sheet on a 30 year old outdated P-O-S system! No they have to check the Ad, send a manager to check the item price on the shelf, then figure out, Doh! yeah its the fact that the manager forgot to upload the data for this sale item into the 30 year old P-O-S system like always, ok you can have your item for 50 cents less, now we have to do the same process for everyone else who comes up with the same item with the same incorrect price because of course they are lying just to get 50 cents off their item.

    Usually Target is really good about price adjustments, and if something is the wrong price they will usually take the time to explain why it was the wrong price in a really nice way. Our Target is also usually really organized too and very clean.

  52. Thassodar says:

    As a employee of Target I love reading the few complaints that show up about Target and realizing that most of them are from people who are LOOKING for something to complain about. The article always has several people backing Target, which I always find comforting.

    At the Target store I work at in Mansfield, TX the employees are always watching their set areas (zoning). One time a lady came through my line with a car seat that had a clearance tag on it for $29.87. When I scanned the normal bar code it rang up for around $80. I then typed in the number for the clearance tag and it was a completely different item. Needless to say they didn’t want it after that.

    People are shady, but the policy in my store is to change the price if it is $10 or less (some people will say $20 or less) with no arguments. I do this and have done this for the year I have been a employee there with no trouble.

    Whatever this lady’s problem is is probably not that big of a deal, much like most of the other Target complaints I read on this site.

  53. MissMissy says:

    This reminds me of situations we used to have all the time when I worked at a nursery and gardening store in college.

    We’d get someone to bring up a HUGE expensive item (which had its price clearly on the tag) and say it was in a clearance bin…in which the item didn’t fit. Or they’d want a gallon-sized plant for the quart-sized price (gallon and quart clearly marked on all signage and pots).

    Kids, lazy people, etc., will set an item in the wrong bin after they decide they don’t want it anymore. This doesn’t mean they’re being malicious, they’re just kinda lazy. We’d clean the store at regular intervals, but you can’t catch every little item–and you can’t be expected to give a customer a $100 item for $4.99 when it’s clearly a single item out of place.

    That, and these people who brought the items up to the counter expecting to get the unreasonably cheap price would giggle, bat their lashes and say, “Oooh, this may have been in the wrong bin, but you have to give it to me….teehee.” No, actually, per store policy we didn’t. It was obvious on more than one occasion that the customer was deliberately trying to get a deal they knew they shouldn’t be getting.

    With the lack of information on this story–I’m siding with Target on this one.

  54. dantsea says:

    Since we’re not getting context here, I’m going to fill in my own: Marie was colossal jackass over something insignificant. Management tried to appease and/or reason with her, but she was having none of it. In an effort to end the conversation, management gave her a blunt soundbite upon which she’s fixated forever and a day.

    In short, Target was right. She was wrong. Thank you, drive through.

  55. RvLeshrac says:


    Obviously never worked in retail. And how many full-service retail stores have you shopped in? Not all of us can pay $10k for a butler and personal shopper

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Certainly didn’t work in retail long! Anyone who has worked a retail store for more than a year is fully aware of the fact that you’re not “responsible” for anything on the floor. The store management is responsible for putting you on a task, and you’re responsible for completing the given task. Completing tasks that you have not been assigned is a good way to get a write-up or a pink-slip.

  56. gamabunta says:

    It is their job. It’s called “facing” the store. I do it every night @ Longs. The Target employees are just lazy jackasses. Complain to corporate.

  57. george-elliot says:

    Target stocked a $20.00 Digital Camera from China in the most
    conspicuous of locations. I bought one, put the driver on my winxp and
    then got the blue screen from hell – my computer has never recovered
    and is completely unusable. I called the ETL at my local Target. She
    said she would refund me 17.00 for the camera, but there was nothing
    she could do about the loss of the computer (my life line, i’m using a
    friend’s). I heard they pulled them from the shelves and i’m wondering
    about blue screens for xmas. She told me they had been selling like hot
    cakes for the past month. I’m holding on to the camera and the cdrom so
    i can prove it’s malicious by wrecking a demo computer. I’ll probably
    do it as a youtube video. Anyone else have this type of experience with
    Target? I’m out like 5 grand in work, lost work, hardware and software.