Target Employee Says Whatever She Feels Like At The Time

Abbey is annoyed with a woman who works at the new Target store in Washington, D.C., because the woman lied to her and wasted her time:

One of my roommates just got a Wii, so I decided to go to Target and get “Wario Ware: Smooth Moves.”  Before hitting the store, though, I gave their electronics department a call to see if they had the game in stock.  A woman in electronics picked up the phone and when I asked her if she had the game, she quickly said, “Yeah, we’ve got that in stock.”  So I got up off my couch and walked over to the Target to buy my game.

When I got there, less than half an hour later, I checked the shelves – but no game.  I went to the front desk to see if someone could help me find it.  After a few minutes of being flirted with by his coworker (as a line steadily grew behind me), the guy at the electronics desk told me that in fact, no, they didn’t have the game in stock.

Now, I’d be willing to believe that maybe in the twenty minutes it took me to get to the Target, someone snatched up the last copy of Smooth Moves.  But then the guy at the desk (who was really helpful) said, point blank to me, “I don’t know who answered your call, but they obviously just didn’t feel like looking it up.  Sorry about that.”  (Side note: my guess is that the flirty coworker was the woman who answered my call; she was the only other person working in that department, and she beat a hasty retreat when she heard what I was looking for.)

So, basically, Washington DC’s shiny new Target is being staffed by people who would rather lie to potential customers than spend what turned out to be literally ten seconds to look something up on a computer.  What a wasted trip.


PS – I sent essentially this same message through Target’s contact form yesterday and got a standard “sorry, come again soon!” form letter.

You need to chill out, Abbey. It’s quite possible that the woman who answered the phone was a psychic in training, and she made a good faith effort to “see” the inventory without averting her gaze from her coworker’s butt while he ran the cash register. Or what if it’s Target Opposite Day and the employees are forced to reverse their answers? Managers love coming up with weird team-building exercises like that.

At any rate, just pretend that your trip to Target was a bonus Smooth Moves game—Nintendo’s pretty innovative, so maybe they’ve worked real life pointless tasks into the mini-game concept by now.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. KIbbit says:

    Target is like ‘this close’ to getting the Walmart treatment for me, only if I get a gift card.

  2. seamer says:

    This reminds me of the time Target had copies of Vista Home Premium on sale for 10 cents. Sadly they were out of stock.

    It’s a boring story :(

  3. bpotterr says:

    Target doesn’t have managers. They have “team leaders”.

  4. vr4z06gt says:

    HA honestly while it might be really annoying to the customer, especially depending on how of a drive she has to get to target, its pretty funny. Actually hilarious, the beginning says that you got up off the couch and walked to target. I really don’t have any sympathy for you at that point, its called exercise and probably does more for you than the video game….

  5. ajc308 says:

    Coming soon: Target weather forecasting, Target sports betting, Target stock analysts, and Target lottery suggestions

  6. KIbbit says:

    @vr4z06gt: wow….snarky

  7. parad0x360 says:

    @seamer: Working at Target I can tell you Vista was never 10 cents. What you saw was the label for a display box. Target assigns to a label which printed out how much they paid for the display box on it. Had you read the label you would have seen “Vista Premium Display” written clearly on it.

    As for your story I believe it. Sometimes people dont check which makes no sense because its incredibly easy to do so. 3 seconds on the computer will tell you if its in stock without even having to find the item itself.

    The form later is standard, but you may end up getting a call from the store or a real letter later on. It takes 1-2 weeks for them to check into all those surveys.

  8. javi0084 says:


    It really is.

  9. vr4z06gt says:

    @KIbbit: meh, its really that this isn’t news worthy, is it really a huge deal that the video game wasn’t there or some one lied to you. The workers probably get $8/hr so the they only give target $8/hr worth of work…

  10. pecheckler says:

    Rule number #1: Always get the emplyees name, and their department
    Rule number #2 Always ask the emplyees to set tv item aside for you when calling to check stock.


  11. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    After working retail for years until I was literally fed up with it, I can’t blame the girl. She’s getting paid minimum wage; do you really think she cares if you are too lazy to get off your couch and look yourself? That is why Target HAS retail stores; so you can go look and see what they have. If you are too lazy to go out and go shopping around, buy it online. Why should it be the employees job to shop for you?

    I really don’t like to blame the consumer; especially this one, as he WAS lied to. But I am getting tired of people expecting service a la the Plaza Hotel from a department store clerk. You answer the phone for minimum wage, and then see how motivated you are to go looking around the store for a product.

  12. It could be my imagination, but I called Target customer service with a detailed complaint about an experience in one of their NY stores… and they seemed to have responded to the complaint.

    I would suggest to the OP to call, rather than email. In my Target, I see people all the time that look like they’re from the Target corporation and reworking the store. Again, it could be my imagination, but I think Target actually does to be responsive.

  13. strixus says:

    @aaron8301 – you know, some people like to call ahead to make sure we aren’t waisting gas and time before we leave the store. Call us lazy – I call it efficient.

  14. Hayden1028 says:


    That isn’t the point of this story. We all know that minimum wage is horrible, but you are still being paid and it is your job and responsibility to answer a simple question as asked by a customer.

    She didn’t want to do look it up, she was not doing what she is being paid to, as little as it is. People that work at these stores are expected to treat the customers with respect, and HELP them, that is why they are called customer service representatives.

    How would you like to go to a Walmart with nothing but a self check out? Employees are paid so that someone can call in and receive help, not just to stand around.

  15. icust298 says:

    Why does the customer have to go to the store to see if it’s there? The employee is already in the electronics dept, is it that tough to look it up on the computer or even go look in the case? And if they aren’t willing to do that for $8/hr then maybe they should find another job.

  16. irfan says:

    @aaron8301: they arent being asked to shop.. thats not their job. their job IS customer service… and they failed to provide that. Maybe you shop differently, but some people like to go to a store where they KNOW the product is in stock, instead of going around the whole city strying to find something. its more efficient to call ahead and verify.

    would you rather her walk there.. then walk back, then drive to the next store, then drive to the next, then drive to the next? waste of gas, time, causes pollution and congests the roads, which DC doesnt need more of. the employee is hired to provide service.. and even if its $8 an hour she still took that job. shes making $8 an hour to stand behind a desk and spend 10 seconds looking something up on a computer when someone calls. would you pay someone more than $8 for that if you ran the store? no, because that amount of effort only deserves $8. The employee fails to even accomplish those tasks.

    the consumer can be picked on for being lazy, but its not her fault at all for being lied to and having to waste time.

  17. moorem2 says:

    The thing is, that girl got paid the $8/hr if the customer was pissed or not.

  18. freshyill says:

    Oh, you mean that Soviet Target in Columbia Heights was sold out of something? That place sucks. They’re always sold out of everything.

  19. Caroofikus says:

    On a handy note, if you look something up on you can see what stores near you have it. It’s not foolproof, though, because I called once and someone was just being lazy. I took a shot and made the hour long drive and lucked out anyway.

  20. joellevand says:

    @Hayden1028: Actually, I’d love self checkout at every place I shop, thanks!

  21. ludwigk says:

    @PTWhipplebang: B-But they have M.O.D.s (manager on duty). I guess its easier to say than T.L.O.D.s

    I don’t know about target, but I used to work at a retail store where most people could not check inventory easily. Most computers did not have access to the inventory system. That meant either a) searching high and low all over the store for the particular item, and/or b) getting someone on inventory to do a systematic search (which could still be wrong), or c) just making something up to tell the customer. Since doing a) and b) could literally take about 20 minutes, it actually was a pretty bad solution for a customer calling in.

    From the apologizer, it sounds like checking would not have entailed too much work, however.

  22. ryatziv says:


    Why should it be the employees job to shop for you?

    Because it’s their job to answer the phones and provide accurate information to the customers?

  23. Kind of the same thing happened to me, except backwards, when COD 4 came out, I asked the rep if they had any left for the PS3, she quickly replied, “Oh, no, we sold out of that awhile ago.” I went and checked anyways (it was 25 feet away) and there were 4 copies left.

  24. y2julio says:

    I think she did you the favor of buying a crappy game. I think she should get praise.

  25. I was searching everywhere for a certain size pool for my kids, and low and behold, the only local place who had it, you guessed it, TARGET. Oh, F, I hate that place. But I love my kids, so I went. I have no complaints, though. Called ahead of time, asked if they had it in stock. It took a couple of minutes on hold, but they said yes. I asked them to put a hold on it for a couple of hours so I could get it, seeing as their store was 60 miles away.

    When I got there, they had it sitting in customer service with my name on it. So some stores DO care. This particular person is just an asshat employee who values d*ck over their job responsibilities.

  26. Johnny Ballgame says:

    Dude, there’s a Best Buy in the same building.

  27. samurailynn says:

    @aaron8301: Plaza Hotel service would be her calling around and finding out who did have it and then bringing it to me. And actually, I have been to a Target and a Lowe’s where the employees did (almost) exactly that. They called to every store within driving distance to find me what I wanted and asked the employees at those stores to set it aside for me. I didn’t ask them to do all that. It’s just that when I asked them to help me find an item and their store didn’t have it, they went out of their way to help me find it. And I made sure to let their managers know how helpful they had been.

  28. endless says:

    OMG i can’t believe that someone working at target did that to you!!!

    slow news day consumerist?

  29. katekate says:

    @vr4z06gt: the point, you missed it.

  30. seamer says:

    @parad0x360: Normally, I agree with the content of your message (display boxes @10cents).

    But these weren’t labelled “display only”. The shelf sticker was for the actual product, and the boxes on the shelf weren’t even there. We went through 5 employees and a manager to verify that the 10 cent price was correct, and even the manager had to give in and acknowlege that somewhere in the system, someone either fucked up and/or someone with the authority to made themselves a few copies of Vista really cheap and didn’t remember to fix the prices. We did see an inventory screen showing an instore availability of 0 items, so we knew we were just out of luck. The manager also called nearby stores to see if they had any, but they too were also out of stock (at the legit price).

    I didn’t want to have to write that all out, but you forced my hand!

  31. sburnap42 says:

    Borders Books at least used to do this as a matter of policy, as far as I could tell. I work near one and would check their website’s “search inventory” to see if the book I needed was in stock at the store before walking over there. Three times in a row they book the site claimed was in stock wasn’t actually on the shelves and was out of stock according to the in-store computers. I finally realized that they just wanted me to go to the store in hopes that I’d buy something.

  32. Asvetic says:

    It wasn’t as if it was a wasted trip. No one leaves TARGET empty handed, no one!

  33. Landru says:

    @vr4z06gt = what a mean bastard.

  34. SonicMan says:

    I do not know what this clerks problem was. Why didn’t she just say NO. We do not have That Item. Done….

  35. juiceboxonfire says:

    If Target is close enough to walk to, can’t you just go and see if they have it yourself? It doesn’t seem like it was an extensive or exhausting trip.

    I’m going to start calling my grocery store to make sure they have stuff in stalk so I don’t waste my time walking there from now on.

  36. accessmemorex says:

    “In soviet russia game buys you”

  37. rolla says:

    i just dont see how this concerns the website. Big deal…we’ve all been lied to about something in a store. Do we wanna contact corporate and tell Target they have a lazy person working in their store?

  38. Hayden1028 says:


    I like it too, but they’re always broken and they have people there to help you when they stop working. CSR is needed to help you for everything, its to the business’s best interest. They shouldn’t pick and chose, they’re not shopping for you, they’re helping make your shopping experience better.

  39. lincolnparadox says:

    I’m not sure what this contributor wants? Should Target fire this girl because she’s a poor employee? Should everyone who reads the Consumerist stop shopping at Target because of one apathetic teenager? Was the game even on sale or did she have a gift card?

    Retail outlets only get so many copies of console games. If you HAVE to have a game, either pre-order or buy online. Or shop at Babbages/Game Stop/Gamers/etc. The girl was a dumb bitch who doesn’t care about you or your feelings.

    I just described all teenagers and most people under 30 with that statement, as well.

  40. dlynch says:

    for the record, that game is awesome. don’t let target stop you from buying it.

  41. Shmonkmonk says:

    First off… Minimum wage is like %5.65- Target pays more than that so let’s stop with the minimum wage thing. I used to work at a dept. store where regular sales associates made $12+ an hour- not saying that’s a lot of money but that’s about what some cubie workers get paid.

    Secondly, I think there’s a chance that the game did get sold in that 20 minutes, or, the sales clerk (not being familiar with vid games) confused it with the DS version or something.

    Trust me, if a customer wants to verify stock and an employee feels lazy, they’re just going say, “Sorry… we don’t have it” that way, they don’t have to deal with it. I mean, think about it, if they lie and say they have it, then they will have to deal with that cust. eventually.

    I admit, there have been times when I would say I would check, put the phone down for a few minutes, come back, lie, and say, “Sorry… we’re out.” BUT, I only did that when the customer wanted me to go through twenty racks of clearance to find that one shirt from a year ago on markdown for $4.99 in her size. As a former manager explained it, “How much do I pay you an hour? How long would it take you to find the shirt? How much is the shirt? Do the math.”

  42. @juiceboxonfire: STOCK. Sorry, it was staring me down.

  43. Pro-Pain says:

    I worked @ Target a few years ago as a loss prevention “specialist”. You would not believe some of the things I saw go on @ that store. For instance, there was a camera pointed at the sudafed aisle. The people buying the limit of three packages (or whatever the limit was, I forgot) were photographed then followed to their car via the moving cameras both inside and outside the store. Once outside the store we were told to zoom in on the license plate and still photos were taken both of their face and the car plate. These were placed in a big photo album. Ocasionally local detectives and police would come in and look through the book and they would randomly run the plates. I’m pretty sure this is illegal. It was done all the time. There was blatant racism (african americans were watched/targeted the minute they walked in the door.)The tapes were filled with attractive white women shopping. Zooms of their breast and butt were the norm. Sometimes there was no manager or “team leader” present in the store @ ALL!! I was mortified beyond belief. Needless to say the whole thing made me sick and I quit not to long after starting. I hope this store was NOT the norm for Target, as it was…shocking.

  44. jamesdenver says:


    As others have said – yes it is their damn job to check. I ALWAYS call ahead unless I’m just driving by and decide to stop in somewhere.

    It doesn’t matter if I want a $10 set of headphones or a $1,000 fridge – I always call and have them set it aside. Often at the front desk so I can go in, pay, and get the hell out.

    Also how many times have you been shopping and been told “Gee we don’t have one here, but there’s two at our store 10 miles across town.” Why the hell does anyone want to spend their Saturday on freeways and parking lots driving from one store to the next if I can do all the arrangements on my PC and phone. (That’s if for some reason I didn’t just buy it online.)

    So yeah I call, verify a name/department, and make sure SOMEONE physically has their hand on my product. Hey I just realized what I wrote but not deleting it.

    sheesh james

  45. bohemian says:

    This is Target, not Nordstrom. About the extent of expected assistance is them getting big items out of the back and out of the store.
    Target is a discount store, I wouldn’t expect full service there any more than I would expect the local stop and rob to pump my gas and check my oil.

  46. TangDrinker says:

    @lincolnparadox: It’s quite possible that the reason people post here as well as contacting the home office of the offending store is to point out the lack of customer service – and to hopefully do something about it. If I were the manager of this store and I read this article, I’d want to hold a team meeting to go over customer service again with my staff.

    If it’s a new store, perhaps she wasn’t trained on how best to answer the phone. The OP could have asked her to place it on hold for her, or, better yet, the person who answered the phone should have OFFERED to place this on hold for her.

    I’ve worked retail in large book and music stores, and offering to put something on hold was just something we did for the customers. If they didn’t come in within a 2 hour time limit, it went back on the shelf.

    And people who work retail should realize that the customer service skills they pick up (good or bad) will follow them the rest of their careers – whether they’re in retail or not.

  47. wring says:

    next time have them put it on hold for you…? if you’re nice enough maybe they will. i remember having a “team member” put a buncha clearance Luella stuff for me.

  48. Lambasted says:

    Ummm…so. Is this a problem the OP expects should rally the troops to picket Target? Seriously, what kind of response is this person looking for? Okay, so an employee lied instead of the getting off their lazy behind to actually check to see if the game was in stock. I am all for telling The Man where to shove it when he is screwing over customers but to be more than just mildly irritated about something like this, c’mon.

  49. timmus says:

    Ha ha… this happened to me in 1982 when I wanted to get some game paddles for my VIC-20 at the Sears at El Con Mall (ha!) in Tucson. Twenty five years later things don’t change much.

  50. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    That employee was dumb. Fine, be lazy, but everyone knows that when you want to blow off a customer on the phone, you tell them you DON’T have it, so that they don’t come later and create an awkward situation for you.

  51. BigBoat says:

    @verucalise: OR a clever celery pun.

  52. DeltaPurser says:

    Now everybody is jumping on Target because ONE employee was lazy?! Oh, come on…

  53. sponica says:

    Maybe Target is sophisticated enough to have a computer system to look up an item. But KB Toys, when I worked there, was not. I really didn’t like customers who called to see if something was in stock when I had a line of 8-10 paying customers and I was the only one on the floor. What’s a sales person to do? While I would never blatantly lie, I would say I don’t know but I thought I remembered seeing it (or not) and that I really was not able to check the stock at that time. Maybe she got the game confused with something else, or remembered seeing it earlier. After working a few days in a row, they all blur together.

    I’ve gotten less than admirable customer service in my years as a customer, but I always remember those days on the other side of the counter. If you haven’t worked a 13 hour shift the day after thanksgiving or a 12 hr shift Christmas Eve at a toy store consider yourselves lucky. But after doing so, I give the person on the other side of the counter the benefit of the doubt because lord knows I’ve made the same mistakes.

  54. mythago says:

    Can’t we just have somebody write a script for these posts? It could just pick from the stock responses: The employees aren’t being paid enough to give a shit. I don’t like the OP so too bad. Slow news day, Consumerist? What do you expect from [business], everybody knows they suck, that’s why I never shop there. You were expecting special service you didn’t deserve.

    For bonus points, we could have a special tag for those posts, so the people who actually give a shit about the thread topic could skip them.

  55. Slytherin says:

    @aaron8301 I have to get aaron’s back on this one. Having worked at retail at the customer service desk at Lowe’s, nothing irritated me more than a phone call from someone asking me to look up something while I have a line of customers waiting to be checked out AND a line of customers waiting for assistance at the service desk. What ran through my mind was, “Dude/Honey, get off your lazy ass and come in to see if we have it because I’m swamped at the moment!”

  56. Slytherin says:

    @sponica: AMEN!!!!!!!

  57. ivanthemute says:

    @parad0x360: Working at Target I can tell you Vista was never 10 cents. What you saw was the label for a display box. Target assigns to a label which printed out how much they paid for the display box on it. Had you read the label you would have seen “Vista Premium Display” written clearly on it.

    I saw the exact same thing. I brought it to the attention of the one of the managers of the Target on Harbison Blvd in Columbia. He said “Oh, that’s just the tag for the signage” and I handed it over. There was no mention of “display” on there and if I’d been a dick, I could have demanded a copy of Vista for a dime. Nice thing, though, the guy gave me a $25 gift card for not being a dick and (his words, not mine) “being a good customer.” Either way, it was a “SCORE!” moment.

  58. spirited says:

    This is a bit biased as I am a target employee, but…
    A) Just about any employee on the floor has access to the inventory, but its possible your electronics call was picked up by someone in a different area (electronics person too busy/lazy) and they consulted the system. The inventory system has an “On Hand” count, as well as listing the locations, floor as well as backroom, of the item. The on hand count is usually way off, sometimes showing negative values. They probably just went off that number instead of looking. Either that or they are lazy.
    B) In response to the $.10 vista thing, my store had the same issue. From my understanding it was a disconnect in the signing system. Something along the lines of the value entered for the display being printed on signage even when the ID of the actual item was used. I’ve also seen it on a few other items.

    Only advice is what has been suggested earlier, get it held, get the employees name whom you are talking to, bitch to an LOD or team lead if the item isn’t held when you arrive.

  59. fcklongboards says:

    Yeah… I definitely worked at Target as an “Electronics Specialist”… And we were required to answer the phones as quickly as possible, and if no one was there to answer it they forward the call to anyone in the store that is available. No matter how knowledgeable they are with the item… So you could have talked to a woman in clothing……

    Oh well, go Corporations!

  60. Major-General says:

    @parad0x360: I didn’t enter a Target for more than a year after being told they didn’t carry something and then finding it in stock.

  61. CMU_Bueller says:

    Heh, I went to look for an obscure movie at Meijer today. I get to the electronics counter and ask for it. The guy says they don’t have it without even moving. All I could think was, “Do you have all of your stock memorized? Are you the freaking Rainman or something?”

  62. nsv says:

    @aaron8301: At what rate of pay should an employee be required to do his or her job? You’ve established that minimum wage workers don’t have to do their jobs. Should they work for $10/hour? $12?

    That employee should be damn grateful to be getting minimum wage. If she doesn’t do her job, she’s not worth even that.

    @CMU_Bueller: When I worked at Home Depot I knew exactly what was on the shelf in my department.

  63. pecheckler says:


    You really expect to get customer service at a store like Meijer? The only thing lower would be Wal-mart.
    Retailers like that have cashiers, stock people, and managers. Not sales people. If you see it on the shelf, than congratulations, you can buy it.

    If you must ask for assistance you better not be looking for an opinion as to the quality of a product, or comparing separate products.

    As for your request, you did it all wrong. You have to go find the spot where the product would be located. If that spot is empty, write down the product UPC or SKU and than approach the zombie-drone and ask them to “look up this item in inventory.”

    While I do favor Meijer over wal-mart because of their union and livable wages after working there long enough (10ish years)… I believe super-stores are where you shop if you want low prices at the sacrifice of customer service.
    If you shop for food, you’ll have a super store, than a grocery store, than specialty shops such as butchers and bakeries. Guess which store will have better customer service.

    Don’t walk into a store like Wal-Mart and expect to find someone knowledgable about printers… you go to a store like Staples or Office Depot for that.
    Don’t go to Meijer and expect knowledgable sales people in the clothing section… you go to a store like khol’s for that.

  64. JackAshley says:

    Heaven forbid the minimum wage making employee doesnt care about her job!

  65. whuffo says:

    I sat in on a training video for new employees of a consumer electronics retailer and one of the things these new employees were taught was that if someone called to ask if something was in stock the answer was always YES.

    The logic is that if you say yes and it’s not there you’ve got the customer in the store and have the opportunity to sell them something else. But if you say no, they’ll just go somewhere else.

  66. Ikky says:

    Campers, after being dumped by my dearly beloved of 29 years, I found myself broke and in need of employment. Having raised two kids, one handicapped, my job skills were, uh, rusty.After applying for 40+ jobs, Wal-Mart hired me to be a part-time cashier at $8.50 an hour. The time demands, the process, the corporate demands are astonishing. I know not what happened at Target, but working in MegaMart land really isn’t fun. However, any port in the storm. Cut the employee some slack. Life sucks then you die.

  67. ChuckECheese says:

    @aaron8301: You have my sympathy about retail being sucky, but this isn’t a lazy customer issue. People would be better off not burning $4/gal gas trying to find stuff. Calling isn’t lazy; it’s smart. It’s a wise use of time and resources to ask somebody who’s already in the store (and who works there). I realize the OP didn’t drive, but may not have wanted a pointless amble through WDC.

  68. dragonlor20 says:

    @parad0x360: The computer lies, always spot-check the item when someone calls and asks if you have it in stock. Nothing in the store is all that far away.

    @graffiksguru: There ARE times when people are simply confused. Someone says on the radio that they have sold out, more come out from the back that have already been taken out of location earlier to be pushed to the floor, and suddenly someone is lying because they thought they were sure that they were providing accurate information. These things happen, everything isn’t someone out to get you.

    @Shmonkmonk: I agree with everything except the first paragraph. I think you are confusing or misunderstanding state versus national minimum wages. Target certainly DOES pay minimum wage.

    @Pro-Pain: It’s not.

  69. sam says:

    @Caroofikus: This does not work for media items such as Video Games, CDs and DVDs as those are all fulfilled by

  70. sam says:

    @dragonlor20: It varies store to store but it’s very common for stores to pay up to a dollar higher than minimum.

  71. RumourBuster says:

    Ok, I work at Target, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s happening here. Either a) the Electronics Team Member is a brainless twit (very, very likely) b) Abbey merely spoke to the store operator or c) someone saw WarioWare on the inventory for the DS.

    Knowing Target, all three of these are possible, but mainly the first two.

  72. @Slytherin: So basically, your store hires too few people to meet demand, so you’d rather people waste the money (gasoline) and time to come on down to the store to check your stock for you?

  73. forgottenpassword says:

    lol, I did this once when I worked as a stockman (lowest turd on the wal-mart job totem pole) at my first job many many years ago. Pissed off a customer really bad when they showed up to pick up a recliner (chair) & it wasnt in stock in the color I said it was (I didnt want to go all the way up to the front of the store to check). Later the ASSistant manager called all of the stockman together & asked who did it. Of course I didnt speak up.

    Sorry, I was treated like shit by walmart management & making roughly $3.75 an hour back then. I eventually got pissed off at how I was treated by an ASSistant manager & walked out (spent over a year working at walmart….am SOOOOOO glad I left).

  74. iao_ says:

    i think it would be more newsworthy for this blog to post about a time a target employee wasn’t a minor inconvenience. i’ve actually had the same thing happen to me at target when diablo came out on ps1. im sure it happens all the time, hell i’d bet i would make the same mistake of saying we have something in stock when we don’t because i mistakenly remembered seeing it as all my painfully dull target work days would just be a huge blur. there are, however, businesses that would actually train employees to intentionally lie to costumers to get more walk-ins. that’s all i care about, you can’t get upset because people make mistakes or that target isn’t exactly looking for the creme de la creme of retail cashiers.

  75. Optimistic Prime says:

    @vr4z06gt: That’s really bad logic. If you don’t like the pay, go elsewhere. You aren’t forced into working for one company or another, it is still a free market. Sure, getting another job is difficult, but it’s your choice. Even if you’re getting paid 5¢ an hour, you have to do what you’re paid to do. Otherwise you should face the consequences, like getting fired. This goes from the minimum wage worker to the CEO. If you don’t perform, you should be let go.

  76. mike says:

    I think you can check target’s inventory online. I’m too lazy to verify this

    @Optimistic Prime: The problem with minimum wage workers is that it costs a lot for Target, Walmart, et al to train workers. Yes, there is a large pool of people needing jobs, but unless the employee steals something or does something stupid, they are not likely to fire them.

  77. Angryrider says:

    Does anyone know that Target has one of those inventory checkers?

    Anyway, WarioWare Smooth Moves is pretty much out of print, and out of stock everywhere since the game is a year old, and Nintendo is notorious for not releasing multiple runs of its moderately popular games. I still haven’t found a copy of Hotel Dusk Room 215 for the Nintendo DS.

  78. Slytherin says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Pretty much, yeah.

  79. bonzombiekitty says:

    Because I like to play devil’s advocate —

    Perhaps the girl on the phone was just misinformed. It could be that she really thought the game was in stock, not that she just lied.

  80. WV.Hillbilly says:

    @pecheckler:“Don’t walk into a store like Wal-Mart and expect to find someone knowledgable about printers… you go to a store like Staples or Office Depot for that.”

    What are you? On crack?
    Those places are Walmart with pens and paper.

    @Optimistic Prime: Fuckin’ A

  81. MeOhMy says:

    Holy crap! I never realized that if you were dissatisfied with your pay you are given carte blanche to halfass your job. Maybe some of these folks live/work in France??? That’s the only explanation…

    God forbid we call the store to make sure the item is in stock before wasting our time driving out there. You want me to waste my time driving out there then f*cking PAY ME for it! Otherwise I work when I am at work, maybe YOU CAN TRY IT, TOO!

  82. bonzombiekitty says:

    @Optimistic Prime: But the problem is that the good workers are for the most part going to fill those higher paying positions. You pay minimum wage you are going to, on average, get workers that do a minimum wage worth of work. The people who take the low paying jobs are going to be, on average, the workers who don’t do that well. If you start firing people because they’re not doing $10/hr worth of work for a $8.00/hr wage, then you’re simply not going to have enough employees.

    It’s like hiring a company hiring software developers for $20k/year and their customers not understand why their software sucks. The customers could complain about the developers saying “fire your sucky programmers! They’re getting paid to do a job and they should do it well!” Ok. Well, who do you think is going to replace those crappy programmers? More crappy programmers because the good programmers are working elsewhere. If the customer keeps buying their software because it’s so much cheaper than the competition, then there’s no incentive for the company to raise wages and hire better programmers.

  83. MeOhMy says:

    Oh and here’s a tip: If someone calls and you are feeling too lazy to see if an item is in stock, tell them it’s OUT OF STOCK!

  84. The Porkchop Express says:

    Seeing as this happened in DC where most other jobs require dishonesty, I see no huge issue. Bigger and more devistating lies have been told in that town.

  85. heavylee-again says:

    @OP Abbey

    I think what the Consumerist community is saying is: Get over it.

  86. SomeoneElseNotMe says:

    @heavylee-again — Well said.

    To the disgruntled consumer: Hey, look. You “got up off [the] couch and walked over to the Target” — you got some exercise. If you use the phrase “got off my couch”, then maybe you needed a break from “American Idol” and the soaps.

    Honestly, Americans get lazier and more entitlement-minded very day.

  87. Greeper says:

    Trust me, this qualifies as “better than average” service in DC.

  88. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @juiceboxonfire: Just because she walked doesn’t mean the store was all that close by. I think it would piss me off more if I walked to a store to find out that I’ve been lied to than if I’d driven there.

    @heavylee-again & SomeoneElseNotMe: BOOO!

  89. Saboth says:

    When I worked in a department store, this was pretty common (to not check on items asked about). But you don’t tell the person “YES we do have that in stock”, you tell them “NO, sorry, not in stock”. That way if they show up later and say “you said it wasn’t in stock”, you reply “Oh sorry just got a shipment in 10 minutes ago!”

  90. VnlaThndr775 says:

    @verucalise: Wow, that’s quite an account! I can see why you hate going there! ^_^

  91. diamondmaster1 says:

    @ryatziv: “Because it’s their job to answer the phones and provide accurate information to the customers?”

    Not necessarily. I worked a while back at a store that had three policies concerning the phone:

    1. The phone was to be answered within 3 rings, even if a customer was *in the store being served*. This means that folks already there to spend money were left cooling their heels until they could be rung up. Since the company advertises heavily on TV and radio–and ONLY gave out their phone number–you had lots of calls in your day; primarily calls for directions to your location.

    2. Under NO circumstances were you to EVER quote a price over the phone for a product, no matter how insistent the customer.

    3. No matter WHAT the customer asked for, the response was *always* to be that the item they sought was on hand at the store–it did not matter if you did not have it, since this generated foot traffic that could be cross-sold to another item that WAS in stock.

    It just might be that other firms are starting to use the philosophy of #3 above, since my former employer by my rough figures was doing 10 million dollars each month per store with only about 8 stores around the US at the time. For those kinds of results, companies might just be willing to piss off a few if many can be converted to another item.

  92. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Yes, it’s frustrating, but what do you expect in return? I think poor customer service is now a hiring requirement.

  93. Bye says:

    @aaron8301: I didn’t like working retail either years and years ago, but guess what? I sucked it up and did it. With a smile. (Mostly.)

    Aaron’s attitude/perception of what a retail store is all about is interesting and it helps me put a finger on just why I don’t go to retail stores with the frequency I used to. In fact, Target used to be one of my favorites, but after several misses and outright frustrating experiences over the past couple of years, we have decided not to shop there but once or twice a year now.

    I understand the frustrations of the workers and a lot of this attitude and “whatever” attitude is a direct result of management. But I’ll let those frustrated retail workers in on a little secret: it will likely be the same for you no matter what career you go into. Enjoy only having to deal with it with minimal responsibilities while you can.

  94. wallapuctus says:

    I did this all the time when I worked at Wal-Mart. People would call and ask if we had something in stock, and I’d just say “No.”

    Yeah I’m a dick but I was also 19.

  95. farker says:



    You’re joking right?

    If not,you two are f**king morons!

    Seriously, whatever happened to the customer being right, and all that kind of stuff?

    I work in retail (part time, thank God), and I would never dream of purposefully lying to a customer just because I was feeling lazy. Employees are paid to work, not to flirt with one another (of course some flirting may occur, but hopefully not in an overt way in the presence of customers).

    Shame on the Target employee for not doing her job, and to those of you defending her, I don’t understand why you’d be interested in Consumerist; it appears you’re just here to disagree with the rest of us.

  96. blue_duck says:

    With formerly working in retail myself, the googly eye butt-staring would’ve sent me straight into bitch mode.

  97. SomeoneElseNotMe says:

    @ farker:

    The customer is never right. Actually, the customer is typically the . . . as you so eloquently put it . . . “f**king morons”. (Incidentally, your education and breeding is showing, dude).

    I should know. I work at Starbucks.

  98. Mr. Gunn says:

    The customer should have hooked up with the flirty co-worker, then took some embarrasing pictures and posted them on the web.

    If you’re gonna whine, at least make it amusing for the rest of us.

  99. Jamie All Over says:

    As someone who works in electronics at Target, she did it wrong.

    You’re supposed to say you DON’T have it in.


  100. QuickDrawMcGraw says:

    I worked at Target for a while and the problem is really with Target. The person who answered the phone probably was covering for the electronics person while they were on a break and was working in a different department.

    In the store where I worked I usually worked in the grocery/seasonal section and there were usually times where I would have to hike all the way to the other side of the store to answer a call for another department. I would have no idea what other departments would have in stock and no computer to help me out (I don’t know if other Targets have these now, but mine definitely didn’t).

  101. wolfybrie says:

    I totally agree. I worked for Michael’s for 2 years, and the phone was constantly ringing with lazy ass people who didn’t want to come to the store if we didn’t have a certain color of thread.
    When you have cashiers answering the phone with a huge line of people who took the risk to come to the store, perhaps didn’t find exactly what they wanted, and are paying with real money, guess who gets the better service?
    Also, computer inventory is frequently wrong, because it’s not uncommon that people just go and steal the item or hide it somewhere so that it’s forever lost just so they don’t have to put it back.
    It shouldn’t be anybody’s job to do your shopping (unless you do that shop from home grocery stuff).
    And if someone is nice enough to go searching the store for 20 minutes for your item, you better not have an attitude when you get back on the line with them. It’s not their fault that they have real customers asking for immediate help.

  102. JerseyJarhead says:

    aaron8301 – eat some shit. It IS the person’s job who answers the phone to find out if something is in stock, and yes, since computer inventories maintained by lazy Target assholes are frequently wrong, it’s further their job to walk 10 paces to the shelf and see if there are any (toys, games, baby bottles for losers like you) there.

    This is the CONSUMERIST website, moron, not the “apologists for lazy worthless retailers” website.

  103. Slow news day?

  104. lamorevincera says:


    Let’s assume your little theory there is right. If the amount of work that a person should be expected to do is commiserate with the amount that they’re paid, then I REALLY wouldn’t go out to eat anywhere. God knows what your waiter is going to do to you.

    To be blunt, you’re completely and totally wrong. I’ve worked retail (including Target) and professional jobs, and there are some of us out there with a work ethic. I don’t give 110% because I’m getting paid to give it; I give 110% because I want to know I’ve done a damn good job at the end of the day. I do it because I’m quite aware of the many times that I’ve received customer service from someone who thinks they can slack off because the company isn’t paying them that much. I do it because I’d rather make someone’s day brighter than to piss them off on purpose.

    Checking stock was this woman’s job. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s her job. It’s not the customer’s fault if Target isn’t paying her well. If she doesn’t like checking stock, which is something that every associate in Target is supposed to do, she should get a different job elsewhere.

    Please do us all a favor, and stay out of customer service jobs.

  105. MeOhMy says:

    There’s a lot of different solutions to the “Cashier is too busy to hunt down the item you are looking for” problem. Simply lying to the customer and telling them it’s in stock without checking is among the worst of them.

  106. montanaxvi says:

    Minimum wage has nothing at all to do with it. I worked retail for almost 13 years and believe me, I started at .10¢ above minimum wage so I was making squat. But ya know what? I also did my job.

    I can also sympathize with the employee via the poster above who made mention of working in say a toy store the day after thanksgiving, or how about working at a grocery store from November-December when everyone and their brother is cooking their biggest meals of the year?

    Everyone wants to bash and slam the person who answered the phone as being lazy when in fact she may have seen who knows what that made her think it was or was not in stock. I worked hands on with inventory in my 12+ years and could probably tell you with all certainty what was in or out of stock without looking, but I will admit I did make some mistakes. What really pisses me off is when you tell them what they don’t want to hear and 10 minutes later a co-worker comes over and says that customer XX is looking for XX item and you find out it is the same person.

    I hate to tell you that No, the customer is NOT always right, that shit went out the window in the stone ages, people use that over and over again just to screw the system or make unreasonable demands on the employees who should be fired, written up, suspended over the stupidest little thing just because the customer doesn’t agree.

    I’m all for consumer rights, but I also cut the people on the other side of the counter a little slack since I know how it can be. I cannot tell you how many times while getting rung up at a register some kid is shitting bricks because he is slow at counting out change, or some asshole in front of me is holding up the line because of who knows what reason all the while this poor cashier is apologizing to everyone to the next 30 minutes while he empties out the line and I just say, “don’t worry about it”. not your fault.

  107. kalenoble says:

    Well, call me a F***ing moron too! I did the same when I worked retail. And here’s why..

    Retail and grocery stores are a long cry from the old dry goods stores where the owner knew what was there and would get it for you. People want cheaper prices on goods, and you get what you pay for.

    I never have a problem with customer service of any company. The secret is simple, if I want to know if a company like Target has something I check myself. I don’t buy anything I think I might not like or might take back. I utilize the internet to check stock (there’s an idea, use the net to shop instead of complaining about your own laziness… 10 seconds and I checked for the same game)

    And the best secret: RTFM!!

    Enough bad customer service/stupid customer stories.

  108. jswilson64 says:

    WTF? Dude, if you don’t like the job you’ve got at the pay you get, be a man and tell your boss, “I really don’t like having to do my job.” S/He’ll help you out. Or reach down and find your balls and be man enough to quit. Take some personal responsibility. Otherwise, DO YOUR FUCKING JOB! Don’t take it out on the customer; you know, the one who pays your bills?

  109. kalenoble says:

    One last thing…
    There’s several posts from former retail and customer service people and current ones including current Target employees stating opinion. Please read them and take note that of 25th comment from “verucalise”. Obviously a consumer who never had a job helping anyone.
    “Oh, F, I hate that place” & “This particular person is just an asshat employee who values d*ck over their job responsibilities.”

    Is it any wonder customer service people don’t always give it everything? Customers flip out of the smallest stuff! Maybe she thought it was there, anyone think of that? Confused it with a different game? Some customers ARE unwanted!

  110. jswilson64 says:

    @kalenoble: So then the correct question when calling a store rather than driving around at $4.00 a gallon is:

    “Hi! Do you _think_ you have ProductX in stock?”

  111. vrn3b says:

    At least the OP only had to walk to the store. I’m often in situations where the store in question is 2 or 4 *hours* away, or I’m in an area where it’s a $20 – 40 cab ride each way.

    I’m not calling ahead to be lazy. I’m seriously calling because I will gladly plan a trip, but it isn’t trivial time/expense we’re talking about. If more stores would post (accurate) inventory online, we could avoid this.

  112. Jesse says:

    When I worked retail at a grocery store through high school & beginning of college, I would always say we were out of stuff, especially sale items, even if we had a pallet in back.

    Then I would go back fifteen minutes later after I was sure they left and put it out on the shelf.

  113. themediatrix says:

    @aaron8301: Well, one thing is clear — John Galt isn’t your role model.

  114. baristabrawl says:

    I love Target, I hate their customer service.

  115. @aaron8301: You’re conflating two arguments: 1) that our expectation of service level should be proportionate to the amount we’re willing to pay for the service, and 2) that an employee should provide a level of service commensurate with his pay. On the first point, I think we can all agree that our desire for as-cheap-as-possible products leads retailers like Target to pay as little as possible for labor in order to keep their margins profitable, and that means we’re not going to be getting an electrical engineer in the electronics department to answer our questions. Fair enough.
    On the second point, however, there is absolutely no justification for someone not doing the job one is paid to do, no matter what one is paid to do it. You don’t like your job? Get another one. If being paid for providing a service isn’t enough motivation to provide that service well, you need to reexamine your work ethic, and hopefully your employer will reexamine your continued employment.

  116. halo969 says:

    @Pro-Pain: Luckily I think your store was the (very bad) exception. My husband worked in loss prevention at several Target stores in Illinois and nothing like that ever went on there.

    @ Everyone else – I’m getting just a little sick of people saying “what did you expect from [insert company name here]” on these threads. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where you shop – people are being paid to do a job and it wouldn’t kill them to be helpful and friendly at the same time. It’s this kind of excuse-making that is dumbing down our society. We just keep lowering our expectations and pretty soon we’ll start de-evolving. Oh wait, too late!

  117. sponica says:

    @bonzombiekitty: You and me both. Why is it that we as customers JUMP to the conclusion that if a cashier/sales person/customer service person gave us incorrect or erroneous information they were either lazy, lying, or just plain dumb. I can understand the frustration, but if the WORST customer service debacle you ever experience is going to a store to discover that the item you thought would be there wasn’t, then consider yourself to be lucky.@farker: I’m not disagreeing with the rest of you, just saying we may not know both sides of the story here. I don’t see the need to condemn an entire company for the actions of one high school girl. I’m more likely to condemn Target for failing to hire enough people at their Brooklyn store. I don’t think I’ve ever waited less than 20 minutes to check out…

  118. pdrucker says:

    She shouldn’t have told you they had it in stock. She should have put you on hold until she got around to looking for it. Anyone who calls to check if something is in stock should be handled after customers who actually go to the store.

    It was rude that they kept you waiting once you were there though.

  119. mrearly2 says:

    If the store “worker” hadn’t enough ambition, honesty or integrity to assist the potential customer, why did she bother taking the call? Perhaps she thought the caller was friend, to whom she could yak, for a quick half-hour.
    When I worked behind a counter, I did what I could to assure customer satisfaction, not tell them what they wanted to hear. I didn’t say to myself, “I am only making a pittance–why should I be helpful?” What’s the pay got to do with it?
    Some people somehow have an idea of their employers’ precise expectations, according to the pay scale–I find that quite amazing.
    Then these lazy-assed slackers expect promotion, pay bonuses and pay raises. They certainly don’t merit such.

  120. stryker1800 says:

    i work retail, and i work for 8.50 and hour. and retail really is an easy job except those shitty days when you get like 5 pissed off customers in ten minutes but those are few and far between. i take pride in the work that i do and when i help a customer. if i didnt take pride in my work then the small amount i make just wouldnt be worth. although my mom did work for target at one time and their ours suck. if you work a closing shift you definately arent leaving until like 2 in the morning because of their shitty policies.

  121. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    I remember when Dave Gahan’s Paper Monsters CD went on sale in the US, I called Target that day to see if they had gotten them in yet. I got transferred from the operator to the front desk to the electronics department to the toys department and back again. Everyone told me the store didn’t carry that CD. The last girl I talked to said they never planned on carrying them and hung up on me.

    I called back a few minutes later, not bothering to explain what had gone on the first time. The first person I talked to (who was at their front desk) put me on hold while she went and physically checked for the CD. When she didn’t see it she came back to let me know, asked if she could put me on hold again while she got a hold of someone unloading new merchandise in the back, and came back with this person a few minutes later, both of them happy to let me know that their first batch had sold out but they were unloading some new ones. She was holding on to one at the front desk for me until the end of the day.

    You win some you lose some, I guess.

  122. Applerod says:

    I work for Target. When people call for a specific item we look it up in our PDAs (or check the shelf) to ensure the item is in stock, then offer to hold it for up to 24 hours for the customer. That’s what this girl should have done. Who knows why she didn’t — maybe for personal reasons, maybe because she was new, or maybe because the job is soul-crushing.

    Most people would not be able to tolerate working (on the sales floor) at Target for very long. In my experience, the training is quite uneven, the pay is pretty lousy, English is not the first language of 40-50% of the staff — and of them, maybe a quarter speak almost no English, some of the 400 cameras in the store are aimed at the employees which makes me kind of nervous when they don’t even trust me to do my job, the PDAs we NEED to do our jobs flat out malfunction maybe 15% of the time, working on the sales floor (in the non-clothing area) basically means you cover 32+ different areas of the store–therefore you may move from cosmetics to DVDs to patio furniture to cleaning supplies to automotive supplies to toys to furniture to bicycles to vacuums to wrapping paper to paper shredders to inflatable camping equipment, etc, etc.. IN A SINGLE DAY. The result? Less than stellar customer service because how am I supposed to know where anything is or what it does when I only stay in a given section for minutes or hours before moving to another part of the store. And then there’s quite an Orwellian approach to whole thing, which apart from the omnipresent surveillance also manifests itself when aspects of your personal efficiency and that of the store’s are literally measured by computer, and also when the employee handbook specifically states that you are to use the EXACT words: “Can I help you find something?” when addressing people in order to subliminally “brand them” by reminding them they are in Target.

    Target’s tagline of: “Expect more. Pay less.” kind of says it all. To deliver on that promise, they literally forbid employees from working overtime (when the store NEEDS it, incidentally) and won’t even allow most of the staff to work full-time because then they would have to provide extra benefits. Or, to put it another way: We’re over-budgeted on staff but rarely seem to have enough people.
    I’ve only been there two months, and I’ve had enough jobs to know that this was going to be a personally challenging one–not cognitively, obviously, but om the sense of staying sane in a sea of corporate madness and any number of concurrent stressors. The only way I can do it is to not take things TOO seriously, otherwise I’d probably have a heart attack like this other guy who looked like me in 30 years if I’d never had a vacation.

  123. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    @Applerod: That sounds like a lot of customer service jobs.

  124. freejazz38 says:

    Same thing happened to me at Kohls. That’s why I no longer shop there

  125. jwalker095 says:

    Lying to customers is WAYY more common than you think. Ethical, not really, but with the short staffing there’s no way you can look for everything. I usually just say we don’t have it. It’s so annoying how people call in every 20 minutes looking for some obscure item, you find it, bring it to customer service to be held, then the customer never comes for it days later. Then, you have to put it back on the shelf.

    MORAL: Physically come to the store and do your own shopping!