Letter To Target CEO Gets Newlyweds Registry Discount, Gift Card, Apology

After the wedding has passed and gifts are all opened, married couples who has registered at Target receives a coupon for 10% off any items on their registry that they didn’t receive. It’s a nice promotion that gives happy couples a break on that eighth place setting, and maybe the Kitchenaid mixer no one wanted to drag into the reception.

Readers and loyal Target shoppers Alexander and Gwendolyn were promised this coupon, and patiently waited for its arrival. And when we say “they waited,” we mean they’ve already celebrated their first anniversary.

They finally resorted to contacting Target CEO Gregg “If you squint, I look like Alec Baldwin Tom Bergeron” Steinhafel.

Dear Mr. Steinhafel,

I am very sorry to bother you with what I feel should be a minor issue, however, I want you to know about the complete lack of customer service I have received from your company. I was engaged to be married in August of 2008, and when my now-wife asked where we should register, my first response was Target. I am a loyal Target customer, and have used your stores to buy for many friends who are now married, I have always enjoyed the experience. We registered several months before our wedding, and enjoyed scanning our items in the store, and adding items online. She was also happy about the fact that we would receive coupons to use in the store, and online, to purchase items we did not receive.

On July 25th we were married, and went off on our honeymoon. On August 5th she received an email indicating our 10% off coupon would soon arrive in her email. She anxiously awaited this email, but it never arrived. As soon as we returned from our honeymoon we searched through our mail, and had not received the expected in-store coupon either. She called our family members, since their addresses were also listed on our registry, and they had not seen anything. Finally in late August she called the Club Wedd help line and explained the situation. Unfortunately they were not helpful at all, and simply said we should wait longer for the coupons to arrive. In the meantime she continued to receive other emails from Club Wedd.

We waited and waited, and finally this weekend she called back to ask again. While waiting for help she was browsing our registry on your website, looking through the items we had hoped to buy from you. Once she spoke with someone they explained that the coupon had shipped in July, and if we had no received it they would do nothing to reissue it, unsatisfied with this answer she requested a supervisor, who repeated this information, then also stated that our registry was now expired. Immediately after saying this my wife switched pages in the browser and found our registry was now deleted. Not only would they not help us, now they were going to punish us!

Having worked in the telephone support industry, I explained to her that she should try again on Monday, since the weekend staff may not be actual Target employees, and maybe they cannot do anything to help us. I explained to her that we had to give Customer Service every chance we could to help us out. She tried again on Monday (10-26-09) at 11am and spoke with Darwin, who again stated he could do nothing about the discount we never received, but did manage to pull up a list of our registered items which he emailed to us. She then spoke with his supervisor Bruce, who also stated he would not reissue the discount, and then as she started to cry he simply hung up on her.

Today (10-27-09) I placed a call to your general support line and spoke with Victor, I explained the situation, and described why I did not want to speak to Club Wedd support, but simply general customer service. Victor was helpful but since he was not in that department he could not do much, so he transferred me to Stephanie in Refunds. I repeated the above to her, and she flatly stated that they would not do anything for me. I explained that I understood she probably could not help since she is in Refunds, and was not the department I requested. I repeated my request for a general customer service department. At the point Stephanie would simply repeat that they could not reissue the registry coupons since they were no longer in the system. I explained to Stephanie that I already had a copy of the registry, and this point all we needed was the discounts we had been promised. She simply repeated herself every time in response to me. At this point I explained to her that I have no interest in shopping in your stores until this issue is resolved, and I do not want you to lose me as a loyal customer over this, so please get me to someone who can help. She again repeated herself, so I told her at this point I would be escalating my story to any executive who will listen.

I am sorry about the length of this email but I wanted to provide you with all of the information I have. I have avoided your competition for almost 10 years now, and do all non-electronics shopping that I can in your stores. I would like to continue my relationship with your company, however, my wife and I are very upset with the way we have been treated. We have tried to follow all of the proper channels laid out by your company, and simply want to get what we were promised.

Thank you very much for your time,
Alexander and Gwendolyn

One day later, Alexander wrote back to Consumerist to tell us that the company had followed up:

I was pleasantly surprised just now to receive a phone call from Greg at Target, who not only arranged for my wife and I to visit a local store and get our 10% off, but thanked me for attempting to use proper channels first. They are also sending me a $25 gift card for our determination in getting this issue resolved.

Beautifully done! Enjoy your hard-earned 10%.

Have any other readers experienced issues getting or using their 10% off remaining registry items coupons?

This Target Coupon Is Made Of Lies
How Can We Determine Who Gave Us This $250 Wedding Present?
Target “Lied To Me, Yelled At Me,” And “Treated Me Like Crap”

(Photo: stephen.butler)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jbviau says:

    We had to ask for our coupon too. But we certainly didn’t want it *this* badly! Wouldn’t you get a better discount if you opened a Target card?

    • kexline says:

      @jbviau: I have that card, and its rewards mechanic is perverse, at least for me as a singleton. I could imagine that a childless couple could have the same problem with it.

      For every 1000 points (which is something like $1000 — I am not going to look it up right now), you get a 10% off coupon in the mail. So what happens is, I stock up on things one buys from Target, like socks and underwear. Two weeks later I have a coupon in hand, which is only good for two or three weeks. But, see, I don’t need socks and underwear because I just bought a bunch, and if I think of something to use the coupon for, I can easily find it for way less than 90% of Target’s prices. So I never use the coupons, and effectively I have a high-interest, no-rewards card.

      It seems like it’d work basically the same way for newlyweds.

      • dp05 says:

        @kexline: It depends majorly on timing, but if you can time it for when you are going to make a big purchase then it can work out pretty well. My brother likes to throw his 10% off on already nicely reduced clearance stuff, like the occasional TV he finds and stuff. It works out pretty well for him.

        I also have a Redcard and usually once I’ve got my 10% available I’ll stock up on groceries and, if there’s a holiday or something coming up, load up on gifts.

  2. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    I wonder why he wrote that he doesn’t buy electronics in their store? I personally would have left that tidbit out.

  3. GMFish says:

    thanked me for attempting to use proper channels first

    Or to put it other way…

    Thank you so much for using our Kafkaesque bureaucratic process intended to weed out 99% of customers to whom we owe coupons. Your futile attempts at using our “proper channels” lets us know that it’s still working according to the way we created, implemented, and run the process.

    It is our deepest hope that the next time we owe you something, the prior use of our process will have taught you a valuable lesson to give up sooner.

    Thank you.

    • Saltillopunk says:

      @GMFish: Well put. Target customer service is a big joke. They make no effort to make the customer happy. All one gets as an answer is “the policy is the policy and we will not make exceptions”. In other words “screw you. we have your money and don’t care squat about you”.

    • econobiker says:

      @GMFish: Remember the term “breakage” in the refund / rebate industry…

  4. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    Companies make mistakes every day. That is not the measure of how well a company treats their customers. It’s how they attempt to correct their mistakes that matters.

    I’d say that Target still failed.

    I’d love an update. What item did they purchase for 10% off and how much did they save v. how many hours they spent chasing the coupon. Even including the $25 gift card, they were hardly properly compensated for how they were treated.

    Target should have just given them an item from their registry for free.

    • randombob says:

      @TinaBringMeTheAx: EXACTLY my thoughts on the matter. It would seem to me that this was a token apology, not a sincere “Oops we totally fcuked up on this one, man; how can we make this up to you guys” apology. I’d have been pretty hot over THAT kind of apology myself.

      “So wait a minute, we waited A WHOLE FREAKING YEAR, for you guys to do the right thing, had to contact customer service time and TIME AGAIN, watch as you DELETED our entire registry, jump through hoop after flaming hoop to get you to do what you sort of contractually promised to do… and I get $25 in the form of a gift card for our troubles? Really? Really? Have you heard of Wal-Mart, mutherfucker? Have you heard of “the competition?” Because I have and I think they’re my new favorite place.”

      I mean really, that’s all the CEO can offer? who’s going to tell him he is not authorized to do what he should to right a customer’s situation?

    • burnedout says:

      @TinaBringMeTheAx: I got married last September, and just got my 10% discount this week. Of course the registry is expired – the coupon clearly says our registry expired ages ago, but we now have a coupon we can(‘t) use. Go Target!

  5. DevoAlmighty says:

    Seriously?? All that for 10%???

  6. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    How was that waiting until their first anniversary? I’m confused, but it’s 9am and I’m JUST getting to my first cup of coffee. They were engaged in August ’08, but didn’t actually marry until July ’09. So it’s only been 3 months–

    Of course, it never should of taken 3 months to resolve. It seems that Target’s Club Wedd is CHOCK FULL of bugs. Maybe, for registry purposes, they should provide some kind of tracking code on the 10% off coupon, or a validation pin so they can be assured that the person they sent it to used it. They seem not to want to reissue one because if their system says it was sent, there’s no way to see if they actually used it and they could be a bunch of liars looking for another 10% off.

    Target, you need to straighten your shit out.

  7. sonneillon says:

    Things happen and I think this is a fair solution. A 25 dollar gift card and %10 off is not extreme but the OP got the %10 they were trying to get in the first place which is the point of customer service and the gift card is for the time it took wrangling with people. I may have gone higher on the gift card if I was target, but that is just semantics.

  8. imsnowbear says:

    Wow! Twenty-five whole dollars! That will put a big dent in their profit this quarter. Really bending over backwards, I’d say. For $100 they could have gotten lots of good publicity on this site. After the way their CS reps allegedly blew off the OP, $25 just makes them look like pikers.

    • Chocotanya says:

      @imsnowbear: Agreed!

    • eirrom says:


      I agree too. $25 gift card says we just don’t care, but maybe by giving this too you, you might forget all the hassle you went through to get what was promised to you months ago.

      Don’t spend all that money at once either. Just think of the magical things you can by with that gift card! Paper towels, vitamins, copy paper. The only limit is your imagination.

  9. celeb8 says:

    “Bruce, who also stated he would not reissue the discount, and then as she started to cry he simply hung up on her” :colbert: Really. Nice touch (I hope)

    Anyway glad you got your discount, pretty underwhelmed with Target over this. Fighting a refund I can sometimes see, fighting a @#$kin coupon? C’mon nah.

  10. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I know a lot of people are commenting “10% off? That’s it? Not worth it.”

    But, they are a newly married couple, probably trying to plan their financial future with houses, kids, and all that sentimental and grown up talk that ruins relationships. So why not give this couple a break and COMMEND them on WANTING to save money.

    For the crap I read all day long from people saying “WHO PAYS THAT MUCH for THAT?” You would think everyone would be giving this couple a round of applause for being persistent and getting the discount they deserved, saving them money. And who knows? Maybe they have $300 of purchases left. That means they saved $55 with the gift card.

    I, for one, couldn’t be happier they possibly saved a few dollars. Congrats Alexander and Gwendolyn.

    • strawberryjam says:


      When shopping, a 10% discount is nothing to me. I certainly wouldn’t have wasted that much time to get just 10% off. So many retailers offer much more than that.

      But if the couple had their eye on a certain item that is never eligible for discounts at any store, and the Target 10% works, then I can see why they fought.

      Those fancy mixers – those are probably never discounted. So a 10% + $25 card is a good savings.

      • mythago says:

        @strawberryjam: It must be nice to have so much disposable income that you’re happy to piss away a 10% discount. You’re also missing that this was a 10% discount that they were offered as an incentive to register at Club Wedd.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @mythago: When I registered for my wedding I knew I would be getting a coupon for 10% off. I only registered with places that offered these things because that 10% makes all the difference. After all was said and done, we didn’t have half the amount of dishes we needed, no one had gotten us the pots and pans, and we didn’t have any towels. I sound like a brat, I know, but I am thankful for everything we received. It’s just that we were still missing vital things and that 10% off went a long way.

  11. kc2gvx says:

    I once complained when a pay phone took my twenty cents (yes that long ago) and did not connect my call. Then, a week later, Bell Atlantic sent me an apology letter with two dimes taped to it. I am a man of principle.

  12. Damocles57 says:

    For all the people who wonder if Alexander and Gwendolyn’s efforts were worth $25 plus 10% off items on their list not received, how much of a percentage off anything do you receive from all the time spent reading Consumerist articles and then blaming or ridiculing others for doing things you wouldn’t do?

    In reality, the initial steps taken were what they were supposed to do. At some point there is a tipping point of cost/benefit but by this time they already had some time committed in their pursuit of the discount. Once committed, each succeeding step is small in comparison to all the steps they had already taken.

    At some point, it becomes about principle, to have someone acknowledge that they made a mistake and attempt to make it right. It sounds like Target tried to make it right as minimally as possible without apologizing.

    I sense that Gregg appreciated they used the proper channels first but did not admit the proper channels where meant to be difficult, confusing, and ultimately futile. I suspect Gregg will now internally praise all the people involved for following Target’s proper procedures and be content knowing that a high percentage of people give up before they eventually contact him.

  13. UESC says:

    we got married on 10/10/2009, and just this past week the card for 10% off arrived in the mail.

  14. Flyersfan says:

    Imagine the great publicity Target would have received if they had sent them the 10% off coupon and the most expensive item still on the registry. I’m betting it still would have cost Target less than $200 and it would have been the best $200 spent on marketing this year.

    Stories like this almost make me want to go back to Wal-Mart.

  15. angryneo says:

    Seriously, why is this guy so whiny about a 10% discount? I hope he is joking with the bit about his wife “started to cry”. What the hell? It goes to show this society had become one of whiners and of the “everyone owes me something” mentality. No wonder our grandparents shake their heads at us.

    • Nascar24Dude says:

      “It goes to show this society had become one of whiners and of the ‘everyone owes me something’ mentality.”

      Um, that’s because they WERE OWED SOMETHING. Target made a promise to send a 10% discount for all items on the registry not gifted to the couple. If a company made a promise like that to me and didn’t keep it, I’d pursue it too. It’s not so much the money (although I’m sure that played in as a factor). It’s the principle.

  16. s25843 says:

    Just to point out an error, the story says their first anniversary had passed, but the way I read it, they were engaged in 2008 and got married this year. Am I right?

  17. MostlyHarmless says:

    Kitchendaid SEWING MACHINE, you mean.

  18. TreyWaters says:

    Same thing happened with us and our Target registry. We never received the card, and went by customer service. When we called the Club Wed customer service, they had to change the ‘event date’ for the system to issue us a new card.

    After we finished with the phone call, the customer service girl asked us if we wanted an LRT to add anything to our registry….we took it and went grocery shopping! We put TONS of stuff on our registry so that it would be eligible for the 10% off when the card came in. Seriously, if someone looked at our registry, they would have seen anything from cat litter to milk and cereal.

    Note – we didn’t just blindly put stuff on there, it was all stuff we would have bought anyway – though maybe not in one grocery trip.

    When the 10% off card came in, we literally filled up 4 shopping carts of stuff and got our 10% off. When we walked up to the cashier, he turned off his light so that no one else would get in line until we were done. It probably took us 10 minutes to check out, too :-)

  19. korybing says:

    I didn’t know that we were supposed to get a coupon! Bed Bath and Beyond sent us one and I thought it was nice, but I had no idea Target was supposed to do the same thing. Nice one, Target!

  20. clementine says:

    I am getting married in March and I was wondering, since the topic is registries – which stores ‘get it right’? Who would you recommend?