Target Tells Employees To Hand-Process Coupons Until They Fix Shortchanging Glitch

We first reported that Target’s cash registers were shortchanging customers’ coupons back in August. It only took until late October for the company to admit it. Now, with the Holiday shopping season ramping up, Target is actually doing something about it.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Target has issued a temporary fix to the problem — telling cashiers they need to manually enter each coupon.

Since the summer, Target cash registers have been mis-scanning some coupons, especially those that require the purchase of multiple items. A fix has been promised within the next two weeks.

Target alters how it handles coupons [Chicago Tribune]


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  1. MistahFixit says:

    Yes, but are they taking it seriously?

    • Joseph S Ragman says:

      “Target’s memo said devices used to measure how quickly cashiers check out customers would be temporarily turned off “to accommodate for extra processing time.”

      Yes. I’d say they are Taking I Very Seriously.

  2. jessjj347 says:

    “But Target’s computers apparently compared the value of a multiple-item coupon to a single item, rather than the total cost of items required for purchase. For example, it would not apply a $1-off coupon for the required purchase of eight 39-cent items. The best it would do is credit 39 cents.”

    Wow, I can’t tell if that’s even a programming error or was implemented because of policy. It seems like such a simple mistake, that it couldn’t have gone live that way.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    When will we ever read a story about a coupon scanning for more than face value, or an item ringing up for less than marked, or a credit card bill that undercharged you or a cell phone bill that didn’t mysteriously charge for items never downloaded?

    It seems that every single error that happens is in the corporations favor.


    You tell me.

    • Limewater says:

      Reporting bias. When people get under-charged, they shut up about it and don’t tell anyone because they don’t want to have to pay the difference.

    • Damocles57 says:

      I’ve used coupons and got cash back after the transaction (discount exceeded the price of the item). I’ve also had items scan for less than posted (I mention all scan/price errors when I notice them).

      Recently at a local grocery store, I noticed an item scanned for more than the posted price. I mentioned it to the cashier who adjusted the price to match the price shown on the shelf. A week later I went back, same old price on the shelf but higher price rang up. I mentioned to the cashier that I had pointed out the pricing error last week. She immediately called a supervisor who changed the shelf price AND I got the product for free.

      My guess is that fewer people complain about the pricing mistakes in their favor and even no businesses advertise errors that would cost them money.

    • msbask says:

      I’m sure those are reported on

    • layton59 says:

      I rarely believe in conspiracies. However, I think that this would have been fixed in seconds (not months) if the company (Target) was losing money rather than making money. I wonder if some lawyers are drooling over the prospect of a Class Action Lawsuit against Target. A CAL is money from heaven for the filing lawyers and Target raises its prices to pay it off. The consumer loses again.

  4. Emerald4me says:

    This one reason why I will not swipe my credit card until the transaction is done. I have had the “helpful” cashiers tell me that I can go ahead and swipe the card while they ring up my pile. No way. I wait until they are done, keeping my eye on that register the whole time, and then I ask them to show me where the coupons were taken off.

    The other reason is their stupid, stupid, stupid policy that if a correction is needed to be made I have to go stand in another line and waste more of my time (go to their customer center) to correct THEIR error. I would rather just leave my purchases there and let them figure out what to do.

  5. Hoss says:

    Can anyone think of a reason this might be difficult to fix?

    • MistahFixit says:

      Target HQ doesn’t want to pay a crack team of IT flunkies to solve the problem?

    • rookie says:

      This may help, from the August report on the same issue.
      August 27, 2010 3:43 PM
      Moderate |Flag for review

      From what I’ve read on other boards, it is a bit of a coding problem. It appears it happened when Target reprogrammed their registers to automatically deal with coupons that are of a higher value than the item (e.g,, a $1 coupon is accepted automatically on a 99 cent item — that’s Target’s policy). The new problem is that a coupon for an amount off of multiple items — say $2 off of 4 Pop Tarts — is deducted from the 1st item only and it uses the price of that item as the deduction.

      The register logic is wrong and it also appears to use broad categories from the same manufacturer to determine where to apply the coupon. If you buy 4 items from P&G, the 1st coupon attaches to one of the items, even if the coupon is for a different item from P&G.

      Sounds like some major work needs to be done to fix these issues.

    • RandomHookup says:

      As I understand it, they created one problem by trying to solve another.

      Originally, Target wanted to allow use of a coupon for an item priced less than the value of the coupon (e.g., a $1 coupon used on a 99 cent item) without cashier intervention. However, that logic also messed up coupons for multiple items (say $1 off 3) by logically assuming that the value of the coupon exceeded the value of the item and only took off the price of one item up to the face value of the coupon. Most coupons need to find the right items and I think they messed up the ability of the register to easily match up the items.

      I don’t know why that’s hard to fix, but there is plenty of room in that issue to get lost in the minutiae.

  6. tiatrack says:

    As of Sunday, when I bought something with a coupon at my local Target, this issue hadn’t been fixed. The cashier “had never heard of the problem,” even though my 50 cents off rang up as 40 cents. She didn’t notice until I pointed it out. In my head I said a thank you to Consumerist :)

  7. ALP5050 says:

    The problem could be fixed in one hour. It’s not that difficult.

  8. layton59 says:

    Does this mean that TARGET was off target?

    If TARGET’s goal was to cheat the customer, then TARGET would have been on target.

    Now, TARGET has a new target on TARGET’S back.

    I guess I’ll shop at Woolco. Woolworth’s, Ames, Service Merchandise and Grant’s.

    • scoosdad says:

      Ah Service Merchandise, how I loved shopping there. You’d carefully check the catalog at home, drive over to the store to review and double-check the products in person, fill out and hand in your slip, and then wait in anxious anticipation for YOUR package to come down the conveyor belt from that mysterious warehouse in back.

      Was sort of a precursor to Amazon, but without the internet.

  9. anonyname says:

    Yesterday I tried to use a coupon, but the register said it had expired. The coupon was to expire on November 13. It wasn’t even a manufacturer coupon – it was a *Target* coupon, the kind their registers have been printing out in mass quantities lately. Happily, the cashier couldn’t find a manager to enter the coupon correctly, so he went in and changed the item price to reflect the coupon; entirely against store policy, I’d imagine. It was a ‘$1 off when you buy three’ coupon, and he changed a $1.25 item to zero, so I didn’t complain.

  10. alphadog says:

    I hate Target coupons! Especially when you are standing in line FOREVER and they are printing off a mile of coupons for each consumer for .25 off hot dogs that most people never use. It drives me insane.

  11. catnapped says:

    It appears they *may* have fixed the problem…two $1.50 off 3 coupons came up correctly (without intervention) at one Target. Didn’t use any at the second Target I stopped at but noticed they had a note on all the registers detailing what procedures are to be followed for coupons this week (the memo had an expiration of tomorrow, IIRC)