Target’s Furniture Quality Control Department: You

Steve bought a patio set from Target, and discovered when he went to assemble it that a part was missing. No problem, he thought: either Target or the manufacturer, Smith and Hawken, would have more parts available. Well….no. As it turns out, Target bought the Smith and Hawken brand, and products under that name are now contract manufactured for Target. The products seem all right…until something goes wrong. Then, like Steve, you learn that customers are apparently Target’s quality control department for this furniture, and when something goes wrong, there are no spare parts.

I have had a wonderful (ha, ha) experience of pass the buck and hollow
excuses dealing with a purchase from Target, all the while having to
play quality assurance department. A couple of weeks ago I purchased a
3 piece Smith and Hawkens patio set. It was a great price and a very
nice set from what I though was a higher end company. I did not have
the time to assemble it, so it sat in the garange until yesterday.

I pulled it out, took a quick look at make sure that I had everything,
then dove in. I put the table together, then a chair and finally
started in on the other chair. At this point I had been at it for
close to an hour and was bathed in sweat as it was a hot day. I found
that at the factory they messed up and gave me two right arms for the
chair and no left arms. I figured not a problem because Target is
pretty good and Smith and Hawken is a great company.

Long story short, I talk first to a clueless off shore rep with
marginal English and then get transferred to [D] back in the US.
After a while recounting the whole issue again I find out that Smith and Hawken has gone bankrupt and Target bought the name. They contract out the manufacturing and do not keep any replacement parts at all. He
promises to try and see if a part can be found, but tells me that my
only real option is to return it to the store. This whole process
takes about an hour and then it takes another 30 minutes or so to
break the table and chair down so it will fit in the car.

Today I bring it back to the store where I bought it. After the return
I asked to speak to the manager on duty and waited for [M]. While a
pleasant man it was less than a great experience. He offers me a
discount on another patio set – when I ask if they have any he says
probably not, but that it is the best that he can do other than a $3
coupon – he offeres to show me the coupon, but not give me one. He
then blaimes Target corporate saying that they treat the stores like
franchises. I confirm that there are no more patio sets and leave
empty handed.

[M] also tells me in the same breath that he “can not just let me
walk out of the store with it” – I get clarification that he means
that he can not give it to me for free and I tell him that I do not
want a 2/3’s of a set and doubt that the wood screws that I had to
pull out would even hold it together. He then tells me that it already
has been labled for the dumpster. So, he told me that he could not
give it to me but he was going to trash it – wow.

I call [D] in part to tell him to call off the search and in part to
vent, but get [S] instead. She tells me that indeed no parts are
avaiable she then blames the factory that made them. When I pointed
out that Target owned the brand and contracted the manufacture and the
only reason that parts were not available is that Target did not
choose to pay to have the factory make them, and that I was in essence
part of their unpaid quality assurance department. She was pretty
decent – she actually appologized. In close to 90 minutes on the phone
this was the first time anyone actually said sorry about the mistake.

In the end she threw in a $20 gift card – small solace as I figure
that I spent close to 4 hours dealing with this. The things that leave
a bad taste in my mouth – the fact that Target makes a product that
they do not support. It would be one thing if it were a small item,
but not for something like this – I hate to say it, but I shoudl have
gone to (gasp) Sears! The other thing is that multiple folks at Target
saw fit to pass blame. The problem with not having a part was the
factory’s problem even though Target owned the brand and contracted a
factory to manufacture it, the store manager blamed the corporate
offices even though they are the same company. Shame on you Target,
you are better than this.


Edit Your Comment

  1. deadandy says:

    Say what you will about Ikea, but at least they keep spare parts for their stuff in stock.

  2. spartan says:

    Find a reputable charity willing to accept the table and good chair, and then call the manager and make him decide whether he thinks the dumpster is still a better option,

    And when he still chooses the dumpster, humiliate him.

    • cactus jack says:

      The guy is just doing his job. Why is your first reaction to humiliate him?

      • spartan says:

        Because his job entails hm saying. “You may not donate them to the needy because I need the pieces back so I can put them in a dumpster.”

  3. atomix says:

    I had a Shopko Futon fail at the hinge after a year. Called shopko to see if i could buy parts. They contacted the manufacturer who sent me 5 hinges for free. Havent broken one since but i will be ready if i do.

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      This has been my experience too. It appears the OPs problem was not that Target didn’t have parts — just that they didn’t have an internal process to get the parts from the manufacturer.

      The real story in this piece AFAIC is that Target was perfectly happy throwing away a perfectly good chair and table rather than try to find a charity willing to take them or even sell them “as is” at a markdown. What a waste!

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Very, very confusing read.

    “He offers me a
    discount on another patio set – when I ask if they have any he says
    probably not”

    “the best that he can do other than a $3
    coupon – he offeres to show me the coupon, but not give me one”

    “then “blaimes” Target corporate saying that they treat the stores like
    franchises” What does this have to do with satisfying the customer? If anything, a franchised store should be able please the customer better since it’s now the franchisees money on the line and not corporates.

    ” I confirm that there are no more patio sets and leave
    empty handed. [M] also tells me in the same breath that he “can not just let me
    walk out of the store with it” With what? There are no more sets available.

    “he can not give it to me for free and I tell him that I do not
    want a 2/3’s of a set” Give OP what for free? The patio set that he already got a refund for?

    So in essence, OP returned a defective patio set, got his money back after a protracted hassle and received a $20 dollar gift card for his time and frustration.

    In essence,

    • spartan says:

      It appears that the OP was upset that he had to disassemble the 2 good pieces and return them to the store so they could be thrown in the Target dumpster.

      Since the cost of this item was both the money the OP spent and the labor he invested, and there is no way to refund the labor Target could have let him keep the other pieces.

      • cactus jack says:

        Why would he have wanted it anyway?

        “I get clarification that he means
        that he can not give it to me for free and I tell him that I do not
        want a 2/3’s of a set and doubt that the wood screws that I had to
        pull out would even hold it together.”

        Won’t hold together? Give it to charity!

        • spartan says:

          I think he meant that the wood screws would not hold IF he had to disassemble and reassemble it. If he ad access to a truck the pieces could be delivered to a charity whole, or they could pick it up.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      I was also very confused by that. I think the poster wasn’t quite calmed down when he wrote this email.

      What I think he’s saying is that the guy offered him a $3 coupon to go away, then said he’d show it to the OP to see it was something he wanted.

      Then the OP wanted another set, but couldn’t get one. The store manager assumed that the OP, in saying the $3 coupon wasn’t enough, was asking to take the rest of the set home AND get the refund. That’s the “I can’t just let you walk out of the store with it”. The OP is upset, since it’s going to be thrown away anyway, but he can’t get the manager to understand that even 2/3 of a shoddy set isn’t recompense for what he’s been through.

      That’s what I think is happening. But it truly could have been written more coherently.

  5. SirWired says:

    Well, if the high level of returns due to missing or damaged parts turns out to be a profit problem, Target will find out soon enough. I will point out that the cost of stocking and mailing parts can be way more than you’d think, so not stocking parts can be a reasonable business decision; it all comes down to how reliable the factory is.

    Generally if there’s a customer service number in the box with a number to call if you are missing parts, you’ll be in good shape. If there isn’t, don’t bother, as they almost certainly don’t have any.

    • daemonaquila says:

      It’s not a profit problem, apparently, because this has been their norm for decades. They’ve always accepted returns with minimal if any hassle – I think this is because they know it’s cheaper for them to take it back than provide any support for anything they sell. Their mantra always has seemed to be “Accept return, repackage return, put it on the shelf, let some other sucker buy it.” Eventually they either find a sucker who doesn’t return it, or maybe they do finally trash the faulty product after a certain number or cycles.

  6. Traveller says:

    OP would have had as bad a time, if not worse, at Sears. Things like this are notoriously common at Sears as well. They don’t have spare parts for their patio furniture and calling the toll free number in the box will get you nowhere.

    • Charmander says:

      Why would Sears, or any store carry spare parts? I work at a large retailer, that also sells patio furniture, and we do not carry any spare parts.

  7. daemonaquila says:

    I am totally not surprised. This has been Target’s M.O. for decades. We never tried to get parts – it was an automatic return. In my old neighborhood, it was a standing (true) joke that when you returned faulty merchandise, they would NOT trash it, but repack it and put it right back on the shelf. We learned quickly not to ever buy a box that looked like it had been opened, had tape on it, etc. If you did that, you were guaranteed a defective item or one that was missing a key piece(s). I’m sorry that the OP had such unreasonable expectations of Target, but I guess that until you have experienced Target Product Support Logic you don’t have any reason to know that they don’t function like any reasonable retailer.

  8. spartan says:

    Sudden brain fklash.

    Why not go to a different target, by the same item and swap the extra right arm you are missing for one of the left arms in the new box.

    Then you can return the box to target and complain you got 2 right arms and demand a refund.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      Think they tried this, OP indicated he called Target CS back to “call off the search”, makes me think they did a search of local Targets to see if any had the set in stock.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      That’s actually a really good idea for future scenarios. He’d have to return one set or the other, and that would mean he didn’t have to break up the pieces he’d put together and the returned set wouldn’t have been assembled/disassembled and would be more likely to be sellable if they could get an arm eventually.

    • MarkFL says:

      Actually, the store manager could have done something similar. I would have opened another box and pulled out a left arm, then eventually damaged out the open set…after pulling out any smaller parts (nuts and bolts, etc.) for future use. (If we were really lucky, we might have found two left arms and no right arms, but that’s unlikely.)

      I don’t know if Target offers some sort of assembly service, but if they do, I would have set that up without charge, too, since the guy put all that work into assembling and reassembling.

      Yes, I have worked in retail management (not in a department store, though), and at least some of the DMs I have worked for would have backed me up on something like this. In this situation, the DM almost has to back this up, because they were going to put a whole set in the dumpster anyway, although I agree with Spartan that a donation would be better. When I worked at the bookstore, we had a television set in the magazine aisle, and when they decided to remove it (didn’t want to pay for the satellite anymore), we gave the set to a domestic abuse shelter.

      Having said all that, I should point out that the OP made one huge mistake — ALWAYS check the parts list before assembling furniture.

  9. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Go to the flea market and look for a good used patio set. You’ll probably find a way better one than you can get at Target. If it has skanky or ugly cushions, throw them away and buy new ones.

  10. in-Albany says:

    The patio furniture is now out of season. This set was probably bought on clearance. Selections are limited going into the fall.

    How could anyone expect Target to keep spare parts on eveything it carries? Target is a store, not a warehouse. If you want spare parts, go to Lowe’s.

  11. jeepguy57 says:

    So the crap you bought from Target turned out to be crap. No surprise. So your solution is to go to Sears next? Why not go to a local furniture store that knows what they are doing, sells quality products and will support those products.

    Oh, you want to pay rock bottom prices? Then you get what you pay for.

  12. anthem11 says:

    So the OP got his money back and a $20 gift card for the hassle. I don’t see a reason to complain.

    • chdill says:

      If people would just lay everything out to make sure it is all there BEFORE they assemble it, much heartache could be avoided. That is why instructions show you a breakdown of all the parts…so you can discover if you have them all.

      Sorry but furniture at a Target is never going to be high end…which is why they are so affordable. So, what did we learn today?

  13. retailismygame says:

    First off, there has always been a number to call inside the boxes of furniture at Target to call in case of problems such as broken or missing pieces. Yeah, ocasionally, it happens. By the date of your post, you waited for the patio set to be 30 to 50 percent off. But your ticked because they didnt hace a spare set waiting around at this point? Im sure you’ve shopped at Target before and realize they dont carry this stuff year round. If they had another set, I’d bet thet would have handed you the piece no problem. Do you expect each Target to carry spare parts for an item that has been discontinued? If you did not get a full refund, I could see you being this upset. They did what they could, and your hours wasted? You probably had nothing better to do.