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
[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.