I Guess Kohl's Doesn't Want My Money

Jared shops at Kohl’s a lot, but buys from them online instead of going to one of their stores. He might have to start leaving his house and changing out of his pajamas if he wants to shop there in the future. The store’s web site doesn’t want to let him place orders. Guess his money isn’t any good.

He wrote:

I shop a lot from Kohls.com and have been having some trouble with my account for the past several days. Basically, I can’t check out and actually buy anything.

You’d think they’d be interested in fixing something like that. But after getting no help through email or phone, I tried to go the public shaming route on Facebook. They responded to me immediately, but they gave me the same canned response and a flat out refusal to explore any other possible causes of the problem. In all three venues they were basically saying, “the website is working just fine, we don’t know what to tell you, have a nice day.” After one final attempt emailing them, they finally sent a very nice and apologetic response, even admitting that it is a known technical issue on their end and that they were working on it. It took four attempts for someone who wanted to give them money to get any reasonable response.

Facebook exchange:

Me: Hey, Kohls. I’m having a problem with your website that is preventing me from ordering. Your email support couldn’t help and said to call phone support. Your phone support didn’t have a clue and says there is no technical support for the website. What gives?

Kohl’s: Hm, it’s hard to say, Jared. Can you give me a few more details about the problem?

Me: My shopping bag indicates there are 6 items in it, but when I click on it, I only get this message: “We’re sorry. An error has occurred. Please click here to go to the Kohls.com home page.” It’s been like this for three days.

Me: I’ve cleared all cookies and all browser history. I’ve tried using IE and Firefox. I’ve tried from different computers. It’s clearly on the Kohls.com side.

Me: From the email correspondence: Incident: [redacted]

Kohl’s: First, I would definitely recommend clearing your cache and cookies on your internet browser. If that doesn’t work, using another browser like Firefox, or Google Chrome has seemed to work for most people. [this response came several minutes after my last response]

Me: you’re kidding right? did you read what i just wrote?

Kohl’s: Sorry about that, Jared. I didn’t see your further comments. We aren’t having any issues with Kohls.com on our end, so unfortunately, I’m not sure what the problem could be.

Me: Sorry if that came off as rude, but that was the third time I’ve been told to try clearing the cache and using a different browser.

Me: And you’re unwilling to investigate any further? I’ve ruled out the issue being on my end by trying different computers and different browsers.

Kohl’s: I do completely understand your frustration. Unfortunately, we don’t really have any other troubleshooting tips to give you. As far as our web-site tech support team can see, our web-site is currently functioning normally. Sorry for all of the trouble!

Me: Unbelievable.

Okay, having to visit the store to buy things isn’t the end of the world, though maybe Jared wears a size that isn’t normally in stock or tends to buy things only available online.

There probably is someone who cares very much who is involved in running the website, but Jared has no way to know who that person is, or to get in touch with them for troubleshooting.


Edit Your Comment

  1. lenfercestlesautres says:

    Jared should try uninstalling AdBlock and Ghostery, and stop being so quick to blame Kohls for this. Chances are if he installed these add-ons in Firefox, he also installed them in IE, or vice-versa. They can, and do, interfere with the checkout procedure at MANY sites, not just Kohl’s. On the other hand, Kohl’s web support folks should be well aware of this, since it is a common problem.

    • MMD says:

      I don’t have any of those add-ons, and I was having exactly the same problems on the Kohls site a couple of weeks back.

      Unfortunately for Kohls, I didn’t care enough about what I was thinking of buying to waste time on a disfunctional site.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Based on the message given in this case, the problem is in the database at Kohl’s end. One possible cause is that there is a record lock on something in his account. That can be caused by a combination of incorrect programming by them and an incomplete transaction somewhere. That’s not the only cause, but just the most likely one.

    • Banished to the Corner says:

      I think you may be correct about the adblock. At home, I usually use IE9 and have all privacy setting very high, I also have tracking limited/blocked. I’m not sure which setting does it, but I cannot reply Consumerist posts. I often have problems with some sites when shopping (History Channel is one), so I also have Chrome. The Chrome settings are standard, so I can post to Consumerist and shop for my DVDs, but wow the junk that gets displayed on some sites is very annoying.

      OP should uninstall his ad-ons and change his security setting to medium. I suspect that will work for his Kohl’s shopping.

    • NewsMuncher says:

      He said he’d tried on other computers. Wouldn’t that have ruled out other installed software, unless every single one of them were set up the same?

      • lenfercestlesautres says:

        On the 10 or so computers I use, all of my Firefox installations are exactly the same, since I use their Synching service. This could very well be the case for OP. I, too, tried a different browser, (Chrome) and discovered that I could complete my transactions at Walmart.com. The difference was AdBlock and/or Ghostery. (I did not have either installed in Chrome) Once I turned those off, Firefox worked fine at commerce sites. So I just make those sites an exception, and things now work smoothly. Alternatively, OP could just use Chrome for commerce, and his chosen browsers for everything else.

    • Jawaka says:

      He said he tried different browsers.

      That being said, they seem to have acknowledged a technical problem. If they don’t see any urgency in fixing it then Jared either needs to actually visit a store to make his purchase or choose another online retailer until Kohl’s fixes it. Technical glitches on the Internet are known to happen from time to time.

  2. SkylerOfBlueRidge says:

    Oh how I hate some of the online storefronts…. I unfortunately have encountered similar issues with various sites such as Dell.com and OldNavy.com. This is usually because my account somehow became corrupted in their system but they can not actually see the account in their interfaces (probably something corrupt in the database). Only way I could get around it was use a different e-mail account.

    This happened to me from 1 of 2 reasons:

    1.) I pressed back to recheck something (many of these sites forget to add a “back” button on their form during checkout), or,
    2.) I started the checkout process, and before I completed the order, I wanted to verify something in another window, and took too long causing the order to timeout, thus corrupted my account.

    And NO, clearing cache did not help (I cleared cache, cookies, even went to the actual folder displayed hidden objects to verify no corrupted cookies).

  3. RoguePisigit says:

    I wonder if he’d get the same problem if he just created a whole new account. If Kohl’s can’t (and won’t) find anything wrong with their site, and it’s not affecting everyone, it’s probably specific to the account he’s trying to use.

  4. scoutermac says:

    That’s ok. We have tried to pay my wife’s Kohl’s charge online to avoid having to mail in the payment or walk into the store. After several attempts to register the account and call phone support Kohl’s refuses to accept their is a problem.

    • kc2idf says:

      You don’t want to do that that way anyway, because the transaction ends up being a pull from your account, under Kohl’s control. Instead, you should use your bank’s electronic bill pay system, which will push the funds, under your control to Kohl’s.

      • George4478 says:

        Agreed. I don’t let companies come into my bank account and pull what they think is the correct amount. I go to my bank’s bill pay site and push the payment to them.

  5. Lukecadet says:

    You have done all you can. Kohl’s obviously gets a FAIL!!! Time to move on. Maybe Target would be more receptive to your orders.

  6. carterpeartford says:

    from previous experience, talking to anyone at a Kohl’s store, or calling Kohl’s customer service number is useless. your best bet is to give up and shop elsewhere.

  7. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Interesting. I had a problem placing an order with a slow, timing out, non-responsive coffee company website (along with a lot of other users). When I called to ask them about it, the CSR insisted that the IT folks said everything was OK – I’m sure it was OK for them since they were all probably directly connected to the servers through a 100 mb LAN.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Problems like this happen as a result of the database state on specific accounts. For everyone else the checkout functions work. IT would not see the problem unless they specifically login under the problem account and try to perform the checkout procedure. The problem needs to be escalated to the DBA.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Indeed, if that was the problem. But apparently the network people wouldn’t talk to DBA and the CSR was clueless.

        This reminds me of an old netadmin joke: A network administrator joins the army and in basic training is sent to the firing range. He squeezes off umpteen rounds and misses the target every time.

        The sergeant says, “Looks like you have a problem here.”

        The netadmin says, “No – every here is working fine. The problem’s got to be on the other end.”

        • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

          “every here” = “everything here” – damn edit button.

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    I went to a clothing web site to look at a pair of pants. I clicked on the picture to magnify the pants (so I could see the pattern in greater detail) but instead of the picture becoming larger, it actually became smaller. I e-mailed them my concern and stated they might be losing business because of this “problem.” I got a response from one of their employee smartphones a few hours later thanking me for bringing it to their attention, telling me they have fixed the problem, and offering me 10% off my entire purchase.

    That’s what I call listening to customer concerns.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Did they actually fix the problem?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        “telling me they have fixed the problem”

        • GOInsanity says:

          Anyone can say they fixed the problem. Did you ever go see if they fixed it? Because for all you know, they gave you a bs response to get you out of their hair.

          • Blueskylaw says:

            I see your point. Yes, they actually did fix the problem but I ended up
            not buying the pants because I didn’t like the herringbone pattern.

    • MBZ321 says:

      10% off? wow aren’t you special…there is always at least a 10% off coupon floating out there, if not a 20% (and 30% almost monthly if you use a kohls card)

      • euph_22 says:

        First off, blueskylaw never said which clothing website he was talking about. And the retailer could easily have given him nothing.

      • euph_22 says:

        First off, blueskylaw never said which clothing website he was talking about. And the retailer could easily have given him nothing.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        This wasn’t a national chain store, this was an
        online-only boutique store with higher end clothing.

  9. Harry Greek says:

    I don’t think Kohls sells anything exclusively. So, since you enjoy the internet route, hit another website.

    With that said, I am not sure what the big deal is; Kohls has a website that works for most people. There is clearly an issue with a few. And frankly, it isn’t feasible to helicopter in Kohls’ IT team to figure out what is wrong.

    Also, the OP could have just called in the toll free number and placed the order. But, then again, we wouldn’t be hearing his whining.

    Honestly, what is next; posts about packets of sugar containing 499 grains of sugar instead of 500?

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      “Honestly, what is next; posts about packets of sugar containing 499 grains of sugar instead of 500?”

      Nah, it will be someone complaining that a Best Buy cashier gave them 2 nickels as change instead of 1 dime.

    • daemonaquila says:

      That’s a laugh. I worked in the IT field much of my early professional career, and I’d fire people who took that attitude. “It works for most people” doesn’t cut it in e-commerce. Does the team get a pass if it doesn’t work for someone still running Lynx on a Windows 3.1 machine? Sure. But a site should work for anyone using a browser and OS written within the past 10 years, and the database coding should be utterly rock solid.

  10. mrbucket says:

    What I generally do when I have a problem with a website is perform a WHOIS on the domain: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/kohls.com and email their technical contact directly, in this case it is “internet@kohls.com.”

    In most cases, you get an entirely different group than whatever the contact form uses – and they may be able to help you out.

    • euph_22 says:

      This possibly could have helped. Certainly more helpful than badgering Kohl’s lowly facbook monkey/CSR.

      • MMD says:

        Maybe. But shouldn’t the Kohls CSR make a bit more of an effort to find out what’s going on?

        • euph_22 says:

          No. Because it’s not their job. Facebook is not the venue to report and resolve technical issues with their website. You might as well talk to the cashier at the local Kohl’s store for all the good it will do.

          You need to get in touch with technical people running the website, not a different set of frontline CSR’s that are even more isolated from the system.

          • euph_22 says:

            Let me rephrase that.
            It’s not so much that it’s not their job (although it isn’t). It’s that it takes them away from their actual job of monitoring, responding to facebook messages. They are just like any other frontline CSR, except their job has even less scope.

            For this situation you need to escalate till you get to the actual tech people running the website. Going to the facebook page is a giant step backwards.

            • MMD says:

              So you’re arguing that the CSR shouldn’t assist in this escalation? Really?

              • euph_22 says:

                Escalate to WHOM? The phone reps he’s already talked to? The technical people he reported this to?

                • Red Cat Linux says:

                  Let’s come back to Earth for a minute.

                  Let’s say that your average person is not necessarily going to think of doing a whois to possibly find the most appropriate person to report a site error to. Or even know wtf it means.

                  Let’s also say that identifying the issue as a possible database or website problem is going to be outside the scope of being a customer.

                  And let’s say that tech support has already failed by not escalating or resolving.

                  Perhaps the CSR answering customers through FB should have been able to escalate correctly. To the possibly more well informed people at ‘internet@kohls.com’ perhaps? The same address that was acknowledged as probably being more helpful than asking a CSR?

                  If it’s not a Kohl’s CSR’s task to escalate a customer issue, whose it is? You can’t say “that would be helpful” and then absolve the company of not using it as a resource, and instead make the customer play detective.

                  • euph_22 says:

                    So lets get this straight. You think the guy making $10/hour answering questions on facebook would be able to provide better technical support then the actual TSR’s?

                    And it absolutely should be the CSR’s task to escalate a customer issue. He should NOT re-escalate an issue that has already moved so far above his head he’d need supplemental oxygen to reach it.

                    • Red Cat Linux says:

                      The relevant part of my post you ignored to insert the stuff you imagined I said… Let me highlight it for you:

                      “Perhaps the CSR answering customers through FB should have been able to escalate correctly. To the possibly more well informed people at ‘internet@kohls.com’ perhaps?”

                      I think people should not make excuses for a company’s CSR’s and TSR’s being useless.

                  • euph_22 says:

                    The main issue here, is he should be ESCALATING the problem. Not going back to ground zero with it.

                  • euph_22 says:

                    And I’m not absolving Kohl’s for this. I’m absolving their facebook reps. This should be handled by the CSR’s over the phone and the Technical support people.

                    • maxxpowerr says:

                      I started with a CSR via email. They replied promptly, asked for more details and suggested clearing the browser cookies, and asked me to call the 800 number when that didn’t work.

                      I called the 800 number, and spoke to a CSR. This CSR knew nothing more than what the email CSR told me (clear cookies and try again), so I asked for technical support. He said “there is no technical support I can transfer you to.” I asked again…he sheepishly repeated there was nobody but CSR’s to talk to and that he had no other solutions. It wasn’t until being exasperated that two CSRs would not or could not be of help (THEY could have escalated at any point), that I tried Facebook.

                      The Facebook rep either had the same script or consulted a CSR because I got the exact same response. I would have expected the Facebook rep to want to make a show of providing good service in such a public forum – at the very least, give me a good contact or have someone contact me. How is that outside the scope of a social media rep?

  11. frank64 says:

    I kind of understand, if these guys had no ability to fix it, but the should have been able to at least transfer the person to someone who could do the order manually.

  12. longfeltwant says:

    It just worked for me. I went to the site, added an item, viewed my card, and got to the checkout page.

  13. bben says:

    I work with a site that has 4.5 million members. We get these type problems from time to time – a very few members cannot do something that everyone else can – so obviously it’s on our side – 4.5 million people are wrong and the one with the problem is obviously right. If Kohl’s is not getting a lot of these type complaints – It’s probably NOT on their end. On the other hand, If they are getting a lot – It’s costing them money and some IT guy is not getting much sleep. And they should own up – as it’s just good customer relations to admit it when your site is having problems.

    I have found that often it’s caused by an update to something on their end – a browser update that changed some settings (such as blocking certain kinds of cookies by default now), a firewall that now blocks certain kinds of transactions until you change the settings or a new feature of his antivirus or ad blocker that was changed in an update.

    You can also try creating a new account

    • Coles_Law says:

      Sometimes weird things can come up. Back in my college days, our registrar’s office had a glitch that only affected people with apostrophes or hyphens in their last name.

      • MMD says:

        Number of complaints is not an accurate measure of how widespread the problem is. As I mentioned above, I encountered very similar problems to what the OP experienced. I didn’t care enough to pursue the purchase, let alone complain about the site. How many sales have they lost from people like me? We have no way of knowing.

    • daemonaquila says:

      Which is fine as a starting point, except that the OP tried multiple browsers on multiple computers. That’s very strongly pointing to a problem at the company’s end, not his. It’s easy for a tech to get defensive and insist that it MUST be the user’s problem, when so many complete idiots call in every day. However, not listening to good evidence that the problem is on the company’s end, and insisting it’s a user problem, is a sign of either incompetence or burnout.

      I disagree that it’s ok if Kohl’s is not getting a huge number of complaints. When managing a variety of web or software projects, I would always look for these “outlier” issues. Sure enough, these bizarre anomalies often ran the teams down to a very real problem that had potentially wider implications. Only a dumb or lazy IT manager wants to blow off this kind of trouble ticket.

    • Red Cat Linux says:


      But blowing off users for this kind of issue may be an error.

      “Creating a new account” = “it’s something on Kohl’s end” OR “Please go away and try this and get out of my help desk ticket queue. Hopefully when it does not work, and you call back, I’ll be off shift and you’ll be in someone elses queue.”

      Also, chat support staff are the Worst. I don’t know if they are manning Facebook jockeys with chat support folks at Kohl’s, but it sounds like it.

      Audible actually treated a problem I was having with their site in the opposite way. After I sent in emails describing the problem and what I did to correct it, I got a tech support call back from their web team. We spent an hour on the phone while I tried different things and reported back the results as they had a problem with two databases updating fields correctly (Amazon’s and Audible’s). In the end, the problem was tracked to the source, and I got a free book for my trouble.

      And I think Audible support is pretty cool, now.

  14. kathc says:

    I have the same problem with the Kohl’s website almost every time I try to order anything. Plus, their online ordering service absolutely stinks anyway. I ordered a few items from their online bridal registry, which were supposed to be delivered to the bride’s parent’s house, where there is someone who is home all day to accept packages. The gifts were ordered a month before the shower. By the day of the shower, only one item had arrived, so I called Kohl’s customer service to see what happened and they said they attempted to deliver the items one time and then the package was returned to Kohl’s. No one had bothered to inform me of this at all. The gifts ended up arriving almost another month after that phone call! Ridiculous. I will NEVER order from Kohl’s again.

  15. lcheco says:

    I have the same issue with my account which has been going on for months now. I too attempted to have it solved through their customer service but nothing they recommended worked. There is a way around this though – don’t sign in to your account. Put what you want to buy in to the shopping card and go to checkout – then sign in when you are checking out. This works fine every time – its a hassle since you can’t save your bag for a later purchase but it’s better than nothing.

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

    “I guess Kohl’s doesn’t want my money.”
    “Guess his money isn’t any good.”
    “It took four attempts for someone who wanted to give them money to get any reasonable response.”

    They’re having a problem and, of course, those who actually have to deal with the customers are given no information or power to fix it. This happens. No one is sitting at Kohl’s tech support and plotting ways to avoid taking money from customers.


    • Red Cat Linux says:

      In the original post it appears that the FB customer support person did not even attempt to gather information or troubleshoot. Their main purpose is to tell people to try another browser and delete cache and cookies.

      Does anyone think it’s the tech support helpdesk sitting around conspiring not to get money? No. However Kohl’s as a whole dropped the ball here:

      – Known issue
      – Poor support training
      – Poor customer support

      Which resolves as 1) Lost sale 2) possibly lost future sale 3) frustrated customer. AKA, “I guess Kohl’s doesn’t want his money.” Actually being up front with the customer, rather than blowing him off with fake ‘support’ would have gone a long way here.

      If you think this is not a problem when multiplied, take a look at Sears, a company that has raised it to an art form. I would not be shocked if Sears folded in the first quarter of 2013. In fact, I’m shocked they haven’t already.

      • euph_22 says:

        Do you really think Facebook is the appropriate venue for technical support with their website to occur?

        Ok, in general i would suggest that the Facebook CSRs direct the customer to the proper channels, but Jared was already there. Sending him back doesn’t accomplish anything.

        • Red Cat Linux says:

          Actually, I think Facebook is a sign of the Apocalypse. That and txtspk.

          But once people started to get meaningful responses from company social media sites, then the genie was out of the bottle. Kohl’s has a FB page. And conducts some shoddy excuse for customer/tech support through it.

          That’s worse than sending the OP back to the tech support email address. “If you can’t make it better, don’t make it worse” was not Kohl’s motto in this situation. See what I’m saying? Kohl’s dropped the ball at multiple places.

          User encounters (a known!) error, can’t complete sale. Fail – but one that perhaps was not in Kohl’s control to immediately prevent. Shit happens. And in IT, it happens a lot.

          User contacts tech support. Multiple times. Via e-mail and phone. Fail – lack of information updating TSRs on known issues. Instead, lets waste the customer’s time.

          User contacts Kohls through FB. This is (to me anyway) clearly a cry for help via customer support. Gets a limp technical answer that does not address the problem, barely acknowledges it, and as far as customer support escalation goes … Fail – See above. Also, instead of escalation to where a useful answer might be found, Jared gets a lesson on how some people in online support never actually read the information you wrote about the issue while offering copy/pasta solutions that don’t work.

          As far as site support goes, Kohl’s is clearly doing it wrong.

  17. maxxpowerr says:

    This is Jared. Just wanted to say thinks for debating my entry here and not posting too many “blame-the-op” posts. I feel mostly vindicated! :)

    And just to clarify:
    *I tried logging in from browsers and computers that did not have AdBlock or any related software, so that’s not the issue. And I can add things to and view the shopping bag as a generic user – the issue is only when I’m logged into my account.
    *I didn’t resort to Facebook until the phone and email customer support had nothing to offer. I asked on the phone if there was tech support or anyone else to speak to. The poor guy sounded embarrassed telling me he had nothing else to tell me and nobody else to send me to.
    *My problem is that the CSR’s have only one response to technical issues and if that response doesn’t work, they have no way to help (and come off as having no desire to help). That is customer service FAIL anyway you look at it.

    • Not Given says:

      Did you try making a new account with a different email address?

    • CTNYNC says:

      Jared – I was beginning to think I was loosing my mind until I read your story. This has happened to me on numerous occasions. I have Ghostery & Adblock and thought those were the problem, so I paused them – they weren’t the issue. My frustration was the same as yours – it was only when I logged into my account on the Kohls.com website that I had the problem … if I simply went on the site and looked around it was fine. Extremely annoying – I ended up going to the store to purchase the items I needed – but wasn’t able to use my internet only coupon! BTW – I have called Kohl’s in the past and have received no satisfaction from their CSRs regarding internet assistance … unlike other national retailers, like L.L. Bean and Target. And for all those that made snarky comments …. just because you could …. on behalf of Jared …. bite me !

  18. xRocheCoach says:

    Oh Jesus Christ. Crap like this happens all the time. If it’s not flat-out OP’s fault with his computer, it’s a very small mistake that’s very hard to catch, or a server problem in which the only way to fix it is to wait for the server. This definitely isn’t a Consumerist issue worthy of anti-Kohl’s “activism”.