Target experience puts Wal-Mart in driver’s seat

My wife and I were out this weekend, shopping for Hanukkah gifts. She was looking for gifts for me, I was looking for gifts for her. You get the idea.

Anyway, we were at Target and I spotting a sharp-looking Armitron, so my wife decided to make that my gift. Trouble is, the watch came with a cheap-looking and clammy-feeling rubber/plastic band. So we looked over their selection of leather watch bands to find something more appealing.

When I found one I liked, we moved to the jewelry counter to ask them to put the new leather band on the watch for us – something I’ve done all my life, whether shopping at Target, Wal-Mart, ShopKo or even K-Mart.

The young man, who couldn’t have been much older than 17 if that, pointed out a sign on the counter.

“We have a new policy,” he explained. “We don’t do that anymore. Target figured our time was too valuable to mess with putting bands on watches. There’s not enough money in it for us.”

Now, jewelry counters in department stores always have the right tool to pull off an operation like changing a watch band, which requires a VERY SMALL screwdriver to pull back the little pin. It’s not something one can do at home very successfully with a tweezers or something, since the metal is too thick to get the pin down. And it’s hazardous to try; you can cut yourself fairly easily in a failed attempt.

Of course, with the proper tool, it’s a breeze, which is why we went to the jewelry counter in the first place. So I was shocked that this teenager who probably makes seven dollars an hour or so, felt his time was “too valuable” to help out a paying customer.

I very nearly canceled the entire purchase, but I loved the Armitron so much, I just decided not to buy the watch band.

“We’ll go for that to a store that actually cares about customer service,” we told him.

The next day, we went to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart employees tend to make less than those at Target, but guess who was a whole lot more interested in having us leave their establishment happy?

That’s right; Wal-Mart sold us a nearly identical leather band and put it on for us with a smile and a “thank you for shopping Wal-Mart!” even though the watch had been purchased elsewhere!

Take that, Target! Customer dis-service like that is why Wal-Mart is more successful than you, and will remain so. And don’t worry… I’ll never ask a Target employee to install a watch band for me again… I’ll be getting all my future watches… and wrist bands… at Wal-Mart from now on.

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