Thursday, July 10, 2008

Buy your media at Amazon (and not Target)

So, today I went to Target to return two items. I'm not a guy who returns things a lot, but as I mentioned yesterday, my copy of the Batman: Gotham Knight movie was a bit jacked up. I also bought a stereo sort of thing at Target a few months ago, and now, of the options (radio, CD, tape, record player) the radio doesn't work.

So, anyway, I took both back to Target. The Target lady basically told me: your radio was bought too long ago, so I'll only give you $35 for this item. So I figured 3 out of 4 functions ain't bad and gave up on that. After all, that's a pretty sound policy, and I didn't have my receipt.

The Batman movie, however, was another story. I bought it literally yesterday, and already they were sold out at the store. And every location within 10.3 miles. I know this, because the girl at Customer Service printed out a list of where they DID have a copy.

"That's, like, $6.00 on gas on a $19.00 movie. I just want my money."
So she called her manager.
"Sir, this is a copyright issue. We can't just refund your money."
"I worked in a record store and I know how computers work. I understand piracy. And I want my money back."
"They have it at Capitol Plaza."
"I have no reason to GO to Capitol Plaza. I'll just take my money."
So she called her super manager.
"Sir, it's a copyright issue."
"I know. But its your copy of the movie that's messed up. I brought it back within 24 hours. Its not my fault you guys understocked."
"We can hold it and maybe call you when we get more copies in."
"When will that be?"
"I don't know."
"And will you actually call me?"
"No. This is your broken movie. Just give me my money."
"I can't do that, it's a copyright issue."
"You're saying you don't stand by your own product? I can show you on any DVD player how the disc is messed up."
"It's a copyright issue."
"I didn't copy it. I want the same movie and you're out of stock. How is that my problem?"
"We can only exchange opened items for the same item."
"Which you don't have."
"You know, Amazon would help me out."
"You're giving me absolutely no reason to shop here anymore."
"You can call our Customer Service Line."
"Which will do what?"
"They'll hear you out and make a decision."
And I could just imagine the person I'd be talking to in India or Minneapolis, working from a script, telling me they'd put me in a system, and in 6-8 months they'd call me back to tell me I was stuck with a broken movie.
"No. This is ridiculous. I'm not calling some service line."
But that's the magic of customer service today, I guess. You get sent to make some phone call you know you will be buried.
"Here, let me get you a card for our customer service-"
"I don't want it. I'll just come back some other time and get a new copy."
"Let me get you a copy of the card for our-"
"I'm not going to call and disappear into some phone limbo. Absolutely not. This is terrible service."
"Sir, its not our policy, its copyright..." Blah blah blah
It IS the store's policy, by the way. The DVD companies aren't cutting a major retailer like Target out of the chain. Its just easier to NOT help one customer. We had the same concerns when i worked at a record store in 1997, but we didn't consider it the customer's problem if we didn't have something stocked. We gave them store credit for our inability to have, say, more than one copy of "The very best of Connie Francis".
So I DID take the DVD home. I have no idea when or if they'll get in more copies. And what sort of ridiculous policy I can look forward to from the service desk at that point.

Anyhow, this is the future of shopping.

Three lessons:

1) My ability to outright own a copy of digital media, a la iTunes, for my TV can't come quickly enough.
2) Amazon. I had always pre-ordered my copies of movies through Amazon, but decided that it was a waste of packaging, etc.. as I always wind up seeing the movie at the store for sale for roughly the same price. But from now on, Amazon. They've never once given me lip about returning ANYTHING.
3) Target reps could have cared. They actively chose not to help in any way other than trying to get me to go 10.4 miles away.

The store, by the way, was Austin Southpark SuperTarget. The manager's name was "Stan".

And don't get me started on the idiots at Circuit City. But here's a hint to Circuit City management: If they can't find the movie called "V for Vendetta" in the alphabetically filed DVD's in under 15 minutes, its time to take a serious look at your hiring policies.


Steven said...

If I'm not mistaken there's a lawyer in your family with whose talents you could unite your free time to harasss the management, at the very least, into a free doughy pretzel ( the extra ‘s’ is for extra harassment ).

Anonymous said...

Buy into Amazon Prime, and its amazing how convenient it is to buy any old thing from Amazon and have it shipped via two-day shipping for free.

And yes, Amazon doesn't give you any flak for returning stuff. I returned an extra Wii controller and Nanchuck for no other reason than I wanted the money rather than having a third controller and they gave me my money back no questions asked.

Simon MacDonald said...

Crap like this is caused by the DCMA. Here in Canada we are fighting hard to avoid our own version of the DCMA being put into law.