I know some people love the place, but I swear I will never again buy anything at Target that costs over $19.95. Why $19.95, you ask? Because I have arbitrarily determined that this is the largest amount of cash that I am willing to voluntarily toss in the trash if my only other choice is being forced to deal with the crack-smoking assknobs in the Target Returns Department.
I needed a new vacuum cleaner recently, so I decided to check out Target and see what they had. A surprisingly good selection, as it turns out. The only issue was, just like any big-box store, there was no way to actually check one out. You could look at the pretty pictures on the side of the boxes though, so I started browsing. Eventually, I found an upright that claimed to be able to suck a golfball through a garden hose or some such. I bought it.
So I got the WonderSuck 2000 back home and put it together. It looked really high-tech, and I was happy, because if your vacuum cleaner doesn't look high-tech, you ain't got shit. Just ask anybody -- I am all about how cool my wife looks when she vacuums. (If she's reading this, I'm just kidding, honey. If she's not, well then I'm still lobbying for that french maid outfit.)
I plug the vac in, and switch it on. The lights dim for a second, and then all hell breaks loose. The vacuum instantly tries to eat the fringe on our oriental carpet. I barely prevent this from happening and regain some semblance of control. This beast is LOUD -- incredibly so. It sounds like someone is stress-testing a DC-10 jet engine. It was louder than my shop vac and lawnmower combined.
Underneath the jet-engine whine, there is another noise I am pretty sure you can't actually hear, but instead just feel resonating in your brain stem. It affects you at a reptilian level, evoking something like dread. I half expect a dimensional warp to open up and suck me into an alternate universe --maybe even the same place all the dirt goes when the vacuum cleaner sucks it up through the cord and into the wall. (that's what I thought happened to it when I was a kid.)
The cats and I both come close to peeing ourselves. It was obviously too loud to use for any length of time at all. I shut it down, my testicles descend, and we all heave a collective sigh of relief. This thing scares me, and must go back. Right Now.
I take it apart, pack it all back in the box, jump back in my car and drive 30 minutes back to Target. In my possession is the receipt. No problem, right? I get in line at the returns desk and wait. When it's my turn, I explain to the woman behind the counter that I just bought this vac an hour ago, and would like to return it. She immediately sees that the box is open, and says, "What's wrong with it?" "Nothing," I tell her. "It just sounds exactly like a jet engine. It's really loud. Too loud to use."
She then proceeds to pull the entire contents of the box out on to the counter and Begin The Inspection. Apparently, I don't look trustworthy, and she wants to make sure I wasn't returning a box of empty Mountain Dew cans and old porn magazines. She looks it over, and says, "We can't take this back."
I politely inquire as to why.
"It's been used. There's dust in the cup."
I said, "Well, I turned it on to try it, but it's certainly not what I would consider used. I just bought it today. A few hours ago, actually. I want my money back because, as I said, it sounds like a jet engine."
"It's been used. I can't do anything about that. It's our policy. If it's too loud, you might want to try contacting the manufacturer for a refund."
I ask her if she's kidding. She says no, and then adds, "If it was defective, I could take it back."
So I tell her (between clenched teeth) that I would be more than happy to take it back out to the parking lot and smash the shit out of it if that is what she required to issue me a refund.
"That won't work now." she says. "I've already seen it."
I wasn't sure which amazed me more -- the fact that she wasn't going to issue a refund, or the fact that breaking the vacuum in the parking lot was, until the point I mentioned it, actually an acceptable option to her.
OK, I am done with this bitch. I ask to see the manager.
The manager comes out and attempts to explain to me the arcane and mysterious rules that govern the return of vacuum cleaners to Target. I am certain that they have similar rules for all the other bullshit merchandise they sell, but this was my first experience of the joy and wonder that is the Target returns counter. By this time, I had mentally vowed it was also to be my last.
She cannot give me my money back. She cannot give me a different vacuum cleaner. She can, however, give me a new one of the SAME vacuum cleaner. I ask her what prevents me from just turning around, going to the back of the line and returning the new one. She chews on that for a while, then says, "Well, because I would know that's what you were doing, and I wouldn't allow it."
I am completely and utterly baffled by this line of reasoning.
I am also really pissed, because I have now been arguing with these two fuckwits for about 20 minutes. I decide to cut my losses, save what's left of my sanity, and take the new one. I also tell them in no uncertain terms that this whole thing is bullshit, their company is bullshit, and dealing with them has been the most pointless, aggravating and frustrating experience I've ever had in a store.
I toss it in the car, then drive about 30 miles to a different Target and return the unopened vacuum cleaner, no questions asked. It's probably a good thing they didn't look at the receipt too closely, or I'd be learning sign language right about now.
The next night, we went to Sears, tested out about 5 different vacs on real rugs with real electricity, real accessories, and real dirt. Added bonus: a knowledgable salesperson.
We ended up buying a Kenmore. Sometimes, there's something to be said for paying a little more. The extra 50 bucks I paid for the Kenmore would have been well worth it to avoid the massive amount of aggravation, wasted time and gas spent on Target and their minions of mind-numbing madness. I will remember that little lesson next time.
Newly-released DVD's, paper towels and cat food. And even if it's one of those three things, there would have to be a serious Target coupon involved before I'd think about it. Buy anything else from Target at your own risk.
Don't say I didn't warn you.