Customer Service (aka Target FTW!)

Ready for the flip side?

I don’t want to be a complainer, so I figure if I was going to write the Jimmy John’s story, I had to write something complimentary as a counterpoint.

About two weeks ago, I was desperately in need of some staples. Both product and grocery. Since I basically despise this sort of necessary shopping, I decided to do it at Target and save myself some grief. I made a list, I clipped the coupons, I was set. I went after work and it was busy. BUSY. The WB Target is pretty much always busy, but evidently all Target-goers shop after work, instead of on weekends.

At any rate, I started in the Halloween store, because I needed a couple tiny accessories for Arionna’s costume. I was muddling through the mess that is Halloween accoutrements when a nice employee approached, with a smile, and said “is there anything I can help you find?”

Now, I’m not an idiot, I can probably find it on my own, but heck, I have a lot to buy and don’t want to be here all night, so I figure I could save the time and let her help. It worked. I thanked her and she left with a final smile.

I am pretty sure everyone who is reading this has been to Target. I have to ask, when is the last time this happened to you in Target? Me, I am pretty sure never. Employees do not offer help in Target. I have generally found that if I do need help, they are nowhere to be found and if you do ask, they are begrudging at best. I’ve actually gone on rants about disliking Target’s service levels. I think they take advantage of their virtual corner on the market and disregard their customers.

But then…

So I continued to shop. I was in the kitchen area looking for….I forget, honestly, but it was a weird thing I don’t normally buy. Like magic, a young man in red and khaki came around the corner and asked if there was anything he could help me find. I told him and bam! I was off to the next item on my list.

I needed kitchen hand soap. I could not find it. I went up and down aisles looking for it (because how hard can it be?) and suddenly an older man approached in his Target uniform “you look like you’re looking for something” he said with a warm smile “can I help?” I asked and he led me right to it. By the body wash, for the curious, which makes no sense at all.

During the maybe 90 minutes I was shopping that store, I was approached SIX different times and offered help. Can you believe that? I don’t think it has ever happened ONCE, and suddenly it was all that was happening. I honestly was amazed. I can often get annoyed by sales people in stores, they come across as pushy because they are trying to sell me something, but this was different. They came across as helpful and friendly, and, face it, I actually needed help.

I don’t know if Target corporation is making changes or if it is just the management of my local store, but this was the most I’ve ever loved Target.  Then, when I went to check out, I was the annoying woman with a full cart using the self checkout. I love self checkouts, use them everywhere. My grocery store has made them express stations, so I don’t often get the chance to do it, but Target has not. Until they do, yeah, I’m gonna be that person. At any rate, of course after ringing up my huge cart, I had a ginormous pile of coupons.

I started scanning them and they didn’t work. Not all of them. The girl working that area came over and helped. When I needed help again (HUGE pile of coupons) she popped over. The third time, she smiled at me and said “you know, so you don’t have to wait, I’m just going to stand over here, instead of at the podium, so I’ll be on hand if you need me.”

I mean, come on, the service was practically over the top at that point. But, true enough, she stood by my side and keyed in her code probably 10 different times in order to allow me to use my coupons. (Side note, I save THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS in straight coupons that day!)

I left that Target happy, content, and encouraged to go back, which is exactly what good customer service does. I never thought Target would make this list, but they deserve kudos for their increase in service.

I’m headed back tonight to pick up a few things, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Dear Bed, Bath, & Beyond

I’m writing today to ask you a simple question.

Have you ever seen Crocodile Dundee? You know, that terrible, but iconic movie from the 80s? The most famous quote from the movie is, “That’s not a knife, THAT’s a knife”. If you’ve seen it, you’ll get it.

Well, it is in that spirit that I present you with the tale of two doormats.

Quite simply:

 
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That’s not a doormat.
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THAT is a doormat.

Get it, now?

Thanks for trying. I won’t give up on you, but I am severely disappointed. When I do the return tonight, that could change the tide of our relationship, depending on how well you handle it. (I have no idea what to expect as I have never returned anything to you before…which is a point in your favor, believe me.)

Sincerely,

Livlife

P.S. Dear Target, that was one kick ass selection of winter doormats you had, I stood there a full five minutes debating which to purchase, before taking home my awesome, red, snowflake doormat, that is of normal size. AND, it was the same price as our friends at BBB.

Shopping and Teens

Yesterday was the 15th. I got paid. This was a particularly tight month for me and I’ve been living off pennies and foraging for food for about a week, in order to make it to the 15th. My mood was high yesterday.

I left work with lists. I knew I needed to hit Target (out. of. everything.) but Target is a challenge, it is so, so, so, easy to drop money in that store and never quite realize how it happened. I also wanted to get some Christmas shopping out of the way. My goal is to be done by Thanksgiving. I am close, only one person to decide on, and two gifts left to get. Then I’ll use December to wrap (I won’t start to wrap until my tree is up, otherwise, where do the presents go?). At any rate, I had a specific list for Target, complete with expected prices.

I only bought one “luxury” item and it made me laugh. I splurged and bought Christmas Kleenex. That is now what I consider a splurge. My, how my life has changed. I needed Kleenex anyway, but I usually buy it at the dollar store. Now I was spending more per box, for smaller boxes, just because they were holiday themed. But I did it anyway.

I also figure I might have been the only person in the state of Minnesota running around without a coat last night. It was COLD. Mostly because it was fiercely windy and that biting wind chill made it feel like it was about 25°. No coat. I’m clearly a genius. I actually considered going home to get a coat before running errands. But as the stores are midway between my work and my house, that seemed stupid. I toughed it out.

Fine, so I got what I needed at Target and didn’t spend extra. I was proud.

Then, my next stop was a fun one. Kohl’s sent a $10 gift card in the mail. No minimum purchase. If you spend $10 exactly, the item is free. I decided to pop in and see what I could get for free. Then, I found a coupon online for 15% off total purchase price, that CAN be used with the gift card. So, shopping I went. I found a Halloween table runner I had been eyeing since before Halloween. Normally, it is 24.99, that is WAY too much. I’d never pay that. It was 75% off! I got it for 5.99. I was thrilled! I also found a flameless candle for Halloween that was 5.99.

I was going to take those two items and go, paying only about $2, but something made me wander through the Christmas area. (My mom is groaning to herself…she knows my weakness). But, I managed to find a Christmas gift I had been looking for, and it was on sale! Got it for $6.99. Finally, I saw this pillow (pillows are another weakness, visit my house, I’m one girl with 4 pillows on my bed, 3 on the guest bed and roughly 20 decorative pillows) and it is a Christmas pillow. It looks like Santa you know what, never mind.

St. Nicholas Square Santa's Belt Countdown Decorative Pillow

How about I just post a picture of it? (courtesy of Kohl’s website). Isn’t it kadorable? And the belt MOVES so it works as a countdown calendar. I. LOVE. IT. Plus, it is so soft. And it was on sale, 50% off!

Long, long, story summed up, I got all the above items for $15 after discounts. That’s pretty good bargain hunting.

Next, it was on to the grocery store. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say, I got every item on my list, picked up ingredients for a dessert I want to make (not on list) and still left $15 UNDER budget, which made the Kohl’s trip practically free.

How’s that for a successful shopping trip?

Literally bursting with pride in my self and my restraint as I left Rainbow. So much so that I considered blogging about my random, boring, Tuesday night.

However, what happened next pushed it over the edge. (As you can tell, because you are READING the blog about it…)

I was pushing my cart out to my car. I stopped and unloaded all my groceries. My parking karma was on in full force that night and I got a spot right up front, near the door. I remember from my youth, that my mom used to park in the row nearest the exit at Cub, AND right near the cart corral. I don’t do that. I do park near a door, but unlike Cub, you can enter/exit through both doors.

So, I unload all my groceries into the backseat and I think I was shivering. 25° is cold when you ARE wearing a coat. And I wasn’t wearing anything warm. I had long sleeves, but my shirt was thin, I was freezing. So, I start pushing my cart out from between the cars, already dreading how far I have to walk to deposit it in the cart corral. I’ll do it, though, because I think it is beyond rude and self-indulgent to leave your cart wherever so some 16 year old at minimum wage can hike around and clean up after you.

I turned the cart the right way and stepped behind it to push, when a teenage boy appeared. He was coming out of the store, carrying something small in his hand. (it was dark, I couldn’t see) He was passing me and reached out and grabbed the side of my cart. I looked at him and he said, “I’m headed that way, I’ll put it back for you.”

No kidding, this boy was 16-17, tops. I was a little stunned. People just aren’t usually that nice to strangers, especially teenage people. I smiled at the boy and said, “thank you, that’s very kind of you.” He smiled back and said, “no problem, there’s no reason for both of us to make the trip.”

I climbed into my car and as I was backing out, I saw him climbing into his car, a few spots back from the cart corral. As I was driving away, I thought to myself, I hope his parents know how well they’ve done. That is a nice young man. Then I thought, I wonder if anyone ever thought that about me? I wonder if, when I was a teen or a child, anyone ever thought I was so kind and helpful that my parents deserve praise? I hope so, that is the kind of person that I strive to be, the kind of person my parents raised me to be.

But this boy, well he made my night (and it was already a good night!). I wish the world weren’t such that we don’t expect things like that, I wish we just expected kindness and generosity because that is all we knew, but since the world isn’t like that, I’m happy to find little pockets of it wherever I can.

Last night I did. And today I wore a thick sweater, just in case.

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

I typically (snort) do laundry on Sunday nights. Assuming I’m out of clean underwear by that point. Realistically, I do laundry only when someone puts a gun to my head. Or I’m actually out of clean underwear.

But, when I have no choice but to do laundry, I do it on Sunday nights. Months ago, I bought clearance laundry detergent from Target. Up and Up brand (their in-house generic). I only bought it because it was on sale. Then I found out that I really like it. Good scent, not too sudsy, no residue on the clothes…and cheap. I was a happy girl.

Recently, I popped in to Target and moved past the aisle with the detergents. Then, something niggled in the back of my brain. It seemed to me that I was out-or nearly out-of laundry detergent. I backtracked to that aisle with the single-minded goal of finding the same stuff. I knew what the bottle looked like, so I was scanning…ah ha! There it was. Not on sale, but still very affordable. I picked it up, dropped it in the cart and moved on with my life.

The last time I did laundry, I used up what was left in the clearance bottle. Last night, I trudged downstairs with a fragrant load in my arms and dumped everything unceremoniously in the washer. I’m not a fan of sorting. If it can’t all be washed together, I don’t usually buy it. I grabbed the new bottle of detergent and cracked it open. I tipped it into the washer and that’s when I first noticed something was wrong.

It looked weird. It was a milky blue color…not the clear, deep, blue of detergent. And it smelled weird, too. Softer, less crisp. I twisted the cap back on and flipped the bottle in my hand to read the label.

Fabric Softener.

WTF? How could I screw that up? They looked the same. Why would they look the same? Fabric softener typically looks different from detergent. At least in every other brand I have ever bought. These, except for bottle size, look identical.

See?
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I-dent-i-cal.

That’s obviously just plain annoying. I had a flash of mystery where I wondered what would happen to my poor clothes, without detergent. Well, it was already too late. There was water in the basin and softener in the basin and clothes in the basin. I wasn’t going to waste my time and money figuring out what to do with wet, sopping clothes, so I let ’em run. Then I dried them. They smell overly softened and feel a bit…filmy, but they seem clean enough. I can wear them, but sooner or later I’m going to need actual detergent.

Up and Up, I can’t believe you let me down.

Poolaxin’

Last night, my mom and I made a plan. Okay, technically, the plan was made on Sunday, but work with me here.

We decided we were going swimming. Just the two of us. No friends, no children, no one who would be screaming “Olivia” “Olivia” the entire time we’re there.

I got off work, late, and we both had planned trips to Target. Separately. I called her to move back my time table, but everything still went according to plan. We met at my house. She was there already, which was helpful for the girl who might have a broken foot, she helped me carry my packages inside.

We got to the pool at 7:00pm. We got in and just drifted, floated, and lazily swam laps, chatting non-stop the entire time. We ended up staying for 90 minutes, and I don’t think we ever stopped talking, even once. There is no one in the world I’d rather talk to than my mom and I feel like we haven’t connected much lately. And even when we have, it wasn’t just her and me. It felt so good to just talk and catch up, I actually started to feel a little normal.

So far, it is my favorite trip to the pool. Best Monday night, ever. Thanks, Mom! I love you.

“There’s a Man with a Gun over there…”

I am in the process of buying a house. Offer’s been accepted, now it is just waiting until the closing date at the end of September. When I told my brother, Zack, that I had bought a house, he asked, “Where is it?” and I replied, “South Maplewood”. He then responded, “did you buy a gun yet?”

It was obvious to me, and to anyone who knows my brother and his zany sense of humor that this was a joke. Maplewood is a tame suburb, but when you add the “south” prefix, it changes the whole sound of the thing. I thought it was very funny and told him I hadn’t but I would look into it. He said, “I know a guy…”

Flash forward to last weekend. I have been on this Wal-Mart kick for some time and it has been months, yes months, since I’ve been inside a Target. Last Saturday, I went to Target with my mom and ended up wandering through the home furnishings area and dreaming about things I could get for my new house. One thing I’ve been wanting is pillows. I love big, fluffy, decorative pillows and think they help create a warm, inviting, comforting space. (Which is how I want my home to feel). I don’t know if you know this or not, but pillows are freakin’ expen$ive. Last Saturday, though, I found giant floor pillows, black, at Target. They were affordably priced. I hesitated. Is it a good idea to buy pillows for a home I haven’t officially bought yet? Do I need to be spending money right now? Sigh.

Then there is the towel issue. I have a few bath towels of my own. Not tons. What I don’t have is a set of towels to match my newly designed bathroom. Unfortunately, the colors I chose are NOT amongst the norm. Then, in that magic Target, I found both colors…my mind said they were the exact shades. My mom suggested I wait and check the paint samples to find out if they were truly that perfect. I did and they were. Which left me planning a trip to Target for towels in the near future.

Suddenly, I realized it was Saturday. Zoinks. That meant that the sale (yep, the towels were on sale) ended that day. At 9:15 pm on Saturday night I made the decision to trek back to Target to buy the towels. I also had decided to go ahead with the pillows. Jokingly, I told my mom, “wish I had gotten that gun!” because the East Side Target I was hitting up is not in the best neighborhood. I wasn’t actually worried, it was just a joke. Or was it?

When I arrived at that Target, this is what I saw:

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Yeppers, there was a St. Paul PD squad camped out at Target. Perhaps I’m not the only one a little nervous about this neighborhood.

Then, when I rushed in to get my purchases, I found that they were out of the pink color towel I needed and only had three pillows.

I bought what they had and learned that the towels were in stock at a different Target. University Ave. That neighborhood is even scarier! And that Target is open until 11pm. So, off I trekked to my THIRD Target of the day.

When I arrived at my last Target stop, I saw this interesting sight:

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Those two motorcycles parked by the front doors? Those would be motorcycle cops! Apparently, I don’t actually need a gun, because when I visit Target after dark, there’s always “a man with a gun over there.”

How did this all end up? Well, I got the towels, on sale. Yay! And I had to go to a fourth Target this week in order to get the fourth and final pillow of my collection, in order to find out that the pillows are on sale THIS week and now I’m getting some money back on those. Revisiting Target has really paid off…