ATTN: Mr. Stephen Eastman, Officer
1000 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403
January 13, 2011
Dear Mr. Eastman,
I wanted to bring to your attention a matter concerning Target.com and the email marketing follow-up. I am confident that your team is capable of resolving this and you might even increase revenue from it, too. I responded to an advertisement on the web for a special deal on Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360) offered at $34.99. I used my previously-issued Target gift card and my Visa credit card for the method of payment. The order number is [REDACTED].
I proceeded to purchase the item on the web as you might expect, and several days later it was canceled because it did not get authorized by my credit card. I later found out through a letter from my credit company, [REDACTED], that they declined the charge due to their fraud detection mechanism. I contacted [REDACTED] and authorized the charges from Target and to my knowledge, this was resolved.
However, Target did email me on these updates. Nevertheless, I did not respond to them because they looked like phishing emails – emails where third parties attempt to deceive you through email. They had several characteristics that would indicate a phishing email and did not appear pertinent to my order.
In light of this, the email messages continued to the point where the order was canceled. I contacted your customer service team and was told they can’t “uncancel” an order or start a new one to match the same price I ordered the item. It jumped from $34.99 to $44.99. I don’t feel I should have to pay this increase and would like to pay for the item at the price that I originally ordered it.
I want to provide some constructive advice for your team to address that will probably increase your successful order rates and prevent legitimate orders from falling through the cracks like mine did. I included a screenshot of the following items below.
- The emails do not indicate the recipient name. This is important because most phishers do not know their victim’s name, they often use broad introductions in their messages. “Greetings from Target.com” does not address me and sounds very suspicious.
- The email is not accessible on your website. Had I trust the email, I still don’t mind viewing it in my web browser. If there’s a link on the top, I will click it, and from there, I can inspect the SSL certificate and verify that it was an email sent (or authorized) from your network.
- The contents of the email does not provide confirmation of what was ordered. This is also important because phishers generally do not know a victim’s specific order and showing them the details of it (like an invoice), would increase trust of the message.
- No direct customer service phone number provided. This is a sign that the email does not want me to make any phone contact from it. Trustworthy companies are proud to provide a customer service phone number – especially ones who do e-commerce.
I feel if you made the necessary changes above, your company would not only increase the trust from customers, you’ll also increase “collections” from uncollected orders. I don’t know your financial performance, but I’ll guess these changes would contribute at least five-figures annually. If you want additional examples of this, please consider looking at email messages from PayPal. They are often the subject of many phishing scams and as such they have made their emails distinct with all the features above and in turn, I take immediate action whenever they email me.
And what makes this matter more interesting is this. After email #2, I resolved the issue with [REDACTED]. This was at least a day prior to email #3 advising me to update my order online (and well before the order had been canceled.) I suspect that Target doesn’t re-run the credit card after its initial failure. While I can imagine this is done to prevent potential charge-backs and credit card processing costs, it should at least be attempted and the customer should be notified that the order is on its way. Again, this could also increase the revenue from your business unit had it been authorizing prior to each email notification. But, again, I don’t know entirely how your e-commerce part of the site functions. Just thought I’d take the time to let you know.
I contacted your customer service via telephone and was told, even after numerous explanations and examples, this is company policy and there is no way the company would match its previously listed price and my willingness to provide him a payment method to remedy it. Personally, this irritates me because customer service should be empowered, not restricted. Empowered to make the right decisions and empowered to advocate for the customer – especially when they want to make an order. Examples of this are common at Zappos; a Las Vegas based company that sells shoes online and strives for quality customer service. I’m sure being a company built on good service, you or your teammates have read ‘Delivering Happiness.’
Finally, I previously informed your team who runs the Twitter account, @Target, about this and did not receive any reply or outreach from the team. I would like to see if you can share this feedback with them so they are responsive to customer feedback and have a vested interest in providing customer feedback to inside the organization. I can only assume that since Target has the budget and the resources to invest into advertising on Twitter (e.g., Promoted Topics during Black Friday), they have the resources to invest into accepting feedback from Twitter and sharing it throughout the organization and being interactive with people who mention them. Pictured below is my original tweet to @Target. It’s not very critical, but it’s something that the team should be concerned and interested to resolve. (Though I felt the email wasn’t a phishing scam, I decided to wait to see if the charge would clear later as advised in the emails. I omitted this because there is only so much you can post on Twitter.)
In light of the above, I would like you to provide me the option to purchase Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360) for $34.99. If you wish, have a customer service member contact me at [REDACTED] and I can give them my credit card details.
Thank you for your understanding and time to resolve this matter.
NOTE: I wrote to Stephen Eastman since according to Target’s website, he is president of Target.com and is most equipped to resolve this matter. If I receive any response, I will update this post as to the resolution.
UPDATE: 1/28/11: Jonathan from their executive escalations department contacted me from the postal letter I had sent Mr. Eastman. We discussed my feedback and situation for about 30 minutes on a phone call. He is willing to provide me the game at the price I had originally ordered it, but he also disclosed some fairly disappointing tidbits about Target’s social media strategy. More to come.