No obvious advantage to buying things from target.com versus other online retailers

I bought a window air conditioner from target.com, primarly because if I was told I could return it in a local store.

Last Friday (May 11) it arrived, and it was the right tracking number, but it was actually a microwave oven. Was busy with the new house last weekend and with our cat’s health problems (he’s doing much better now.)

So, this Friday (May 18), we decided to return it in the store nearby. Turns out, in this case, their claim that you can return it locally is a lie, they won’t do that if they shipped you the wrong item — and we confirmed this after calling their 800 number and requesting a return (which I’ll have to drop off at UPS sometime after labeling it.) To add insult to injury, the shipping label page doesn’t load completely (tried with multiple browsers/OSes), and we’re going to have to call them up again.

The one reason I chose them over Amazon, or a couple of much better online retailers for buying small appliances was that I was told I could return it in store, so this is why I will be telling everyone I know not to buy things online from Target. It seems that when “brick-and-mortar” retailers get into online retail, they do a very poor job of integrating both operations. This is somewhat understandable if you think about the business. However, as a customer, you either shouldn’t have to care about such things, or they should be explicit about all the common cases where the return in store is impossible. If they are really trying to provide some benefit over pure-online retailers, they’re failing at that.

(Edit: We finally did get a valid shipping label out of them, shipped it back, and I was credited. Ended up just buying the air conditioner from some random retailer that lists their stuff on Amazon.)

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