JCPenney sends man gift card after 2 confused associates tell him to shop online instead

Categories: Business
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Crystal resident Jeff Kolb is known as being one of the more prominent local Republican voices among folks who talk lots of Minnesota politics on Twitter.

SEE ALSO: Police blast TJ Maxx for not reporting multiple mace-spraying shoplifter incidents

But he's also developing a reputation as someone who knows how to use social media to publicly and effectively shame companies that megafail in his presence.

The latest example came last week after Kolb endured this experience while trying to buy a comforter at the Southdale JCPenney (the text comes from an email he sent JCPenney customer care):
I was asked to send an email to this address after venting frustration about a very bad experience at one of your stores.

I was at the JC Penney store at the Southdale mall in Edina MN on October 29 at around 3 PM. My wife and I were shopping for a new comforter. We found one that we liked but it didn't come with a bed skirt. We took the item to the cashier and asked her if she knew if there was a matching bed skirt for the comforter. She told us to go look it up online. We asked her to find someone who could answer the question, and she got what could only be described as a look of panic on her face. She stood there staring at us for several seconds. We told her to forget it.

Despite her unhelpfulness we decided to purchase the item anyway. There was a sign on the item that said Save $80 on any purchase of regular price merchandise over $200. The comforter was $230, regular price.

The item rang up for $180; $50 off. I showed the cashier the sign. She said that she didn't know what to do. We suggested she call a manager. She called someone on the radio, and that person called her on the phone. When she hung up with the manager she told us the manager told us we should go home and purchase the item online.

We informed the cashier this was unacceptable and that we would like to speak with the manager in person. She radioed the manager again. The manager called again.

A few minutes later a woman showed up and asked the cashier what the problem was. I asked the woman if she was the one who was on the phone, because that is who I wanted to talk to. She said she was not. We explained, again, what the issue was. After several minutes, the woman changed the price of the item, and we completed the sale.

This is not an atypical JCPenney experience. The pricing of items at the register is very often different than on the signs. This was our first trip to JCPenney in over a year for this reason. It's not fun to guess what price you'll be charged.

Please let me know how you plan to "make this right."

Thank you,
Jeff Kolb
When he was actually in the store, Kolb tweeted about the difficulty he was having: Kolb attributes his social media shaming as part of the reason a JCPenney representative got back to him quickly and offered him a $50 gift card as compensation for his "inconvenience." ("Please know that the experience you had with us is definitely not typical of JCPenney," the representative wrote, adding that she "forwarded your feedback and concerns to the store team leader so we can look into the pricing issues and use this as a training opportunity with our associates.")

"This isn't the first time my public bitching on Twitter has netted a response. Potbelly sent me a gift card a few months ago too," Kolb wrote in an email to City Pages. "I think the public shaming effect of social media (specifically [T]witter) forces companies to be responsive to these types of things, whereas they wouldn't necessarily have done so in the past."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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12 comments
swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

For some reason, I tend to get great customer service.  I don't know why. I have a couple of friends though who always get the worst customer service.  They're nice people. I don't get it at all.  This guy Kolb sounds like one of those people who gets horrible customer service.  Now, it is true that JCP is a pretty good place to find bad customer service. But I've gotten very good customer service at that store in Southdale, too.

As long as he's polite to the employees, I'm glad if he complains to the company.  They should know, and they should do a better job.  Too many of these companies' executives seem to resent their customers as being a distraction from their next quarterly bonus.

But if this guy was rude to the employees, then it's no wonder why he gets bad customer service.  And screw him, in that case.

TC4L
TC4L

This guy seems like he's impatient and expects cashiers to know everything about everything on the spot.  Let's tweet like a bitch in the store about the "simple" tasks as a cashier.  Grow some balls dude.  It isn't like the comforter is a life long decision which is needed asap.  Go to Kohls.  Or Macys.  Or Target.  Or amazon.  Or qvc.  Or snbc.  Or walmart.  Or Nordstroms.  Or Bath Bed Beyond.  I'm going to this guys job and ask questions he can't answer.  And I hardly consider this a mega fail.  Was expecting a real story. Damn

SooZen Johnson
SooZen Johnson

Wowza, I don't condone poor customer service (which it does sound like he had), but it also kind of sounds like he complains a lot about things to get free stuff and has probably never actually worked in customer service.

Jake Akervik
Jake Akervik

I got $75 from JCP after complaining on FB about several problems I had in-store with their service (didn't remove ink tags from jeans) and their pricing (in-store was $70! cheaper than internet price). Hint: the gift card amount was about the same as the price difference involved in the complaint.

Jake Handegard
Jake Handegard

the best is to bitch about an airline on Twitter I've heard of people getting free tickets because of it

Emily Inz
Emily Inz

Let's face it- low wages in retail jobs do not attract competent employees.

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane

Not just JCP. Lots of stores with bad service.

jpkolb
jpkolb

@SooZen Johnson Actually, my first job was at Wendy's when I was 16. Worked there for a few years, then spent 12 years in retail, first few in the stores, last few at corporate HQ. So I get it. But being told by a manager to go home and shop online was a bit much.

TC4L
TC4L

Ya.  Title says mega fail.  Was hoping for more.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@jpkolb  Well then, don't screw you. ;>)

As I said, they need to know about that sort of thing.  It's an abject failure of management, IMHO.  I've had both good and very bad customer service at that store, which is another sign of lousy management.  And you're right; there's absolutely no point being rude in that situation.

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