I fully realize that my opinion of customer service is based on my own experiences and therefore only reflect my paradigm which may be completely false for the rest of the world, but it is my experience and therefore I can share my own opinion right?
I have a biased against Target. My wife and I had a bad experience with them with our Wedding Registry and since then we have avoided them when possible. However, we purchased a water softener that uses Potassium and the only place we have been able to find this Potassium is at Target and therefore I bought a year's supply one year ago and have not been back for Potassium since. About 2 weeks ago I returned to Target to make a purchase of an additional year's supply but was informed they were out of stock. This was ok since it is only a few minutes away from the in-laws and I was on my way there anyway. I was NOT informed that they did not carry Potassium anymore and so I decided I would just come back in 2 weeks or so and pick it up then.
Yesterday I decided I would call and make sure they had some in stock before I drove there even though once again I was on my way to the in-laws and found it an opportune time to stop. I called when I was 12 minutes away from the store so I would have time to head directly to the in-laws if their stock was depleted. First annoyance, as my wife later pointed out, was the automated system I had to navigate in order to speak to a human being. I did make it through this system, (by the way, if you want to speed things up, just hit 0 before anyone starts talking and you will be transferred to a real human being without listening to the 4 options they have) and was told to hold by the operator. And I did hold my cell phone while I was driving with a tighter and tighter grip as I became more and more frustrated at the time it was taking for someone to answer the phone. I was then greeted again, by the same operator, and she told me to hold and she would get someone. This was repeated about 4 times. I was approaching my exit and the fork in the road where I would have to decide if I was going to Target or to the in-laws. I decided this would be a great opportunity to make a point and I decided to drive to Target and check for myself if they had Potassium. I would stay on the phone while I checked myself, then I would check out all while on hold with the operator. My evil plan of revenge (not sure how this would actually be revenge, but you know how you don't think rationally when you are angry) was working as I pulled up to Target and parked my car. I was making it inside the store when I heard, "Service call would someone please help on line..." I laughed as I thought that was for me! Yes, I just heard over the PA system someone asking for help on the phone. I walked up to the area in the front of the store where the 40lb. bags of Potassium should be deposited and noticed right away they were not in stock, however, at this same moment, I noticed someone speaking in my ear, "How may I help you?" I asked if they had Potassium in stock and I noticed the man on the phone start to walk towards the section where the Potassium should have been located. I looked right at him and continued the conversation and he looked back at me noticing that I was the same person that was on the phone. We did hang up and spoke in person at the front of the store.
It took 12 minutes and 11 seconds on the phone to get a response. No, they do not carry Potassium anymore and neither did their Fort Union store. I thanked whoever it was that I was speaking to for his help since he was very friendly and left with a little smirk on my face thinking that this man had no idea what I had just been through. Should I have shared this with him? Maybe, but it wouldn't have helped me with the lack of Potassium and they wouldn't change anything to help me or anyone else next time so I decided that 12 minutes and 11 seconds was enough time wasted at Target that day.
But, I also thought it would be interesting to call Wal-Mart immediately and see what I would find there. So, I called before I even had left Target. As I was walking out the door of Target I called Wal-Mart. I was greeted warmly by a human being. When I asked her about Potassium she said she had no idea and wondered how she would even find out. I thought to myself, "Well, there goes that, Wal-Mart and Target suck!" But she pulled out the surprise with, "Let me get a manager." Well, that is fine, but I really didn't want to spend another 12 minutes on hold. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when a manager within a few seconds had picked up and asked how he could help me. I asked him about the Potassium and he quickly explained that they did not carry it but did carry salt. I thanked him and was off the phone in 1 minute and 24 seconds total and before I was even able to get in to my car and leave the Target parking lot.
I understand completely that this comes from my own bias. I understand that this was a one time proof of the customer service provided between one store and another, but you can be assured that I will be choosing Wal-Mart over Target as often as I can.