Target's Missoni madness headache persists

  • Article by: THOMAS LEE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 22, 2011 - 10:27 PM

Customers say they're not getting Missoni merchandise they bought on Target.com. The retailer says it's trying to fix the problem.

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Target's Missoni collection included knitwear, office supplies, dish wear and even bikes.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Like many shoppers eager to buy Missoni merchandise hot off the presses, Sarah Nelson woke up early last week and logged on to Target.com">Target.com. Despite the site crashing a few times, the Minneapolis woman managed to purchase six items.

Or so she thought. Target keeps pushing back her expected delivery date, she said.

"I'm someone who's fiercely loyal to Target, but this is frustrating," Nelson said. "I don't think anyone disagrees with Target that [the Missoni craze] was unprecedented. But there has been no communication from Target."

Initially criticized by analysts and out-of-luck shoppers for not carrying enough Missoni products, Target Corp. now faces a different public relations headache: The Minneapolis-based retailer is having trouble processing orders and delivering items to consumers who managed to get through online.

Target officials say they are working hard to fix the problems, but declined to discuss specifics. Meanwhile, Missoni missteps, chronicled in detail by customers on social media, continue to attract national media attention 10 days after the story first broke.

In some cases, customers say, Target has canceled orders even though it already charged people's credit cards. Others say they received tracking numbers from Target, but UPS has no record of them. One Facebook user created a page that calls Missoni "the BP Oil Spill of Fashion."

Seeking answers

"I originally was not going to post here and have been trying to resolve it with customer service and gotten no where, I just want some answers," Lucia Chung wrote on Target Style's Facebook page.

Chung, along with other customers, complains Target has canceled all three of her orders but is still holding the money on her credit card.

"I was told that the first time was a computer glitch but surely you have had that problem addressed by now," she continued. "Its is getting very frustrating if you are going to cancel my order can you please refund my money! Is there someone I can contact that can give me some answers."

When asked to comment Thursday, a Target spokesman referred the Star Tribune to an earlier statement:

"The nationwide launch of Missoni for Target on Sept. 13 was met by unprecedented demand, both in our stores and online at Target.com," the statement said. "This demand impacted our Target.com site and affected the shipment and delivery of select guest orders. Providing an exceptional guest experience is incredibly important to Target, and we have a team dedicated to addressing those guests who have been affected."

The Target.com problems threaten to overshadow what the company insists is the real story: the overwhelming popularity of Target's first partnership with the iconic Italian fashion house.

But the website's glitches, which also include crashing for three hours on the Sept. 13 launch day, also come at a delicate time for Target as it seeks to more aggressively engage consumers through multiple channels, including stores, Target.com and mobile devices.

Awe and frustration

Until recently, Target farmed out its website operations to Amazon.com. By asserting full control over Target.com, the retailer wanted to better link its website with the "Target brand experience," Brad Simms, vice president of SapientNitro, said in a previous interview. SapientNitro led the work on Target.com's redesign.

But for now at least, that experience has generated both awe and frustration for customers like Nelson.

Target "had heavily promoted [Missoni]," she said. "It goes to show you how effective that campaign was. It was both impressive and frustrating."

Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113

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