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Continued: Target CEO Steinhafel apologizes, seeks to reassure customers

  • Article by: ADAM BELZ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 14, 2014 - 5:52 AM

Both Austin and Bernstein said it’s likely the company decided to wait on a full disclosure for legal reasons. Without knowing about discussions inside Target, it’s difficult to come down too hard on the response, Austin said.

“I’m always leery to second-guess these guys when I’m not in the room,” he said.

Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic and former Target board member, came out in defense of Steinhafel and the company on his blog on Sunday.

“Steinhafel and his team seem to be doing everything right,” George wrote.

“Steinhafel is wise enough to know that the most important thing here is Target’s ability to maintain the confidence of its customers. Every decision he has made since the crisis began is based on that clear objective.”

George praised Target’s transparency, its offer to reimburse customers for any losses, and its commitment to reissue Target credit cards and pay for the cost of reissuing other credit cards that were used in Target stores.

Austin said the American public is forgiving of mistakes, but less forgiving when it feels that a company’s response to a crisis doesn’t match its carefully managed image.

Steinhafel’s interview Monday appears to have been a success, Austin said, but Target’s early handling of the breach fell short of its reputation for responsiveness and customer service.

“He was very good, he was very credible, he was very practiced, he stayed on message,” Austin said. “But he didn’t say anything that he couldn’t have said on Dec. 19.”


Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz


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