Target Stores Abruptly Changes Their Policies On Collector Exclusives, Cancels Pre-Orders & Some Suggestions


It’s no secret to anyone that goes into a Target Store these days to buy a certain figure that is only available at their store, walks out empty handed. In the past few years it’s become harder and harder to find what you want, and Target is not alone as other big box retailers such as Wal-Mart, cannot seem to keep a plentiful stock in their stores. It’s not the 80’s or 90’s anymore when toys were much easier to come by most of the time, from all major brands and licenses. These days, the aisles have become more barren, with empty pegs when they should be filled to the max. Unless you happen to check the aisle at the time they stock it, the odds are against you.

Last week I had a terrible experience with Target Stores, which has caused me to rethink how i’m going to shop in their stores moving forward. Since the late 1990’s, I have been shopping there and buying toys, and other products while in the store. Last week changed that, as Target’s cold shoulder and bottom line attitude have cost them a long-time customer. I had spoken to a customer service representative over the phone, and used my press credentials to talk to a manager that works above the call rep, and briefly went into some of these talking points with her. Going forward now, I will only buy certain toy exclusives, and nothing else from any department while there because of what I had experienced in-store. Now, keep in mind this isn’t meant to attack them, only stating the fact that customer service quality has diminished over the years, and last week was a final straw.

Before I continue, this article was submitted to Target, as well as to several toy companies for review purposes. If you leave a comment, keep it constructive and talk about the view points. Any attacks to the site, me or to any company will be deleted. Keep it clean and professional!

Some talking points in this article:

  • Distribution problems – including store restocking and difficulty tracking products down
  • Customer Service in-store won’t check a DCPI to see if a collectors’ item is available
  • Customer Service over the phone also won’t check to see if a collectors’ item is available
  • Pre-Orders get cancelled if you don’t respond before a deadline, and customer service will not aid to restore that pre-order – leaving you without the ease of ordering and a stressful hunt ahead!
  • Suggestions on what can be done that will work for both Target Stores, and the Collector Community

Most collectors’ out there go to Target for one or more lines, which causes them to drive to more than one store at least several days a week or more. At least for the WWE Legends series 11, which includes the Macho Man Randy Savage, Scott Hall, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Big John Studd. The experience i’ve been having in the Buffalo, New York area is that stores around here are restocking 1-2 of one figure or each in this wave at a time, while other stores in the country are restocking a bit more plentiful at least on a temporary basis.

Update – A Target store employee that I know has made some comments about the distribution. “It all boils down to the fact that the warehouse can’t send out product it hasn’t received from the manufacturer. They’re sending whatever they have as soon as the can, but it’s just not fast enough to keep up with demand. These exclusive contracts are signed with the expectation that the product will be available, though I’ll bet most of these were signed with no concept of how screwed up supply chain would become.”

These images gives you a pretty good idea how stores are handing this. While some gets 1-2, others get figures like Bam Bam Bigelow by the case assortment, and this is all very inconsistent. This new wave is not being shipped the way that series 7 and 8 was, where these were shipped by the case assortments and not picked through at the warehouse, selected and shipped directly to a store. When Mattel ships these to Target, it’s always done in a case assortment as it has always been. From there, Target warehouses distributes to their stores, and this particular wave is very inconsistent as stated above, with a small amount being shipped. The small quantities are mixed in along with other products from a variety of brands in a box, and finding this box in the box that’s not labeled causes confusion and sometimes stress for both the collector trying to obtain the figure, and to Target employees.

Getting customer service to check a DCPI in-person and especially over the phone is hard. At least in the Buffalo, NY area, Target is done with collectors in this area calling and stopping in asking. They seem to not want to check and it seems that too many people have been hassling them, and it seems that they no longer want to deal with it. That’s stressful as i’m sure at least one person may have been rude about it, which always brings everyone down with them and only hurts the situation.

Pre-Orders getting cancelled is another stressful aspect about the company at the moment. Customer Service will not fix this and re-instate the pre-order, and they don’t care if the email notification about the extension of the shipping date did not go through. At least with me, emails are not going through, and I have to check manually now to ensure I don’t lose another pre-order. Because of emails not going through about updating the status of my pre-order, I lost several pre-orders. As you can see above, that’s 4 recently and all of these, except for T-Wrecks, I was able to get in-store at the moment. The rest is also pre-sold out, and with the problems of distribution, getting these in-store may prove to be difficult. This should be an easy process, and especially since I had pre-orders, there should be an option to re-instate it and get some customer satisfaction. Since i’ve been shopping there since the late 1990’s, you think a company would care about this, but Target doesn’t seem too right now as they have been become too bit of a monopoly and only care about the bottom line, not a particular customer no matter if they’re a member of the press or not.

A friend of mine, an industry professional and many of you might even recognize the name if I were to write it here, will no longer shop at Target because they cancelled his G.I. Joe Classified: Cobra Island – Cobra Viper 6″ figure on him and would not re-instate it. He gave them a choice, give me back my pre-order or lose me as a customer. They offered him a $5 credit, and he no longer shops there.

I totally agree with him at this point to not give them the business. You can’t treat customers like that and in the long run, Target will not do as well. It’s a known fact that when you give shady customer service and bad business practices, the company will only struggle later on and in some cases, go out of business.

So where do we go from here? How can this change? What can Target do to improve relations with the collector community? There might not be an easy answer. Covid-19 has caused a lot of shipping delays, so that is definitely a factor this year with the distribution problems as it’s impacted all industries. What’s happening at the ports right now is also a definitely a problem that is causing some of this that is mentioned. But one suggestion I have is this….

Offer in-store pre-orders on toys. GameStop has this and it works extremely well for them. You go in, pre-order an action figure, or basically any product listed in their system, and they will ship it to the store. Target offers this on the app for in-store pick-up, but pre-orders are a lot harder to get in and products do sell quickly, and then there’s the case about cancelling pre-orders as stated above. An in-store option with no pre-sell limits that guarantees you get what you want by a certain cut off date will relieve the anxiety, stress, and sometimes frustrating experiences of driving around hoping to come across it on the store shelves. Right now, Target is not doing enough for their customers, and needs to do more.

With GameStop, you have to pay a deposit or pay in full, and Target can offer that too to ensure that the person ordering will come back and pick it up. Or offer store credit as an alternative. This would be a great way to get people in their store, and who knows, with a good experience like this, they might even go to other departments and do some shopping while they’re there.

Thank you for reading, and again, if you leave a comment, keep it clean! If you work for Target, please reach out and we can discuss further. I am willing to update this article with Target’s point of view.

Some of the talking points and images were contributed by @Fighntr24_7 on twitter.