The Target of a Retail Nightmare

By Amy Ouellette, Chapter Member

account-1778_640During the holiday season, Target announced that it had been hacked and the credit card information of more than 40 million customers’, as well as other pertinent personal information, had been compromised. This security breach, as it was first reported, took place from Black Friday until Dec. 15. It was reported initially around the 18th or 19th of  December and I remember exactly where I was when I read about it on my iPhone: standing in line at Target. Do I hear irony? Everything I read indicated that the problem had been rectified, so I was safe to continue my transaction, but nothing says “Happy holidays” more than wondering if your debit card information was just compromised while shopping.

After the initial announcement, it was discovered that this security breach had likely taken place for a longer period of time than initially thought and that more customers had been affected and the actual number was up to 110 million.

I have had many conversations with people about this breach over the last few weeks. I’ve spoken with family members, friends who also shop at Target, and people at my bank. There are so many thoughts not only on how customers can handle this situation, but also how Target handled this situation.

What has Target done well?

  • They acknowledged the issue and sent out emails to their customers.
  • They posted on their social media sites right after the announcement.
  • They posted an announcement on their website.
  • They are paying for credit monitoring for affected customers for one year.
  • They offered a 10% discount for customers the weekend immediately after the security breach was announced.

While this breach has been a wider spread than initially thought, and other retailers have been affected by this breach that has been linked back to a teen in Russia, Target has done a decent job of handling this. I think this has been overwhelming for the retailer, which is obvious by the complaints I’ve heard about their customer service for their REDcard customers.  In fact, Cnn.com said on Dec. 21 that Target had indicated that it would increase staffing for its customer service hotline.

Although Target has done a reasonable job at fixing this holiday nightmare for many, I can’t help but feel as though there should have been more done to secure customers that their transactions and relationship with Target will remain safe. As a REDcard Debit Cardholder, I would suggest that Target send all cardholders new cards with new numbers without question. At the very least, there should be a feature for consumers to request a new card with a new number online. Customers shouldn’t have to sit on hold on the phone for hours for this.

As a consumer who makes many electronic transactions and hasn’t used cash frequently over the years, I am frustrated by the news of this security breach. I have watched this story closely not just because I am a Target shopper, but also because I am interested in how Target handles this situation from a public relations perspective. Being proactive about communicating with their customers will be key in how they recover from this situation. We live in an age where there are plenty of risks like this, especially for large retailers like Target. Taking measures to secure their credit card system is important, but customer service, communication and apologizing are also essential.

Now, I have to go check my bank account………

Photo Credit: courtesy of pixabay.com

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