I have a love-hate relationship with Target.
Just about everyone knows the “Target effect” where somehow you end up buying way more than you intend if you don’t adhere to a strict shopping budget. Before you know it you’ve easily racked up a $100 tab or more.
Still, I do love being able to find unexpected gifts, fun extras and holiday items while doing my mundane shopping. As a mom of a toddler son who has a lot of allergies and sensitivities, I’ve also been able to quickly purchase more obscure organic, gluten-free items that can be hard to find.
One of my pet peeves is many of the prices just don’t ring up exactly how they are posted on the floor. When you’re in line with a kid, it’s frustrating to be that shopper who holds up the line for a price check.
But there are savvy ways to help expedite the process and save money. If you’re headed inside a Target store, here are some tips so you don’t get surprised at checkout. (And although these tips were written about Target, they apply to shopping at other stores, too.)
1. If something is on sale, take a picture.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to check out and something rings up as full price even though it’s on sale. I’ve learned to just take a photo of the item while shopping the aisle and then show the photo to make things happen faster. It usually negates a price check or the need for a manager to come over and do a price adjustment.
2. Check to see what the price is online before you buy it in-store.
You can get a price match when an online price is cheaper than what you see in the store, but you have to ask and prove the difference while checking out.
How do I figure this out? I use my cell phone like a price scanner and check each item on the floor as I put it into my basket.
I do this quickly by scanning the item into my Target Circle app, or I check out the Target.com price. I take a screen capture of the cheaper price and save it on my phone to easily remember.
3. Check out offers via the Target Circle app.
For the record, I hate this app. I really miss the Cartwheel app, which was easier to use but no longer exists. You are supposed to sign into your connected Target account before checkout to earn money back on eligible purchases by shopping on Target.com or with the Target app. You can also do this by:
- Scanning your wallet barcode at checkout via the app.
- Entering your mobile number in the store on the keypad during checkout. (This is what I do. I disconnected my Target Redcard from the app so it doesn’t automatically charge me during checkout. This allows me to more easily get price reductions if I’m overcharged.)
- Scan or enter your receipt number at the bottom of your paper receipt within seven days to collect earnings from an eligible in-store purchase via the Target Circle app.
Did I mention this app is cumbersome? It amounts to 1% (or less) with restrictions OR you “continue saving 5% with RedCard.” To me it’s been a red herring that amounts to a whole lot of nothing, unless you check certain offers via the app.
Before you go into the store, make sure to review the 13 categories including “For You” offers, which are based on Target’s ability to track your purchases and then send coupons to you, as well as specials like a single-use, Happy Birthday “5% off your storewide purchase” coupon.
The key to using Target Circle: You have to make sure you’ve clicked on the red plus sign and gotten a green checkmark for it to count on your digital bar code that is scanned at check-out.
One positive: The app gives points to vote which local nonprofits you’d like to support based on a selection that rotates every three months.
4. Review the Top Deals section.
Before you go into the store, go to Target.com or look at the app to review the “Top Deals” category inside of a red circle. It’s easy to miss. Inside the app, scroll to the bottom of the main “Discover” page, after the weekly ad, the “drive up and same day delivery” graphics, and “buy it again” graphics. You can find offers such as “save on everyday essentials with same-day order services.”
If you keep scrolling even farther down on the screen, you’ll see a subheading with “More ways to save” before the “Buy it again with Target Circle” subhead.
Did I mention this app is cumbersome and confusing?
Under the “More Ways to Save” heading you’ll see other sales are going on. There are usually a lot of sales that are only online that can be shipped to the store or your home. There’s also a clearance section listed inside of a yellow circle.
5. Call back for a price adjustment.
If you have the Target Redcard, you can call back within a 14-day window to get a price adjustment. If you’ve purchased something and the price has gone down, which usually happens the day after I’ve purchased some piece of clothing, I call customer service at 800-440-0680, cite the store receipt (or online purchase), and get a price adjustment. I recommend calling at an off time, so you aren’t sitting on hold for an hour. I’ve sometimes done this while sitting in traffic or doing other work at my computer.
6. Do order pick-up, ship to the store.
Lately, there have been a lot of specials on same-day order services. But they are only valid if you order through the app and then pick up in the store.
Before you go shopping in the store — and they have up to 4 hours to fulfill your order—s ee what offers are available such as “Spend $75 , get a $15 gift card with same-day order services.” Don’t see the item? You can have the service desk order it in the price, color or variety you want and have it shipped to the store. This can also be done online to save money.
7. Make sure you actually got the gift card.
Target is always cycling through some promotion like “Free $10 Target GiftCard when you spend $40 household essentials;” or “Free $20 Target GiftCard when you spend $100 on diapers and baby wipes.” There have been times when a gift card isn’t generated, despite spending the qualified amount.
First, make sure you’ve hit the quota before sales tax. That means if your pre-tax subtotal is $99.99 you won’t get the $20 gift card for spending $100.
If you order something–like $100 worth of diapers–and a store runs out of two of the four boxes, cancel the entire order and re-order from another store that has all four boxes of diapers, or ship the boxes to your home. Otherwise, a gift card won’t generate and it’s a big hassle to get customer service involved, even it wasn’t your fault and you are owed a gift card. What I’ve learned is Target wants to see every item that amounts to the gift card quota on one transaction. Otherwise it’s a no-go.
If you’re buying enough, do two separate transactions to double your saving power. For example, if you need to buy $200 worth of diapers, do one in-store purchase and do another online and ship it to home to maximize your gift card redemptions.
Good luck, be polite and persistent. Many workers are in a thankless job and are just the messengers. When in doubt, ask for a manager. Just don’t yell or scream. No one needs or deserves that and it doesn’t get you anywhere.
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