Would You Accept Target’s Apology?

Discussion
Dec 23, 2013
Tom Ryan

In a statement as well as a YouTube video, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel apologized to customers who were affected by a massive data breach involving millions of credit and debit cards. A 10 percent discount was also offered to all customers this past weekend as well as free credit monitoring services to those impacted.

The message, delivered Friday after the stock market’s close, came amid multiple reports that bogus credit cards were reaching the black market and financial institutions began placing restrictions on some cardholders.

"It was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests," Mr. Steinhafel said in a statement. "We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores."

Mr. Steinhafel also apologized to guests who tried to reach Target via its website or call center while it faces "unprecedented call volume." Customers were assured they won’t be held financially responsible for fraud on their cards. Target also said it had found no evidence that secret security PINs or codes had been exposed.

[Image: Target Apology]

But widespread media coverage continued amid reports that fraudulent cards were being sold in batches of a million, with some cards going for as low as $20 and some as much as $100.

On Saturday, JPMorgan Chase notified customers they would be limited to $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in total purchases per day if they used Chase debit cards at Target during the security breach. Citibank said it would lower limits, block transactions and reissue cards for debit cardholders if it saw suspicious activity. Three class-action lawsuits were filed.

On Target’s Facebook page, Target REDcard’s website page’s crashes and long phone call waits created fresh fodder for the many irate messages.

The question remained whether Target was negligent in missing the still-puzzling breach, as well as why they waited until Dec. 19, a day after a blogger broke the news, to reveal the hack attack.

The value of a 10 percent discount, which excludes video games, gift cards, and a few other items, amid holiday promotions was also questioned.

"With these data security breaches, there’s usually the question of consumer confidence and trust," Daren M. Orzechowski, an intellectual property attorney with White & Case LLP, told USA Today. "They have to balance if they feel they need to do more to try to preserve consumer confidence."

What do you think of the 10 percent discount and Target’s other responses to the breach? What other steps could be taken to regain customers’ trust?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

35 Comments on "Would You Accept Target’s Apology?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Frank Riso
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

It was a good thing for Target to offer these responses to the breach. This could have been any retailer in America and it appears to be on such a large scale that no one knows if anything could have prevented it. I do think Target will bounce back just as others have done in the past. Worst time of year to one of the best retailers is the real crime.

Max Goldberg
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Target went public too slowly, did not take the breech seriously enough, and was not prepared to handle customer concerns. All of these are much more important than a 10% discount.

Target should have announced the breech immediately, should have offered more thorough advice to consumers on how to monitor their accounts, added significantly more staff to handle customer questions, and should have been seen to be more on top of the situation.

All that said, I doubt this situation will have a long-term impact on Target’s sales or way of doing business. Target and TJ Maxx should lead the call for US retailers to switch to pin and chip credit cards. They should actively communicate with consumers about credit card fraud and identity theft. Consumers should demand no less.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Target was not the first retailer to be breached and will not be the last. I think Target is following the handbook if there is one: apologize, offer credit monitoring, and discount. Full disclosure; I shopped during the breach and did enjoy the 10% discount on Saturday.

I’d like to comment on another aspect of the breach. I spoke with my local Target manager and he expressed to me the amount of angry customers he had to deal with because of the corporate 800# and website being down. Target should do something for the front-line associates whose otherwise stressful holiday has been ramped up with crazy customers thinking they personally stole the credit card information or were involved in its theft.

This is a crime against Target and the customers involved. Customers should remember that the front-line associates aren’t writing the code that protects the data, they are stocking the shelves and checking you out and are most likely, one of your neighbors.

Ken Lonyai
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

WIMPY! Steinhafel categorized the 10% discount “…as a small way to say thank you.” Small is right. Even JCP is offering better deals as part of its standard holiday pricing, as are many others.

Once again it sounds like the C-level big wigs don’t get it. For that small minority of people that will be seriously impacted by this breach, it’s an enormous burden upon them that 10% off or some data monitoring service will not address. Also, what about people that have been planning to do last minute holiday shopping to now be limited to $300/day expenditures on possibly breached cards? It’s a big deal to them.

Clearly this is a case where heads must roll in IT and other departments that should have done better due diligence on their POS system. IMHO after such a meager gesture, Steinhafel needs to be ousted ASAP too.

Warren Thayer
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I see this as something like a lightning strike that could just as well have hit any retailer. And I don’t think any retailer could be expected to have infrastructure in place to handle anxious calls from 40 million cardholders all at once. The customers who will now be faced with credit card fraud/identity theft issues should be Target’s top priority, and if I were Target I’d have put full financial resources against them rather than a 10% price cut, which almost seems desperate.

Because this is litigious America, people are going to seek a pound of flesh just because they sense there’s opportunity to hit the jackpot. The only change I would have made with Target’s response would have been forgoing the 10% discount, and throwing all resources possible against helping customers who have, or will be having, problems because of this data breach. I’d also be throwing a lot of money to Target’s lawyers, preparing for the tsunami of lawsuits to come.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

The 10% discount is clearly just another way to get shoppers into Target. Much too transparent. The real issue is to give customers the confidence that they will have no liability. Emphasize that. Re-emphasize that and tell the customers that Target will guarantee that this breach doesn’t lead to credit problems for customers. And if it does, they will solve the problem at whatever cost it takes.

By the way…does anyone else find the use of the word “guest” annoying? When I go to a store, I am not a guest, I am a customer and I want to be treated as a customer, which to me is a considerably higher level of service than a guest.

Dick Seesel
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I agree with everything that Max said. I would add that the duration of the security breach (from November 27th through December 15th) is a big part of the story. I’m no IT expert, but why and how did Target’s systems allow this to go undetected for so long?

This should be a cautionary tale about how a “best in class” retailer deals effectively – or not so much – with a true crisis management situation. Retailers who have not developed their own contingency plans for this kind of event had better get to work.

Marge Laney
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Target should have gotten out in front of this aggressively. Coming clean with customers a day after a blogger broke the news is unconscionable.

Being upfront about the breach and making every effort to notify customers quickly, answer questions, and resolve issues should have been their number one priority. Doing so would have taken the punch out of the story for the press and it might not have ended up on page one.

Retailers need to understand that for the most part, their customers aren’t fools and understand that with convenience comes risk. They also need to understand that their customers don’t like to be fooled either.

George Anderson
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I was in a local Target on Saturday where I ran into friends who said they were at the store after receiving the apology email from Mr. Steinhafel. Personally speaking, the 10 percent discount on top of the five percent I already get from using the REDcard plus additional savings from coupons on the retailer’s site and those through its Cartwheel program made the shopping visit very enjoyable. In short: apology accepted.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
6 years 10 months ago

It’s a major headache for Target, affected customers, associates, and banks. And, it’s not directly Target’s fault – they are right that criminals did this and need to be caught and prosecuted. And, card technology needs to change to prevent future issues, which is a problem much bigger than Target. Target is a well run retailer and will get through this and shoppers will come back, and already are. But, it is a short-term hit at a critical time of the year and they were not ready for something like this, from a tech, PR, or social media standpoint.

Ed Dunn
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I hope the execs at Target realize this is not a job for the PR department – this is a data breach announced at the peak of the holiday shopping and retailers are going to have to address the real issue here.

A criminal act occurred resulting in customers having their bank account being wiped out during this holiday peak season. In addition, there is real immediate fallout including the limiting of credit card spending amounts by JP Morgan.

Many said this will blow over and Target will resume to business as usual. We are seeing repercussions and I do not believe this will blow over. The days of storing unencrypted cardholder information, magnetic stripe cards and external payment processing machines are coming to an end.

There is no way we are going to see current payment processing practices continue as usual in 2014 and I believe the government will intervene if the retail industry cannot self-regulate after so many data breaches.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Let’s face it, Target blew it and so has the credit card industry. It is time that the US issuers of credit cards put in the same protection and verification system that is used over most of the rest of the world.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Target did right by stepping up and being forthright so quickly after the problem became apparent. For that I applaud them. I used a credit card there once during the holidays. I check the account daily. For that I do not applaud them. Sales have to have taken a hit since the incident became public.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

This is definitely a short term hit at the worst time of the year. Offering a 10% discount for customers who shopped after the breach does not necessarily help those who had their credit cards breached. Is 10% worth the possibility of having a problem with your credit card? Is a statement saying you are safe shopping at Target reassuring when customers thought they were safe shopping during the breach period? Going such a long time without learning about the breach is problematic. However, long term, Target should be fine. The short term will sting.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

This could have happened to almost any large retailer in the U.S. Now that it has, others will harden their defenses even more and the criminal will develop new ways to defeat them.

I agree with all those that stated Target should have moved faster, but they may have not been prepared with a plan for this type of issue. Now other retailers will have their teams developing a crisis plan for this type of attack. Also agree that a 10% discount is really not a big deal when everyone around you is shouting 25% to 50% off.

We can all throw stones at Target’s lack of ability to handle the deluge of inquiries by phone or over the web, but who would be prepared for that level of volume? The fallout will be a lack of customer’s trust and a huge legal and damages bill.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Too little, too late and – worse yet – it misses the point. People aren’t looking for a discount, they are looking for security.

Better to indemnify everyone for any losses and focus on creating a hack-resistant system.

Yes, this could have happened to any retailer, but it happened to Target, so Target had better find a better way to respond.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I think the root problem is that they really don’t know the extent of the damage yet, and that’s far more worrisome than the apology.

The lack of proactivity on canceling stolen cards tells me it’s not all clear yet. And that’s a problem.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
6 years 10 months ago

Target’s 10% was a nice offer, but it didn’t go to all of Target’s REDcard customers. A bummer and not a trust builder. Still their stores were jammed. Target does have a good relationship with their customers.

“Show me the money” and I’ll continue to love you, Target. But anything that reflects as a “wallet extraction” gimmick from Target – or our elected friends in Washington – is not a trust builder.

Robert Swan
Guest
Robert Swan
6 years 10 months ago

I wonder if Target can take advanage of this “opportunity” as a way to move ahead of the competition when it comes to protecting consumer’s data. It’s only a matter of time before another retailer gets hit with the same type of breach. Look to Europe to see if “Chip and Pin” is an option. Better than offering a discount, they should offer all those impacted by the attack a free one year’s membership to Life Lock.

Larry Negrich
Guest
6 years 10 months ago
I think the tactics Target has executed thus far are not very focused on the customers affected by the security breach. Instead of offering something truly special that serves as an apology to the customers affected (the card holders), Target gave all shoppers a 10% discount. There’s no way that could have been a campaign they were going to launch prior to last few days before Christmas. I’m sure that this was meant to gain Target some additional good will PR at a low cost to the company, but the core customer was treated just as everyone else who was not affected. (Side note: It really is time for retailers to treat each customer as an individual. The technology exists and companies are using it for other purposes already. Target can use analytics to determine which customers are pregnant based on purchase history. Surely they can determine which of their customers have REDcards.) Target could have created a truly special customer care campaign to apologize to each REDcard customer and then have offered some sort… Read more »
Jerome Schindler
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

The 10% discount was never communicated to me – and I made AmEx and REDcard purchases during that period using those credit cards. I did get through to American Express – they were not pushing me to get a new card/number. Told me I was not responsible for any fraudulent purchases – I told them I knew that, was trying to protect them, not me. Not surprising that the vultures dba class action attorneys are already at work. I would be interested in knowing how this happened – these crooks couldn’t have physically put that software on thousands of individual card scanners at POS.

Mark Heckman
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

I shopped at an extremely busy Target yesterday along with thousands of my closest friends. Apology apparently accepted.

John Kennard
Guest
John Kennard
6 years 10 months ago

The YouTube video is closed to comments. That tells us something negative is happening. Overall, very poorly done. Target CEO offers 10% as a “thank you” but does not put the 10% discount offer into context of an apology, and does not advise remedial actions to prevent further risk of credit card data to its customers.