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Target's response a bit off target

Posted by Mitch Lipka  February 6, 2012 10:05 PM

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Q: I bought a service-for-12 set of stoneware at Target in November of 2010. The set had a nice floral pattern. I noticed this past November, just one year later, the pattern was fading. The folks at Target told me that it was beyond the warranty period and there was nothing they would do. Surely we should be able to expect a set of dishware to last more than one year.

Daniel Walsh, Marlborough

A. You’d think that would be the case. But in today’s world, where most companies serving US consumers scramble to find overseas manufacturing plants (typically in China) that will make consumer goods cheaper than the next, the quality of a lot of products has gone into the toilet. And so has the commitment to stand behind those products.

For most of us, our expectations remain somewhat higher than the reality of cheaply manufactured goods, and it’s bitterly disappointing when a product fails or, in this case, fades far before its expected time. We’d also hope, if not expect, that a few days here or there on a warranty wouldn’t matter.

Another reader recently wrote in about a year-old appliance that failed just a couple of days past warranty and was told she’d have to cover the costs herself. Companies hold to those lines with rare exceptions to avoid turning them into moving targets.

Target wasn’t too sympathetic on this one. Like most retailers, when it comes to product problems that happen over the course of use, they punt to the manufacturer to handle any complaints. And that’s just what Target did this time after many requests to respond:

“This is not a product line we still carry at Target,” spokeswoman Laura Conlon said. “We recommend the reader contact the manufacturer directly for any questions/concerns.”

It’s not an unreasonable position for Target to take, but it doesn’t do much in the way of them sending a message that they stand behind products made for sold in? their stores. It would have been nice if they offered something more, if not dishes, at least a hint of understanding about why it’s not acceptable to consumers to have plates that wash out in a year.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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