Crib Shopping at Target: An Epic Failure

Last weekend, we got started on shopping for the most important furniture item in the nursery: the crib. We knew from the start that we wanted something new, since it seems like cribs are always getting recalled for safety reasons and we didn’t want to end up with a secondhand crib that had some kind of dangerous design flaw. So after browsing around online and looking at the displays at Babies R Us, we decided we liked the following model:

Delta Venetian Lifetime crib from Babies R Us.
Listed at $279.99 here.

It had a nice classic look to it, it was capable of converting into a toddler bed or a day bed down the road, and it also happened to be one of the least expensive models Babies R Us had available. We were almost sold on it, when Joe managed to find this model on Target’s website:

Graco Charleston Classic crib from Target.
Listed at $174.99 here.

Since the two cribs looked pretty similar, and they both had a lot of the same features (convertible, no drop-sides, JPMA certified to modern safety standards), it seemed like a no-brainer to go with the less expensive one from Target.

We asked at the Target store closest to us if they stocked it, or if it could be ordered online and picked up at the store, and their answer was no — apparently will only ship items to your house. The customer service desk at the first store had some kind of printout suggesting that two other stores in the Chicago area might stock it, but this turned out not to be the case, and so we returned home and ordered the crib online.

All this happened on Sunday, so we expected to have to wait at least a week or so before anything arrived. But by Tuesday that same week, a large box had already appeared at our door.

This was a pleasant surprise, even if it was a little off-putting the way they hadn’t even attempted to make the delivery when one of us was home. They just dumped outside, leaving it to get rained on until Joe got home from work and brought it inside. As the picture below shows, the packaging wasn’t in the best of shape:

The freshly-unpacked crib box, with dents and damage from the shipping process.

But the condition of the box didn’t seem too important, and we excitedly unpacked it and brought all of the pieces into the nursery for assembly. It would be so great to finally have the crib put together.

The unpacked crib pieces awaiting assembly.

With everything brought into the nursery, we were about to get to work… and then we noticed some damage to the top of the crib.

Closeup of damage to the crib.

It was a gaping four-inch crack to the wood that would be facing the inside of the crib. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that the top piece and the side piece weren’t securely fastened together, probably due to whatever damage had caused the crack.

At first, we thought about just leaving it, or trying to repair the damage somehow, but both ideas left a bad taste in our mouths. We’d paid for a brand new crib — if we wanted something that was falling apart in places, we could’ve saved a lot of money and gotten a used one off of Craigslist or something. So we decided to return it.

Unfortunately, we learned that returning damaged merchandise purchased on is a much greater hassle than we might’ve expected. Even though their website promises “quick, easy returns” using an online form, we found that it wouldn’t accept our order number, so we had to call their 1-800 line. And maybe it’s just because their website is broken or something right now, but I had to sit on hold for a ridiculously long time.

Did you know that’s hold music is really annoying? It’s just these same three songs repeating in an endless loop:

Now, depending on your taste in music these might not be the worst songs ever. Maybe they’re even kind of catchy. But they only use a one-minute clip from each one, with incredibly bad sound quality, and it’s interrupted every 36 seconds by a recording of a cheerful lady who apologizes for keeping you waiting and assures you that someone will help you very soon. I endured an hour and fifteen minutes of this mind-numbing torture.

But I finally got to talk to a human being, who took down all the information about the order, the nature of the damage, etc. and instructed me to return it to any nearby Target store. (Alternatively we could have tried to ship it back, but this would have taken an extra 2-3 weeks to get the refund, and we’re kind of running out of weeks as it is.)

The pregnancy ticker as seen at the time of this writing.

Unfortunately, the box wouldn’t fit in our car (a Honda Insight), so yesterday we borrowed my dad’s van, loaded the crib up, and brought it back in that. It was actually a bit of a hassle getting the unwieldy item from the van to the store, but a couple of friendly passersby helped out, and we were able to get the whole thing up to the customer service desk. Or rather, to the garbage cans next to the customer service desk:

The crib, mostly in its box, returned to Target.

I’m not sure whether it’s the policy for all returned items, or if this crib just looked to be in particularly bad shape, but the woman at the customer service desk called someone on a walkie-talkie and said, “This needs to go in the trash.”

Anyway, the store gave us the refund on the crib, but not the shipping, which was nearly $30.00. They said we’d have to contact for that. (Apparently Target and might as well be two separate companies — who knew?)

So we called again. The first two or three calls, we only got to talk to “team members” overseas somewhere who could provide no help, not even the minimal task of pulling up our order number on a computer screen. But after calling back this morning and sitting on hold for another 54 minutes, we finally managed to get the shipping refunded.

And that’s the epic story of how we almost got a crib. The good news is that we’ve already successfully obtained a different crib from one of Target’s competitors, and we just need to get it put together at this point. So stay tuned for part two of the crib saga, coming soon to a future blog post.


  1. Sure, feel free to post it around if you’d like — it was definitely a frustrating experience and I don’t think I’d recommend ordering anything from Target after this.

  2. Oh, wow! I am so sorry that happened to you! The sad thing is that people just don’t seem to care about others anymore, which is a foreign concept to me. I’m glad it finally got straightened out. I will definitely think twice about shopping at Target myself. Can’t wait to see pics of the finished product!

  3. Wow, Joe gave me the short version by phone, but I see it’s worse than he described. I have to say I chuckled a bit reading this blog, not at the mishap, but at how lousy merchants had best beware: Sarah, you have to be one of the most vigilant documenters ever! Are you sure you didn’t get a Law degree along with the Design one? Glad it all worked out, and definitely I am not shopping Target online.

  4. I don’t know about the shipping cost return , but you can return online items to your local Target
    At our Target in Pensacola,( You need the shipping papers),we will bring a flat to load it up at
    the curb and bring it in.They toss all baby items like that in the garbage for safety reason.
    We don’t even sell the displays for safety .
    The shipping company may have a few gorillas that toss stuff around and leave it on
    doorsteps but I thought they (not employed with Target)) were suppose to leave you a note to
    pick up or arrange a delivery time!

  5. For the relatives who don’t know Nancy, she used to play Star Trek games with me and Rachel, and is a VERY good “service with a smile” employee at a Pensacola Target. A reason to shop local, folks, because that online service department may be outsourced to Timbuktu!

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone, and thanks Nancy for sharing your experiences with the Pensacola Target. In all fairness, we didn’t have any problem with the folks working at the physical Target store — they were perfectly friendly, and would’ve gotten us one of those larger flatbed carts if Joe and the two strangers hadn’t gotten the box in the doors on a regular cart as quickly as they did. The main problem seemed to be the bizarre artificial disconnect between Target and, and the extremely poor customer service provided by the latter.

    A funny and/or sad footnote to this story: after the two separate refunds posted back to our card, we added them up, compared it to the total we’d originally paid, and found that we’d been shorted out of $1.49. But we’ve decided that it just isn’t worth the time and frustration of dealing with their phone system again to try to get it back.

  7. I agree with shopping locally if you can. Bill and I try to do so as much as possible. We’ve got to keep this local economy moving!

    I agree, Sarah. That small amount is simply not worth the aggrevation.

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