JCPenney sends man gift card after 2 confused associates tell him to shop online instead

Crystal resident Jeff Kolb is known as being one of the more prominent local Republican voices among folks who talk lots of Minnesota politics on Twitter.

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But he's also developing a reputation as someone who knows how to use social media to publicly and effectively shame companies that megafail in his presence.

The latest example came last week after Kolb endured this experience while trying to buy a comforter at the Southdale JCPenney (the text comes from an email he sent JCPenney customer care):
I was asked to send an email to this address after venting frustration about a very bad experience at one of your stores.

I was at the JC Penney store at the Southdale mall in Edina MN on October 29 at around 3 PM. My wife and I were shopping for a new comforter. We found one that we liked but it didn't come with a bed skirt. We took the item to the cashier and asked her if she knew if there was a matching bed skirt for the comforter. She told us to go look it up online. We asked her to find someone who could answer the question, and she got what could only be described as a look of panic on her face. She stood there staring at us for several seconds. We told her to forget it.

Despite her unhelpfulness we decided to purchase the item anyway. There was a sign on the item that said Save $80 on any purchase of regular price merchandise over $200. The comforter was $230, regular price.

The item rang up for $180; $50 off. I showed the cashier the sign. She said that she didn't know what to do. We suggested she call a manager. She called someone on the radio, and that person called her on the phone. When she hung up with the manager she told us the manager told us we should go home and purchase the item online.

We informed the cashier this was unacceptable and that we would like to speak with the manager in person. She radioed the manager again. The manager called again.

A few minutes later a woman showed up and asked the cashier what the problem was. I asked the woman if she was the one who was on the phone, because that is who I wanted to talk to. She said she was not. We explained, again, what the issue was. After several minutes, the woman changed the price of the item, and we completed the sale.

This is not an atypical JCPenney experience. The pricing of items at the register is very often different than on the signs. This was our first trip to JCPenney in over a year for this reason. It's not fun to guess what price you'll be charged.

Please let me know how you plan to "make this right."

Thank you,
Jeff Kolb
When he was actually in the store, Kolb tweeted about the difficulty he was having:
-- Jeff Kolb (@jpkolb) October 29, 2013 Kolb attributes his social media shaming as part of the reason a JCPenney representative got back to him quickly and offered him a $50 gift card as compensation for his "inconvenience." ("Please know that the experience you had with us is definitely not typical of JCPenney," the representative wrote, adding that she "forwarded your feedback and concerns to the store team leader so we can look into the pricing issues and use this as a training opportunity with our associates.")

"This isn't the first time my public bitching on Twitter has netted a response. Potbelly sent me a gift card a few months ago too," Kolb wrote in an email to City Pages. "I think the public shaming effect of social media (specifically [T]witter) forces companies to be responsive to these types of things, whereas they wouldn't necessarily have done so in the past."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]