Register Outages Cause Trouble for Target

June 21, 2019

Last weekend, Target shoppers around the country received some unwelcome news when they reached the checkout counter. Due to an “internal technology issue,” the retailer’s registers crashed for about two hours on Saturday afternoon. Soon social media became filled with footage of long lines at Target stores as employees completed cash transactions by hand. Of course, many customers abandoned their carts and went home after they learned about the problem.

Eventually Target announced that the registers had come back online, but then on Sunday a separate issue caused its credit card systems to crash for about 90 minutes. Once again the retailer angered and inconvenienced customers who either left entirely or paid ATM fees in order to access their cash. According to estimates from experts, Target lost as much as $50 million in sales during the weekend’s downtime. This incident could negatively affect the company’s reputation for a while, especially among shoppers who remember its disastrous 2013 data breach as well.

Along with causing all sorts of trouble for Target, the retailer’s credit card failure also serves as a reminder about the everlasting appeal of cash. “It makes you realize how dependent we are on plastic as a method of payment and all the incentives that are provided around it,” said financial analyst Greg McBride. “It’s just a reminder that we have to carry a nominal amount of cash even if we have no plans to use it, because you just never know when you might be in a pinch.”

Questions:

  1. How could this incident affect Target’s reputation in the long term?
  2. Do you think American shoppers have become too dependent on credit cards? Why or why not?

Sources: Martha C. White, “Weekend Checkout Issues at Target Show That While Cash Might Not Be King, It’s Not Dead, Either,” NBC News, June 17, 2019; Matthew Boyle, “Target’s Pre-Father’s Day Register Outage Cost the Retailer $50 Million, Analyst Says,” Fortune, June 17, 2019. Photo by Bella Ella Boutique.

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