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Target shopper burned in iPod scam

updated 05:55 pm EST, Fri November 9, 2007

iPod scam claims AL victim

One shopper at a Target store in Montgomery, Alabama says he was cheated yesterday after purchasing what he believed to be an 80GB iPod classic for his daughter. Upon returning home and opening the box, however, his daughter discovered a used and scratched 30GB iPod video in place of the shiny new 80GB iPod classic pictured on the box. "How could this happen?" asked George Mardre, a confused and frustrated customer. "Target will not refund our money. They will not allow us to exchange it." After speaking to several customer service representatives, Mardre was told Target would review a surveillance tape and get back to him. "Meanwhile, my daughter is out $275," Mardre told MacNN.

Mardre recounted his shocking experience as he returned home after making the purchase.

"Before I could get my tie off, [my daughter] called me in to show me that the iPod was all scratched up and was a 30GB instead of an 80GB classic. I could not believe it. I cinched up my tie [and] went back to the store."

"The first person I talked to just looked at me. Then she called the electronics supervisor. She told me, 'we don't accept returns for iPods.' When I told her that it did not say that on the receipt, and that the salesman did not tell me that, she changed her story to, 'well I can not take this back because the serial number on the iPod does not match the one on the box.'"

Standing in front of Target employees who did not speak to him, Mardre waited for the store manager before he was told that the issue was actually Apple's problem.

"They claimed that because the clear wrap was over the box, [that] the mistake was Apple's," he said. "I'm standing there, in a business suit, obviously not an iPod thief, helpless."

Mardre later explained to a Target customer service representative on the phone that reviewing surveillance tapes would not prove that the box he purchased in fact contained the iPod as advertised.

"I told [Target] that the tape would reveal that I could have switched iPods after I took it from the store, that I have no proof that I did not switch them, except my own good name in the community," Mardre said.

"I am still having a hard time believing it is really happening. I have wasted my whole day on it. I do not know any further recourse I can take," Mardre concluded.

Not the first time

This incident is not the first time a Target customer has opened a just-purchased iPod box to discover something other than the portable media player they expected. Two Texas Target stores in early October served as scenes of embarrassment when an angry mother found rocks inside the box that was supposed to contain a new $350 iPod.

The woman was denied a cash refund and was not even allowed to open a second exchanged iPod without first buying the device using in-store credit offered to her as compensation for the initial stone-filled box. When she opened the second box in front of Target store employees and it contained rocks as well, the Texan was still denied a cash refund and again offered an in-store credit for the exact price of the player.

Target isn't alone

Retail behemoth Wal-Mart also dealt with similar circumstances after one customer in Hawaii brought back a box that was supposed to contain a new fifth-generation video iPod, but instead held a sealed fish or meat product. The woman insisted that the box was properly wrapped when she made the purchase.

Another Wal-Mart customer expressed disappointment after opening her newly purchased iPod package to discover six AA batteries taped together in an effort to simulate the weight of the missing 30GB iPod video. In a bazaar twist, the culprit even drew a screen and buttons on a piece of paper to simulate what the package should have contained.

Examining sealed surprises

Both of the supposed iPods purchased from the Texas-based Target stores were fully shrinkwrapped with no signs that they had previously been opened or tampered with. Mardre's iPod packaging, however, revealed signs of mischief after he carefully examined both the box and the shrinkwrap the following day.

"The wrap does look 'cheap' and I do not think Apple would use shoddy wrap," he said. "Also, the box has a scrape on it where someone used a sharp object to pry the original wrap off."

Yesterday's scam victim offered a word of advice for Montgomery residents looking to purchase an iPod from Target: "Open all boxes and packages INSIDE the store in front of the manager. Otherwise, you may not get what you bought."

by MacNN Staff





  1. jasong

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Class action lawsuit

    Really people, we're not going to let Apple get away with this one, are we? I know how much emotional trauma I went through unwrapping the 3 iPods I have purchased for me and mine, terrified that I would get a rock instead.

  1. chadpengar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    small claims court

    Just file a suit in small claims court against Target.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Business Suit?

    Oh, he's standing there in a suit, so he cant be a thief! Those Enron guys must have been innocent after all!

    and clear wrapping? Yea, only Apple could duplicate such a technology! The video store I worked at 12 years ago didn't have anything like shrink wrap plastic and a blow dryer.

    Does he honestly expect Target to do something? If they did give him a new iPod or refund his money, i'm going to target tomorrow and.. errr.. replacing my 2 iPods :)

  1. Chris Hutcheson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let's twist again

    But this time let's refer to it as a "bizarre" rather than "bazaar" twist.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just Buy Apple

    Perhaps this is a message...Apple items are hot so buy them from Apple Stores or Apple Online Store. Period.

  1. Benton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    buy online

    your nearest apple retail store is birmingham al 85 miles away. buy at apple online and cut out the middleman. apple's inventory isn't likely to be messed with.

  1. leamanc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In a bazaar twist...

    Who writes this c***? And who is editing it?

    Well, I can answer the second question myself: no one.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    this (and Greenpeace, let's not forget them!) is why Apple's stock price has tanked in the last 2 days.

    I wonder how many broken/missing iPods people will be getting this year for xmas.

  1. Buran

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The store defrauded you by failing to sell you what it claimed to be selling, then failed to make it right. File a chargeback claim with your credit card issuer. They will be left without the money AND will be forced to pay a chargeback penalty.

    They could have made it right. They didn't. They will pay.

  1. mike7204

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Inside Job.

    1) Do the right thing for the customer. 2) Target: Check the serial # with Apple to see if it was registered. 3) if registered, check the name against target's employee list. 4) Don't be surprised when theres a match. Fire employee. 5) Issue a public written apology to the customer.

    Criminals are usually pretty stupid. Dont treat your customers like criminals.

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