When Big Media Aren’t the Biggest

I’ve had a little run in with a US department store, Kohls.

It started on April 14 when I received a notification, addressed to ‘Todd Holland’ with account details for my new Kohl’s account, which I didn’t create. At first, I thought it was spam or phishing, but the store is legit and the email seemed to be so. Shortly afterwards, I received order confirmations and then shipping notices for the same account, but this time addressed to ‘Patti Holland’, and displaying her postal address in Escanaba, Michigan. At this point, I sent an email to Kohl’s advising them that the email address associated with this shopping account was my address, and should be changed.

Their response:

Dear Travis,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about your email request. I am sorry that you are continuing to get sales alerts and do not wish to receive them any longer. I would be happy to assist you.

I am sorry for any inconvenience regarding your messages that you have been receiving from Kohl’s. I would be happy to provide you with the link to unsubscribe to our Sales Alerts. Please click on the following link.
http://www.kohls.com/upgrade/registration/sale_alert_unsubscription.jsp

I hope this was useful and has resolved your issue. Please remember once you unsubscribe you will no longer receive Kohl’s great deals promotion codes, and or discounts for future purchases.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us and look forward to serving you again at Kohls.com.

Sincerely,
Mark G.

As you might have guessed, I wasn’t trying to simply unsubscribe from their email alerts. I was trying to get my email address removed from their database, and the shopping account returned to its rightful owner. Nonetheless, I did unsubscribe so as to reduce the volume of emails until this was sorted out. I replied to this email, spelling out my position more clearly, telling them that I now intended to mark their emails as spam in Gmail, and suggesting they contact their customer to deal with this situation.

I continued to receive marketing emails from Kohls, and decided to self-delete the account since they were obviously not interested in being of assistance. I simply went to the sign-in screen and told the system I forgot my password, so it promptly emailed a new one to me. It turns out you can’t self-delete Kohl’s accounts, so I emailed them again:

Hi again,

I have gained access to the account in question and note that users cannot self-delete their account, but are instructed to call Customer Service at (855) 564-5705 for assistance to delete the account. I do not intend to make an international phone call to deal with this issue.

You have 24 hours to completely remove my email address from your system or I may think it appropriate to find more creative ways to make use of the account.

The ‘creative’ activity I was thinking of is simply changing the account email to be Kohl’s own customer service email, which would cause their system to email itself repeatedly. If I wanted, I could order some new stuff and have it mailed wherever I wanted, since details of the credit card attached to the account were visible, as is the customer’s phone number.

The response:

Dear Travis Holland,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your request to delete your shopping account. I understand your frustration. I am committed to resolving this issue.

I am truly sorry that you were unable to call to request to delete your Kohls.com shopping account. Although I am unable to remove the account from our records, I have deleted your personal information from our online registration at Kohls.com. Please be advised that you may need to call Customer Service at (855) 564-5705 for assistance to delete the account. It is not our intention to inconvenience you in any way. I sincerely apologize for the disappointment that you have experienced due to this shopping account removal issue.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us and look forward to serving you again at Kohls.com.

Sincerely,

Janice B.

I don’t even know what to say about this email. It’s like banging your head against stupid. Needless to say, my “personal details” haven’t been deleted from the system. I’m still receiving requests to fill out the Kohl’s customer survey, with which I intend to have quite a bit of fun. I’m also changing the email address attached to the account to a Kohl’s customer service account – community.relations@kohls.com.

One final note of delight: Kohl’s has a standard email disclaimer saying the information is solely for the people to whom it is addressed, etc, and imploring anyone who receives it in error to let them know. So, I have followed their procedures exactly. It is a pity they can’t do the same.

I am committed to resolving this issue, but it will be on my terms, since Kohl’s is completely unable to do so.