Kohl's Won't Honor Offer: Help Me, WalletPop!

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Q. I purchased a luggage set on a buy-one, get-one free sale online for $199 with free shipping from Kohl's website. I received the email confirmation and it only reflected one luggage set. I immediately emailed them to inquire about the other set that I had purchased. I was written back that I had to type in two sets on my online shopping bag purchase. I told them there was absolutely no instruction to this and to please just make the adjustment to my order. They acknowledged I was correct and apologized that the online ordering was not clear to this, but, they would not adjust my order and said that I needed to order two. They would not issue another shipping order for the second set of luggage that I had purchased and was entitled to in this buy-one, get-one-free offer. I was told if I wanted this second set I would have to spend another $199 and place another order, then email them the new order number. They would make a note to credit my card for the second order, and I should see that credit within 30 days. I don't have another $199 to order another set. Please, help me!
-- Kathleen BradshawA. Kathleen, the issue here, as you know, was just a bit of confusion. When you purchase something with a buy-one, get-one-free offer in a store, you'd bring both items to the register, even though you're only paying for one. The same is true of an online purchase, but I'm sorry that the Kohl's website didn't make that clear.

Kohl's apologizes as well, and has offered to fix the situation. Vicki Shamion, the company's senior vice president of public relations and community relations, tells me: "We've worked directly with the customer and resolved the matter to her satisfaction. We have provided a 50% refund for the luggage set and extended the option to her to purchase the second set for the same 50% discount."

This workaround means you'll essentially get the two sets for the price of one, as you had originally intended. Now, for a couple pieces of advice:
  • Ask questions. I think we get a little caught up in the convenience factor of shopping online, and we forget the benefit of going to a store, and that's the ability to talk to a sales person directly. A huge portion of the retail questions I receive are from people who are unsatisfied with an online purchase -- it wasn't what they expected, the shipping got screwed up, they've been waiting for a refund for far too long -- and all of these wouldn't be issues at all if they'd made the purchase at a brick and mortar store. I'm not saying you shouldn't shop online (I do, all the time) but if you're confused about something in the fine print, it's worth it to go make the purchase in person, or at least call customer service to clarify.
  • Use the phone. Kohl's has a customer service number on its website (866-887-8884) and when the option is available, I'd always rather you call than email about a problem. Why? Because you can ask to speak to a supervisor, who may have been able to sort this out for you right away.
Consumer Ally problem solver Jean Chatzky is the "Today Show" financial adviser, a longtime financial journalist and best-selling author.
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