FREE BAG sticker (l) woman in car holding bag with FREE BAG sticker (c) hand holding Target 'Sale!' sign indicating Buy 3 items get bag free (r)


‘She pretty much told me I don’t know how to read’: Target customer finds bag advertised as a free gift. A worker tries to convince her it’s $5.99

‘I always take pictures when they have promotional/sales going on.’


Braden Bjella


Target is known for its deals. In the past, internet users have shared how one can get items nearly for free at the store, revealed that one could purchase a 55-inch TV for less than $100, and documented the various coupons people can use to save money at the store.

That said, there has also been controversy at the chain. Shoppers of color have claimed that they are followed through the store by “secret shoppers,” making their experience unpleasant; other former employees have alleged that changes in the store are making it a worse place to work.

Now, a TikTok user has sparked discussion after claiming that she was told an item marked as “free” at Target was anything but.

‘Free’ doesn’t mean free

In a clip with over 1 million views, TikTok user Tammy (@thefoxypineapple) claims that she got into an argument with a worker at Target after she “pretty much told me I don’t know how to read.”

According to Tammy, she was shopping at Target when she spotted a deal on first-aid products. As noted by a sign on the shelf, if one is to buy three of any of the first-aid items included in the promotion, they can get a fourth free. This promotion includes a first-aid bag, which has a tag indicating that it can come for free as part of the promotion.

However, when Tammy went to check out, she learned that, at least in this one Target worker’s eyes, “free” apparently doesn’t mean “free.”

“I get up to self-checkout, and I’m checking out, and that bag comes up for $5.99. I put in my phone number, go to checkout. It’s still $5.99,” Tammy recounts.

Confused, Tammy says she called over an employee, who then called over another employee. This second employee allegedly told Tammy that “it’s not free. Target doesn’t give anything away for free.”

“I said, ‘But the tag says this’—on the bag, I show her it says ‘free bag,’” Tammy recalls. “She’s like, ‘Well, that’s what it says, but it doesn’t mean that.’ I said, ‘It’s all over the aisles back there. It’s plastered everywhere.’ And she’s like, ‘But that’s not what it means.’”

After a prolonged argument, the employee eventually conceded, allegedly saying, “’You know what? I’ll just do it. It’s not a big deal.’”

Tammy says she managed to get her bag for free but was left bewildered by the ordeal.

“Why did I have to argue about that? What is going on?” she asks. She later adds, “Am I reading that wrong? Because if I am, please tell me in the comments, but I’m pretty sure it means free.”

@thefoxypineapple @target, this is what I expect at your competition. Something needs to change. #target #customerservice #badcustomerservice #guestrelations #corporate #badadvertising #dobetter #amitheproblem #amitheahole ♬ original sound – Tammy

Viewers side with the shopper

In the comments section, users said that the employee was incorrect to behave in this manner, with some sharing similar stories.

“This happened to me,” claimed a user. “I had to go to customer service and the guy was like oh man you’re right. So sorry! Gave me the bag free and refunded my 5.99.”

“I would’ve asked her ‘so what does it mean then?’” offered another. “it clearly says free bag with purchase of three Band-Aid items. You are in the right.”

“I think I would’ve lost my mind if someone stood there and told me that the words I was reading did not mean what they literally mean,” stated a third.

While some noted that Target will occasionally remove the price of a “free” item from other purchases—i.e. other items in the cart will be reduced in price to, in effect, give the shopper a free item—Tammy alleges in a comment that none of the items had been reduced in price.

As a result, some advised to provide evidence of the sale when approaching the register.

One user wrote, “i always take pictures when they have promotional/sales going on.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Target via email and Tammy via Instagram direct message.

Update June 9, 2024:

In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Tammy said that Target has not reached out to her since the incident, and that this is the first time something like this has happened to her at the store.

“I have no idea why this happened at all. It seemed straight forward to me, and this is a promo that has been going on for years,” she wrote. “There should have been no confusion on the employee’s part. However, we could give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was new, not trained properly, and had never seen the promo before.”

Tammy continued by saying that she hopes if Target sees her story, “they use it as an opportunity to properly train their employees on how to speak, or not speak, to customers in the future.”

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