Target receipt (L), Woman showing a sale promotion at Target (M), Pantene bottle (R)


‘It’s not misleading, that’s lying’: TikToker calls out Target after finding in-store sale promotion is only valid for online purchases (updated)

'As a former target employee they should have to honor that.'


Gisselle Hernandez

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 30, 2022   Updated on Feb 7, 2022, 9:54 am CST

Thousands have called out Target for its “shady” marketing tactics after a TikToker was denied a gift card in store.

Tara Boettger’s (@justcallmehomegirl) video has garnered 1.7 million views after she exposed a “misleading” offer at one location. In the video posted on Jan. 26, Boettger spoke about the ordeal and included a photo of the supposed promotion. In the caption, she used the hashtag #falseadvertisingalert.

“I just came out of Target to get some shampoo and conditioner,” she said in the video.

The spliced-in photo shows a sign on the shampoo shelf advertising a deal on Pantene products that included a “Free [Target] GiftCard with purchase. Buy 3, get a $5 [Target] GiftCard.”

However, after purchasing the three Pantene hair care items, the cashier did not give her the gift card. After further inquiry, the cashier stated that the deal only applied to same-day delivery or pick-up online orders.

@justcallmehomegirl Really target? @target @Pantene Pro-V #falseadvertisingalert ♬ original sound – user8921615675885

“There’s a sign on the product and it doesn’t say anything,” Boettger told her. 

“I know, it can be confusing,” was the cashier’s alleged response. When Boettger brought the issue to a customer service representative and expressed confusion over the use of an in-store sign for an online-only promotion, he allegedly replied that “our signs are very misleading.” 

“It’s not misleading, that’s lying,” Boettger said in her TikTok. 

Commenters came to Boettger’s defense, going as far as suspecting the cashier of pocketing the gift card. But in another TikTok, Boettger shows a copy of the receipt, which is devoid of any gift card item.

“The cashier didn’t steal my gift card,” she said, going on to explain how after scanning her Pantene bottle in the app, the product does not come up. “Maybe this is not even in their system yet and that’s the problem?”

Still, Boettger insists the sign is the issue. 

“It doesn’t make sense marketing-wise or logistically,” she said in one of the videos. 

@justcallmehomegirl Reply to @target ♬ original sound – user8921615675885

Viewers agreed with Boettger’s critique of the sign.

“How am I supposed to see this sign when I’m ordering it from my couch?” a commenter wrote. 

“I feel like it more abt the principal of the matter,” another said.  “What’s the point of the sign if it’s only for online orders?” 

Other people who claimed to be Target workers asserted the cashier should have honored the sign, no matter what. A few comments noted this is way too much hassle for “just $5.” 

But viewers were adamant that Target is duping customers. “It’s not about the $5, it’s about the lies,” someone responded. 

After a few videos and rallying from the TikTok community, Boettger said she reached out to Target via online chat. “Thank you for everybody who was invested in this,” she said. “They gave me a $10 gift card.” 

While Boettger tried one last attempt at getting some clarity on a very confusing situation, the online representative merely told her he would document the case. 

“I wasn’t gonna push anymore, guys,” she said. “Thank you for caring.”

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

Update 6:05 pm CT, Feb. 1: In a statement to the Daily Dot, Boettger said she was “floored” by the response to her video.

“Honestly I was just looking for confirmation that my thinking that a sign in the store, for a sale that was only online was crazy,” she said of her reasoning for making the video. “And the fact that 2 employees acknowledged that they were ‘confusing and misleading’ yet still did nothing about it.”

When asked whether she was satisfied with the outcome of her resolution, she said “not really.”

“Even though I appreciate the $5 gift card, my issue was with the sign which still hasn’t been addressed,” she said.

Still, the incident won’t stop her from shopping at Target. She attributed the problem to a “communication breakdown somewhere.”

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*First Published: Jan 30, 2022, 3:34 pm CST