Society
Society

Woman Buys Vacuum, Gets Trash

| by Alex Scarr

A Houston woman purchased a vacuum at her local Target on July 23, but when she opened the box after returning home she found it to be full of towels, rocks and canned food.

Annie Banerjee, an attorney in the Houston area, came home from a day of shopping to find that the Dyson vacuum she thought she purchased was not in the box. Instead, Banerjee discovered a stack of dirty towels, rocks and a can of bean-less chili, according to the Houston Chronicle.

When Banerjee attempted to return the box and explain she had not received her vacuum, the Target store manager refused to refund her. Instead, the manager called police about a "Hispanic" woman and had Banerjee escorted out.

Banerjee, who is Indian, believes she was racially profiled during the encounter.

A spokesperson for the Houston-area Target said that Banerjee was refunded the full amount for her vacuum and received a new one courtesy of the store, per WABC.

"At Target, we want our guests to feel welcome and respected whenever they shop in our stores. We regret the experience that Ms. Banerjee had in our Houston Galleria store on Sunday and have reached out to her to apologize," read a statement from the store.

The statement also noted that the store would use the incident with Banerjee as a "learning opportunity" for employees.

Banerjee said a refund isn't enough to rectify the situation, concerned that this encounter is common for "someone who looks like me," she explained to the Houston Chronicle. She wants Target to explore more substantive policy changes in the wake of the incident.

"We are suspicious whether it is because she is of darker complexion than your average clientele here, whether that caused her to be treated in the manner that she was treated," said Banerjee's attorney Randy Kallinen. It was not clear if a lawsuit will be filed against the Houston Target.

A Target spokesperson said the company is looking into the matter and is unsure how the first vacuum Banerjee purchased was swapped with the towels, rocks and canned food.

According to Forbes, retailers lost a combined $32 billion from shoplifting and worker theft in 2014. Shrinkage, as it's termed, accounted for losses due to shoplifting, worker theft, and vendor theft and was responsible for 70 percent of all retail loss in 2014. Administrative errors accounted for the other portion, leading to a 1.4 percent drop in total sales.

Did Target handle the situation appropriately?
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