Target Coupons Put Dad Onto Daughter’s Pregnancy

February 17, 2012  |  

It has to be tough for any teenager to find the right time to tell a parent she’s pregnant, but one Minnesota girl didn’t have to worry about that—Target told her dad for her.

A New York Times report picked up by MSN NOW tells the story of an angry father who stormed into a Target store demanding to speak with a manager about why his child was being sent deals on baby items. According to an employee, the man said:

“My daughter got this in the mail! She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager looked at the mailer and apologized to the man for the advertisement for maternity clothes and nursery furniture which was addressed to his daughter. But when the manager called the man a few days later to apologize again, the father was the one saying sorry. He told the manager:

“I had a talk with my daughter. It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

So how does Target know a girl is pregnant before her own father? Coupon targeting which tracks purchases and demographic information to send customer’s deals related to their anticipated needs. The thought either sounds cool or creepy. On one hand, who wouldn’t want to save money on something they plan to buy, on the other, it’s a little unsettling to think about how much big brother knows about you—and Target’s aware of that.

“If we send someone a catalog and say, ‘Congratulations on your first child!’ and they’ve never told us they’re pregnant, that’s going to make some people uncomfortable,” Andrew Pole, a statistician for the chain said. “We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.”

The New York Times report is actually pretty fascinating and eye-opening to just how much companies know about their consumers—which in the case of this father and daughter, can get people caught up. Sometimes a generic mailer is enough.

Have you noticed coupon deals that are targeted to your purchasing history? Do you think it’s neat or does it creep you out a bit?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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