Target Cancels Orders From Israel, Admitting It Couldn't Handle Buying Frenzy

U.S. retail giant seemingly didn't realize it would spark buying stampede after briefly offering free shipping in mid-August offer

Two customers walking past a Target store in Methuen, Massachusetts, in 2016.
Elise Amendola/AP

Hundreds of Israelis who bought merchandise online from U.S. retail giant Target during a special campaign have received emails in recent days regretfully canceling their purchases.

The company said it had been caught unawares by an Israeli buying frenzy in response to a mid-August deal offering free shipping to Israel.

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Sources in the package delivery business said they believed Israelis ordered more than 20,000 packages. The delivery company DHL said only a few thousand packages were sent via its service, and that these were the ones customers in Israel had actually received.

A senior delivery business executive explained: “Target offered free shipping to Israel for 48 hours, no matter what the weight, size of the package or the amount of exemption from import duty,” which in Israel is only $75. “The company did not check the Israeli market before it got embroiled in these orders and timetables. I believe the small uncomplicated packages will arrive; the rest will be canceled,” he said.

The deal was offered via an e-commerce company called Borderfree. Customers have reported that after following up on their orders, they found they are stuck in Borderfree’s warehouses in Franklin Park, Illinois.

In the cancellation emails, Target said it would ensure any payments taken would be refunded.

Ronen, from Haifa, was one of the customers trying to take advantage of the offer: “Two weeks ago we ordered toys for the baby. We made sure the whole order didn’t come to more than $75. A week ago, we got an email that the order might be delayed and [now] we were told it was canceled. That’s disappointing.”

Several other disappointed Target customers posted on Facebook that they had only received part of their order – for example, they received the base for a child’s car seat, but not the seat itself. Others wrote they had made large orders like lawn furniture or sofas.

Target is the second largest retailer in the United States, with 1,800 stores selling a variety of goods at relatively low prices.