Watchdog group the Parents Television Council lashed out at Target this week during the retailer's annual shareholder meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
According to a PTC press release, Bob Sherman, director of the organization's Chicago grassroots chapter, called out Target executives over a 2008 secret shopper sting. In that operation the PTC says that minors were able to purchase M-rated games 41% of the time at Target stores. Sherman told the execs and assembled shareholders:
On average our volunteers, all between the ages of 11 and 16, were able to purchase video games rated ‘M’ by the ESRB for mature content 36% of the time. Target stores fared worse than the average – underage children were able to purchase M-rated video games at Target stores a stunning 41% of the time. Parents have the right to expect that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level...
Target represents families to so many consumers. Your advertising and community good works reflect how Target is embedded in our lives. The Parents Television Council is eager and ready to work with you to address this industry-wide dilemma.
Sherman and the PTC also slammed Target for selling mature-themed DVDs to underage buyers.
In contrast to the PTC's numbers, the most recent secret shopper survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that underage buyers of M-rated games were successful only 29% of the time at Target.