We interrupt this screenwriting blog with a TALE OF WOE regarding a consumer issue my beloved Mr C had with a famous high street retailer just recently over the purchase of a Nintendo Wii, which was a Sports Resort Bundle. (Since many Bang2writers are committed gamers and/or parents buying games, I thought you’d like to hear this story. If not, move along now… no screenwriting-related stuff in this post! Ta).

The high street retailer in question was Toys R Us. Just after Christmas Mr C bought the Wii for the kids there, which was advertised as having a number of different items in its bundle, including a Wii Controller and Nunchuck. Upon returning home from the store and opening the box, we discovered the advertised Controller and Nunchuck were not there. Not overly concerned at this juncture, we called Toys R Us at Poole who said they would look into the matter for us.

Anyway, imagine our surprise when a “security advisor” from the store calls us the next day and basically intimates he believes Mr C is making a false claim about the missing parts! Mr C was obviously angry and said he wanted to return the Wii for a full refund, but was told by this security advisor he couldn’t, as – and I quote – the Wii “was not broken”. A letter then arrived a few days later asking for Mr C to sign a form for his details to be passed on to THE POLICE.

Perplexed, we contacted Trading Standards. They confirmed not only was the console sold to us not “as described” under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, but that the emphasis was on Toys R Us, NOT Mr C, to prove the console was in the box at the time of sale. They advised us to write to Toys R Us and ask that they follow through on their duty to provide us with the Nunchuck and Controller that *should* have been part of the console bundle, as advertised.

So we did all this… to no avail. Toys R Us simply would not back down, even though the law was on OUR side! Mr C is a pillar of the community, doing the incredibly difficult job of working with kids who have severe behavioural difficulties in a pupil referral unit, so I for one was INCANDESCENT WITH RAGE his good name was called into question like this (though indeed anyone called into question is terrible, it makes you feel really bad!).

We weren’t really sure what to do next: if Toys R Us were so unresponsive to Trading Standards, what chance did we have of recovering the missing items?? Yet the injustice demanded we do something about it. At best, it was diabolical customer service; at worst, I kept thinking of all the single parents who might scrimp and save to buy their kids a console, only for something similar to maybe happen to them.

Then I remembered I work in the media and know, or know of, many journalists in my social network. I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook and people were really kind, hooking us up with various people who might be able to help, including other people who had had horror stories when dealing with Toys R Us.

Anyway, in steps Victoria of Citywire Money and Sarah at Savvy Woman! These ladies were total champs, calling the press offices at Toys R Us HQ on our behalf. A few days later, Mr C received a phone call from Toys R Us HQ saying they would be only too happy to replace the missing items from our Wii Bundle AND they were sorry for the upset caused!

OUR ADVICE THEN: When buying a console or similar large purchase from any store, I reckon it’s a good idea to ask the shop assistant to open the box and ensure everything is present and correct, else you might end up in a palaver like this! You can read Victoria’s piece on Citywire, “How To Beat Rip Off Retailers” here – it has a SECOND story too about another guy’s wrangles with Toys R Us over a pushchair/carry cot, plus some great advice about your rights if you’re having consumer issues in general.


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7 Responses to Thinking Of Buying Something from Toys R Us? Read This First

  1. laurence timms says:

    Yeah, that kind of utterly unacceptable behaviour would push me over the edge too.

    We have two TrUs in our locality. I have noticed that the customer care at one of them is indifferent at best, whereas the other one is verging on excellent.

    So often – not always, but often – situations like this come down to the behaviour of idiot induhviduals rather than corporate policy.

    Although that's not to say that TrU's corporate policy couldn't do with a good hard kick up the arse. Dirty shops, broken toys and unimaginative ranges do not make for a happy shopping experience.

  2. Lucy V says:

    Yes, I get the impression Toys R Us at Poole was *most* at fault for this debacle (especially that "security advisor") HOWEVER it should be noted the letter asking for Mr C's details to be passed on to the police came from their "loss dept" in Coventry.

  3. Marie-Paule Graham says:

    I've had similar troubles with a mobile phone provider regarding PAYG internet gongles, y'know the ones you buy when you occasionally visit somewhere that doesn't have access (no, I don't need a contract one thanks). Low-and-behold, it doesn't work "Yes Madam, you can have a refund", they say over the phone. So, I go into the store and find myself faced with a grown-up person telling me that I can have the cost of the hardware back, but not the cost of the credit, y'know, the credit you had to buy to get the thing started to discover that it's actually broken…..and very quickly this grown-up person behind the counter gets very childish with sniping questions like "How am I supposed to refund the credit when the till won't let me, you tell me?" And then it dawns on me that he's the manager…..

    I got the money back in the end after several letters and a chat with Trading Standards. But, what I've realised is that everything is geared to selling and once they have your money, you really have to fight to get it back. And what they hope is that you'll give up. Well done for not giving up.

  4. Helenolderbutwiser says:

    My son bought a very expensive lego set from the Glasgow Hamleys with his birthday money and when he began making it he realised one of the bags of pieces was missing. Obviously he was very upset but the store were great and immediately replaced it, no questions asked. Since then we always check the contents before opening the bags. Personally I find Toys R Us a deeply depressing store. The pink 'girls' aisle enrages me. Glad you got a result. Have to say, John Lewis are awesome – we'd ordered some curtains in December. We had at least five telephone calls updating us on progress (material out of stock, delivery date changes). Then their courier said they weren't delivering to Scotland because of the snow so they sent their own lorry driver to pick them up from the factory. He, poor bloke got stuck on the motorway overnight, (another phone call). When we finally were given the opportunity to pick them up from the store ourselves they gave us free coffee and cake "to make up for the inconvenience…."

  5. Kirsty says:

    We went through a similar, although less traumatic, tussle with Toys R Us just after Christmas. After our daughter received a duplicate present, we went to return it to the store. We had no receipt as we were not the purchasers and the person who gave the gift was no longer in the country.

    We didn't even open the box, just put it in the trunk of the car and headed off to Toys R Us for a return/exchange that should have taken no time at all. Only we were told that they have no written return/exchange policy and that without a receipt we were out of luck.

    With them being the only store that sold this particular item, we were perplexed on how they imagined we would have come to be in possession of one, had it not been purchased from them.

    My husband backed off a moment to come confer with me and in the meantime some father was trying to return a Guitar Hero package for some reason and ended up leaving the store yelling "FORGET IT!!! THIS IS NOT WORTH IT!!".

    Whilst this was going on, we Googled their returns policy and they even had a "Christmas Returns Policy" up on the website. When presented with this, they stated that ToysRUs.co.uk are a different company with a different head office and that they were 'wrong' to write that you could return items to any Toys R Us store. Apparently it is at the manager's discretion and the manager didn't see a reason to accept that we don't need two identical dollhouses.

    We did not give in though and let them know that they needed to be more clear about returns policies or issue gift receipts with every purchase since they are indeed a toy store and many toys purchased are for gifts.

    They then asked if we had opened the box and taken anything out .. of the box that was clearly sealed in the way that they sell it. We stated no, and then they proceeded to open the box and ask again if we were sure that we hadn't taken anything out or damaged it. At this point my husband said "oh right, because if it is broken I can return it No Questions Asked, right?".

    It was at this point that they gave in and issued us a credit note, "just this once" .. "to be nice", but that they would not in future do it again.

    What really got to me though, is that I've had to do the exact same thing in Toys R Us in North America and the process was completed in under 5 minutes.

  6. Marie-Paule Graham says:

    I love that whole 'just this once and just to be nice' approach – yeah right! And don't get me started on Ikea!!!

  7. jazad says:

    The attitude of Toys R Us beggars belief. Since they are allegedly in the business of customer service, you would think that they would show a little professionalism and courtesy. Customers shouldn't have to go through that much trouble just to get decent service and the products they purchased.
    I must sound like a broken record, but customer service in the UK sucks! I'd like to think it's better in the US, but since I haven't lived there in 13 years, I'd be hard-pressed to make that claim.
    It seems once again modern technology saves the day.

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