• Tue, Jan 29 2013

Babies ‘R’ Us Was Surprisingly Kind To A Father Returning A Stroller After His Baby’s Death

strollerFor companies that cater to parents and their offspring, Toys ‘R’ Us and their sister-store Babies ‘R’ Us are amazingly unforgiving and unreasonable when it comes to returning purchases. In general, their customer service is known for being abysmal. It’s as if they know that they’re your only option, so they have no incentive to be helpful or kind at all. And yet, it seems that when dealing with the death of a child, even Toys ‘R’ Us has a heart.

One father shared his heart-wrenching tale over at Consumerist.

My wife and I lost our daughter back in July 2011 just days before her scheduled delivery date. It was unexpected and devastating to say the least. My wife stayed in the hospital for a few extra days after the ordeal, and at one point it occurred to me that I needed to get home and clear out our living room of all the new baby gifts that awaited us.

There was a rather pricey stroller (still undisturbed in its box) that I had purchased just days earlier. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but this poor stroller became the bane of my existence. Just looking at it caused a flood of disappointment, anger, grief, you name it. I had to get it out of my house.

In the story that follows, the father takes the stroller back to Babies ‘R’ Us only to find that he brought the wrong receipt for the purchase. At first, the clerk isn’t sure if they can return it all. Finally, they offered to give the man a gift card with the refunded amount. Except as a now childless man, he didn’t exactly need a Babies ‘R’ Us gift card.

The man admits that he could have explained the situation there in the store and they probably would have taken care of the return without another question asked. At that moment, it was just too hard to admit that he had lost a child. He couldn’t say the words. His eyes welled up. He stuttered. He managed to protest, “I can’t use the gift card.” Finally, he accepted that it was his only option, just so he could get out of the store.

But once he got home, this man called the customer service line. He explained his situation, his loss. And with a few more phone calls and one more trip to the store, he had a full refund. No more unusable gift card.

I cannot imagine that man’s loss. But I can understand the way that you attach feelings of grief to certain objects. I can understand the need to say goodbye to those objects, to help with the healing process. And I’m so thankful that even though it took a little time and effort, this man was able to put that stroller behind him. It was a small step in a very difficult process of healing.

Toys ‘R’ Us is a business. Their profit is their bottom line. And often, they make life much harder for their patrons because they’re only worried about dollars and cents. But I’m happy to know that at least once, the company saw that something was more important than profit.

(Photo: Aleph Studio/Shutterstock)

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • Samsam

    What a backhanded compliment. If someone who I don’t normally get along with does something nice, I say thank you, not “wow, I’m surprised you aren’t being a jerk today.”

    • meg

      If you read The Consumerist, you will see that Toys R Us has a pretty long history of MIND-BOGGLINGLY TERRIBLE customer service. Not just stuff like this – losing peoples’ orders then refusing to refund them because the customer cannot bring them the item that was lost in shipment, refusing to honor its own coupons, taking 6 weeks to complete a 72 hour build job, etc. It’s great they did right by this father, but it’s a shocker.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Check out my reply to Lawcat above. There are dozens and dozens of stories out there that describe how awful these companies treat their customers (all customers not just ones making exchanges or returns).

  • Lawcat

    Isn’t it pretty standard for a store to provide you with store credit if you can’t provide a receipt? It’s not heartless, it’s fair and makes logical sense. I’m glad they made the refund once the man explained his situation. Sounds like a pretty good company to me. I don’t get the backhanded compliment either…

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Go check out their reputation on sites like the Consumerist. All stores have return policies but Babies R Us and Toys R Us are ridiculous and their customer service is abysmal. Worse than industry standard. I haven’t shopped there in years and reading this story isn’t going to change that. Check out Meg’s comment below. Also –

      http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Toys+R+Us

      http://www.consumeraffairs.com/toys/toysrus_service.html

      http://www.stevecurtin.com/blog/2010/08/16/predictably-poor-customer-service/

      http://consumerist.com/2012/11/27/shoppers-are-not-so-thrilled-about-toys-r-us-cancelling-orders-and-nonexistent-customer-service/

      The Consumerist link is only one of a dozen or so that report on how terrible these companies treat their customers. Maybe you should, I dunno, actually do some research (it took me 30 seconds to find these links) before you comment.

    • Lawcat

      Whoa there, Crazy. who died and made you Queen of the Internetz? hahaha

      Well, these are people’s experiences…and I don’t know them from Adam. There’s 3 sides to every story and a negative review provides one side. That’s not “research.” My experience has been that I’ve never had a problem. Theres my “research.” Maybe because I read what an f-Ing coupon covers before I try and use it. If its exclusions are ridiculous, I don’t use it or shop at the store. I press a little harder when a company fails to follow through with what was promised. If my order is cancelled, I purchase it somewhere else.

      But for all the people that complain, they certainly seem to stay business in a world where I can buy the same or similar items from other big box stores or from internet retailers. Maybe that’s because people generally don’t report positive reviews.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      I worked food service and retail throughout high school and college. It makes me view sites like Consumerist with a skeptical eye.
      You’ve got a massive, nationwide (or multinational) chain and there’s a few dozen disgruntled customers that complain online annually? That’s…actually pretty good if you look at the number of customers they have. I’m not saying those cases are not bad, but if you have literally millions of transactions per year, not all of them are going to be smooth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.leppard.9 Eva Leppard

    God, the service must be abysmal if this act of basic human decency deserves accolades. Sad, sad world.

  • granolamommy

    i have never had a bad customer experience in a babies r us, ever! i agree with lawcat…..their polices are directly stated and if you read exclusions, you should understand what you’re dealing with. any business is in it for dollars and cents; that is business 101. i’ve never really dealt with toys r us, as i buy a lot of toys at target or use hand me downs, but i think lumping babies r us with toys (yes, i know they’re sister companies) is unfair. different set of managers, districts managers, hourly employees, etc……my local BRU is always really friendly, helpful, and great with guest service. don’t lump a few bad experiences with PERSONALIZED customer service in a few select stores to trump all experiences nation wide. point being, some workers are jerks, most are not, and its not indicative of the company. as someone who works in retail, i can attest to this. as far as the man in the story, i feel awful for he and his wife to suffer with the loss of a child. i’m glad he called and explained his sitution, and hopefully in the future, they will become necessary customers again.

  • me

    I get really ill hearing about people’s opinions on BRU’s returns policies. The policy is clearly stated right at the customer service desk. 90 days (45 for electronics), with a receipt. If the receipt is lost they can look up your purchase either on your membership card or the credit/debit card used at the time of purchase. After 90 days your purchase is no longer recorded in the system, therefore there won’t be a record of it. If you are trying to return something outside this time frame they will use your driver’s license to return it and give you store credit. They take back formula, baby food, opened bottles, recalled items, online purchases and pretty much anything else under the sun. You can walk into my local BRU with a stroller that has a flat tire and return it, no problem. They never turn away a return from a parent who has lost a child and they are perfectly fine with giving the person a cash refund, knowing that they aren’t going to be using store credit. Heck, if you make a registry with them you can return items on your registry up to a YEAR after your babies’ birth whether you have a receipt or not. It’s really not a complicated system.
    As far as the complaints for the coupons go, read the exclusions before attempting to use them. They will also honor an expired coupon up to 7 days expired. You can even bring in a coupon you forgot at home with your purchase receipt up to 14 days after the purchase and get your coupon credit. Sounds pretty terrible, doesn’t it?
    I am not saying they are saints by any means and every consumer has a story about bad customer service from one establishment or another, but this company has also done a lot of things right that people just ignore so that they can complain about pointless bs. A large amount of the time all the frustration can be traced back to the customer not understanding the policy or expecting to be handed the world even though they aren’t respecting the company’s rules. Yes, a corporation will protect it’s bottom line, but it isn’t as if they make their policies a secret to screw us over. It’s all out there in plain sight to see.

  • Chloe

    I just had to comment. We had an adoption that fell through almost eight years ago. Babies ‘R Us returned everything for us, even though we didn’t have a receipt for some items that were gifts.

    More recently, I ordered a doll stroller for my daughter from Toys ‘R Us. When I ordered, I commented that my daughter REALLY wanted this stroller, since she takes her dolls everywhere. The customer service representative upgraded me to next-day-shipping free of charge.

    It might be a fluke, but I’ve never received anything but exemplary customer service from these two companies. Everyone’s experiences are different, but I’m glad they’re getting some recognition when they do something right.

  • Jaclyn

    That’s nice to hear, I suppose. But try getting off their fucking mailing list after a stillbirth. I got reminders every few weeks in the mail of the baby that never was!

  • Justme

    This sounds like a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” kind of problem. The people who have negative experiences with a store are going to be very vocal about their issue while the people who go in there every day with no problem aren’t lighting up Consumer Reports. Maybe this is “news” and seems out of the ordinary because it the father himself wrote about it, thus bringing attention to the kindness BRU showed him. Perhaps they do this a lot, but not many people feel compelled to write a blog post or consumer review about it.

  • Renee

    Babies R Us was horrible to us after we lost our son and wanted to delete our baby registry (our son died during childbirth). To delete the registry, we had to call customer service and basically convince them that our son’s death was worthy of a registry deletion. They argued with my husband about it.

    Babies R Us also sends a birthday card to another woman I know whose daughter died 7 years ago. For 7 years she has begged them to take her off their list, and they never do.

    I will never buy another product from Babies R Us or Toys R Us again. I don’t care what their return policy is.

    • LindsayCross

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • jill_sandwich

    When my daughter was an infant, I bought some stupid whirlpool tub from Babies R Us because she hated bath time and I was hoping that the jets/bubbles would be fun enough to make her not scream through the whole thing. The thing turned out to be a piece of junk; the jets were really weak and once she was in the tub she covered the holes the bubbles were supposed to come out of. I took it back to the store I bought it from, almost sure they wouldn’t do anything for me since it had already been used and technically wasn’t defective. To my surprise, they refunded the full amount of the purchase (I can’t remember whether it was store credit or original payment, but that doesn’t really seem relevant anyway) and didn’t give me a hard time at all. If they’d take back an item I gave my kid a bath in just because I didn’t like it without giving me a hard time, I’m having trouble imagining their policies are really that unreasonable. I read some of the bad reviews about Toys R Us on that consumer website, and those people all sound like nitpicky assholes. Most of them didn’t even specify what their problem was, and those who did seemed to have an issue with a particular associate at a particular store making a mistake, or were just pissed off that TRU wouldn’t break their totally reasonable policies for them. I worked retail for several years and it really gets under my skin when people complain about “bad policies” that are totally fair.

  • Kiwi

    It’s sad how it’s not surprising to me how someone can take a story about a father losing his child, and make it more about how crappy so-and-so’s customer service is. This should have been about this father, not Babie’s R Us.
    Good luck to the parents. It’s a heartbreaking situation.. I lost a child 3 months in, and can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a child right before he/she should be born.