Toys R Us Mystery Deal Not So Mysterious, More Frustrating

Caty wasn’t trying to scam Toys ‘R’ Us out of fifty bucks. She saw an interesting promotion in the store’s newspaper circular that required scanning a QR code in the ad and seeing what the “mystery deal” might be. She scanned the code, saw that it gave her a sweet deal on a game bundle, and headed over to the store. There she found empty shelves and employees who claimed that the deal had been a “mistake” and Caty had failed to follow a rule that wasn’t on the newspaper circular.

Was it all really a mistake, or was the real mistake posting a great deal online that users of deal-hunting forums could easily share and clean out the stores?

A QR code, if you’re curious, is a barcode of sorts that mobile phone applications can read. Most send the user to a Web address, but they can also contain phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or bits of text. There’s one on the illustration to this post.

When looking through the ads in my Sunday paper this past weekend, I saw a QR code in the Toys R’ Us ad that said to scan it with your phone to find out what the deal was. Being curious I downloaded a QR scanner app for my phone. The deal was for any Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, or Tony Hawk bundles for only $14.99 each. Considering these bundles usually cost around $70 I decided to go get a Guitar Hero Bundle when I got out of work.

I had read online that some people had had issues in the store since the coupon bar code was on their phones, but I figured as long as I brought the ad with me to show it was legitimate it would be fine. Once I showed up to Toys R’ Us the manager was called over and explained to the sales clerk (completely ignoring me) that it was a mistake and that even if it wasn’t I would’ve had to place the order online and pick it up in the store to use the coupon.

First of all, the coupon does not say that anywhere. It has an online promotion code as well as a bar code to be scanned at the register in the store. Second of all, there was not a single game bundle advertised on the shelves causing me to suspect that they had removed them (there were completely empty shelves) so that no one would try to take advantage of this deal. I accepted what the manager told me (mostly because he walked away before I could ask him anything) figuring that I would just call customer service and see what was going on.

Once I left the store and called customer service, they explained to me that there had been some type of “leak” and that ad was not supposed to happen. He told me the promotion code was no longer working online and all the orders that had been placed this morning that had not yet processed had been cancelled, but he could offer me a 10% discount and free shipping for my trouble. After looking at an online message board I know people did get to take advantage of this deal early Sunday morning. I just don’t understand what was “leaked” and how no one noticed the mistake since it was i available in the ad, online, and in the store.

I feel that it is bad customer service to try to get people in the store with false advertising and then alienate them by being rude and making it seem as if we are the ones who made the mistake and are trying to take advantage of them. I was just responding to a good deal on an item I wanted, not trying to screw Toys R’ Us out of $50.

Mystery Deal coupon [Toys R Us]