Gabe and his wife didn’t need a $300 stroller anymore. Their daughter died just says before she was supposed to be born, and looking at the huge, unopened, never-to-be-opened box in the living room just intensified his grief. It had to go. Unfortunately, when he packed it up to bring back to Babies R Us before his wife got home from the hospital, he forgot his receipt for that purchase. He couldn’t bring himself to say the words, “my baby died, and I don’t need a gift card to a baby store.” Don’t pile on and blame him, though: someone at Toys ‘R’ Us consulted their soul instead of the policy book and this story has a happy ending.
I will agree that they have definitely demonstrated an immense amount incompetence over the years, but they do occasionally do right by their customers as well…even if it is to correct a wrong that the customer was responsible for in the first place.
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.
I loaded it up and drove it back to the Babies R Us where I had purchased it. Unbeknownst to me, I had unknowingly grabbed the wrong receipt on my way out. Upon trying to return it, the employee pointed out that the stroller was not on the receipt. I know that when we purchased it, it was connected to our Rewards account. This would not suffice either. I needed the receipt.
Crippled by emotion, I just did not have it in me to leave with the 30 lbs box, load it back in the car, go home get the receipt, etc. I asked if they could please just do the return as is (again, the box was unopened). The employee stated that I would be receiving store credit for the amount of the stroller in the form of a gift card. Having recently found myself unexpectedly childless, this was unacceptable to me. I asked for a full refund as “I have no use for a Toys/Babies R Us gift card.” A nearby manager overheard the conversation and jumped in affirming the employee’s statement. I felt my eyes instantly begin to well. I just could not bring myself to utter the words that I know could have changed their minds, “I don’t have a child anymore. What am I going to do with a $300 gift card to a children’s store?!” Instead, all I could say, over and over, my voice cracking and my spirit wavering more and more with each sentence, was “I can’t use a gift card…I can’t use a gift card.”
“I’m sorry, that is the policy,” asserted the manager.
Completely beaten, I finally agreed. Just wanting to be rid of the stroller, and out of that store. I accepted my gift card and immediately left.
A few days later, I was able to gather myself and thought that I would try calling TRU to see if anything could be done. Upon speaking to a CSR (I found it easier to share with them my situation – I think not having to look someone in the eye and tell them the story was much easier), they were incredibly sympathetic and escalated me to an Executive Customer Service level. I left a message in a voice mail box, and received a call back a short time later. The ECSR was incredibly apologetic for my experience and understood why I couldn’t just flat out tell the employees my situation – especially with it still being so fresh. He gave me a case number and instructed me to go back to the BRU with this number, and they would be able to exchange my Gift Card for a full refund. My address would also be immediately removed from their mailing list for TRU and BRU coupons and ads. And that is exactly what happened and how it worked.
I want to make it clear that I am not fully defending TRU here. It certainly sounds like there needs to be some major internal improvements to better the online and in-store customer experience. But I do want to point out that even some of the worst offending companies still employ real people. And on occasion, those real people can still save the day and do what’s right.