Toys "R" Us Unable To Explain Why "All Video Games" Means "Some Video Games"

Toys “R” Us is not doing a very good job of explaining why an ad advertising a special that applies to “ALL Video Games $19.99 or less” only applies to some video games that are “$19.99 or less.” Reader Laura says that not only are they unable to explain how “ALL” means “some,” they aren’t able to understand why she is upset.

Laura writes:

I just got off the phone with Toys R Us customer service. On the main page for video games it states “Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free on ALL video games $19.99 or less while supplies last”

However, when you click on that, it only gives you selected video games that are $19.99 or less. If you add other games (which I assumed were included in ALL video games) they are not eligible.
Customer service was no help. They just kept stating that it was only certain games and couldn’t comprehend why I was unhappy with the misleading banner ad.

It’s not ok for Toys “R” Us to write “ALL” and mean “some.” You could report Toys “R” Us to the FTC, if you like. It’ll probably be the easiest case they’ll have all day.

You can also report the company to your state’s attorney general or department of consumer affairs.

FTC Online Complaint Form


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mfalconieri says:

    I have to give them credit for staying in business this long. Since the internet, I just like most people do my shopping on the net. Plus I will not go within a 20 mile radius of a Toys store once October comes.

    I thought I would be telling my grand kids about this magical place I went to when I was little called “Toys R Us”.

    • brent_r says:

      The problem is you have a distorted view of reality.

      You believe that most people do their shopping on the net just because you do, and that just isn’t the case.

      Many people don’t shop on the net at all, some people don’t even own computers.
      The vast majority of people who do buy things online only buy certain things, most of their purchases are still offline in real stores.

      And folks like yourself, who exclusively shop online?
      You are a very, very, tiny minority.

      • dakotad555 says:


        Another reason not to shop in brick-and-mortar stores is they over charge. I buy online because it is easier, saves gas, and things are generally a lot cheaper.

        I don’t think Mfalconieri is in the extreme minority at all.

  2. Steve626 says:

    I don’t know, I can read it to mean that all of their video games which are priced $19.99 or less are included in the sale. Not that all of their video games are priced $19.99.

    • kmn842 says:

      @Steve626: I read it the same way. The video games that are priced below $20 are on sale. Better wording (but less efficient use of advertising space) would have been “Buy 2 get the 3rd free on ALL Video Games that are $19.99 or less”. The $19.99 or less is a conditional statement (if they are $19.99 or less, then they qualify), not a price declaration (they are $19.99 or less).

      • BlondeGrlz says:

        @kmn842: But that’s the complaint. The sale DOESN’T apply to “ALL Video Games that are $19.99 or less” even though it says it does. She’s not saying all the video games in the store should be $19.99 or less, just that the ones that are should all be included.

  3. ironchef says:

    they forgot to add ALL “you see here”

  4. TPS Reporter says:

    I’m not sure if the OP thinks that ALL their video games are priced at 19.99 or if only the video games priced at 19.99 are buy 2, get 1 free. Because it says that ALL video games regular priced at 19.99 are buy 2, get 1 free.

  5. crazedhare says:

    I think there is a misunderstanding of the OP here, and I went to the Toys R Us website to see for myself.

    I believe the OP correctly interprets that the Ad should mean “On all video games that are priced $19.99 or less, 3 for 2”. I do not think OP is saying that all video games, regardless of price, should be 3 for 2.

    I went to the Toys R Us website and attempted to use the 3 for 2 on certain video games, less than $19.99, but not listed. They were NOT 3 for 2. So, I think OP’s complaint is valid.

    • Gradel says:

      @bunnymare: Agreed. The terms for the promotion can be found here:


      It clearly states all games $19.99 or less are included, but if you try and add games (try some PS3 titles like Beowulf), they clearly do not qualify. This is a legit complaint.

  6. rock122 says:

    Guys the OP is not complaining that he/she couldn’t get any game in the store for $20, did anyone even read the ad?

    The complaint is that in the ad it says that ALL video games that are already $20 are buy 2 get the 3rd free. However when you click the coupon you only get a choice of a small selection of $20 games to choose from, the other $20 games don’t work despite it saying any $20 games work with the buy 2 get the 3rd free… that’s the problem.

  7. Zanorfes says:

    Remember FAO Schwartz? They were even better than Toy’s R’ Us yet they went belly up years ago. I still can’t get how Toys R Us still stays in business.

  8. Farquar says:

    Because of the lack of clarity in this article I’m not sure everyone is on the same page. So, Meg, clarify.

    Is it:
    A: OP is upset because she wanted to purchase games that were priced higher than 19.99 for 19.99?

    B: OP is upset because she wanted to purchase games that were priced higher than 19.99 in the 3 for 2 sale, but willing to pay more than 19.99 for those games.

    C: OP is upset because she wanted to purchase games that were priced 19.99 or below in the sale and Toys R Us was beligerant.

    I assume its C, as thats the only thing that makes sense, though others above seem to think that it’s A, or perhaps B.

    • y2julio says:

      @Farquar: It’s Option A.

      • CarnageSIS says:

        @y2julio: It’s option D.

        D: OP is update because she wanted to purchase games that were priced 19.99 or below, but were not in the list provided when the banner ad for the sale was clicked on.

        Since the ad says ALL games that should mean that any video game she can find on the site 19.99 or less should be included in the sale. This is apparently not the case.

    • lorelai pucik says:

      @Farquar: No, it’s actuall@y2julio: No, it’s actually option C (I just confirmed it on their website).

      Yes, it is a confusingly written complaint.

      However, in some places the Toys R Us website now says that the sale is for “*Select* Video games priced $19.99 or less.”

      If you try to by a game that is $19.99 or less, but is not on the approved list, the discount won’t work. The banner ad is, in fact, misleading – it’s a selection of games $19.99 or less, not all games $19.99 or less that’s on sale.

  9. y2julio says:

    The promo is that all video games that are priced at $19.99 are buy two get one free. Don’t see how that’s hard to understand. Seems like the OP is trying to be slick.

    • MissTicklebritches says:

      @y2julio: No, she isn’t. She’s trying to buy some of the games priced at $19.99 and take advantage of the deal that says all games at that price are 3 for the price of 2, but some of the games priced at $19.99 are not included.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @y2julio: Do you read? At all? The OP is complaining because not all games that are priced $19.99 are included in the sale. Go to Toys ‘R’ Us’ website if you want to see for yourself, the link is provided by Gradel. Try researching the issue sometime before you run around making ignorant assumptions.

    • AwesomeJerkface says:

      Funny, that’s exactly what she’s saying the ad claims, and that’s not what she’s getting.

      I don’t see how that’s hard to understand. Seems like your reply is trying to be slick.

  10. crazymatt1 says:

    @ everybody:

    What the OP is saying (and is actually happening — I confirmed it myself) is that not all $19.99 games are working for the Buy 2/Get 1 deal.

    It seems to be excluding all M-rated games.

  11. Ouze says:

    I’m having a difficult time understanding the confusion here. If what you say is

    “If you add other games (which I assumed were included in ALL video games) they are not eligible.”

    when what you mean is

    ” If you add other games (that cost more then $19.99) (which I assumed were included in ALL video games) they are not eligible.”

    then it’s not at all confusing as written. It clearly means buy 3 $20 games, get a third free.

    If however, what mean is

    “If you add other games (also costing $19.99) (which I assumed were included in ALL video games) they are not eligible.”

    Then I’d agree, conusing.

    • CarnageSIS says:

      @Ouze: As the OP stated when she goes in under the FREE offer there is a limited selection of $19.99 or less video games.

      However, if you go straight into the video games there are games that are $19.99 or less that do not appear when the FREE offer banner is clicked on.

      She tried to add other video games that were also listed as $19.99 or less, but since they were not on the list provided when the add was clicked on they are ineligable for the buy 2 get the 3rd free discount.

  12. jamesdenver says:

    Ya know times I like this is when I want to leave cash on the counter, grab my purchase, hop on my bike and just leave.

    Let them call the police.

  13. johnnya2 says:

    *Free item must be of equal or lesser value to the lowest priced item purchased. Offers cannot be mixed and matched. Limited quantities available. Sorry, no rain checks.

    If the reader is trying to get one video for free and buying two others that are under $19.99 then she may have a gripe.

  14. Hongfiately says:

    Reminds me of billboards I see that say “EVERYONE’S Gone Choctaw!” (A casino in Oklahoma). I haven’t gone yet, so…

    Not to throw too big of a monkey in the wrench here, but what are the rules of advertising that cover uses of “ALL” and “EVERYONE” when the facts are “SOME”?

  15. What The Geek says:

    Now, I’m not trying to validate what Toys R’ Us did here, but I may be able to shed some light on how it happened.

    Retailers have corporate marketing departments in charge of setting up sales. Often times, one person or department will be in charge of setting up the actual terms of the sale (as in which games are on sale) and another person or department will be in charge of creating the ad for the sale. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the two arms of the marketing department and a sale with excluded items gets an add banner for ALL items, which appears to be what happened here. I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not saying Toys R’ Us should get a pass on this, just that it was most likely a mistake brought about by a lack of communication between two people or departments in an office somewhere far far away.

  16. BillyShears says:

    I think in my pre-coffee haze, I may have ironically misinterpreted the complaint about the ad. Nevermind. :)

  17. wiggatron says:

    The way I understand this article is that, there are a great many games priced at 19.99 or less on the TrU site, but only a certain percentage of said games seem to be eligible for the “buy two, get one” discount. So when the OP tries to add a $19.99 game(s) to the cart that isn’t on the list of games included in the sale/offer, she doesn’t get the discount that is advertised (i.e. 3 for 2 on all games priced 19.99 and lower, not all games period)

  18. Erwos says:

    Funny, I ran into this just the other day. I was gonna buy Chrono Cross, Virtua Fighter 5, and Final Fantasy Origins. FOILED!

    This is the same banner they were using for the last such sale, which WAS as advertised. Definitely a screw-up on TRU’s part.

  19. Daemonstar says:

    The confusion looks like a mix up between the online ad differing from the printed circular. The online ad on their main page makes no mention of “all video games $19.99 or less” like the newspaper ad does. When you go to the web page to make your selection, the video game link says “Select Video Games Priced $19.99 Or Less”.

    • dakotad555 says:

      @verafides: That makes no sense at all, and would not stand up to legal review in a court case. The contract presented is simple: All video games 19.99 and less = buy 2 get 1 free. The one free is defined by the class presented in the contract, namely video games $19.99 and less. There is no room for any other interpertation.

  20. MoreFunThanToast says:

    it did say ON all video games 19.99 or less. I suppose they put the emphasis on ALL rather than on?

  21. randombob says:

    I fail to see how anyone can NOT see what the OP is saying: Toys R Us is saying ALL $19.99 (or less) video games are B2G1F. However not ALL $19.99 video games are being honored as such.

    Clear-cut as that.

  22. vastrightwing says:

    Try going in to Best Buy and take advantage of a special. You’ll want to drink the cool aid very quickly after you realize that coupon isn’t really what you thought and the store sign didn’t mean what you thought. Only the sales people and the checkout staff know there is no special and all you want is your new item and you’ll do whatever they want before you leave.

  23. ARPRINCE says:

    Yeah the OP has a legitimate gripe on that online ad. It should have stated “SELECT video games $19.99 or less….”

  24. MSUHitman says:

    With these TRU deals online about buy 2 get 1 free, they always limit the selection. If you go into the brick and mortar, you will have the selection of what’s in the entire store.

    Don’t forget that there will be a buy 2 get 1 free on ALL games in Oct. They’ve done it every year since 03. That’s usually how I deal with the deluge of new games in the fall.

  25. verafides says:

    Oddly enough, I happen to be a formal semanticist (someone that specializes in language and meaning).

    Toys R’ Us is correct, actually, in the sense that the sign means that it applies only to those games 19.99 and below. The trick has to do with how you define the domain of “ALL.” The customer wants “ALL” to have a true universal definition – ALL of everything. So when I say something out of the blue like “All men like tofu.” I mean “Everyone that a man likes tofu.” However, if we have a context where we’re talking about the men in the room, I can make the “All” apply only to them – “All men in the room like tofu.”

    Toys R Us put a qualifying phrase on their “All.” “All games 19.99 or less.” That’s the same as “All men in the room.” They’ve restricted the domain of the word “All” to apply ony to videogames.

    So that means, unfortunately, that you don’t have a leg to stand on, and they would win in court.

    Unless of course, you want to contend that your version of English allows sentences like “All the money in your pocket belongs to me” to mean “Every piece of money you own anywhere in the world belongs to me.” Which I suspect you don’t.

    • NinjaMarion says:

      @verafides: No. Just no. That’s not how language works at all. If you say “ALL videogames $19.99 or less,” that is what it should mean. That means that every videogame they sell that is $19.99 or less should count. Using your specific analogy, that’s as if you say “ALL men like tofu,” referring to all the men in the current room, and then I point out the two guys in the corner of the room vomiting at the mere sight of tofu, which you then ignore and continue claiming all the men in the room like tofu.

      They put their qualifying phrase on their use of all, but they aren’t honoring the qualifier. They very clearly say that all games that are priced $19.99 or less are eligible. Then when you try to buy some of their games that are $19.99 or less, they aren’t allowing you the 3 for 2 promotion. They are definitively in the wrong.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @verafides: from the way the OP phrased it, it doesn’t sound to me like she was trying to add board games or marbles. she seems to be using the term ‘games’ to mean video games because she interchanges them in the same sentence:
      “If you add other games (which I assumed were included in ALL video games) they are not eligible.”
      which would indicate to me that she was trying to add video games which were priced at $19.99 or less to the order and they were not being included in the promotion. even using your definition, ” ‘ALL’ video games $19.99 or less” encompasses what she was trying to do, in the way i read her statement

    • BumpinUgglas says:

      @verafides: Oddly enough, for a formal semanticist, your definition of “reading comprehension” and mine do not seem to match up.

    • crazedhare says:

      “Oddly enough, I happen to be a formal semanticist (someone that specializes in language and meaning).”

      That is odd, considering you have such a poor sense of language and meaning.

    • ogsoleysol says:

      @verafides: Given the fact that what you mean is that “[E]veryone that a man likes tofu,” I take little stock in your expertise.

    • ARPRINCE says:

      @verafides: Haha… made me laugh on your analogy. You may have a point there but your point is pointless. ;)

      The OP is only referring to video games $19.99 or less and nothing else. The thing is, if you go to ToysRUs website, there are video games less than $19.99 that are excluded from this deal! So it’s not ALL but SOME!

  26. Ouze says:

    n sd nt, M, t’s nsmly fr wbst sch s th Cnsmrst t hv pstd th stry s t ws wrttn. T b n strng vc fr cnsmrs, y hv t spk frm pstn f rspct nd pwr. Th pwr y hv: Y cn nhnc th rspct wth lttl bsc dtng ∓ prfrdng (n nvlbl skll fr bth blggrs nd cnsmrs cntctng bsnsss wth grvncs!)

    Jdgng by th frst, sy, 25 r s cmmnts, ‘m nt ln n thnkng ths pst s cnfsng s hll s crrntly wrttn.

    • Nofsdad says:

      @Ouze: The way the post is written would appear to have nothing to do with it. Is the AD misleading or not? That’s what any discussion should be about and what the original post is about.

      The OP obviously feels that the ad itself was misleading. Was it or wasn’t it? Trying to second guess the OP or analyze some hidden motives the OP might or might not have brings nothing to thee discussions.

  27. dieselman8 says:

    Srry Cnsmrst, bt knw ‘m nt ln whn sy tht th d s prtty dmn clr.

    Y gys shld b bt mr slctv whn dcdng whch cnsmr grp t pnc n. t’s psts lk ths tht mk m qstn th crdblty f ths blg.

    • xkaluv says:

      @dieselman8: What are you talking about? The gripe is good. The ad says on ALL games $19.99 or less and they aren’t honoring the ad text. Maybe they made a mistake, if so they should change it… but they DEFINATELY need to honor the sale. Honestly!?! They are going to sell 2 games, plenty of profit and less bad press… it’s worth the investment.

    • BillyShears says:

      I’m gonna have to agree. The ad is pretty clear, taking it to mean that all games are now suddenly $19.99 is a pretty big leap.

      That said, they should idiot-proof the next one and just take out the word “all.” The point is still made without it.

      • mmyykkee says:

        @BillyShears: Right… If you buy two games (priced $19.99 or less), you get a third game (priced $19.99 or less) for free. The word “on” before the word “ALL” gives it away.

        ALL of the $19.99 games = SOME of the games sold at Toys R Us.

      • @dieselman8: If I’m reading this correctly the problem is that not all $19.99 [or less] games are available in this promotion–not that the customer thought all games should be $19.99 or less. If the customer thought all games should be $19.99 or less that would be an issue, but if they expect this promotion to be available to *ALL* games *priced $19.99 or less* they are well within their rights to do so!

        That’s exactly what the ad offers.

    • JMB says:

      @dieselman8: Really? The retailer is offering a promotion that says all video games $19.99 or less are eligible for the Buy 2, Get 3rd Free promotion. Yet, when you try to take advantage of the promotion, only certain titles priced at $19.99 are included.

      Yes, the ad is clear. It’s the execution of it that isn’t.

    • catcherintheeye says:

      @dieselman8: They reported the problem and offered solutions for the consumer.

      What are you talking about?

  28. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    thnk t’s lck f pncttn tht s cnfsng.. t dsn’t mn tht LL vd gms r 19.99 r lss, t mns tht ll vd gms tht hppn t b 19.99 r lss r by 2 gt n fr.

    • VaMPKiSS1 says:

      @Kimaroo: You took the words out of my mouth while I was busy logging in lol. But yeah, it’s not that hard to read the wording correctly.

      • The Folding Chair Security Intern says:

        @VaMPKiSS1: This is a pretty poorly written complaint, but I took it to mean there’s a selection of games under $20, but there’s another subsection of THOSE which are actually B2G1. If that’s the case, it’s a legit gripe.

      • JMB says:

        @VaMPKiSS1: I think the problem is that there are some games (priced at $19.99) that are not included in this promotion. I went to the Toys ‘R Us site, and when you click on the banner, it brings up the games that are included (which is not all of the games that are $19.99 or less).

    • MissPeacock says:

      @Kimaroo: I read her letter as saying that she was adding other $19.99 games that weren’t on the main sale page, and they weren’t including THEM in the promotion as well.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @Kimaroo: Your phrase states the exact same thing the ad does. The OP is not complaining because all titles are not $19.99. The OP is complaining that not all $19.99 video games can be used in the buy 2 get 1 promotion.

  29. Kounji says:

    I seriously don’t get why its so hard for people who work in ad departments to not make this stuff non confusing. All they had to do was do Buy 2 get 3 free on SELECT video games 19.99 or less

  30. Angryrider says:

    …The TRU site is very different in-store. Can’t even bloody check store inventory.

  31. ogsoleysol says:

    OP is right. Toy ‘R’ Us is wrong. Anyone who disagrees needs to learn to read. Seriously…

  32. aurf says:

    As younger people get old enough to shop I think we see the amount of people shopping online grow and the amount of people terrified of them internets and credit card/identity stealing goblins growing smaller.

    Just like print media finds life hard these days I think a lot of (but not all) brick and mortars will find themselves in the same position eventually. Though I don’t think that will happen soon.

  33. legolasfan411 says:

    I love to hear these Toysrus stories, especially since I work there and deal with these type of customers all the time. I just have a few things to point on on this deal and deals at pretty much ALL stores:

    1) Read the signs. So far this since the sale started on Sunday I have already had more then a dozen people come to my register with games priced over 19.99 because they didn’t read the sign, then they go and start making accusations about it not being on the sign, which it is, in bold, underneath the buy 2 get 1 free part.

    2) Sales CANNOT be combined. There are some instances were there is a glitch in the system and sales will be combines with another sale, but with this particular one, if a game is on sale for $9.99 or $14.99, then it will not come off for free with the other 2 games, its just how it works, although I did have it fixed for a few customers, so its better off going into the store a lot of the time. Also as a consumer try to be a little nicer, too many peolpe come into stores, especially in NJ, with very bad attitudes, I am also consumer and im just doing my job at work, so a little consideration would be appreciated, I have NO control over what we have and don’t have in stock, especialy things like Nintendo Wii’s, if we only get them on Sunday’s, then you have to come get one on Sunday, we can’t hold them for you, sell them to you early, or make any other exception, there are thousands of people that want these things, if you are too lazy to get one on the day we have them, then you don’t deserve to have one.

  34. Meathamper says:

    I guess they don’t know what the word ‘dictionary’ means too.