Online Toys R Us Screw-up Makes Me Miss Out On Sale

Sarah says the Toys R Us website’s inability to determine whether or not items were in stock stopped her from taking advantage of a sale. She thought she got a “buy two, get one free” deal on baby nursery supplies, but discovered by email that it wasn’t the case.

She writes:

Normally I am a loyal Babies and Toys R Us customer. My son’s nursery is completely decorated in Babies R Us and my entire Christmas was purchased from Toys R Us. I went on Toy R Us website to begin Christmas shopping for next year and noticed a sale, but 2 get 1 free. After searching for 3 items priced closely together, I placed my order. Everything went through fine. At 3:30 the following day I received an email that 2 of my items were no longer available and therefore I was only being charged for one item. This results in me not getting the sale, which was the whole purpose of my order. I called customer service and was informed that because my order was placed the day before I could not cancel it or modify it. I told her I would like to add two more items to get the sale, but I was too late. I informed her that I was not notified of the change until today and she said there was nothing that could be done. I let her know that the items I had attempted to purchase were still showing available for shipping on the website. She told me “it just wasn’t updated yet”. If the advertised deal changed when I got to the register at a retail location, I could choose not to make the purchase. I was refunded my shipping charges, but if I want to return the item I will have to drive an hour because there are no Toys R Us retail locations where I live.

A week later, I went on the website and they are showing the item I was trying to purchase available under the same sale. I purchased 3 of the item, buy 2 get 1 free and oddly enough I am getting all three. If the item were coming back into stock, they should have just shipped them separately allowing me to have advantage of the advertised sale.

If you’ve been robbed of a deal you thought you were getting after the fact while ordering online, share your story in the comments.


Edit Your Comment

  1. What’s your problem, Kazanski? says:

    It’s unclear whether she’s received the original order yet. If not, refuse shipment and do a chargeback for the item.

    • nbs2 says:

      If it is anything like my recent order, they probably have it or are about to get it. With standard shipping (where “free” means up to $20), we got the first part of our order in two days and the larger second part in six days.

      TRU may be a lot of negative things, but slow to ship is not one of them.

    • Nisun says:


  2. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    “Three items priced closely together” vs “I purchased 3 of the item

    One of these things is not like the other.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Usually, they have a sale like “Buy 2 Lego Items, Get One Free!” Well, you are going to be charged full price on the highest 2 priced items, then the cheapest is for free. So you want to keep them within the same price, I try usually within a dollar. TRU sells how many different types of Lego items, so you could get 3 bionicle toys (like my son likes) but they might have a $1-$2 difference of price.

      It sounds like, the first time the OP ordered, they found 3 items in similar price to make the most of the B2GO sale. When they returned to the site a few days later, and reordered, they might have gotten the same “Item” they were looking for before and bought 3. Maybe the OP just didn’t write the letter well, and that the “item” is in fact, part of a line of products like the legos?

      Just speculating.

  3. PLATTWORX says:

    “My son’s nursery is completely decorated in Babies R Us and my entire Christmas was purchased from Toys R Us.”

    1. If so, you overpaid for most of this merchandise.

    2. You also state the nearest Toys R Us location would cause you to have to “to drive an hour” yet you seems to shop there often. Always online?

    Sadly, retailer web site are famous for horrid stock information. Someone is in stock, then out of stock, then in-stock hours later. I too have had orders cancelled for out of stock items they came right back into stock the next day.

    Over the holidays, I had an order from Best Buy that was backordered 2-3 weeks until I hit “submit” and it was magically in stock. JCPenney did something similar. Why inventory systems in 2011 can’t be updated instantly and know when new merchandise will be coming in to fullfill waiting orders escapes me.

    • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

      there is rather a lot of information about online orders that isn’t visible. most large scale inventory systems for retailers were invented in the 60’s and updated from then. even new companies buy the old stuff.

  4. Kibit says:

    I’m kinda confused why she would place a second order (with the same sale and same items) after having issues with the first order

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Maybe to confirm her suspicions- that the products were in stock, or shortly to become back in stock.

      Also, I think the bigger question is in my mind- why would the company change the order without first notifying the customer and giving them a chance to cancel it?

      “Unfortunately, a few items in your order are out of stock. We can send the items as the come back into stock (est. 5-7 business days), we can cancel that part of your order and only send the items that are in stock, or we can cancel your entire order. Please contact customer service by (insert email, number, etc) and give them your order number to complete transaction. If we do not hear from you within 36 hours, we will ship what we have in stock and send the remaining items as they become in stock.”

  5. Big Mama Pain says:

    I don’t understand why people become “loyal” to huge chain stores.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m extremely loyal to Amazon. It’s not a chain, but it’s probably the largest store in the world.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      The same way someone becomes loyal to a small, mom & pop shop. Prices, quick shipping, good customer service. Doesn’t matter if it’s right around the corner, or around the world. I’d rather buy from an online store than treats me great, than my local store that might have screwed me over.

      To each their own.

      • Chaosium says:

        “The same way someone becomes loyal to a small, mom & pop shop. Prices, quick shipping, good customer service.”

        This is not at all the same way, and none of that applies to big chains.

        This isn’t an Amazon, Newegg or Monoprice, this is a big dumb non-agile corporation.

        • nbs2 says:

          Plenty of that can apply to big chains. There may be variation from store to store, but my local TRU has great CS, and my one online order was shipped without problem. If I ever have another $50 off $100 worth of product coupon, and I have use for $100 worth of product, I’d do the online thing again. I get great prices and CS at my local Costco (although some CS folks are better than others). I haven’t used their online services.

          I’ve shopped at the local stores in my town (the downtown business district has a ban on chain stores), and CS has been varied from great to awful, prices have varied from outrageous to reasonable, and I don’t know what they will charge for shipping.

          There is no reason to be more or less loyal to a chain versus a local store. Sure, the chain is making $$$ while the local is making $. But the chain is also employing a lot more people from my community.

          Oh, and I love my local megamart. Great CS, mid-tier prices.

  6. danic512 says:

    I’m getting a bit tired of this “oh the site hasn’t updated yet” crap. It’s not that difficult for a large company to manage the number of items they have in stock, and dozens of big box retailers are able to do it every day of the week.

    Furthermore, how in the heck can they change the price charged for an item yet do it outside of a window to allow for cancellation? Why do we as a society put up with such shenanigans?

  7. CompyPaq says:

    Toys R Us’ website is managed by another company whose name I can’t remember right now (they also do Dick’s Sporting Goods). They are supposed to be fairly good with customer service, so I would call them back and escalate.

  8. Roloboto says:

    You should send them a strongly worded email!

  9. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Wasn’t ordered per se, but years and years ago I was trying to buy a television from Circuit City online. They didn’t usually carry it on the floor, but they did have it in stock in all stores… probably because it wouldn’t make them enough money.

    The product page said it was $799 and I added it to my cart. I was going through checkout and by the time I got to the end, right before “Confirm Order”, the price went up to $999. I called them up saying there was a bug that the price was changed in-flight and they said that, no, that television really was $999 and I was mistaken. When I went back to the product page, yup, they added $200 to the price.

    I was livid. Wrote a nasty letter, too. While I was burning off steam, my brother pointed out that Amazon sells TVs now (eh, obvious today but back then I didn’t think of it).

    Exact same model. $734, free shipping.


  10. Mcshonky says:

    ECB them.

    Include pictures of the bedroom showing how much you’ve spent and will continue to spend once this is resolved. Refuse shipment and charge back if unresolved.

    Your purchase is predicated on receiving your entire order.

    There is no reason that they can’t cancel your order since they effectively did that buy changing it a day later.


  11. BStu78 says:

    I’ve had an awful time with the TRU website lately. It rejects my credit card for no apparent reason. I nearly missed on a sale in November because of that. I discovered that as long as I stayed in the confirmation pages and didn’t return to my shopping card, it kept the sale prices. Eventually I was able to put the order through PayPal but I was livid when it kept rejecting me as the clock ticked down on the offer.

  12. framitz says:

    “Normally I am a loyal Babies and Toys R Us customer”

    There is part of the problem right there. Shop around and stop fretting over some minor bit of nonsense.

  13. shufflemoomin says:

    Two thing: She got one of the three things she bought, which means she got something she WANTED in the first place and she got her shipping charges refunded. Not too bad, actually. Secondly, I wish people would stop going on about much they shop somewhere. That does NOT entitle you to special treatment over anyone else. It makes you look elitist, arrogant and self-entitled. It’s the equivalent of using the ‘do you know who I am’ approach. It makes you look like a douche and for me personally, removes any sympathy I may had had for you.

  14. xscarfaceloux says:

    Shopping for next Christmas already? Was there NO CHANCE that the sale might have happened again that this was THAT urgent? These are the risks you take when you shop online as opposed to brick and mortar… Most online retailers either just cancel an order or just ship it…

  15. halo969 says:

    It sucks, but I just wouldn’t buy from them again. I’m not buying from Target online again after I ordered an MP3 player that showed in stock on Black Friday and was notified two weeks later that the item wouldn’t be in stock until February. Are you telling me Target didn’t know this for two weeks? What I think happened is they realized they were selling the item too cheaply (because it WAS a good deal) and decided to cop-out so I wouldn’t get it. I ended up canceling the order and won’t buy from them again online. I do like their retail stores though.

  16. common_sense84 says:

    Next time do a charge back and keep your free item. You do not have to go out of your way returning something when they refused to cancel the order.

  17. shadmed says:

    That was a poorly redacted email. But anyway, let’s break it down:

    1. “Normally a loyal Babies and Toys R Us customer”. First problem. I’m not usually loyal to big chain stores. I prefer to buy locally or from some smaller chains. Big chains usually have bad employees and just regular customer service overall. They don’t care if they lose one customer.

    2. I don’t understand why you made two orders? Was it just because you were trying? Were the orders of the same item or different? Like another commenter pointed out “3 items priced closely together” and “3 of the item” are not the same situation.

    3. Christmas shopping for next year? What? I know of people trying to get ahead of things but this is a bit too much. A lot of items are released during the year, and probably someone wants something that was released over the summer or spring.

    I’m sorry you missed out on the deal, but again, a lot of big companies don’t stand behind their names.

  18. AgeOwns says:

    I was attempting to get the Hexbug Nano environment that was exclusive to Toys R Us for my son for Christmas (this was the only set with a spiral ramp). It was on sale for $40 down from $50, but the sale ended on Saturday. I went in to TRU on Friday to pick one up. The clerk’s computer claimed that there were four available in stock, but we could not find them on the shelf. He told me that the next nearest location (20 minutes away) had 26 in stock.

    It was close to 11:00 at night, so I decided to go get the set the next day before the sale ended. However, I did not want to risk them selling out, so I went online, made the purchase, and selected store pick-up. They didn’t offer store pick-up at some locations because they were out of stock, so I was under the impression it would be available at this location. I call the store at about 8:00 the next morning (they were open until 1am and opened up again at 6am) inquiring about my pick-up that is supposed to take 2 hours. They said they were working on it, and an email would be coming soon.

    I waited another hour or so and drove down to this Toys R Us, and purchased the bug set right off the shelf myself. (at the sale price of $40)

    Two hours after THAT (11:30 am) I received an email from Toys R Us saying that they were unable to fulfill my order because it was sold out. It was more than 12 hours since I had placed the order!

    Two days later I was back at the original toys r us picking out Toys For Tots, and I saw the three “missing” sets were back on the shelf where they belonged… now that the sale was off and it was back up to $50.

    Real nice Toys R Us, real nice.

    Unfortunately this set was a TRU exclusive, so I couldn’t grab it from anywhere else.
    (it was a huuuuge hit Christmas morning)

  19. mobiuschic42 says:

    There are definitely better ways to handle this. Old Navy recently had a “buy one sweater, get one free” deal on their online store, so I order a couple sweaters. It turned out that one of them was out of stock, but they still gave me the other one for free. I’m wearing it now!

  20. hqueen22 says:

    I had this happen with online Black Friday sales! The difference… it took them 2 weeks to email me the cancellation notice. When I called customer service, they ordered me one to be picked up at a local store and honored the same price (after I annoyed them enough to change the price). Two hours later, I received a confirmation email cancelling the new order the customer service person just authorized! I called back… the new CS person informed me they could order from the store but she helped find a different store that carried the product. She then said I could call the store directly and tell them the situation and they would put it on hold. I called immediately, and they wouldn’t put it on hold and said it was against policy since I was not physically in the store… they also didn’t care that CS had told me to call. I called CS back to complain at which time I was finally given a reference # and told someone would contact me in 5 business days to address my issue. That was on December 9th… they finally contacted me 3 days ago on January 5th. Thank goodness I didn’t wait around for them to contact me and ordered it on Amazon!!!!