Is losing a lifetime customer worth $10?

I have been a customer of Toys R Us for 33 years. I have fond childhood memories of begging my mom to take me down to Toys R Us in Culver city to buy me some Legos. Now that I have a daughter, I thought it was kind of cool that I can now take her to the very same Culver City Toys R Us that my mom took me to as a kid.

Sadly, that era is over. I will no longer be going to Toys R Us becuase they clearly don’t value their customers’ loyalty. Back when my daughter was born, I joined their “Rewards” Club. You basically earn points and they send you coupons and reward certificates for $5 of $10 depending on how much you bought from them. The problem is that they have a limited expiration date. They usually expire 3-4 weeks after they arrive in the mail. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to use these stupid coupons and the cashier points out the expiration date in fine print and tell you you are SOL. While it is perfectly legal to put expiration dates on coupons, why put such a limited time on them, especially for “rewards” I have supposedly earned?

They also do a promo where they will give you a $10 gift card when you buy two boxes of diapers. Today I went to Toys R Us with one of those $10 gift cards in hand and went to buy my daughter’s Christmas gift. When the cashier tried to put the gift card through, it did not work. Even though expiration dates on gift cards are ILLEGAL in California, they refused to honor it and I am not alone. Since I did not want to hold up the horrifically long line and knowing the managers at Toys R Us care even less than the cashiers, I paid for my daughter’s gift and left.

To hell with nostalgia, I am tired of being abused by these idiots. Toys R Us has lost a lifetime customer  who was likely to spend thousands of dollars over the next 10 years on toys for his daughter over TEN DOLLARS! Unfortunately this penny wise, pound foolish attitude is a disease that plagues most retail businesses.

I am a huge fan of Amazon. While I have never spoken to a human being at Amazon, I have never had to because they never fail to ship on time, they have everything in stock and their user-friendly web site makes things like returning goods a breeze.Given the competition from web-based stores like Amazon who have got them beat on price and selection,the only way these brick and mortar stores can compete is on customer service.

While I don’t work in retail, I will BEND OVER BACKWARDS for my clients. I treat them like GOLD. Without them I would be BROKE. Despite what the majority of corporate America thinks, you can provide exceptional customer service and still make a great profit. Just look at Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, and even my employer, Cisco Systems.

So goodbye Toys R Us, it’s been swell but I wont be abused and swindled anymore.

By the way, the item I bought at Toys R Us today is $8 cheaper at Amazon (plus no sales tax). I will be ordering the item from Amazon and returning the one I bought at Toys R Us. I save $14 and Toys R Us does not get to keep my money. Did I mention how much I LOVE Amazon?

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