The Death of Toys ‘R’ Us – Not a Murder but a Suicide

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The Death of Toys 'R' Us - Not a Murder but a Suicide

News of the finan­cial prob­lems at Toys ‘R’ Us had been in my local news long before it became big national news, because we have a store in my area that peo­ple were con­cerned about clos­ing, back when the chain was sim­ply going to shut some stores in an effort to stay in busi­ness, before decid­ing to go out of busi­ness alto­gether as it this week it was declared that it will.

Much like a cer­tain failed U.S. Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Toys ‘R’ Us is blam­ing its cat­a­strophic fail­ure in every direc­tion except where the blame squarely lies — on itself. It wasn’t killed by Ama­zon, it wasn’t killed by Tar­get or Wal­mart, and it wasn’t killed by babies or a lack thereof. Toys ‘R’ Us killed itself, not only by fail­ing to adapt to a chang­ing mar­ket­place but also, and more impor­tantly, by fail­ing to pro­vide ade­quate cus­tomer ser­vice which would have gar­nered it some cus­tomer loyalty.

Shop­ping at a brick and mor­tar Toys ‘R’ Us store is a mis­er­able and stress­ful expe­ri­ence. At my local store the place was always in dis­ar­ray and there was never any­one to help. The check­out lines were always long and the employ­ees were often very clearly unhappy to be there. Nobody wants to shop some­place aggra­vat­ing if they can avoid it, and lots of peo­ple are will­ing to pay a lit­tle bit more some­place else to avoid a has­sle. Not to men­tion that the prices at the Toys ‘R’ Us were really not com­pet­i­tive at all so, for all the frus­tra­tion that shop­ping there entails, you weren’t even get­ting a good deal.

Shop­ping online at Toys ‘R’ Us, in my expe­ri­ence, was also an exer­cise in frus­tra­tion — the search func­tion on their site stinks, there is a long wait to get your item shipped for a fee, and you can’t opt to have your pur­chase shipped to the store for pickup — some­thing almost every kind of chain store does these days. There is no “app for that” with Toys ‘R’ Us, for peo­ple who like that sort of thing, which seems weird to me since there is an app for pretty much every­thing you can think of so it doesn’t seem like it would have been impos­si­ble for them to do even with their money problems.

The rea­son why Toys ‘R’ Us failed is because they failed the peo­ple who could have saved them; they failed their cus­tomers, often fail­ing them so egre­giously that they turned off many peo­ple from ever shop­ping at Toys ‘R’ Us ever again. Repeat cus­tomers can be the lifeblood of a busi­ness, but Toys ‘R’ Us had lit­tle inter­est in cus­tomer reten­tion over the years or they would have changed their hor­rid cor­po­rate cul­ture long before it became a pol­icy of retail suicide.

For a sam­pling of the real rea­sons why Toys ‘R’ Us is a failed busi­ness, have a look at some con­sumer com­plaints:

Beware of Toys R Us online, I ordered & paid for $105 worth of Cra-​Z-​Art Sound­Moovs arm bands/​electronics at Christ­mas, instead I received a $5 Thomas the train, huh?? After call­ing they cor­rected the order and sent me the arm­bands. Then the emails began, remind­ing me that I needed to return the arm­bands? Why would I return some­thing I pur­chased?? After call­ing AGAIN, they said I needed to return the Toy Train, via US Post office!!? Pain in the rear, but okay, it’s done right? SUR­PRISE, they have now charged me AGAIN another $105.00 for the same items I already paid for. They said, so sorry but it will be 10 days before my $105 is refunded. By the way, some of us don’t have an extra $105 dol­lars lay­ing around to sup­port oth­ers mis­takes. A cus­tomer for 10 years, I’ve spent thou­sands over that time in their store. Their apol­ogy gift to me? $10 off coupon for my next order… Sad, but there won’t be a next order. AMA­ZON it is…

Don’t ever buy online at Toys R Us! Ever!!! It’s been a month since I pur­chased 2 games for my son for Christ­mas and one of them was never shipped! I ordered the games on Thanks­giv­ing. I called to track it and auto­mated sys­tem told me it was shipped. I check the track­ing num­ber and item was never shipped. It just had a track­ing num­ber. I called again to asked for my refund and was promised it would take 48 hours to process for the credit. I called Dec 7, then again Dec 10, Then Dec 12th, then Dec 17, and then Dec 20 and Dec 27 and again today. It’s the 28th of Decem­ber and I’m still deal­ing with their lying asses over one month later. Each cus­tomer ser­vice rep said that they would fix my issue and it doesn’t get fixed. I never received an email that the order was can­celed or an email about my credit either. How many more times I would have to call to get my money back for a game that was never shipped?

What a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence!! We were told by really imma­ture store man­ager that they didn’t match prices when it says it in 8 foot tall let­ters on front win­dow!!! REALLY imma­ture, act­ing snarky, rolling eyes and shak­ing heads, we have grand­kids that like this store. Just a shame the com­pany can­not hire friend­lier peo­ple than this espe­cially since this is a “FAM­ILY STORE.”

There is MORE, and it indi­cates a pat­tern of an utter lack of con­cern for the cus­tomer; and you can­not sur­vive as a retail busi­ness if your stan­dard poli­cies serve mainly to step on and piss off your cus­tomers. Toys ‘R’ Us died entirely of self inflicted wounds. Let the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us serve as a cau­tion­ary tale about how not to have a strong and loyal cus­tomer base.

*******

MJ Steven­son, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla​.com. She lives in a wood­land shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her fam­ily and a large pack of guardian com­pan­ion ani­mals.

News of the financial problems at Toys ‘R’ Us had been in my local news long before it became big national news, because we have a store in my area that people were concerned about closing, back when the chain was simply going to shut some stores in an effort to stay in business, before deciding to go out of business altogether as it this week it was declared that it will.

Much like a certain failed U.S. Presidential candidate, Toys ‘R’ Us is blaming its catastrophic failure in every direction except where the blame squarely lies – on itself. It wasn’t killed by Amazon, it wasn’t killed by Target or Walmart, and it wasn’t killed by babies or a lack thereof. Toys ‘R’ Us killed itself, not only by failing to adapt to a changing marketplace but also, and more importantly, by failing to provide adequate customer service which would have garnered it some customer loyalty.

Shopping at a brick and mortar Toys ‘R’ Us store is a miserable and stressful experience. At my local store the place was always in disarray and there was never anyone to help. The checkout lines were always long and the employees were often very clearly unhappy to be there. Nobody wants to shop someplace aggravating if they can avoid it, and lots of people are willing to pay a little bit more someplace else to avoid a hassle. Not to mention that the prices at the Toys ‘R’ Us were really not competitive at all so, for all the frustration that shopping there entails, you weren’t even getting a good deal.

Shopping online at Toys ‘R’ Us, in my experience, was also an exercise in frustration – the search function on their site stinks, there is a long wait to get your item shipped for a fee, and you can’t opt to have your purchase shipped to the store for pickup – something almost every kind of chain store does these days. There is no “app for that” with Toys ‘R’ Us, for people who like that sort of thing, which seems weird to me since there is an app for pretty much everything you can think of so it doesn’t seem like it would have been impossible for them to do even with their money problems.

The reason why Toys ‘R’ Us failed is because they failed the people who could have saved them; they failed their customers, often failing them so egregiously that they turned off many people from ever shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us ever again. Repeat customers can be the lifeblood of a business, but Toys ‘R’ Us had little interest in customer retention over the years or they would have changed their horrid corporate culture long before it became a policy of retail suicide.

For a sampling of the real reasons why Toys ‘R’ Us is a failed business, have a look at some consumer complaints:

Beware of Toys R Us online, I ordered & paid for $105 worth of Cra-Z-Art SoundMoovs arm bands/electronics at Christmas, instead I received a $5 Thomas the train, huh?? After calling they corrected the order and sent me the armbands. Then the emails began, reminding me that I needed to return the armbands? Why would I return something I purchased?? After calling AGAIN, they said I needed to return the Toy Train, via US Post office!!? Pain in the rear, but okay, it’s done right? SURPRISE, they have now charged me AGAIN another $105.00 for the same items I already paid for. They said, so sorry but it will be 10 days before my $105 is refunded. By the way, some of us don’t have an extra $105 dollars laying around to support others mistakes. A customer for 10 years, I’ve spent thousands over that time in their store. Their apology gift to me? $10 off coupon for my next order… Sad, but there won’t be a next order. AMAZON it is…

Don’t ever buy online at Toys R Us! Ever!!! It’s been a month since I purchased 2 games for my son for Christmas and one of them was never shipped! I ordered the games on Thanksgiving. I called to track it and automated system told me it was shipped. I check the tracking number and item was never shipped. It just had a tracking number. I called again to asked for my refund and was promised it would take 48 hours to process for the credit. I called Dec 7, then again Dec 10, Then Dec 12th, then Dec 17, and then Dec 20 and Dec 27 and again today. It’s the 28th of December and I’m still dealing with their lying asses over one month later. Each customer service rep said that they would fix my issue and it doesn’t get fixed. I never received an email that the order was canceled or an email about my credit either. How many more times I would have to call to get my money back for a game that was never shipped?

What a terrible experience!! We were told by really immature store manager that they didn’t match prices when it says it in 8 foot tall letters on front window!!! REALLY immature, acting snarky, rolling eyes and shaking heads, we have grandkids that like this store. Just a shame the company cannot hire friendlier people than this especially since this is a “FAMILY STORE.”

There is MORE, and it indicates a pattern of an utter lack of concern for the customer; and you cannot survive as a retail business if your standard policies serve mainly to step on and piss off your customers. Toys ‘R’ Us died entirely of self inflicted wounds. Let the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us serve as a cautionary tale about how not to have a strong and loyal customer base.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.