December 10, 2007

TOYS R US invades my privacy

Posted in Customer Lack of Service, Fatherhood, Life in Los Angeles, Toys at 8:54 pm by loolar

Toys R Us attempted to invade our privacy this last weekend.

So on Saturday, Catherine and Logan and I attended a birthday party for the son of our friends, who is about Logan’s age (i.e., just turned one).

A pleasant surprise was that one of the attendees remembered that Logan had just celebrated his birthday, and so presented us with a gift – a $25 gift card to Toys R Us.

Another thing we encountered was that most of the other kids, all a month older or younger than Logan, were already walking, while our son is still a crawler. The mother of the birthday boy showed us his “shoes,” little leather slipper type things with an elastic band. They stay on easily, and provide good feedback through the soles as the little feet are still figuring out how to stay up. We thought they looked like a great solution, especially since our day care center has just told us shoes are required at his new age bracket.

So on the way home, we decided to stop in at Toys R Us and see if we couldn’t find those shoes. Success! Two pairs, at $12.99 each (turns out they were on sale, $3.90 off, for $9.09). We grabbed two pairs and a pack of socks and got into line.

The guy ahead of us used his credit card to pay, and the cashier asked him for his phone number. Interesting, I thought – didn’t they used to ask for the zip code? Well, either way, I knew I would decline to participate. For one thing, I don’t appreciate sharing personal information in front of strangers (the others in line behind us), and for another, a zip code is bad enough – but a phone number? Why would they need that? I shrugged it off as perhaps something to do with his credit card.

Our items scanned in at $25.08 – just 8 cents more than the gift card. Oh well, I break out a buck and hand it to him. Politely, he takes it. The rest of the exchange needs to be given verbatim:

TRU Employee (TRUE?): Thanks. And I need your phone number.

Me: Oh. Well, I decline, thanks.

TRUE: No, I need it.

Me: I’m sorry?

TRUE: I need your phone number to finish the transaction.

Me: Well, I don’t want to give it to you.

TRUE: It’s not me; it’s the computer – it won’t let me finish without a phone number.

Me: For eight cents? Fine… five five five…

(you saw that one coming, right?)

TRUE (interrupting): Yeah, it won’t accept that.

(so this policy has pissed off enough people that so many customers have already tried giving the information number, to the point where this poor minimum wage sap has a reflex reaction to it?)

Man behind me: They want your phone number?

Me: Yeah, he says the computer won’t do the transaction without it.

Man: Unreal.

Man’s wife: Just give them my work number.

Man: Yeah, it’s 661-(I don’t remember the rest, but it was a suitably neutral sounding switchboard number, e.g., ending in a bunch of the same number).

And so we got out of there. I was honestly considering if we were going to walk out when they intervened.

Toys R Us is getting more and more obnoxious.

Our last nightmare experience was how they refused to take certain returns if the items had been bought online (we encountered this trying to return items from our registry on Babies R Us – extras, duplicates, etc.). Not only would they not take “web only” items, we were informed we would have to pay to ship them back, and that the merchandise credit would go to the person who had bought the gift – not us!

What moronic, sub-human, worm-brained, feces-chewing, sniveling twit thought this was remotely customer friendly – and what boob manager approved the idea?

We were faced with returning a $200 crib that would have cost us $75 to ship, and the credit would have gone to the person who gave it to us, not only giving us nothing in return, but embarrassing us to the generous party who had bought it. Yes, we had the baby registry, yes, the item had been bought through our registry, yes, we could prove who we were – and yet still, in an attempt at “fraud protection,” we were treated like so much dirt.

As for this latest twist of imbecilic idiocy, what possible reason can there be for demanding my phone number? Further identity verification in the case of an attempted return? If I have a valid receipt, why isn’t that enough? And for the guy with the credit card, why isn’t his credit card and the receipt enough (or his zip code matching his billing address?)

My zip code, I can see (though still can’t abide), as they try to see where their customers are coming from. But my phone number?

Simply unacceptable. I’d love to hear some comments on this – but my feeling is that we’re done shopping with Toys R Us.


  1. George Bush said,

    I always give out 202 454 1414. .

  2. Adam said,

    and what’s this “must enter your email to comment thing, Mr. Kettle?” 🙂

  3. rob sama said,

    Oh don’t be stupid Adam.

    When we went to the mall to buy bathing suits for our trip to Belize, the attendant tried asking for phone number, address, all sorts of shit. I nearly screamed FU at her. I did explain that there is no such requirement for you to be able to sell us a bathing suit. She said fine, but that if we needed to return it for any reason, they wouldn’t take it back unless we provided that information at the time of return. So they’re blackmailing you for your life details, should you need to return an item. Unreal.

    What really gets me are the “discount” cards that the supermarkets, and even CVS require to go shopping. Otherwise they overcharge you randomly throughout the supermarket. If I’m going to get overcharged, I may as well go to Whole Foods, which seems to know better than to ask for such information, and provides a generally better shopping experience.

  4. Wordman said,

    For about seven years or so, had a list of fictional facts about a made up identity in my head. Phone, address, email (all verified to be _really_ fictional, i.e. they didn’t actually exist), SSN, birthday, etc. The idea was that, if I provided this information in enough places, how long would it be before that made up person actually existed?

    Plus, one of the big pains in the “tracking your personal crap” industry is culling out records that are bad. So the more fake crap they have, the more it costs them.

    A subtly here is to slightly change information each time if you can (e.g. “1 Main Street” vs. “One Main St.”). This produces even more cost, because there is a lot of work that goes into seeing if similar entries are really the same entry. (Ever get two of the same catalog in the mail? This is usually why.)

    Also, a trick used by some magazine companies to track their competition: subscribe to a magazine with a specific name and address pattern that you don’t otherwise use. Then see what other mail you get with that address pattern. You can see from this to whom your information is being sold (a little bit, at least). You can do the same thing to track companies who ask for into, if you are willing to actually receive their crap somewhere.

    I wonder if there is a junk mail recycler company. They could run a service where they supply fake addresses that you can give various companies, then track what shows up, recycle it properly, the sell information about what the companies are doing with their information to their competitors.

  5. Jeff Herrold said,

    I think Adam’s comment is regarding my past post about sites asking for too much info – but in that case, it was having to register just to view. While I have security enabled to ask for your email to POST, I don’t think that’s a bad deal. You can view this site all you like without having to register, which was my problem with the other sites.

  6. I have always avoided Toys R Us but now I have a legitimate reason to continue doing so. Asking for a phone number is completely intrusive and it should be enough to persuade people to stop purchasing from them. I do not blame you at all for refusing.

  7. e said,

    You can also see the home address of anyone with a gift registry online if you start to buy something, and when i called customer service with a question, the very first thing they asked was what’s my phone number, before i’d even mentioned what i was calling about. they don’t need my phone number!

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