Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Babies 'R Us & Target Fail

We'd been telling Elianna for the last couple of months that one of her birthday presents would be a new bed. She's been really excited about the prospect, and whenever you ask her what she's getting for her birthday she'll say excitedly that she's getting a bed.

Today, I went with Kayla to Babies 'R Us and Target near the Whitestone Expressway. I started walking the aisles of Babies 'R Us, and nowhere could I find the children's beds so nicely advertised online. After a while, I saw on the far side of the store, all the way up high, 4 children's beds. After searching vainly for someone to help me out, I found one worker who informed me that in fact, that was all they had in stock. Ordering the ones I'd seen online, he informed me, would take 7-14 days to get shipped. Disappointing, but understandable; it's unreasonable to expect them to carry every bed in stock. I went back, looked at the beds (or what I could see from 20 feet below them), and decided that two of them were possibilities for Elianna. I looked around again for someone to talk to, finally walking to the cashier area, where they told me that I needed to go to the furniture desk.

I walked over to the furniture desk, where there was nobody sitting, and waited, while keeping my eye out for an employee. After 5 minutes of noting not one worker within 150 feet of where I was standing, I walked back to the front of the store, found a couple of workers standing around, and mentioned the empty furniture desk; one of them pointed to a man helping a young lady in the stroller section and said he was the person I needed. After waiting a few more minutes, the man was available, we headed back to the furniture desk, and he asked what I was looking for.

I pointed out the two beds I'd thought would be appropriate, and after clicking around for a few minutes, he told me that they were out of stock, but he could order them - and it would take 7-14 days. I asked what the difference was between that and ordering online; he said "with online, you never know how long it will really take." Hmm. I asked how often they do have the beds in stock, and was told "Well, we never really have them in stock. Whenever anyone wants one, we just order it." I thanked him for the information and left the store.

What?! How bogus is that? If I wanted to order the product and wait a couple of weeks, I'd be using your website. I don't expect a store to carry at all times every product, but to never carry any of a product you're claiming to have in store is just wrong - especially when you're pretending on the shelves that you carry it in stock. Worse is the clicking around to "check" if it's in stock, when you already know that you don't carry a single one. Had I not asked how often they have it in stock, the implication would be that they usually have beds, but I picked an unlucky day. It's simply gross customer service and a disgusting way to run a business on the part of Babies 'R Us.

Afterward, we drove over to Target, which had diapers for Kayla at $12/box cheaper than Babies 'R Us did. I hope nobody buys diapers at Babies 'R Us - I actually laughed when I saw the price and realized it wasn't for two boxes. +2 points for Target... but they also get a -10 for the ultimate sin: Switching their plastic bags. One of the best things about Target has been one of the single most important traits for any shopper, especially if you're buying a lot of items as people tend to do at places like Target: Great, strong, durable plastic bags. As I was being rung up at the register today I noticed that the bags looked thinner, felt strange, and didn't seem as strong. Since Kayla's car seat was taking up part of the cart, I had to hold three of the bags in my hand as I wheeled out of the store. Sure enough, the handles immediately started to stretch apart, and a bag dropped. As I picked that one back up, another bag ripped apart completely. When I finally got a handle on all the items, my yarmulke flew off (of course), and was retrieved by a nice man who was randomly standing outside Target. (Side note: I never understood why there are always random people standing outside on that strip - there's nothing out there at all.)

I never understood why companies switch bags. The savings can't be that much at the bulk they're getting them, and as soon as people realize, they demand double bags every time. In addition, people become more and more frustrated with the store and - consciously or not - create bad associations with going to that store: "Oh man, it was so annoying to shlep out there, then the bags ripped, it was such a mess, and the baby was crying..." This is especially true if something breaks, as is bound to happen.

All in all, a poor, unsuccessful day of shopping. Sigh.