Toys R Us dies the way it lived: disappointing children

Guess who got stuck holding a Toys R Us gift card?

No, it wasn’t me. That would have been sad.

It was my nine-year-old son. That’s even sadder.

Last weekend Big Brother decided it was time to buy a new game for the PS4 he got for Christmas. He dug through his wallet to count his money. In the midst of digging, he exclaimed, “We can just get a game from Toys R Us. I have a gift card!”

He produced a bright, festive, probably worthless, Toys R Us gift card with the unfulfillable words, “happy birthday” emblazoned across it. He must have got it at his party last summer.


What kid doesn’t want a lesson in bankruptcy law for his birthday?

I knew Toys R Us is going out of business, and even though they are still selling toys for cash money, some bankruptcy court somewhere had given them the right to refuse their own gift cards as payment.

Did I know my son was holding one of those quickly-expiring cards? Nope.

My son probably knew he had a Toys R Us gift card, and maybe he knew Toys R Us is in the process of going out of business, but being too young to understand the logic of the adult world, he certainly did not know that a business can lawfully stop honoring its obligations to its customers even though it is alive enough to accept money from those same customers.

Toys R Us has been in the business of killing joy for years. One Christmas I tried to order something online for my kids. It was in stock online, but I couldn’t have it delivered because it was available in stores, except it wasn’t in stock in any store within 100 miles, so I couldn’t get it either way. They’ve always played these games, which explains their demise.

I warned my son to ask the Toys R Us cashier about his gift card before he picked out a game. Sure enough, we’d missed the deadline for redeeming by one week. The worker couldn’t even tell us how much the card was worth. Instead, she handed him this paper.

File a claim

Step 1: File a claim. Step 2: Hold your breath.

As much as I would like all the stiffed nine-year-olds in the nation to file claims with the US Bankruptcy Court, I would advise them it’s not worth the effort. The form is several pages long. If they fill it out and file it properly, they might get some portion of their $20 gift card refunded, but probably not, because unsecured creditors (e.g. gift card holders) are last in line for repayment.

Big Brother found a game on sale at a different store and used his money. He got over the gift card disappointment faster than I did. (I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.) I can’t even completely pin this on Toys R Us, though I’m not ready to exonerate them. It seems to me, this is the American legal system putting giant corporate lenders before individual children.

The foolish children spent their money on games instead of lobbyists.


44 comments on “Toys R Us dies the way it lived: disappointing children

  1. Lynn says:

    Shame on them!

  2. stomperdad says:

    Fortunately, our boys got their gift cards spent last summer. How disappointing to have $$ and not be able to spend it! Glad they didn’t take it too hard, though. I would have been angry, too.

  3. Jay says:

    Oh that’s very sad.

    The Toys R Uses in Canada are managing to stay open, for the time being.
    We actually don’t have much in the way of toy stores otherwise – just department stores with toy aisles, I suppose. But that makes it harder to explain just how they managed to do so badly when they’re nearly exclusive, competition-wise.

    Last year we had watched all the Sears locations close – they had closing sales where they actually marked UP their prices. Even when they’re failing they still cheat.

    • Once upon a time, you had to go to Toys R Us if you wanted anything but the most common toys. That changed over time and Toys R Us never realized it. With the selection on Amazon and even some of the big brick and mortar stores, Toys R Us lost its monopoly but acted as if it were still intact.

  4. floatinggold says:

    I’m not sure if I would be able to let it go. I would unleash my wrath.
    Now I have to go rummaging through my wallet in search for any other potential gift cards, since EVERYTHING seems to be going out of business nowadays.

  5. That suuuuucks. Though honestly with the prices Toy R Us charged (and still does) a $50 gift card would have only got him a stick of gum…that was used.

  6. Tom W says:

    Retailers love selling gift cards. Since they don’t count them as sales, until redemption, it’s basically an unsecured loan to a big corporation . Also, they don’t have pay a sales incentive to the poor slobs who manage their stores.

  7. That’s terrible! I hate big corporations!

  8. AmyRose🌹 says:

    That is just not right, Scott! They deserve to go bankrupt, those sorry SOB’s. Don’t tell your son I said that … tween two “adults”. But like you I have a very strong sense of right and wrong and what has been going on for a long time all in the name of “green”, gets me hot around the collar. What a bunch of losers ….. How does that saying go? Karma is a *itch! So sorry about all this!

  9. Gibber says:

    Awe that just sucks. Glad he recovered. A scotch should help you recover.

  10. Just Joan says:

    Cheating a kid out of his birthday present? When he missed the deadline by a week? That’s low. And what kind of cashier hands a 9-year-old a note like that? I only recently learned that Starbucks gift cards are not redeemable at Starbucks mini-locations housed inside bookstores or grocery stores. Really? Why not? The best answer the barista could give me was, “Ummm, I dunno.” Guess a cash gift is better, it spends anywhere. 🙂

  11. thegsandwich says:

    I think I still have some unused cards and my kids are 20 and 16. Sorry to hear Big Brother was stiffed, but maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here. I’m just not sure what it is.

  12. Ahdad says:

    I’m still stuck on the fact that Toys R Us is bankrupt. How did that happen? Sorry for Big Brother.

  13. markbialczak says:

    I can’t be mad at the sad workers losing their jobs, only the higher-ups making these dang dumb decisions, Scott. Drats to them.

  14. j2w7 says:

    In spite of the sadness regarding the closing of that very special place, that was a most beautiful post that you have written; For that, I shall give you this: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🏆👍 PS: Here is a rose and sunshine for your kid: 🌹🌈🌞-JW

  15. Thanks for a nice post, “Snoozing”. I like the final line about paying for games instead of lobbyists – sad but true. -DD

  16. […] 1. A Momma’s View 2. Dorky Mom Doodles 3. Snoozing On the Sofa […]

  17. Nick Holland says:

    Can’t believe he only just missed out too! honestly if their business has gone down the drain, they should have just given you the game to the value of the expired gift card, what difference does $50 make if they are bankrupt

  18. Great article – check out my blog on toys r us too

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