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.
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.
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.
Shame on them!
Sadly, they feel no shame.
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.
Maybe we’ll keep the card as a reminder to give cash for presents instead.
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.
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.
I would keep an eye out for any JC Penny or Barnes & Noble cards in your wallet. They seem to be sliding down the Toys R Us path.
Barnes and Noble has been on a downward slide since that Laurel and Hardy management team, in Michigan, left late in the last century.
You are probably right.
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.
But they OWED us that used stick of gum!
Exactly. You should sue them for declaring bankruptcy so they could get out of getting your kid a piece of gum. For a million bucks of course.
Good plan. I like it.
First plan that may have ever worked.
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.
Straight from the poor slob’s mouth.
That’s terrible! I hate big corporations!
They don’t make themselves very huggable, do they?
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!
Between the high prices and deceptive practices, I won’t miss them at all.
Awe that just sucks. Glad he recovered. A scotch should help you recover.
I’ll have to see if I have a gift card for any liquor stores.
That are still in business.
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. 🙂
You should sit down in one of those Starbucks for several hours and just not order anything. That’d teach ’em!
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.
He needs to start having cash-only birthday parties.
I’m still stuck on the fact that Toys R Us is bankrupt. How did that happen? Sorry for Big Brother.
I guess they didn’t sell enough gift cards.
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.
I’m with you on that, Mark. Add the store employees to the list of people getting the shaft.
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
Wow. That’s a lot of stars and thumbs. Thank you.
You are welcome!-JW
Thanks for a nice post, “Snoozing”. I like the final line about paying for games instead of lobbyists – sad but true. -DD
The sad is often true. Thanks for stopping by.
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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
It makes a lot of difference to somebody, apparently.
Great article – check out my blog on toys r us too
You offer a good take on the subject. Raises the question: why do some companies adapt while others don’t?