Monday, December 29, 2008

Buy a Toy, Go to Jail . . . It's the Law!

About two weeks or so before Christmas we were cruising through the mall when the boys spotted a toy store. Naturally they wanted to check it out. This particular store was not one of the year round types you generally see. No, this was a seasonal toy store. This should have been enough reason to avoid it all together, but the boys curiosity overrode my common sense and we went in anyway.

The first part of the store had several remote control vehicles on display and quite o few of them were being demoed by the handful of employees present. One item immediately captured the attention of Anthony, a small foam bodied RC helicopter. The guy flying it seemed to be having a ball as he ran it through its paces. Up, down, side to side it went, following each of the commands issued by the controller. Anthony really lit up as he took in the flight in front of him.

Now, before I continue, there's something you should know about Anthony and helicopters. He absolutely loves them, and has his heart set on flying one someday. So much so is this passion, that he saved and saved and saved his money last summer until he could afford to buy a very sophisticated flight simulator for the computer. After talking to one of our neighbors who has and flies RC helicopters and further talking with the local hobby stores, he was encouraged to first master the simulator and then move on to the real thing. With a starting price of around$200 for a decent, non-toy, chopper and repairs of $20-$30+ when it crashes, Anthony realized the wisdom behind their suggestions. Since purchasing the simulator he's logged in well over a hundred hours and can fly a virtual helicopter quite well now. He is currently saving his money once again for his first "real" chopper this spring/summer.

Okay, back to the original story. The toy he saw being demoed sure looked like fun. It was small, lightweight and best of all, could be flown indoors safely. This was something that held a particular value when you consider we're in the middle of the long, wet northwest rainy season. Another nice feature to the toy is that it had a price tag of only $34.95 making it downright affordable. Heck, how could you go wrong?

I could see the gears turning inside Anthony's head as he was readying his big sales pitch, when I quickly suggested he consider putting this on his Christmas wish list. Rather than plead his case as to why we shouldn't leave the store without the prize in hand, he consented to do as I suggested. Personally, I think he knew that "Santa" would find it in his heart to bring the helicopter to him and as an added bonus, he would still have all the money he'd saved to put toward the real deal. Either that or he was just understanding and yielding to the wisdom of his dad. . . naaaaa, it was definitely the first one!

It all seemed to be working out quite nicely. Mom, (aka grandma to Anthony), was looking for one other thing to get for him and this was right in line with the budget. Perfect!

Fast forward to Christmas day. The great moment of unwrapping truth came and low and behold, there was a shinny new RC helicopter with Anthony's name on it. With a smile from ear to ear he eagerly removed it from its plastic packaging and went in search for the battery that it required. Thank goodness for a well stocked supply at moms house. With a pair of AA's in hand he opened the cover on the back of the controller to expose the battery slots. As he did this, part of the plastic hinge snapped, which meant once the batteries were installed, the cover would not be able to close. Something of an auspicious beginning we thought, but not the end of the world. A piece of tape would solve that little problem, and it did.

After a quick charge and a couple of adjustments to the controls, it was time for lift off. EUREKA it worked! Up and down it went as the ten year old pilot navigated it around the dining room nearly avoiding a crash landing into the pumpkin pie on the kitchen counter. Another couple of flights and he was buzzing his brothers head as the younger of the two flailed at it like Godzilla going after a Japanese zero. This would continue for what would become the very short life of this small propelled marvel. Less than two hours after opening the package, Anthony went to click the tiny blue on/off switch to the off position, and the danged thing sheared off, rendering the helicopter completely useless.

There sat a very dejected little boy. We fiddled with the thing for several minutes trying to figure out a way to make it work anyway, but there was no use, it was dead. He got the package it'd come in and carefully put it back so that we could return it the next day.

With receipt in hand we went back to the store and told them what had happened. The girl at the counter said, "Just a minute, I'll take it back to the technician to have him look at it." A moment later the "tech" (aka store manager) came out of the back room and said, "This thing has been abused, there's nothing I can do."

"What?!? abused? are you kidding me?" I replied.

This went on for the next several minutes while he told me that it had obviously been mistreated and he certainly wasn't going to exchange something that had been intentionally damaged. To say I was hot would be an understatement. Over and over again I told him how Anthony had done nothing other than try to operate the toy as normal and the cheap piece of crap had just broke. The more I argued, the more he dug in his heals and refused to budge. This is when my "Take no shit 101" training kicked into full gear. (thanks dad) I informed him that I was not going anywhere until he exchanged the toy or refunded my money. Our very heated debate continued and he finally said he would exchange it, but if I tried to bring it back again he would refuse to even talk to me, and there was no way in hell he would even consider another exchange!

This is when I, in no uncertain terms, told him exactly what I thought about his store policy and exactly where he could place his piece of crap helicopter! I also informed him that if he continued to give me any grief, that I would tell each and every one of his customers what a complete ass he was and how I had been treated. At this point he asked, "Do you want me to call security and have you arrested?"

"You want to have me arrested for telling the truth?" I replied, "You go right ahead and do that you @%*!$ " (Insert you favorite colorful metaphor here. I'm sure I used them all!) . At that point I turned around and proceeded to tell several of the customers in the store what they could expect if they bought anything and had a problem with it later. I then grabbed a replacement helicopter and informed him that I was taking it and leaving the original behind and if he wanted to call security he was more than welcome to do so. He grabbed a cell phone and started dialing as I walked out the door. It was obviously a bluff because no security guards came running after me.

Now, you want to know the real comical part of this whole thing is? The replacement helicopter didn't work either! Knowing I'd probably be serving time in Sing Sing for murder, Lisa took the second one back and was able to exchange it for some headphones and Matchbox cars.

I'm including a picture of the store front so that if you ever see it in your area you can avoid the unpleasantness of purchasing anything from it.

I currently have a call into the mall management office to tell them about my experience in hopes that they will take it into consideration for next year when these dirt bags try to set up shop again.


Lanny said...

Isn't it lovely that some of us verbal explosive types were given rational calm types for spouses? More like a miracle.

Desert Songbird said...

I admire your restraint, Jeff. I'm not sure I would have been as in control.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I'm glad your wife corrected this error satisfactorily. Thanks also for letting the rest of us know where not to shop. These creeps are all over the place. Looking for some fast bucks at our expense.

Have a terrific day and may you and yours have a very Happy New Year. :)

Jeff B said...

Lanny- Oh how right you are!

Songbird- It took every ounce of strength I had not to wrap my arms around his little pencil neck.

Sandee- What most shoppers don't realize is that these shops will close up and disappear leaving anyone with a problem high and dry.

Finding Pam said...

I think my husband would do the same thing as you did. Where was your son? Good thing your wife was not with you! or no exchange.

Our sons never wanted to cause any strife in life, until they found their voice. You just have to stand up for what is right.

take care, jeff.

Dr.John said...

Glad you stayed out of jail. The next wordzzle is the worst ever and I can't wait to see what you do with it. Of course, you might have been out on bail by that time.

BJ Roan said...

I'm happy to hear you didn't get tossed into a jail cell. Those fly-by-night stores are nothing but trouble. Happy New Year???

Mimi Lenox said...

That's terrible! What a hassle. And what a horrible jerk he was. I filled in the expletives quite nicely. The rest of you taught me to cuss loudly when the castle was robbed this time last year. It comes in handy.

I love the fact that you put the storefront on the blog! Ha!

Jeff B said...

Pam- Actually she was, but she was standing in the shadows while Mr jerk face and I had our tiff.

Dr John- I haven't even looked at the words yet, but have a feeling they're dome doozies from what you've said.

BJ- Lesson learned! I will never darken their doorway (or any like them) again.

Mimi- I just hope no one who reads this blog will get duped by those swindlers in the future.

Dana said...

I am having such a hard time putting your face in that conversation Jeff! Glad there was some resolution, although I'm not sure it was equitable resolution!

CrazyCath said...

I can feel the frustration all the way over here!

Tell your son he'll get the real deal before long. Much better than cheap trash. ;0)

Ron said...


I would have reacted the same way you did!

I was actually getting acid reflux while I was reading this.

There are times when you simply have to get VOCAL and FIRM with assholes. My god, you should be around ME when I've had enough....

...NOT a pretty sight!

(I sort of resemble the Tasmanian Devil)

I'm in retail and it always amazes me how much CRAPPY customer service I witness and no one ever complains about it!

I'm glad you put their store front on your blog and are making mall management aware of your experience.

Go, boy!

Jay said...

Good thing you didn't end up in cuffs dude. I've been in similar positions before and I usually try to get away from that manager and go over his/her head. Sometimes I even like to piss them off by telling them "I know you're just a peon and have no real authority here, so why don't we get your boss on the line or maybe you can tell me how to get ahold of someone important."

That always makes steam come out of their ears. ;-)

Travis said...

Even Toys R Us seems to be selling crap these days. But at least they let you return stuff that breaks from normal use.

Mel said...

Oh......the poor kiddo......

He musta been really, really, really sad.

nitebyrd said...

I'm actually amazed that the store was still there. Those type of shops tend to be gone on 12/26. Good for you for not backing down!

Actually, the town that Sing Sing is in isn't too bad. I used to live there. If I recall correctly, the inmates make porcelain dolls instead of pound rocks and license plates, now. ;)

buffalodick said...

Kind of like the junk they sell at a circus.... will work until they are safely out of town!

Jeff B said...

Dana- I do feel like we still got the short end of the stick on this one, but at least it wasn't a total loss.

Cath- He has once again set his eyes on the goal.

Ron- I learned many things from my dad, One of which is how to be a bulldog when needed.

Jay- i like that tactic. I'll have to remember it for the next situation.

Travis- I've noticed that too. Their house brand "Fast Lane" stuff is junk. Sad isn't it?

Mel- That's the real icky part to this whole thing. From excitement to sorrow in less than two hours.

Nitebyrd- Dang, I should have gone through with the murder. I could have learned a new skill set while in the big house.

Buffalo- Exactly. Their guarantee, "We guarantee if you buy it, you own it!"

Cherie said...

I can never quite figure out how the staff can get those toys working so well. They never seem to be the same once you get them home.

One thing's for sure, the boy will certainly appreciate his real helicopter when he gets it.

And congratulations on keeping out of the slam. ;)

Bond said...

WAIT? We are in a recession...stores are doing worse at this time of year than they ever have and this a**hat is digging in his heels?
This is some fly-by-night operation as I even googled them and nothing came up.

Dianne said...

seems to be the 'N More' part stands for BS and crappy customer service

sorry Anthony was disappointed and glad you weren't arrested

Jeff B said...

Cherie- Makes you wonder if they burn through several of them just to find one that they can demo.

Bond- I tried that too with the same results. I haven't been back to the mall, but would be willing to bet they're gone.

Dianne- Me too. Blogging from jail would be a real pain.

Kay said...

I just blogged yesterday about flying helicopters... but the ones the boys had must have been better made, no deaths yet.

Wow, what a story... good for you for not taking "no" for an answer.

Ain't the holidays fun/

jay said...

Well done! Yeah, I was surprised to read it was still there when you went back to change the toy, too.

I learned a long, long time ago to expect things bought in those magic disappearing shops to break. :(

CrystalChick said...

Good for you!! Shame that it has to get to that point. They know their stuff is cheaply made and probably breaks all the time but too many returns and the guy was probably fearing for his job so he reacted like a manager and not a father. Your wife returning the second time was a good move though. LOL
So go ahead... welcome me back to blogland. I really really missed everyone!
Happy New Year to you and your family. :)

Mike Golch said...

when at first you don't succede,sent the wife in.

Sandi McBride said...

Oh my GOD...Michael, are you in here pretending to be Jefafa? You knock that off right now and give the nice man his blog back!
or Sandi