Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Beast Within (Or: Toys R Us Needs To Get Its Act Together)

It is a known fact among adult LEGO fans that Toys R Us marks up most of their LEGO sets by a couple of bucks. To atone for this, the company says they'll match the price of any ad. But why should I have to bring in an ad? All I want to do is give you money and get some bricks; stop trying to rob me!

Which is probably why I almost never go there.

But about a week ago, I saw a promo for a building event to be held at Toys R Us stores on September 17th and 24th. On these two weekends, customers could build and take home LEGO replicas of Cogsworth and Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast.

Naturally, as fan of both BATB and all things LEGO, I was excited. But was it only for kids? I made sure to read the fine print:

Event intended for ages 6-up. Parental supervision required at all times for minors. All giveaways and event materials available while supplies last and distributed to participants only. Limit one per customer. Quantities limited; no rain checks. While supplies last. 

Six and up! One per customer! 

So on September 17th, I went. That day, you got to build Cogsworth. The event was from 12 to 2pm. I got to the store at 12:30 and waited in line for over half an hour. The line seemed to be moving slowly because they had to have each and every person pick their individual LEGO pieces out of these little bins.

They gave you a bag for your pieces, and you also got instructions and a Cogsworth face sticker:

I quickly got my pieces, sat down at a table and began to build...

After all that waiting, it only took about 5 minutes to build the little guy....

Having made Cogsworth, I purchased an additional LEGO set and left. At home, I put a sticky note on my cupboard with a reminder so I wouldn't forget to return the following week to make Lumiere.

Today was Lumiere Day.

Hoping to avoid such a long wait this time around, I got to the store early, around 11:45. Right before noon, an employee (who I didn't see around last week) began handing out instructions to all the kids in line. He bypassed me. I didn't notice this at first because I was distracted.

In front of me in line, there was a family with a toddler. One of the adults asked the other what they were even building. The reply: "Some princess set? A candlestick? From... what's the name of that movie? Oh yeah, Beauty and the Beast." "What was the candlestick's name? I can't remember." "Me neither."

Reaching the front of the line, I asked if I could also have some instructions. A lady employee handed a sheet to me. Then the male employee said to me, "This event is for kids only."

I tried to explain to the man that I had been allowed to make Cogsworth the previous week.

"They were probably just being nice last week," he said. "But we can't allow adults to have one, because that would mean a kid might not get one and they'd be disappointed."

I pointed out that the fine print did not say there was an age limit.

He replied with something to the effect of, "The is a kids' event. But I'm not going to say no to you. Just that if you do it, a child will be disappointed." He said this in the exact tone I often tell kids in the school cafeteria that they ought to not eat the giant bag of Hot Cheetos they brought from home, but I'm not going to physically stop them if they're so determined.

Far be it from me to deny a LEGO set to a toddler whose parents don't even know the name of the darn candlestick and who, by LEGO's own standards, is too young to even have the bricks, due to potential choking hazards. (See that fine print.) 

By that point, I was feeling quite bad. I might disappoint a child, but screw my own disappointment. As an adult, I don't get to have feelings. I carved out part of my Saturday for this, drove ten miles to get there, and then I get... this.

Annoyed with the stupidity of it all, I left (with the instructions still in hand, thank you.) I briefly considered driving all the way to northish Portland to go to the other Toys R Us, but I didn't think my poor nerves could handle being rejected twice in one day. Anyway, I figured I probably had all the pieces I needed at home. And I did, mostly.

Well, I had everything except the face sticker. So I photocopied Lumiere's face from the instructions and used glue. It's a bit of an abomination, but hey.

In the end, my thoughts are these: Toys R Us? You need to get your *#@& together. You ought to make your online ads & fine print & rules consistent with what you tell your employees. If something is for kids only? TELL ME BEFOREHAND. I won't show up, and that's fine. I'll do something better with my Saturday. If something is for everyone? Tell your employees not to discriminate.

I'm done with your store, honestly. FTW.

Anyway, for those of you who missed the events or were turned away, here are the instructions:

Happy building!

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