We interrupt this screenwriting blog with a TALE OF WOE regarding a consumer issue my beloved Mr C had with a famous high street retailer just recently over the purchase of a Nintendo Wii, which was a Sports Resort Bundle. (Since many Bang2writers are committed gamers and/or parents buying games, I thought you'd like to hear this story. If not, move along now... no screenwriting-related stuff in this post! Ta).
The high street retailer in question was Toys R Us. Just after Christmas Mr C bought the Wii for the kids there, which was advertised as having a number of different items in its bundle, including a Wii Controller and Nunchuck. Upon returning home from the store and opening the box, we discovered the advertised Controller and Nunchuck were not there. Not overly concerned at this juncture, we called Toys R Us at Poole who said they would look into the matter for us.
Anyway, imagine our surprise when a "security advisor" from the store calls us the next day and basically intimates he believes Mr C is making a false claim about the missing parts! Mr C was obviously angry and said he wanted to return the Wii for a full refund, but was told by this security advisor he couldn't, as - and I quote - the Wii "was not broken". A letter then arrived a few days later asking for Mr C to sign a form for his details to be passed on to THE POLICE.
Perplexed, we contacted Trading Standards. They confirmed not only was the console sold to us not "as described" under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, but that the emphasis was on Toys R Us, NOT Mr C, to prove the console was in the box at the time of sale. They advised us to write to Toys R Us and ask that they follow through on their duty to provide us with the Nunchuck and Controller that *should* have been part of the console bundle, as advertised.
So we did all this... to no avail. Toys R Us simply would not back down, even though the law was on OUR side! Mr C is a pillar of the community, doing the incredibly difficult job of working with kids who have severe behavioural difficulties in a pupil referral unit, so I for one was INCANDESCENT WITH RAGE his good name was called into question like this (though indeed anyone called into question is terrible, it makes you feel really bad!).
We weren't really sure what to do next: if Toys R Us were so unresponsive to Trading Standards, what chance did we have of recovering the missing items?? Yet the injustice demanded we do something about it. At best, it was diabolical customer service; at worst, I kept thinking of all the single parents who might scrimp and save to buy their kids a console, only for something similar to maybe happen to them.
Then I remembered I work in the media and know, or know of, many journalists in my social network. I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook and people were really kind, hooking us up with various people who might be able to help, including other people who had had horror stories when dealing with Toys R Us.
Anyway, in steps Victoria of Citywire Money and Sarah at Savvy Woman! These ladies were total champs, calling the press offices at Toys R Us HQ on our behalf. A few days later, Mr C received a phone call from Toys R Us HQ saying they would be only too happy to replace the missing items from our Wii Bundle AND they were sorry for the upset caused!
OUR ADVICE THEN: When buying a console or similar large purchase from any store, I reckon it's a good idea to ask the shop assistant to open the box and ensure everything is present and correct, else you might end up in a palaver like this! You can read Victoria's piece on Citywire, "How To Beat Rip Off Retailers" here - it has a SECOND story too about another guy's wrangles with Toys R Us over a pushchair/carry cot, plus some great advice about your rights if you're having consumer issues in general.
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Savvy Woman website