As you can read from the comments on our blog, consumers have been less than thrilled with how Babies R Us has handled the massive recall of 320,000 Jardine cribs announced in June.
One of the big gripes: the vouchers sent to consumers who own a Jardine crib are good for $249 toward the purchase of another crib at BRU. BUT . . . it turns out that BRU has a very skimpy selection of cribs under $300. And folks are understandably balking at spending another $100 or $200 to replace the defective crib that BRU sold them.
Enter BRU’s own web site: as it turns out, BabiesRUs.com has a wider selection of cribs in more affordable price points. So, consumers asked, why not use voucher to buy a crib online at BRU’s own site?
Commentators to our blog reported that they got conflicting stories on whether they could do this (buy online, then take the voucher later to get the $249 refund from a BRU store)—calls to BRU’s customers service line said no, some stores said yes, others no.
So, there is good news, courtesy of an announcement from the CPSC today, sent to us via email:
ToysRUs/BabiesRUs has agreed to let consumers purchase replacement cribs online and get reimbursed later when they present their voucher. Shipping charges will also be reimbursed in a separate transaction.
Yes, you read right—BRU has agreed to allow such purchases online with later reimbursement. And, yes Virginia, you will even get a rebate on the shipping you pay.
Of course, you still have to front the money for the replacement crib—and then wait for X days to get the voucher. And then drive to the BRU ($4 gas, anyone?) to get your refund. But hey, this is progress.
Sure, this would even be simpler if you could just enter the serial number of the voucher in the online coupon box at BRU’s site and have the $249 magically deducted from the crib purchase. But that would be asking too much, wouldn’t it?
A BRU spokesperson told us this wasn’t possible—because the Jardine vouchers don’t have serial numbers. And BRU is worried about online fraud.
Well, we are all concerned about BRU’s bottom line—after all, Jardine was a Babies R Us exclusive that allowed BRU to sell the cribs at a nice mark up, since you couldn’t buy the same brand at say, Target.
320,000 cribs . . . $249 a piece . . . that adds up to $80 million dollars that BRU racked up in sales from the defective Jardine cribs.
And we’re sure that Dorel (Jardine’s parent) is paying a pretty penny to BRU to cover the chain’s expenses from this recall. Sure, it was Dorel that actually made the defective cribs—but it was BRU that also greatly benefited from this relationship. (On a related note, the Wall Street Journal reports today that BRU is—finally—implementing new safety standards for cribs that force manufacturers to make sure crib slats don’t break).
While the change to the recall today is welcome news, we would urge the CPSC to allow consumers to get a CASH REFUND for a defective crib, not a voucher that must be spent at BRU. Then parents could go to any store to find a replacement crib, not just BRU.