Overpriced strollers and shopping local

A few months ago, when I first started blogging, I made a post called ‘Overpriced Strollers are Bullshit.” I still stand by that because I really do think overpriced strollers are well, bullshit. I can’t believe manufacturers and companies get away with charging $700 or more for a stroller. Nevertheless, I understand now why people buy them. If you use your stroller frequently or live in the city and are on buses a lot or have 2 or more children in a stroller, I understand the investment. I use my stroller 2-3 times a month so I could never justify paying that amount. But I appreciate why some people do.  I still think the price point is bullshit but I don’t actually think it’s bullshit that people want or need a good stroller.

My girlfriend recently gave birth to her second baby! He is so cute and squishy and adorable. She did a lot of research about what type of stroller she wanted and decided to go with the Baby Jogger City Select. After taxes, this bad boy cost her over $750! I know that is a lot of money but she has a two-year old and a newborn and will likely be using the stroller A LOT over the next 3-4 years. It made sense to invest in quality, and to also invest in a stroller that has an optional attachment seat that turns it into a double stroller.

When considering her purchase, she thought long and hard about what business she wanted to give her hard-earned money to. She decided to shop local and bought from a small retailer in HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality). This was so awesome to see! I am a huge supporter of shopping local and patronizing small businesses instead of big box stores. A $750 sale is a HUGE DEAL for a small business and a few of those a week would definitely add up. My friend was thrilled with her purchase and felt good about giving her business to a local speciality shop.

Fast forward to about four weeks later. Baby Jogger puts out a manufacturers promotion. The promotion said “Buy a Baby Jogger City Select and get the 2nd seat (which is the attachment to turn the stroller into a double) for free.” The attachment has a value of $250, which is a lot of money.

Naturally, my friend was let down. She had JUST bought the stroller not even a full month ago. She contacted the business to see if they could let her in on the promotion and they told her that her stroller didn’t qualify as it had a different SKU/Barcode on the box because of the color she bought . This didn’t sit well with my friend. The Baby Jogger City Select is a very specific stroller, how many barcodes could there possibly be? So she called the manufacturer and explained the situation. The manufacturer told her that the business owner was being dishonest and that the barcode on the colour she bought was eligible for the promotion. The manufacturer also explained that this was a promotion through the manufacturer, and would not cost the business anything. Just a bit of time and paperwork to get reimbursed.

At this point my friend was annoyed. She called back to the place of business and told them that Baby Jogger said that they should be able to give her the free seat with no issues/problems. The owner then (again) said that they were unable to because of the color difference and that they normally would within a reasonable time frame but couldn’t because of the difference in color/incorrect barcode. My friend then let them know that was not the case according to the manufacturer and that the manufacturer confirmed that the barcode was eligible for the rebate. Once they heard this they suddenly started to say that they couldn’t price match after a 14 day period. Yet their receipt does not say that anywhere. In fact, their receipt says that have a return policy that’s fair and logical. But when it came time to own up and do the right thing, they took a cop-out and said 14 days, even though that has never been stated anywhere before.

My friend ended up calling a few big box outlets to see what they would do in this case, and they all said they would make an exception. This is a woman on maternity leave with a brand new baby at home. I can’t imagine owning a business and not wanting to help a customer in that type of situation. Especially when the situation could have easily been fixed and would have cost the retailer nothing. Not one penny.

Before anyone reads this and thinks I am being incredibly biased, I want to clarify on a few things. I love shopping local. In fact, I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars to pump money into my local economy. But the one thing I HATE about shopping local, is that bullshit like this can happen and you have no higher-ups to go to. Local retailers are their own companies, therefore their own bosses. And that’s often to their advantage. I would say that 98% of small locally owned businesses go above and beyond for their customers. I eat breakfast at a small café nearly every weekend and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the business owners would do anything to keep their customers happy. Because your customers are your bread and butter.

But when customers are treated unfairly and with disrespect, it upsets me. Because my friend could have spent her money anywhere at all, and chose to give it to a small business. And instead of being thanked for it, she is essentially being punished because the business doesn’t want to make an exception. An exception that would cost them nothing other than a bit of time.  I can get over the fact that they aren’t willing to help her, but what I find particularly unnerving is the dishonesty, the lies and the inconsistency.

So friends, I ask you this. Research return policies and price matching policies thoroughly before you make a big purchase at a small business. I don’t want to discourage people from shopping local, because that’s not what this is about. I want you to continue to shop local and put money back into the economy of where you live. But I do ask you to be cautious, because you could end up losing out. Check Facebook reviews, talk to friends and go to the store a few times and see what the customer service is like before you make a purchase. If you determine that it’s a good fit then definitely shop local. But buyer beware; there are some small businesses who do not put their customers first.

With that being said, carry on with your overpriced strollers; I’ll be putting that $750 towards chocolate and wine!

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