Toys ‘R’ Us strolling ahead

Under the heading of “the channel gets the customer better than the brand”, a story was relayed to me about what seems to be a design issue with a model of Maclaren stroller.  For those of you sans kids (and I didn’t know this before I made the plunge) apparently Maclaren, a British company, lept into the area of chic baby products several years back via, like most other baby products, some celebs’ unofficial endorsement.  And from what I can gather, they do have a pretty cool design approach to these narly baby buggies.  For me, its the fact that they can  be folded and unfolded with one hand.

And thats the basis for this story.  My friend bought a Maclaren and, within a short time, noticed that, when folded, the stroller wheels rubbed against much of the fabric and was making the stroller dirty…and you cant have a trendy stroller thats all crapped up you know.  People might think you bought it second hand [gasp!]

Anyway, my friend contacted Maclaren to report the issue and ask for a potential solution [I told her she needs to Tweet about it to really get attention].  But, the company’s response was that there wasn’t anything they could do about it.  Ooops!  wonder if product development is aware of what their customer service reps are telling consumers.  After pressing the issue, the best my friend got back was “why dont you clean the wheels every time you fold it up”  Ooops! again

So, frustrated, she called Toys R’ Us where she bought it.  The manager of that store listened to her plight.  And, showing great empathy for a new mother, said that if the product wasn’t right to bring it back and he would give her a full refund or offer to exchange for another stroller, Maclaren or other brand.  No questions.

Now come on Mclaren! Your retail channel is taking you to task.  So, who’s building brand equity and loyalty?  The manufacturer with the celebrity following or the ‘lowly’ retailer?  No brainer.  Nicely done TRU! 

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