Babies ’R’ Us? Yes They Are

A story this week brought in a huge reader response — and an unbeliveable reply from “Babies ’R’ Us” to my readers who complained to them:

Bigger Idiot

When Heather Pebbles, 37, arrived at work at the Northville Township, Mich., Babies ’R’ Us store, she noticed a baby sitting alone in a car in the lot. The temperature: 9 degrees below freezing. Pebbles ran into the store and called the police, and then got on the store’s loudspeaker to try to find the parents. The mother, who said the 10-week-old was “too heavy” to carry while shopping, was charged with misdemeanor neglect. Did the store give Pebbles the raise that a customer who witnessed the event suggested? Hardly. A store manager said Pebbles was wrong to “involve” the store. “That guest now has a negative impression of shopping with us,” he told her. “We don’t need the bad publicity.” Outraged, Pebbles quit her job. (Detroit Free Press) …If Babies ’R’ Us thinks saving an infant from hypothermia is “bad publicity,” perhaps its customers should show them just how bad publicity can be.

A number of readers wrote the company to complain about the manager. Several of them forwarded me the company’s response — all of them are the same:

Babies ‘R’ Us firmly believes that calling the authorities in this situation was the right thing to do. We continue to support the decision to call the authorities, which was made by the store associate. There was never, at any time, any repercussion to the store associate for making the call. The associate voluntarily chose to resign from her position. Babies ‘R’ Us cares deeply about children, and we continue to support the decision that making the call to the authorities was the right thing to do. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions.

Dylan in California, one of the readers to send me a copy of that, notes “They completely ignored my suggestion that the store manager should be reprimanded, and they seem to think that being told she was wrong for involving the store was not a repercussion for ‘the associate’.”

They surely think that by ignoring the outcries, the problem will go away. Is that the sort of merchant you want to patronize for your baby items? Think about it next time you go shopping for baby items.

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I’ve never heard any updates to this story, so as far as I can tell indeed they did ignore the outcries — and they did die down. Now you know why I sometimes keep pounding on outrages….

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7 Comments on “Babies ’R’ Us? Yes They Are

  1. I’m amazed that the mother was only charged with misdemeanor neglect! Something similar happened in the Wal-Mart I used to work for. Our cart pushers were in the parking lot and noticed that a car, which looked empty, had the door hanging open. They walked over and discovered that a baby was sitting in the seat, barefooted, barehanded, bareheaded. It was maybe 25 or 30 degrees out, if I remember (I was bundled tightly on my cigarette break!)

    They immediately notified management, who located the mother. She was simply browsing through the store! The state police were called, and they arrested the mother and took the child away (she’d since been brought inside, of course, to warm up.) The mother was charged, among other things, with attempted murder! Leaving a child that young exposed in such a way is just that: an attempt on their life, unless you’re simply too stupid to not realize that an infant needs more heat than even an adult does!

    Anyway, I’m just glad now that I’ve never shopped at Babies ‘R’ Us. OUR associates were commended for their actions, by the police officers and by store management (I’m now engaged to one of the young men responsible, as a matter of fact, and we’re expecting our second child, my third, any day now….)

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  2. Babies ‘R’ Us, huh? And could have well been Dead Babies ‘R’ Us. (Shades of Alice Cooper.) With this store, sounds like it’s time to trot out all the Dead Baby jokes, since that’s how the store treated it. And I don’t agree with the Attempted Murder charge in Troy, NY, but Reckless Endangerment would still be a viable FELONY charge.

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  3. I remember this story well and have not shopped at babies r us since.

    Either have I. While I don’t have any babies, I buy gifts for friends having them. Never at BrU. Ever. -rc

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  4. I’m a little confused by this story. The former associate claimed that she left because the store manager gave her a “talking to”. The store claimed that nothing of the sort happened. What they both agreed on was that, yes, an infant was left alone in a car in freezing weather, and the cops were called.

    What exactly is the problem with Babys ‘R’ Us?

    You might choose to believe spin from a PR flack. I choose to believe the story from an employee who was willing to sacrifice her job over it. Over what? Read this:

    A store manager said Pebbles was wrong to “involve” the store. “That guest now has a negative impression of shopping with us,” he told her. “We don’t need the bad publicity.”

    That kind of attitude deserves scorn, or else BrU gets the message we agree with it. -rc

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  5. It seems odd that the store would be so concerned over a mother, who willingly abused her child, having a bad impression of the store and not wanting to coming back and shop.

    They should be concerned about all of the people who would read about their actions and decide to never shop there.

    Penny wise and Pound foolish.

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  6. I think it’s important to remember that the manager of that site didn’t represent all Babies ‘R’ us stores across the country. Calls for a boycott should be concentrated in the right place. (Probably too late to have any meaningful impact now anyway… But I’m just saying, if you ever do support this type of action, make sure it’s meaningful.)

    Absolutely one manager doesn’t represent the chain. That’s why it’s important to see what the company’s official response is. They did a great job of supporting the “associate” — but didn’t mention, let alone repudiate, the manager’s actions. I think that’s what upset people, and properly so. -rc

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  7. I have a spin similar to Jonathan’s. But instead of worrying about the bad publicity, they should have cashed in on the good publicity that their employees care. They were worried about the “negative impression” over an obliviot endangering the most precious thing anyone can have? That’s idiotic in my opinion. Anybody who cares about such a foolish person lowers themselves to that level.

    Reply

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