Build-A-Bear face customer backlash after offer backfires

19th Jul 2018

A ‘Pay Your Age Day’ initiative by Build-A-Bear Workshop led to scenes of chaos at the company’s stores in shopping centres across the UK on 12 July. 

The retailer’s discounted offer, which gave UK customers the chance to buy any teddy bear for the price of their child’s age, garnered a huge amount of interest, leading to long queues and hordes of angry customers, many of whom were turned away due to safety concerns.

Under normal circumstances most bears – which can be designed and dressed on a bespoke level – cost between £12 and £27, with certain limited edition toys costing upwards of £50. A number of stores – including shops at Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre and Birmingham’s Bullring – were forced to shut early as they proved unable to cope with the high level of demand.

Parents were quick to flock to social media and join in a chorus of condemnation for the ill-advised event. Some did however note that staff at the stores managed the situation well, remaining calm and offering vouchers to disappointed customers who were denied entry.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Build-A-Bear Workshop, which describes itself on its website as a “one-of-a-kind global brand that kids love and parents trust”, said it was faced with an “overwhelming response. "

This is not a good position to be in for Build-A-Bear. Black Friday has shown that customer service is not about bargain basement prices," said Jo Causon, chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service.

"People want value, but they will also pay for better service. This was a good idea, poorly executed."

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