For a company that prides itself as the “truly toy paradise” and calls themselves “the amazing toy store” that brings happiness and smiles to kids and those kids at heart, Toy Kingdom at SM City Cebu sure have some merchandisers that do the opposite of their company’s goals. I am referring particularly to the merchandisers of the Hot Wheels cars that were on duty late this afternoon February 23, 2013. These particular merchandisers don’t bring smile to their customer faces, they elicit disappointment and anger.
Almost once a week we are there in SM Cebu Toy Kingdom store as well as in the Toy Express at the ground floor level of the department store to search for additions to mine and my boyfriend’s respective Hot Wheels Car Collections hobby. Most of the time, we leave the store not buying anything as there were no cars that fit our respective collections. All we see are many diecast cars of the same models and what we termed as ‘peg warmers’, they don’t interest us at all. But we still leave with a hopeful heart that our next visit may be the store visit that will bring us good tidings.
Those times when we don’t find anything that is interesting, we just felt our visits were ill-timed and we were ‘just unlucky’ but as I’ve said we still hope since we love collecting these diecast miniature cars. Despite going home empty-handed on more times that we can count in the last few months, we continue to check these two stores as well as other stores in Metro Cebu hoping that when we next check, we will find our favorite cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Batman and other movie cars etc. BUT APPARENTLY LUCK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT – at least, that’s what it looks like after this afternoon’s disappointing buying experience in Toy Kingdom SM Cebu.
You get a chance to buy popular Hot Wheels car models only if you are ‘close’ with the merchandisers of this Toy Kingdom branch. Is this true? Am I saying something that is hearsay? Well, you can scroll down to the video at the bottom or check the pics of these awful merchandisers caught in action to have an idea of what I am talking about. As a backgrounder please read on what transpired when we tried to look for particular Hot Wheels today.
We have been checking the racks at SM Toy Kingdom Cebu looking for new cars to add to our Hot Wheels collection regularly. Just like the last times we were at this store, we didn’t find anything that we like but since we were not in a hurry, we continue to check the items available.
After a few minutes, this girl arrived, she looked rich. She walked to the aisle where we were, all the while chatting with one of the merchandisers. It looks like they have a very engaging chat. We just observed. Funny thing though is, we were still looking at the racks that time and no one was attending to us. Not a single staff was available to us; no one asked if we were looking for something in particular. These merchandisers were IGNORING customers. Why? I would hazard a guess and say that they must have look at us and assumed immediately we don’t have money.
After a few minutes, other Toy Kingdom merchandisers arrived on the scene, chatted with the girl. The girl was looking for particular Hot Wheels 2013 models. One of the guys went to the nearby shelf and took out their ‘secret stash’ from behind other products, and then OFFER ALL THESE to the girl who was at that time already squatted on the floor.
This might be a good time to point out that on previous visits we have asked if they have other stocks and we were always told “All stocks are already in display”.
So there were now 3 merchandisers of this Toy Kingdom branch in Cebu converged around the girl. The hoard of cars was laid on the floor… “Mam, wala kay nakita na ganahan ka?
“Mam don’t you see anything that you like”.
If those merchandisers are reading this – you were mistaken to assume that I don’t understand Cebuano. I am a Cebuana, I just speak Tagalog because my bf is Tagalog. I do understand your conversation with your ‘preferred’ customer, completely. Because me and bf were conversing in Tagalog, maybe that’s the reason why you guys were complacent and just went on with your conversation about hoards and stash and the collectors that you last contacted to be with you when you open the new box.
Granted my Hot Wheels collection is small but I am a serious collector. I am a passionate blogger too and I can and will express my feelings and honest opinion of what I felt about the treatment you guys showed to us ‘regular customers” which was utterly disgusting, bad customer service. Truly Distasteful.
The girl was still inspecting the secret stash of Hot Wheels and replied “No”. They chatted more, then one of the merchandisers said “ Si O___ naa toy gitago”. “O____ has something hidden.” Another one joined their conversation and said that this particular staff has gone home. There was more info exchange then someone exclaimed, ‘He is still around, wait while I get him”.
Know what happened next?
This staff of Toy Kingdom got to their circle bringing with him highly collectible Hot Wheels and offering these to the girl. He put it on the floor where the girl checks them. They were now four staff crowding her. It was really as if we were not in the same place and were not interested in the same thing, they were completely ignoring us. We must be invisible to them LOL or we look really poor and not worth their time to attend to. Ouch.
They should have waited for us to leave to have those “secret transactions”. But then again the moment we saw them chatting with the girl, we know something else is going around so we will definitely stick around no matter what and that’s how we witnessed blatant unprofessionalism and favoritism.
From among the hoard that they hid from regular customers like us – yes, YOU, ME, US – we saw models that we were really interested in too: 1 Flintstone’s Flintmobile, 1 red bird and 1 minion pig from the Angry Birds video game, 3 Volkswagen Golf gti. They have more of the other popular car models.
It looks like these particular merchandisers of Toy Kingdom SM Cebu are sending out the message to the world and to all customers that if you look poor, you are not allowed to buy the highly collectible Hot Wheels cars. In fact, THEY WILL HIDE IT FROM YOU. That is certainly what it looks like to us who were watching them. It seems like our money is not as good to them as the money of the rich collectors.
WHY DO YOU THINK?
WHY ARE SOME OF THESE STAFF OF TOY KINGDOM SM CEBU DOING THIS?
So I took some videos of what transpired. I think that one of the Toy Kingdom merchandisers must have noticed me taking the last video of them hovering over their ‘preferred’ customer for he remarked in Cebuano “we only hide those Hot Wheels which have duplicate. ” LOL Big Bollocks. We arrived there earlier than the girl and we can’t see any duplicate to what they offered the girl, especially what “O__” got for her to see. There was no red bird, no minion pig, no Volkswagen Golf, no Flintmobile on the racks!
Hide only those with duplicates on the racks? Ilada tsong.
While their group chats animatedly about the hidden hoard, the girl was bragging that a certain merchandiser from the SM Department Store Toy Express gave her the Volkswagen Cool Kombi. LOL.
What do I feel about all these?
What is my opinion about what happened during today’s hunt for Hot Wheels?
It seems to me that some of the merchandisers of Hot Wheels Car in Toy Kingdom SM City Cebu CHEATS the regular customer of the pleasure of finding and buying select cars including rare and Super Treasure Hunts as well as famous car models like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Batmobile, De Lorean Back to the Future Time Machine, KITT, Mystery Machine and others. Why do I feel this? Because based on our experienced today, they do hide these select diecast cars behind toys in other shelves the moment they open the box. They also call / inform their ‘favorite buyers’ of new finds.
What led to this line of thinking?
The girl was very engaging when she tries to tell them in Bisaya “I’m looking for Fast Fish and Orange Cool Kombi, if you see them…..” The merchandisers confirmed ‘YES’.
After hearing that, my bf then asked in Tagalog how we can reserve too; the merchandiser said “We do not take any reservation.” BOLLOCKS. The nerve of the Toy Kingdom merchandiser telling that to us right after confirming the girl’s wishlist. I wanted to switch to talking in Bisaya at that point just so they know I can understand every bit of conversation they had but if I did I will give away our advantage so I keep mum and let them talk.
I guess the stories circulating among avid and serious Hot Wheels collectors are really true, that there are some merchandisers from Toy Kingdom that are hoarding collectible Hot Wheels for “rich” customers.
Is there something that these staff get in return? I don’t know, maybe you do?
It was very blatant and right in your face ‘we prefer this customer over you’ the way these guys gathered round this girl collector, all four of them. They look like pitiful suitors fighting over one girl and getting all their secret stash and putting it out all for her to choose from.
We arrived first at the Hot Wheels rack, no one assisted us. Well, we are poor and we look poor, what can I say?
Now, If YOU are poor too like us or you don’t look rich enough, YOU may not get a chance to even look at their secret stash. #Just saying.
I have just about enough of their awful treatment that I told my bf to look at all the special cars on the floor and to get any that interest him. He picked the Flintmobile but he asked the girl first if it was alright, the girl said you can have that one. Now, if my bf wasn’t allowed even to get just one from their ‘secret-for-favorite-customers-only=hoard’ , I would have probably got the manager at that point.
Am I angry? Yes, can you blame me? I am disappointed and angry with how unprofessional these particular staff at Toy Kingdoms is. I wonder if their managers notice this practice, and if they do notice, do they just ignore it? Is this a company-wide sanctioned practice? I sincerely hope not.
Another remarked I overheard was this (I think at this point they really knew I was taking vids), one staff closest to me was talking to no one in particular and he said “We don’t put the highly collectible cars in the peg because someone who is not a collector may get them like kids.”
WHAT THE HECK?!!! By following that reasoning of their staff, Toy Kingdom SM Cebu is NOT A TOY STORE FOR KIDS since kids are not serious collectors of Hot Wheels. Why would they deprive kids of looking at toys such as Angry Birds Hot Wheels cars? Surely these kids will like more the Red Bird of Angry bird over the peg warmers such as ambulance, Pontiac, and such HW cars that they allow on the racks.
We finally decided to go home and left the girl still sitting on the floor with the over eager staff of Toy Kingdom. But before we left the aisle, we overheard one of the guys said “I am putting these cars on the shelf” and true enough I saw him put those hard to find Hot Wheels on the rack. Now, I am just not 100% sure if those cars remain there or it was ‘just for show’ because we can still see them. Who knows?
Sad to say but our experienced shouts Merchandisers Gone Bad. Totally. EPIC FAIL for this SM Cebu Toy Kingdom.
Sharing just one of the videos for reference so you’ll have an idea of where I am coming from. Notice what the merchandiser offered to the girl.
The pleasure of collecting Hot Wheels is that sometimes you get something you really want when you visit a toy store, sometimes you go home empty handed. But that is part of the hunt and part of the fun and we understand that. But with this incident today with the SM Cebu Toy Kingdom merchandisers, you go home empty handed not because luck was not on your side but because these merchandisers cheats you out of finding and buying those hidden cars – those Hot Wheels that they hide themselves.
UPDATE: March 10,2013. The week after I posted this post, we visited Toy Express in the department store and would you know for the first time a staff requested us to fill-up some satisfaction and general survey about TK. Then a few days after, Toy Kingdom SM Cebu pegs are full of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Volkswagen, Porsche and more! There were like more than 15 of each!!! Unprecedented The Hot Wheels group members are even dumbfounded why there are now highly collectible cars on the pegs?
I was wondering if this is just coincidence or some personnel from TK management was able to read this post and shook the boat so to speak. But mayhap just a coincidence but nonetheless, I am happy for collectors for we now can find Ferraris and Lambs and other HW collectible cars on Toy Kingdom. Hope this will continue on.