I am, yet again, delaying my next topic in the series I am writing about our time at the LPA National Conference… mostly because a 2,000+ word post was unpleasantly deleted in a “data error” and I just haven’t regained the mental ability to retype it. However, this post was a must-write after an experience I had yesterday afternoon.
There are always experiences we wish we didn’t have, especially with (or about) our children. I know we have all been there, standing in a big-box store, perhaps swollen, or tired or dehydrated, belly full of baby and bladder with, well, you know. That moment where all you want is HELP! but no one seems to want to come near you. Then there are the times that 5 different employees try to help you, yet no one can answer your question.
You vow to never go back to that store, you post on their national webpage and you’re certain you will only shop local from now on!
I too have experienced hellish moments in stores, as well as very poor attitudes from local shop owners who seem to want to cater to a specific clientele (remember small business owners, while bloggers may not be rich in money, we are in readership!). But that is not why I am here today. I am here to praise my local Babies ‘R Us store, and one specific employee: Travis.
I posted a picture of Addie on Facebook (shocking!), a friend of mine emailed me telling me about a crucial car seat safety tip I didn’t know: beyond the importance of height and weight requirements are head height, which can exceed a safe level well before the actual seat limitations are met. If your child’s head is an inch or less from the top of the seat, they are too big for it!
Addie was there… and so I was on a mission: To find her the same seat that was in Dave’s car for mine. In our case, we were looking for the Graco My Ride 65 for a price less than the original hefty tag of about $165 when we first got it.
We have loved this seat since we installed it in the Subaru, and knew the size would be perfect for my Escape. As an infant, Addie was able to use it with the awesome inserts that come with it, and as she’s grown, she’s become more comfortable in it.
Wanting to keep her in the same seat for her contentment, but not have to drag the seat from car-to-car, I began a search for my own seat:
To be real, I have an impulse control problem
sometimes, and I knew I wanted to move Addie to a new seat ASAP- for her safety and my sanity. This means I wanted the seat a week ago. Though, much to my dismay, many of the seats were on sale or at a good price, they were not available in store or for in-store shipping, making the sale price fairly useless and the timing longer than I wanted. Until I scrolled to the last seat.
As I walked towards the car seat section at the Babies ‘R Us in Warwick, RI, I was greeted by a
boy young man who asked me if I needed help. Thinking (ASSuming) he would have no clue what I was talking about, I blurted, “Do you have the My Ride 65?”
“We don’t. We have the Graco 70, which is called the My Size instead of My Ride. It holds 5 pounds more and the features are almost identical. They’re right over here.”
Travis (boasted his name tag) looks like a young handsome dude. Maybe 21 (although men always look young, darn them!). And here he was, politely schooling me on his car seat stock.
He saw my face drop when I heard he didn’t have my seat and asked me all sorts of questions about why I wanted the 65, besides the great sale price. When I mentioned the fit in my car and the fact that 5 pounds was sort of crazy to pay $8 more per pound for a baby that wouldn’t reach 65 pounds for quite a while, he smiled and headed to a computer where he promptly checked the screen and told me he would “be right back”. After a minute he returned to his screen explaining that the computer said he had one, but they did not. He left to call a store in MA for me.
Upon his return, I was strapping Addie into the My Size. It seemed so similar, the $40 price difference wasn’t convincing me. Travis helped me figure out the straps (and gave me a guided tour of the cushy seat). I placed the seat back on the shelf and slowly grabbed the box for one unused off the shelf. Begrudgingly I heaved it onto my cart. I know my disappointment was palpable. As a first time mom, we all do our due-diligence with research. We look up a million articles covering everything from baby socks to the best breast pump. From car seats to the toys that attach to said devices. We know what we want and we work hard to figure it out. Sadly, even 16 months later, we want our original research to translate into an easy quest. One that leads us to find what we know in our heart-of-hearts is just perfect for our child.
“Let me try one more thing,” Travis said as he darted away.
My father and grandfather in laws showed up and asked me if I’d found the seat. “Kind of,” I shrugged. I didn’t want my in-laws to have to pay so much for a seat- yes, my in-laws bought us this new seat because they have been amazing in our first year of parenthood and have helped us navigate the waters. (I’m learning that whether you leave the house at 18 or live there forever, your parents are always there for you.) As my father-in-law and I perused the seats, Travis returned.
“Let me just put this one back for you,” he said with a grin as he slid the 70 off my cart. “The 65 is on hold for you at the Toys ‘R Us down the street under ‘Babies’.”
“I’d hug you right now, if that wasn’t really weird,” I smiled. I wanted to cry.
He smiled back, and made sure we didn’t need anything else before waving to Addie and waiting patiently for her shy, “Tanksss,” to emerge before she hid her smiling face back into my arms.
This man needs a raise, I thought.
We headed out to the parking lot and reconvened a few miles away. After waiting for one customer to finish their transaction I peered over the counter and saw my box… “That’s ours!” I gleamed at the cashier. “That kid up the street has the best customer service I think I’ve ever encountered!” The woman smiled at me… Only a mom would get so excited over a car seat.
After ringing us out with the sale, a $10 off a car seat purchase of $100 or more and a 20% off coupon, our $165.00 seat Dave and I had gotten just a year and a half prior was down to about $112 with tax!
When we got home, I was so excited I plopped Addie in the driveway with a banana and got to installing! I pulled out her old seat first:
Then I tested the new one to get the straps just right… Thanks to The Car Seat Lady and all of her awesome advice (check out THIS great piece on rear facing your child!). Just right means that if your child is still rear-facing, the straps come from below the shoulder, and if front-facing, they come from above:
Addie was a great model in her new seat, parked in the driveway (leg padding still in, infant head piece pulled out).
Once the seat was installed, using the LATCH system- which was easy to place, but difficult to tighten), I also placed the belt through- I wanted to be safe until Dave could check it! … TIL I LEARNED THIS VALUABLE TIP: Most cars’ LATCH systems are NOT approved for rear facing seats in the middle! So, I’ve unhooked it and we are just using the seat belt- TIGHT!
We went on our first drive to Slater Park in Pawtucket to see Rock-a-Baby perform, and it was a success! The straps are a bit hard to tighten and unlatch- but that makes it harder for Addie to take off her own belt (I’d prefer the hard work on my end, than an easier escape on her’s!). All-in-all, I love the seat we have had in my husband’s car for the past 16+ months and know I will love it’s mate which is newly installed in mine!
Somethings are just fate. When I opened the box and saw that the date manufactured was my birthday, I knew this was the seat for us. From 4 to 56 pounds, great padding, easy to install and pricing that can’t be beat, Graco My Ride 65 is a winner for the Martinka family!
Thank you to Babies ‘R Us and Toys ‘R Us in Warwick for all of your help, and most of all, Travis, for putting in the extra time and going one step further to achieve a level of customer service so many of us thought was a dying chivalry in big-box stores. You are an asset to the company and have a bright future ahead- no matter your path. Stay compassionate and human in your interactions… they are what made the difference between a disappointed mom and life-long customer.
I was NOT paid for this review in any way except kindness and great customer service!!!