Junk mail recently became interesting to me for the first time. Not only does it often contain entire magazines of baby-related items that I might just acquire (shiny!), but it’s now educational (“I should get me one of THOSE things”).
Fortunately, at least some of my enthusiasm has been moderated by Choice magazine, which is an independent body that reviews Australian products and rates them on safety, economy, etc. Since babies are small and easy to accidentally kill, this is a VERY useful resource for the underqualified parent (which, let’s face it, is all of us).
I found articles on nappies, cots, car seats, and strollers – excellent! The first three are clearly important, but I did pause at the thought of a stroller. I’ve never used a stroller before (even during countless hours of babysitting), and I hate walking pretty much anywhere. Bowing to the fact that CJ loves walking, that children apparently have to go outside sometime, and that everyone says strollers are super important, I accepted that this was a necessary purchase. But I wasn’t planning on spending a LOT on something to carry my baby when I already have arms.
This made the choice of stroller super easy: Choice’s “best buy” (ie the cheapest of the safe brands) was the Steelcraft Holiday stroller. This is it:
And so it was that I emitted a cry of delight while perusing a Big W sale catalogue. There in full colour was OUR stroller – and it was reduced from $98 to $78.
The following day was a Monday. Determined to catch a bargain with a hint of destiny about it, I made the herculean effort and showed up to the relevent Big W store to look at our stroller (because all the books say to check you can lift it, that the handles are a comfortable height, etc).
There was no sign of it (except for the Steelcraft Orion, which is cool but considerably heavier and more expensive). We rang for customer service repeatedly. Other than hearing the automatic page over the intercom (which was terribly exciting I’m sure), nothing happened. We figured maybe we were too quick off the mark – the sale didn’t start until the next Wednesday.
On Wednesday, CJ returned. The stroller was there, and he even spoke to a genuine 3-D staff member – who refused to open any of the boxes and let him actually look at the stroller. By this stage we’d arranged for CJ’s safety-conscious parents to come and try it out with us on the weekend.
We tried to find the stroller elsewhere, so we could look at it and therefore not waste any of CJ’s parents’ time. It turned out that Big W was the only store in Canberra who stocked it. I called them and tried to put one on hold for three days, but they refused. By this time I knew exactly why Big W was consistently cheaper than anyone else. because they sucked at customer service.
And so Saturday rolled around. I checked the magazine for the twelth time, and noticed I’d got the name wrong (using the name of another model also stocked by Big W). It didn’t seem like a major error.
And so it was that we showed up to Big W and realised that CJ hadn’t even seen the box of the correct stroller (he’d been looking at the Orion). No-one had. I immediately realised that I’d organised my in-laws to come and see a stroller that looked more and more like a myth.
We were mildly surprised when a staff member actually showed up in response to the customer service page. We were even more surprised when she fetched someone who was familiar with the nursery section. The nursery expert hadn’t heard of the stroller. I said it was in their magazine, on special. She said – as politely as was possible – that she’d go and get the magazine so I could “point it out”. We all knew what she meant: I was nuts.
At this point CJ’s parents showed up, and we explained to them that I’d apparently imagined the whole thing.
The nursery expert returned with two different sale magazines. They were definitely not the magazine I’d seen, but I leafed through them anyway. No Steelcraft Holiday stroller. So much for that.
The lady muttered something conciliatory and went away after mentioning two other stores that I might have confused with Big W. I’d obsessed over that magazine for ten days, and I didn’t know what to think. We poked half-heartedly at other nursery items, pretending there was some point in us being there.
Then – *pause for inspiring power chords* – the lady returned. With my magazine. With the picture of the stroller in it.
“No-one here has seen this catalogue,” she said, “but let me check the stockroom computer and see if we have some out the back.”
She did so, and said there were Steelcraft Holiday strollers in a back room – or so the computer said.
We waited, unconvinced the myth was about to appear. But it did. The lady re-emerged with a big smile and a pallet full of Steelcraft Holiday strollers. She and CJ and CJ’s Dad took one out and put the wheels on. It was a beautiful thing, and after establishing that it did indeed fold up, and was not too low or too heavy, we bought it.
Big W’s customer service seriously came through in the end. I can haz stroller!
(For those keeping score of how little CJ and I have spent on baby items, we are still at $0 – some friends of ours got together and paid for the stroller for us. Double win!)