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Did Babies 'R' Us Spend Years Ripping Us Off?

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Our friends at Walletpop say that's a distinct possibility!

Babies R Us

Babies are big business, and no company is bigger in that business than Babies "R" Us. And that means no company has more influence over which baby products get sold.

It is that power and how it was used that is at issue in a class-action lawsuit against the chain and its parent company, Toys "R" Us, reports Walletpop.

The lawsuit asserts the company threatened its suppliers -- some of the biggest names in the business -- and forced them to make sure no upstart competitor would beat its prices.

Corporate spokeswoman Jennifer Albano said the company will not comment on pending litigation.

The local mom-and-pop baby stores began disappearing (down from 2,700 to 600 between 1996 and 2002) as Babies "R" Us began growing. The now 260-store chain, whose locations carry far more products than the local shops, dominated that part of the retail market.

But the growth of e-commerce changed the equation and, according to a 2006 lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that was certified by a judge last week for class-action status, caused the company to cheat its competitors and consumers.

In its defense, Babies "R" Us told the court it would not have lowered its own prices even if Internet retailers began undercutting them, using examples of lapses in some of the pricing agreements. But the plaintiffs countered that despite the periodic lapses, Babies "R" Us was playing for keeps.

They presented evidence that Babies "R" Us forced the breast pump company Medela to stop doing business with 17 e-commerce sites. "We discontinued Internet sellers to protect [Babies "R" Us's] business and margin and therefore accepted considerable legal risk," Medela acknowledged in the judge's ruling.

In her opinion, Judge Anita Brody wrote that the periodic lapses in the price agreements were meaningless because the evidence shows that Babies "R" Us knew it could always impose them again at will. Some of the companies that allegedly cooperated with the Babies "R" Us scheme were Maclaren, Peg Perego, Britax, and the distributor of the Baby Bjorn line.

An added irony in this case is the repeated citing of a prior price-fixing case from a decade ago against its parent company, Toys "R" Us. In that case, the nation's biggest toy store chain was accused of trying to fend off the expansion of warehouse stores, such as Costco, Sam's Club, and BJs.

Do you think Babies "R" Us has been ripping you off? Comment below.


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23 comments so far | Post a comment now
Julie July 22, 2009, 9:22 PM

Babies r us Canada sells Medela Pump in Style pump for $359.99. Birthexperience.com sells it for $275. Babies r us is most definitely a rip off.

Jill July 23, 2009, 12:53 PM

I looked every where for Medela pump. The only place in town that had one was babies r us. It was expensive. We get coupons for Babies R Us, but, the coupon are not void on pumps. I hope all of us who have brought a breast pump from there can get some money back.

Potzel1 July 24, 2009, 8:13 AM

Please sign the petition at www.stoppricefixing.org and help stop this egregious behavior by large corporations that wont to steal our hard earn dollars.

rizzo July 24, 2009, 11:50 AM

They are absolutely a rip-off, even when items are on sale, they are still more expensive than Zeller’s and Wal-Mart’s REGULAR prices!!! I ended up getting the same items for half price from the States rather than buying them at Babies R Us in Canada

Karyl July 24, 2009, 12:41 PM

I never buy from Babies R Us………

Mary512 July 28, 2009, 9:58 AM

That place is such a rip off. Buy your stuff from resale stores, craigslist or goodwill.

WANDY218 August 5, 2009, 4:04 PM

DEF A RIPOFF!!!! I can’t believe it!! I had a horrible experience recently with BRU. I couldn’t return the freestyle breast pump I purchased which was no longer pumping correctly; due to health code reasons-even thought it was well within the 45 day return period. So I turned to the buyer protection plan. In order for me to get reimbursed for my purchase I need to … Read Morecome out my pocket and buy a whole new one and send them the new new and old receipt!!! I dont have the money to do that so I’m basically out of the money for the plan plus the $300 pump. I also would only be reimbursed the amount I originally paid, which i had a coupon for, not the new amount I would pay as I no longer have that coupon. I’m trying with medela but they havent been that helpful so far. VERY FRUSTRATING!!!!

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