Don’t Get Scammed by the Toy Hype.
Every year leading up to the holiday season, the press starts to publish their “top toys for Christmas” lists. From the craze for Cabbage Patch Kids in the ‘80s to the Hatchimals of 2016, there’s sure to be one toy that’s at the top of every child’s Christmas list.
Kids’ pester power is at its peak in December when everyone’s out shopping for the year’s must-have toys. The lengths that some parents go to so that their kids won’t be disappointed on Christmas morning is quite incredible.
We’ve all heard stories of parents fighting over the last couple of sought-after toys on sale, and once they’re sold out your opportunities to get one are limited. One mother recalls how in the days before internet shopping, she drove over 200 miles to buy a light-up ambulance for her son.
Scammers and the Christmas Toy Craze
Of course, with the internet, it’s now much easier to get hold of toys that may be unavailable in your hometown. You can order online from another city or even another country.
Unfortunately, this has also made it a lot easier for scammers to take advantage of people shopping for their kids. Fake websites pop up all the time that will take your cash and run. Avoid buying from online stores you’ve never heard of, or at least look for reviews before you part with your money.
Fake products are also an issue. Popular toys always spawn lower-quality knock-offs, which may be sold on eBay or even more trustworthy sites like Amazon. Sellers often use the original photograph to market the item but send out a cheap knock-off – so you’ll have no idea you’re getting a lower quality version until it arrives.
Other times parents simply pay more for toys that are difficult to get hold of. Opportunists (aka toy scalpers) spot a toy craze and anticipate the scarcity and “panic buying” that will result closer to the holidays. They buy up the toys and “flip” them for a very high price on sites like eBay, knowing that desperate parents will be more than willing to open their wallets.
Christmas Toy Crazes of the Past
This has been happening for quite some time:
- 1983’s Cabbage Patch Kids retailed for $25 but were being resold on the black market for $100 or more
- Tickle Me Elmo was released in 1996 at a price of $30 but after selling out nationwide on Black Friday, some people were advertising them for sale at $1,000
- 2016’s $60 Hatchimals sold out in November. Many parents who hadn’t managed to snap one up chose to head to eBay where they were selling for around $200
What’s the Solution?
It’s easy to get sucked into the hype – nobody wants a disappointed child on Christmas morning after all. But kids tend to lose interest in these toys quickly, and it’s really not worth paying 10x the actual value when the shops will be fully stocked in January again.
If your kids start asking for a particular toy, make sure you beat the crowds and buy it early in the holiday season.
If you can’t get hold of that “hot” toy without paying a ridiculous price, one option is to wrap up a “promise” box with a picture of the toy and your word that you’ll buy it as soon as it’s back in stock. You can also include a small “reminder” toy that’s related to the actual one.
For example, if your child really wants the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro, but the console is all sold out, consider buying one of the games that go with the console. Then wrap the game and a photo of the console in a box. As soon as the consoles come back in stock, go together and pick one out.
Or if your child is desperate for the Poopsie Slime Surprise Unicorn, and it’s completely sold out, consider getting a couple jars of sparkle slime (any brand) and printing out a picture of the toy. When your child opens it, they still have something that reminds them of the toy to play with, and they can look forward to the actual toy. Then once it gets back in stock, go shopping together.
For those who can’t resist the temptation, at least make sure you use a credit card. If the toy ends up being fake or the website is dodgy, a credit card company will usually offer protection so that you can get your money back.
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