News

'Common scene in most toy stores'

Retail department store Metro, where the boys were filmed, did not want to comment on the incident.

But some department stores and toy shops said such occurrences are common.

Toy store owner Ricky Munir, 57, estimated that about 10 per cent of his stock is damaged every year.

This could result in a huge loss if the damaged ones are collectors' items, said the owner of Toy Station at Serene Centre.

"If we are bound by non-returnable or exchangeable policies set by the distributors, then we give it away or clear it at extremely marked down prices," he said.

At Tom & Stefanie, a local children's clothing and toys company, there are at least two items with damaged packaging or missing parts every week, said merchandising manager Lim Chiew Hoe.

"(It is) in fact a common scene in most toy stores and we are not spared," said Mr Lim.

Such instances are more common during weekends, as well as school and public holidays, added Mr Lim, who has six outlets across Singapore.

Staff are trained to approach such situations with sensitivity and to avoid direct confrontation.

But parents can get a little touchy when their children are approached, Mr Lim pointed out.

"We've had experiences where shoppers felt that it is part of their rights as shoppers (to mess up the place) and that tidying up the mess is part of the services we have to render," he said.

APPROACH KIDS

At retail department store Robinsons, staff members would approach the misbehaving children and ask to see their parents, said its spokesman.

"It is not our store policy to demand payment for damaged merchandise but we will politely explain to the parents and ask them to stop their child from damaging the merchandise," he said.

The extent of damage could be in the form of destroyed packaging or dismantled figurines on display.

A store supervisor, who has been working for seven years at a toy shop in United Square, said the shop averages one damaged box almost every day during the school holidays.

She said: "Kids will run around the store and knock into boxes and cause dents. We have to put the damaged boxes in the storeroom and sell them at a cheaper price during clearance sales."

But, she added, it is understandable for such damage to occur as children are playful by nature.

She said: "We cannot scold or chase them out of the shop, so we just tell them to be quieter when they get too noisy. We also inform their parents if they are in the store."

At Xplore! by Zenitant, which sells educational toys, an employee recounted incidents in which children dismantled figurines on display.

Justis Soh, 16, who has been working at the store since October, said: "We had to use scotch tape to connect some parts together as the kids were too rough with them."

But he said that some parents would apologise if their children mess up the play area.

Mr Munir has seen the "Try Me!" features of toys being abused not only at his shop, but also at bigger toy stores like Toys 'R' Us.

"I had to intervene and reprimand the child. To my horror, the parents replied, 'Mind your own business, and just let him play. We were going to buy it anyway'," he said.

"We can only do so much by telling the parent or the kid to stop abusing the 'Try Me' features, or pay for the products that have been damaged.

"Sometimes out of goodwill, we just bear the losses for fear of losing the customers' business entirely."