Is Toys R Us Discriminating Against Young Grandparents?

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-09-1412

The Consumerist just reported that apparently, Toys R Us discriminates against young grandparents. The toy store is offering a 20% discount coupon for grandparents, except that you need to be 50 or older to be eligible for the discount. Tut tut.

Shockingly, I have friends my age who are already grandparents (but I’m certainly not going to be one for a good long while) and some of them are even attending an alumni reunion I’ve been trying to avoid.

The coupon thing doesn’t really bother me though — I’m a little bit more perturbed by the fact that I’ve got peers my age who have grandchildren. That’s just too weird a thought for me to absorb right now as I think it’s still quite a stretch to think of myself in such a role, given that I feel stuck in a time warp sometimes and forget that I’m no longer in my 20’s. I’m still busy trying to fund some 529 plans here…. 😉

So if you’re thinking of using this coupon to buy goodies for your grandkids, it will only be effective if you’re way over the hill. Maybe the coupon should say “We Love OLD grandparents?”

Toys R Us Grandparents Coupon

Let’s move on right along then — how about joining me in absorbing these financial articles instead?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily September 14, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Wow, thanks for the link! Much appreciated!!

Escape Somewhere September 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm

I guess if you have a kid when you are 23 and your kid has a kid when you are 23 then you are a 46 year old grandparent.

So do you even have to be a grandparent. If you are 52 and are buying a gift for your niece or something I would assume they don’t check.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 15, 2008 at 12:23 am

That’s true — they discriminate against age, but how would they know if you are a grandparent or not? They can check you via ids for your age, but your status of grandparent is something harder to verify…

I do think it’s an odd “promotion” nevertheless.

Over65 September 15, 2008 at 3:00 am

I don’t think you could call it discrimination. If Toys are Us wants to run a promotion for Grandparents over 50 I don’t think they are discriminating. Simply they are assuming that most grandparents are over 50 and over 50s probably have less money to spend on toys than people under 50.

I’m still not sure how they know for sure that those people over 50 are grandparents because you could maybe have parents with young kids in their 50s?

My Daily Dollars September 15, 2008 at 4:37 am

Great roundup! Thanks for the mention. 🙂

Silicon Valley Blogger September 15, 2008 at 8:36 am


Perhaps “age discrimination” is too harsh a term. I guess I meant it in a more casual way. It’s a fun (and funny) marketing campaign though, since the rules aren’t so clear cut.

Playing with demographics this way just seems to be a recipe for confusion, as some of the comments here have suggested. Are you 50 years old? Are you a grandparent? How can you prove it?

It seems the kind of thing that would attract truly frivolous lawsuits. IMO, companies can do whatever the heck they want when it comes to campaigns like these (but will need to face outcry if they offend anyone).

CMOE September 15, 2008 at 9:30 am

So do you think that coupon was more detrimental to Toys R Us or was it a good business builder? I think that they could have lowered the age limit some and reached more of their target market, perhaps a little more research would have been helpful.

Dividends4Life September 15, 2008 at 10:44 am

SVB: Thanks for including my article “The Next Great Company”! I look forward to some more of your great investing articles!

Best Wishes,

Bargain Finder October 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Ugh. I hate that kind of promo wherein you have to read the fine print before availing it. They should have just said, “discount coupon for senior citizens” or something. Though I do agree that grandparents below 45 yrs old is a bit surprising.

WPBonds July 19, 2009 at 11:50 am

I think it’s entirely unfair to get privileges based on how old you are. I think it’s almost as unfair as saying, “you can’t golf here because you’re different.”

Emil Croskey October 26, 2009 at 8:36 pm

I was a grandparent at 50 years old and don’t think that was too early. Actually I can still keep up with my granddaughter for few more years. I don’t shop at ToysRUs as their prices always seem higher. But with a discount? Hmmm….

Tiph September 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

My mom and MIL were both grandmas well before they were 50 (they were actually 44 & 45)… and even then I was married at 20, but we didn’t have a baby until I was 23. So they could have been grandmas by the time they were 42/43. Another family I know, the mom became a grandma at 38. (she had her daughter at 17, and her daughter had a kid at 21.) So it’s really not that uncommon or surprising… 😉

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