Taking a balloon from a baby - who's in the right?

A DISPUTE with a customer has blown up for Noosaville's Big W store with the customer slamming the department store for taking one of its store sale balloons from a small child.

Sheree Fletcher says she and her partner, Silvio Rodriguez, were in the Noosa Civic store with their 15-month-old daughter when Mr Rodriguez took a couple of the balloons, advertising Big W's post-Christmas sale, and gave them to their child "to make her happy".

Unfortunately, the store wasn't prepared to give the balloons up.

"A customer service representative, advised by the store manager, was told to take the store sale balloons off my 15mth daughter as it costs Big W approx $8 for the balloons," Ms Fletcher posted to Big W's Facebook page.

"My daughter was so upset we had to leave the store. For $8 you just lost a $800 TV sale."

Mr Rodriguez was similarly unimpressed, saying the couple had first tried to buy their baby a balloon at the store's party section but couldn't get anyone to serve them, even after a call was put out through the store's PA system. It was only after that he took the display balloons.

"Talk about taking candy from a baby ... this lady had no shame," he posted.

"Absolutely disgusted, if you had seen the tears running down our baby's eyes you would have been ashamed at supporting the store.

"Even when it came to merely purchasing balloons from their party section they couldn't help."

The Facebook post drew a mixed response, with some people lashing out at the store for taking a balloon from a baby, while others said taking the balloons in the first place amounted to theft.

"So you took some balloons ... stealing ... gave them to your child and got upset when they were taken back from you? Well ... I'd be more upset that you were giving your child stolen goods," commented Rachel Petrusma.

Should Big W have let the baby keep the balloons?

This poll ended on 17 January 2017.

Current Results

Yes, it's just a balloon. Is it really worth all this fuss?

13%

No. It was Big W's property and should never have been taken without permission.

74%

Normally I'd say no, but the parents did try to buy a balloon first and shopping with a crying baby is a nightmare.

11%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Jade Ellen Smith took a similar line: "Don't let your kid take something that doesn't belong to them. It's their stock."

Former retail manager Janice Healey suggested the couple should have approached the issue differently.

"As an ex-manager in retail ... most of the time staff are happy to give the balloons to children when they are taking them down and they are no longer needed. But it's polite to wait until they are offered to the child rather than just taking them," she said.

"Do people come to your place and just help themselves to things that they may assume you dont need anymore?"

Nicky Walker also says she used to work in retail, and commented some parents would take much more than simple balloons.

"When I worked in retail, parents used to take the gift cards that were there that belonged to the business and give them to their kids," she posted.

"I had to stop so many parents doing this saying to them that it is theft. They had no concept of this and thought it ok to steal for their children's amusement! Some people have no clue."

However, others backed Ms Fletcher and Mr Rodriguez, saying the store had failed in its customer service obligation.

"Actually this is terrible customer service," Uhrle Portia Michelle posted.

"I've been to Big W, Strathpine where they also had balloons displayed through out the store and one team member noticed my daughter staring at one and took it down and gave it to her!

"That's sad, taking a balloon off a baby. At the least they could've given a warning and let the baby keep the balloon! I won't be shopping there anymore if that's how things were handled."

"If a child came to my house and took a balloon without asking I would let them keep it. Because it's a balloon. Kindness is free," Maureen Cembrano posted.



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