Last week, a Toys “R” Us in Fayetteville, Georgia came under fire for pricing a black doll several dollars higher than the white version of the same doll. Niaira Taylor, the mother of a young black girl who wanted the Baby Alive doll for Christmas, was incensed over the discrepancy. When Taylor tried to purchase the doll, which was the number one item on her daughter Ahzhane’s wish list, the African-American version was priced higher than the same white doll next to it on the store shelf.
The doll had been advertised for a sale price of $31.99 in a recent Toys “R” Us flier, but Taylor was charged over $47— reflecting the full purchase price with tax — because she chose the black version of the doll. The flier had listed all Baby Alive dolls at 20% off. Yet, at the checkout when Taylor tried to buy the black version she did not receive the discount.
Customer service representatives at the toy store location confirmed that the doll Taylor wanted was identical to the version on sale, aside from the race of the toys.
Taylor told local news site 11Alive regarding the incident: “The manager said ‘Yeah, it’s only the Caucasian doll that’s 20 percent off. And I said ‘You mean to tell me I have to pay full price for the African-American doll, but they’re all the exact same doll?’ She said ‘Yes, unfortunately it’s a mess, but yes.’”
WATCH 11 ALIVE LOCAL FAYETTEVILLE COVERAGE OF THIS STORY:
After taking a picture of the contrasting price tags for the black and white dolls, Taylor left the store outraged over the discrepancy with the number for the Toys “R” Us corporate offices in tow. Two calls made to Toys “R” Us by the irate mother were not returned.
Then Taylor escalated her complaint to area television news producers. When “11Alive’s Jaye Watson went to the Fayetteville Toys ‘R’ Us[, t]he sale signs from Taylor’s photos were gone. Both races of Baby Alive dolls were the same price — $35.99,” the station web site reported.
Managers of the Fayetteville Toys “R” Us would not comment on the change, but Toys “R” Us released an official statement regarding the incident. The corporate toy realtor explained:
It is our company policy to price same item dolls of each ethnicity the same. There were a total of 12 Baby Alive dolls offered on sale beginning Sunday. ( 4 types, each having different ethnicities — and each having different item numbers.) The pricing error was the result of incorrectly keying in the item number on one of the three like dolls. Once we became aware of the pricing discrepancy, we moved quickly to adjust the incorrect pricing on that doll.
Toys “R” Us also offered Taylor a $25 gift certificate, so that Ahzhane can receive her Christmas wish.
In a related story last year, Wal-Mart was slammed for pricing black barbie dolls for half the price of identical white barbies.
The cost of African-American dolls remains a sensitive issue in part due to difficult-to-digest findings regarding the desirability of black dolls. A study released this year showed that black girls often prefer to play with white dolls, echoing similar results discovered in a landmark study from the ‘40s.