I was excited when the new special edition limited sets came out in February and almost considered ordering several to review here on The Mouse Lair, but the money simply wasn’t available at the time and I was up to my eyeballs trying to navigate the semester and graduate school applications.
I know that Kit’s Chicken Outfit has won over many fans…
…but the one that I loved best was Kaya’s.
I wanted to buy this one immediately, along with Samantha’s Gazebo, her dog Jip, and a bunch of other spring releases–my original list totaled well over $280 worth of items. But because I loathe paying for shipping (Amazon Prime has spoiled me immensely) I decided to wait until the first free shipping code.
This is bad news for American Girl. The more time I have to mull over a possible purchase, the less I decide I really need or want them. By the time this sale rolled around, I decided that I really only wanted these two outfits.
But of course, by the time the spring sale went live today the 20% off wasn’t being reflected in the price of the items, and because I hadn’t yet had my morning tea I didn’t notice that I didn’t get the sale price until after the order had been submitted. (oops. Never order before morning tea.)
By the time I finally woke up and realized what had happened I had to spend time on the phone with AG customer service. They were able to adjust my order, but after the adjustment I was under the tier for free shipping. So I decided to throw in the Egg Decorating Set as well. I’d been on the fence about it, thinking I could very well make my own eggs and paint them…but with the long list of projects I already have started I’d likely never get around to it. And besides, I’d rather spend money on another item than shipping.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed AG IT department fail first hand. I was stuck during the Cyber Monday fiasco of 2014 where the website crashed and then all of a sudden started mysteriously working for everyone right at 1:15 AM (I had one tab open to AG and another tab open to American Girl Playthings). Having things delayed over an hour was bad enough, but when my order was finally submitted it had included two or even three duplicates of the same items. I was so tired and exhausted and fed up that I went on ahead and submitted the order anyway, figuring that if I went back to change it I would lose the entire thing and I could always gift the extras to my niece or return them to AG. Whatever, big deal, I’m going to bed.
It takes my CM order nearly a week and a half to be delivered and after reading the experiences that other people had trying to complete their orders by the time it arrived (and having prices of everything be cut down AGAIN the day after CM)…it had completely spoiled the entire order for me and I ended up returning nearly $200 worth of merchandise that I just didn’t want anymore.
I wish I had journaled more about it as it happened so that I could give a complete picture, but Back In My Day, American Girl didn’t go on sale, EVER. The price was the price. I’ve watched the higher price points for the items go up and up and up (mostly to support all their brick and mortar stores, I suspect) and the quality turn more and more plastic and I’ve watched AG slowly price my friends, other collectors, and then myself out of the market.
Fine, whatever, these things happen. A good part about this is that I’ve turned to DIY and really started to foster my own creativity and checking out cottage industries and even what other lines have to offer (and I used to be the ultimate AG snob). But here is what bothers me about the sales, and what was just reinforced to me this morning:
There is absolutely no reason for me to buy anything full price from American Girl on the first day of release. And if I really look at it, there’s not much of a reason for me to buy at full retail price.
Maybe if this blog takes off and I can start generating revenue from it I can buy items on first day release to share with you all here and hang the cost, but right now with the way things are for me…I’m going to wait for it to go on sale. I’ve been a dedicated collector of AG since the late 80’s when they were still Pleasant Company, and I look at the stuff on offer today and think…”you know, it is simply not worth that much.”
Your mileage may vary, of course. I know that when I see pieces I absolutely love (like Grace’s Baking Set or, God help me, that bakery) then I may grit my teeth and snarl a little bit, but I have to have it. I don’t complain then. But to have things released and then almost immediately go on sale a couple weeks later? Why bother buying things immediately then? American Girl has taught me to wait for sales. And while I love the savings on my wallet, it does make me wonder about where we are going to be long term. A friend of mine who knows a lot more about this kind of stuff than I do has described inflating prices too high, panicking because no one will buy, and then training your customers to wait for deep discount sales as a “tailspin” and causing big, big problems for a company. I don’t want to see that happen to AG.
Bottom line for me: I will pay high prices if the quality is there. I have spent well over $100 on one dress from Kindred Thread and not regretted it one bit. If you bring the quality, I will bring the money. I will pay reasonable prices for items of good quality. Cheapen the item and jack up the price and I peace out.
But yes…AG IT…please get it together. I know for a fact you are missing out on sales from me because of website problems, and AG is the only place I have these issues. It’s not like you don’t have advanced notice of sales and time to prepare for them. When the sale goes live, then the prices need to reflect the sale. I shouldn’t have to bother some poor CS rep to give me an extra 20% because you made a coding mistake somewhere.
I’m glad I saved a little bit of money from the sale, and my husband has promised me a day trip to Kansas City for my birthday. Honestly I got the smaller things I wanted from the sale, and I’m still up in the air if I should get the bakery now or wait. The idea of paying $500 for ONE item from American Girl leaves me reeling, but this is a fantastic piece and for someone who has been collecting as long as I have, it would be the crown jewel. If they had released this when I was a girl I would have died…and there is no way I would have gotten it. I hate some of the price points in Grace’s collection, but I do say I love every bit of it. She is one of those dolls I definitely want more than one of.