Friday, September 14, 2007

Somewhat mollified

So I was at least somewhat wrong in my last post...I did get a form letter, as I expected. But it wasn't just pablum about how "the subject of children's safety is extremely important to us." Nope, this form letter apologized for the last one and explained that the information on paying postage was in error.

Hmmm. Apparently, some Mattel staff got the memo about how to handle the recalls, and some didn't.

I do wonder if this second letter went out to everyone who got the first one, or only to those who wrote angry notes back...

Anyway, here's the full form reply I got from Mattel in reply to my e-mailed rant:

Dear Consumer:

Recently you should have received one or more emails and mailing labels from Mattel, for the purpose of returning products affected by the recently announced recall of Barbie® Accessory Sets, GeoTrax™ Engines or It’s a Big Big World™ 6-in-1 Bongo Band Sets.

The email incorrectly stated that you would have to pay for the postage on the included mailing label. We apologize for the erroneous details on the email, but the mailing label you received IS a prepaid mailing label and will not cost you anything to mail.

We apologize for any confusion created by the previous email(s). Please use the mailing label(s) you received to return only the affected part(s) of your product(s). Your return(s) will be carefully assessed and replacement(s) along with bonus piece(s) will be sent to you within 10 - 12 weeks.

To ensure your package is received by us quickly, please take your package to your local post office to receive a round date stamp on your merchandise return mailing acknowledgement or online e-label record (included on bottom half of mailing label). This confirmation stamp is provided by the postal service at no cost to you. [Bold is theirs, not mine. -SK] Packages dropped at a mailbox or collection box are not scanned prior to delivery and may delay the return of your package.

In closing, we would like to apologize to everyone affected by this recall, especially those consumers who bought the affected toys. We realize that parents trust us with what is most precious to them - their children. And we also recognize that trust is earned. Our goal is to correct this problem, improve our systems and maintain the trust of the families that have allowed us to be part of their lives by acting responsibly and quickly to address their concerns.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please call us at 1-800-916-4957, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM Eastern time, and Saturday between the hours of 11 AM and 5 PM Eastern time.

Thank you for contacting Mattel.

So my Cranky Total Mattel Ban is a bit relaxed. On the other hand, I still don't feel great about buying their stuff. Maybe I should, since they're the ones being tested constantly right now. Although I'll bet Hasbro is just as afraid of messing up. I'm sure they can already see the headlines that would make.

I think I'll buy Legos. Although Lord only knows which chemicals they're made of.


I'm back...and singing the lead toy blues

Sorry about the long hiatus. Blogging doesn't combine well with summer vacation, at least not without camp. The Bunster and I had a good time, but I didn't get a chance to get online very much. Anyway, now I'm back and already ranting. Maybe something on comics next week...

We finally got caught up in the Mattel recalls, after having to run several toys through their online check. The first few turned out okay, but the Bunster's little red Geo Trax engine turns out to be decorated with large quantities of lead. So I sent in the recall info, waited a couple of weeks (so much for 3 to 5 business days...but I guess they're kinda busy at the moment), and today I got an e-mail from them. Turns out the "preprinted mailing label" I've been waiting weeks for isn't postage paid, it's just got tracking numbers for their convenience.

So now I get to pay again for the lead-laced toy, this time to replace it with something safe.

So I just wrote the following extremely snippy e-mail to Mattel:

Excuse me, are you telling me that I have to PAY POSTAGE for the privilege of safely disposing of and replacing the toy that you tried to poison my child with?

You've now put me in a position where I either tell my son that the toy you promised to replace won't be returning after all, or paying even more money to get the toy again. It really doesn't matter to me that the money is going to the post office and not into your coffers...the fact is I have to pay AGAIN to get this toy.

It's bad enough that your quality control is so poor that you have to be caught before you start protecting children from poisons that have been banned for years, but making parents pay to have YOUR NEGLIGENCE corrected? That's adding insult to injury.

I have three birthday parties to shop for this week alone, one of which is my son's. I can assure you that NONE of the presents I purchase will be a Mattel product.

And I'll also be telling any parents who ask what my son wants for his birthday "Legos, cars, trucks, trains, and please, nothing from Mattel."

Sincerely and not at all happily,
Sara Kocher

It's actually four parties now, but it's not likely they're going to actually read it anyway. I get to vent, get a minimum wage customer service clerk to send me another form letter, and then either pay the postage or toss the toy and live with the guilt of dumping lead into the environment.

You know, the post office could really make a fortune on these recalls if they just got a few more Chinese factories to play fast and loose with the lead paint...

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