I wrote about the lack of quality in the toys our children received for Christmas a few days ago (see What happened to quality control with toys?) and since then I have dutifully queried the various companies trying to figure out how to return or repair some of the new additions to our playroom.
Of the two queries I’ve sent, one was answered splendidly (kudos to the customer service team at Collectibles.com, who are willing to work with me on the carousel even though it wasn’t purchased there).
The other, well, you can read the exchange between us and Maclaren Inc…
First off, we sent the following message to Maclaren Strollers:
Hello there. We bought a toy three wheeler âjog strollerâ? for our daughter for Christmas, and when we assembled it, found that various small pieces of hardware were missing, including the screws needed to attach the âmud flapâ? plastic piece to the front wheel and the two pieces (per wheel) for the back wheels that lets them stay on the axle (in the instructions theyâre shown as steps 1.c and 1.d and the screws in step 4.
For obvious reasons, my daughter is very eager to be able to play with this toy so we would be MOST appreciative if you can have someone send out that hardware ASAP.
To which they responded rather curtly with:
We apologize for the missing pieces of your stroller, would you please let us know where you purchased this toy? We’ll be able to serve you better with this knowledge.
And we sent back:
Hello â We purchased the stroller at TJ Max. I never thought to check inside for missing pieces, but will do so in the future!
and here’s what we got back. But before you read it, how would you respond if you were in charge of customer service at Maclaren Strollers, Inc?
Surely not like this:
Thank you for your prompt reply. Unfortunately we do not have stock for the spare parts of toys to repair this toy. As it was sold through a retailer, it is the retailer that has the money from the transaction rather than us. It will be up to them and their return policy which we cannot override. You may want to try taking the toy back to get a refund, if you are refused please let me know and I will see if customer service can do anything else for you.
I find it completely baffling that they don’t have spare parts for products that are part of their current product line, but more upsetting that they don’t really seem to care much. If I were in customer service I’d scrounge up some replacement parts of some sort, something to at least say “we don’t have parts, but I’ve sent along something I think will work”.
Oh, and if the retailer is the only person in this supply chain that “has the money from our transaction” then I wonder how Maclaren is still in business. In fact, Maclaren has a piece of the transaction too because TJ Max had to buy the product from them in the first place. Or perhaps Maclaren views that as when they get to wash their hands of the transaction?
This is the face of modern commoditized overseas manufacturing. The vast majority of people at Maclaren probably don’t even know where their products are made, let alone have the ability to pick up the phone and ask for some replacement parts to be sent to an unhappy customer.
And pushing us back to the sales outlet? That’s a coward’s way out, in my opinion, because as we said in the beginning, we like the little jog stroller, we just want it to be fully assembled. Instead of being glad to hear from a potentially happy customer, Maclaren customer service can’t see beyond the end of its proverbial nose. We don’t want to return the silly stroller, we just want it to work!
At this point I would strongly discourage people from buying Maclaren products based on this interaction with its customer service team. No solutions, just a form response. Very disappointing, and doubly so for a company that sells toys for children.
But maybe I’m still just overwhelmed with the generally poor quality of the toys we bought for our children this year?