Mattel Offers Refunds for Yellowed Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men (Updated)

UPDATE: OK, I finally had time to think it through and figured out a legitimate reason for requesting all figures be sent back in, rather than simply refunding any orders made on Mattycollector upon request.

Let’s say a retailer ordered 100 Stay-Pufts off Mattycollector (by having their staff members each order 10 or whatever, I can’t remember if there was a limit). They could re-sell all 100 of those Stay-Pufts, then get 100 refunds for those orders. Then, each customer who bought a Stay-Puft also requests refunds, and so Mattel ends up refunding for 200 figures instead of 100.

So, I admit I missed something on this one. But I still wish they could make the process of returning the figures easier. (When I had to return my Wind Raider, they requested someone be there when they come to get the package. So you have to have someone home, or take it to work and have it picked up there, or risk leaving it out on your doorstep unattended.) /END UPDATE

Mattel is offering refunds for anyone who bought last year’s SDCC Stay-Puft, which has a QC problem in which the toys are turning yellow.

If you would like a refund, here’s what to do:

If You Purchased at MattyCollector.com for Pickup at SDCC
For orders that were placed during the voucher pre-sale and picked up at the MattyCollector.com booth at SDCC, please call 1-877-GO-MATTYor email MattyCollector.CS@digitalriver.com. Our agent will look up your original order and arrange for the product to be picked up at our expense and returned to our warehouse. When the product is received at our warehouse, a credit for the original purchase price will be issued on the card you used to place the order. No refunds will be issued without the defective product being returned to us.

If You Purchased at the MattyCollector.com SDCC Booth
For those customers who purchased the figure directly at the MattyCollector.com booth at SDCC, please call 1-877-GO-MATTYor email MattyCollector.CS@digitalriver.com. Our agent will create a ticket and arrange for the product to be picked up at our expense and returned to our warehouse. When the product is received at our warehouse, a check for the original purchase price will be issued and mailed to you at the address you provided to the agent. No refunds will be issued without the defective product being returned to us.

If You Purchased at MattyCollector.com During Our Post-SDCC Sale
For orders that were placed during the post-SDCC sale at MattyCollector.com and shipped directly to you, please call 1-877-GO-MATTYor email MattyCollector.CS@digitalriver.com. Our agent will look up your original order and arrange for the product to be picked up at our expense and returned to our warehouse. When the product is received at our warehouse, a credit for the original purchase price and shipping will be issued on the original card you used to place the order. No refunds will be issued without the defective product being returned to us.

Finally, we know how much you like the giant diorama package that came with the figure and we’re happy to leave it with you as a “thank you” for your business. If you choose to return your Stay Puft figure, you won’t need to return the diorama package to receive the refund.

Of course, proving that you bought a figure via an order that’s archived in Digital River’s system is not enough. You have to mail back the toy to get your refund.

This makes sense if you bought the item at SDCC, especially if you paid cash; you need to prove you bought one. But why would anyone who bought one online or pre-ordered via the voucher system have to mail it back? Aren’t those orders still archived in Digital River’s system? (If not, let me know; my dudgeon is unwarranted if that’s the case. But every order I’ve made since 2008 is still in my order history.)

Mattel can’t fix or re-sell the defective figures, so why go through the time and expense of having them shipped back? I can think of only one reason: to make the process so annoying and time-consuming so as to discourage people from bothering.

You know, despite what some have said about me here and elsewhere, I really do try to give Mattel the benefit of the doubt. And maybe, just maybe, there are some financial or legal considerations here that I’m missing, and I invite anyone with insider knowledge to email me and explain it, on or off the record. But it seems to me what a responsible company would do in this situation is issue an automatic refund to anyone who has an order for Stay-Puft on file at Mattycollector.com, and forget about making them mail back the figure.

Am I just being crazy or ignorant here? Is that an unusual or unreasonable expectation for a situation like this?

33 Comments »

Comments now closed (33)

  • I guess it makes it fair for everyone. Like if you bought it at SDCC and had to loose the figure for a refund you could complain bout "day of" buyers who get both.

    They should have done auto refund for online buyers, and send in a UPC or some other decided on proof for cash buyers.

    • I suppose there's a fairness issue, but day-of buyers didn't have to pay for shipping for this giant item in the first place, so there's something of a balance there.

      A mandatory UPC refund wouldn't work because some people would have thrown out the packaging, though they certainly could have offered it as an option for those who didn't.

  • They clearly don't want people to get a refund, while getting to enjoy their decomposing Stay Puft at the same time. If they did that, they'd have to give back all the money they got via Mattycollector.com–this way, people have to work for it and be willing to have no Stay Puft for their GB collection.

  • I was on the fence (for exactly the reasons you laid out, Pie) until I started reading about the actual problem. Once I saw that the foam itself will actually disintegrate, no matter what you do to preserve it, there’s no point to holding on to it, even if mine miraculously hasn’t begun to yellow yet.

    Eventually it’ll end up like the foam inserts in my Chewbacca bandolier or in the Dagobah swamp.

  • I’m just astonished that they didn’t realize this would happen. Don’t major companies have entire departments devoted to avoiding such problems?

  • They should refund people for whatever other toy they used the foam material with like snout spout and swamp thing.

    • Mattel is still INSISTING that Snout Spout is not defective, and directing people to send him in for a replacement if need be.

  • Stupid auto correct…I fixed that Pie three times, Poe. Now its trying to change it to low. =)

  • I didn't buy one, but I get the reasoning behind making you send the figure back…..and it is a good business/financial issue.

    If they didn't do that, they would probably have almost a 100% refund rate because everyone and anyone who bought one would apply for the refund. Even if (lets just say) 50% of those people would have never sent the figure back because they are 'happy enough' with it. So by having you send the figure back, (at their expense) I would imagine the return rate will be cut in half if not more. So the little extra it costs them in shipping makes it worth it for them.

    The only other thing I can think of is it is a legal issue. God only knows if these things are disintegrating and what they are turning into. They might become a hazard and therefore, by doing this, they did their 'part' in getting these out of circulation.

    cont…….

    • cont……

      Either way…..I am far from being a 'pro' Mattel person, but I think in this case, they are doing everything they should to correct the problem. At the end of the day, you get a full refund, and you don't have to pay anything to get it. (they even have it picked up at their expense) So I think this is a tough one to complain about. They admitted their mistake, and are doing everything they can to fix the issue without costing the customer….I think that is all anyone can ask for.

      If people are upset that they don't get to keep their figure and get a refund, then they are probably happy enough with the figure that they shouldn't be getting the refund anyhow. In my mind, you can't have it both ways.

      • I don't think it's about wanting to keep the figure as well as getting a refund – it's about the inconvenience of sending it back.

        It's almost certainly true that requiring the return will cut down on the number of refund requests. It's been almost a year since they bought the figure, that $70-$90 has long been gone from the buyers' pockets, so maybe it's just not worth the trouble of packing it up and arranging for someone to come get it. Having done so with the Wind Raider, I can tell you it's annoying, because they actually request you be there when they come to get the package. So you have to have someone home, or take it to work and have it picked up there, or risk leaving it out on your doorstep unattended.

        But yes, I suppose it's a good business move that will save Mattel money. But I think it's also yet another instance of Mattel choosing the bottom line over customer service and good PR.

  • It’s a refund, not a replacement. So anyone who went to the effort to pick this up is being given the middle finger; this is why I’ve been done with MattyCollector for over a year now, and everyone else should be too.

  • poe, i'd like to go on the record as saying you are not in any way unfair towards mattel. if anything, i'd say you are more forgiving and relaxed than i think you ought to be. any time any company w/ any product or service wants to get at my hard earned, they have to EARN it as well… not just offer the product or service, but go the extra mile to earn my business. to those who truly earn it, i am loyal as a dog… to those who don't, i don't forgive them.

    and that's not a bad thing. i have a family to budget for, and priorities that go well outside the world of toys. a company that does the bare minimum gets from me the bare minimum. there's no harm in that, nor is that being malicious. anyone who thinks otherwise does not have a proper handle on their sense of worth and the worth of their money and time.

    how this relates back to mattel… we waited till order day, we waded through the WSOD, we paid for their lackluster shipping service and sat there patiently while we waited for their toy… that in some cases ARRIVED w/ cracks and dents in the material THAT THEY TESTED. then, as we reconciled that that wasn't so bad, we watched our stay puft go from cream to butter. and now that enough people (and let's get real a second… what's the percentage we would say have been vocal about having problems? 50%? 40%? there's no chance in hell that everyone that have had issues have come forward) are complaining, they're issuing the refund. that's nice, but it's minimum effort. there's no way we should have to do anything but sit back and watch an unexpected 70 bucks hit our bank accounts.

    to put this another way, when the auto industry has to issue a recall, do you ship the car back to the manufacturer? hell no, you go to a dealer, or a licensed mechanic, and get the part(s) that are defective replaced. or in the case of a completely defective car, they come retrieve the vehicle.

    the only reasons i can see being acceptable for why we have to ship the product back are, as dwal points out, they're counting on only a fraction of the vocal complainers, who are already a fraction of the dissatisfied customers, returning the toy so that they're not spending much on the reissue… that's shitty as hell, but it makes good business sense (why, in some larger sense, is precisely why i hate big business… if i had an experience like this w/ an artisanal toy maker, they would fix things the right way, and i wouldn't be here complaining about it) and it makes it easier to forgive after we've forgotten… and out of sight, out of mind. by forcing the recall, those who bought stay puft are less likely to remember how stupid and awful the toy, and the experience, are as time fades on… whereas, if they left us the toy but gave us the money back, the crumbling yellow husk of the once mighty stay puft would prove the chernobyl of toys, and we'd be coming to poe's to complain about it for years to come. out of sight, out of mind… the corporate guys over there aren't dumb, even if the toy makers themselves are dumber than air bladders in the soles of running shoes.

    by the way, when thinking of artisanal toy makers who had issues… what happened when A9Gate went down w/ 4H studios? think back to that, and you'll know i'm right on the ball about how real toy makers handle a problem.

    • Just my two cents – not all "artisanal" companies are perfect, either. I don't collect ThreeA stuff, but it sounds like their delays and broken parts have made some people very unhappy.

      You're correct that the Four Horsemen did right by their fans, though.

      • i can't speak for every small producer, but in seems by and large that the small companies take care of their customers. if 3A is having problems, people need to pressure them to get it right, or stop buying their products. but 3A, because of the size of their operation, should be much quicker to respond than mattel will be. i can't speak from experience on the 3A issue but you know me… if i had a problem, they would be the first to hear it… often. in the crudest terms possible. for a very long time afterwards too.

        then again, not all of the small companies have had fiascos like this year, so many of them are untested… and that's fine by me too.

  • Just a few thoughts:

    *If Mattel simply refunded anyone who purchased these figures without asking for the figure back, lots of resellers would be requesting refunds for figures they didn't even possess. Neither right nor wrong, just something I could see happening.

    *Secondly, does requiring the shipping of the figure back possibly in some way leave some room for Mattel to possibly reach out to fans who had to go the route of the secondary market? Probably not- still requiring the product makes sure that the actual end user gets the refund.

    *Is the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man going to become a super rare collectible over time or just an embarassing footnote in toy collecting history? Is Mattel contemplating on this conundrum causing many collectors to keep their figures?

    *Will we suddenly see a wave of SDCC Marshmallow Men hit E-bay from a mysterious user called Mat-El?

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  • This whole thing is a joke! Scott took forever to actually acknowledge there was a problem in the first place… and he finally did so on a MOTU podcast no less o.0 Really great for Ghostbusters fans who don't care about MOTU!

    And when it's finally announced officially where all GhostHeads can read it, this is their solution???!! :@ So, the figure will deteriorate anyway over time, regardless of how well you take care of it?

    Well, after cancelled Subs, no replies, raised prices that were promised in writing wouldn't be raised, Dana becoming the SDCC exclusive (from $20 to $25), wrong colors, lazy sculpts and repaints, and no word on the infamous "Thank You" for months until fans started nagging… after all that… they can't throw GB collectors a scrap and say "You know what guys, get a refund and keep him. Have this one – on us! We care about your business, and we want you to come back. We screwed up this time – not you, the customer – consider this a gift from Mattel"

    Then we'd all be talking about how brilliant Mattel are and how well they handled this QC debacle! But, Mattel and Scott being who they are, they couldn't help themselves!

  • "You know, despite what some have said about me here and elsewhere, I really do try to give Mattel the benefit of the doubt."

    ?!?!?!

    I always thought you were fair-minded towards Mattel, leaning towards being an apologist, even. (And I don't say that to be inflammatory; I'm a Hasbro apologist much of the time).

    Recently you've become more frustrated, and rightly so… but are there really people who imply that you're too hard on Mattel? That's just weird.

  • Also, I think it's funny that the Neca Stay-Puft figure, which looks better anyway, is still holding up just fine.

  • How could anyone expect a refund and to keep the product?

    Mattel probably has insurance against things like this that requires them to have the defective product returned and destroyed.

  • If they really did want to let people keep them, they could. They could generate unique codes and ask that they be in a photo with the figure (like reward sites do with movie tickets).

    I’m not opposed to returning mine, especially knowing it will decay, but that would have been an option if they wanted to do something nice and save money on shipping returns (especially with how much shipping costs have gone up for DR). It just seems like a waste. When retailers destroy other defective merchandise, they’re not required to send the original product back to the manufacturor.

  • Poe, I don’t see you as ever being too hard on Mattel. I think you’re an example of someone who tried to believe they were doing their best, until it got to the point that even you couldn’t sit back and say “yeah that’s acceptable”. It seems now even the staunchest “apologists” (not saying that’s you by any means) are having trouble looking the other way on Mattel debacle after Mattel debacle.