First off, I’ll admit my site poll is anything but scientific. But I do think it, along with plenty of anecdotal evidence, suggests that one of the main, if not the main, reason many former Club Eternia subscribers are not re-subscribing next year is due to Mattycollector’s customer service.
Regular readers will know all about my Wind Raider mess, so let me give a more recent example of how poorly run the Mattycollector website is. My wife and I moved into a new house in early July. The day after we moved, I went to Mattycollector and changed my address in the “Personal Information” area. From previous experience, I also knew I had to go find my original Club Eternia 2013 subscription order and change the address on that one. Unfortunately, I forgot to change the address on my Club Infinite Earths sub. Fortunately, my order was forwarded by the USPS.
(Oh, and as I was typing the previous paragraph, I realized I’d forgotten to update my address on the 30th Anniversary sub. Fortunately there was no 30th Anniversary figure last month. I went and looked and sure enough, there’s the old shipping address, right below the new billing address – they may not ship it to the right place, but at least they made sure they’ll get their money.)
The ability to change one’s billing and shipping addresses in one place for all current and future orders should be part of any commerce website, period. I realize the subscription made things a bit trickier, but once Mattel and Digital River introduced the subscription model, they should have made sure the subscriptions worked more or less flawlessly – certainly after three years. The subscription model isn’t substantially different from the pre-orders that every other retailer offers. I order toys from Japanese retailers whose secondary English sites operate far more efficiently and reliably than Mattycollector.
For four years now, we have dealt with an endless string of problems from Digital River. Server crashes. Cart errors. The Red/White Screen of Doom. Shipping errors. Inventory errors. Subscription errors. Billing errors. Customer service representatives who are at best clueless and at worst, flat-out rude. Digital River was clearly unprepared for what they were contracted for and four years later, things have scarcely improved, and in some ways they’ve gotten worse. A year (or more?) after we were told there would be a special subscription management section on Mattycollector, it’s still MIA.
In his July 19 note on the subscriptions, Scott Neitlich wrote:
And to address the big elephant in the room: we know the buying experience has not been perfect. In the past few months we have made great strides to improve this with initiatives such as our new US-based Customer Service team and a soon to be launched revamped “My Subscription” page letting customers control things like their shipping address and payment options. We are 100% committed to continuing to improve the buying and shipping process until it is perfect. You have my word on that.
Clearly, Neitlich’s word is not enough. Fans not only need to hear some specifics on improvements, they need to see some. I suspect it would help the 2013 Club Eternia subscription if the My Subscription section of Mattycollector became operational before the August 6 deadline. Give us something positive, something we can point out to the fence-sitters and show Mattel is actually committed to improving the customer service experience.
But that may not be enough. I believe Mattel needs to fully acknowledge and address the problems that have occurred with Mattycollector over the past year – the wrongly declined credit cards, the Fisto fiasco, the frequently uninformed customer service, the entire “escalation” mess one has to go through to get anything done. They need to do more than a blanket statement that “the buying experience has not been perfect.” We need to know they understand exactly what the problems have been (especially the problems with the person-to-person customer service).
And then, Mattel needs to make it very clear that all of that will be minimal to nonexistent for 2013…with the understanding that if the problems continue, the 2014 sub’s death is a foregone conclusion, and his MOTUC cap-feather will be tarnished.
We need a single phone number, open 9-5 Pacific Time, and a single email address where we be assured of reaching a customer service representative who is both completely knowledgeable of how the website works and is empowered from the beginning to correct our problem, without any of this “escalation” garbage.
I’m not surprised the subscription numbers tanked this year. With the obvious exception of Ram Man, almost all the heavy hitters are out of the way by the end of 2012. I suspect the more casual MOTUC collectors who have had any sort of negative experience with Mattycollector – and it’s a sure bet there are plenty of people in that category – are skipping 2013. But a note (not a video, please) from Mattel addressing, at length, the ongoing issues with Mattycollector and what they will do to correct them in 2013 could go a long way toward getting the remaining 36% of subscriptions needed to hit the minimum.
A final note: I still love the Masters of the Universe Classics toys. I don’t think MOTUC is a greedy cash grab (though I do think part of the reason for its continued existence is Mattel’s management wanting to keep the brand alive for a possible movie venture). I don’t hold Scott Neitlich personally responsible for all the problems with the line or Mattycollector. I don’t hate the guy, at all. The few times I’ve met him in person he was quite nice to me and my fellow collectors. I suspect he gets buffeted between the pressures of the fan community and the realities of Mattel’s business constantly. He took on the role of the “face” of MOTUC because there was no one else to do it, so he takes the brunt of the criticism as well as the credit, and there are definitely times that he’s treated unfairly. Nonetheless, in calling upon Mattel to address the Mattycollector issues, I address him in particular because there’s no one else to address.