Poe’s Point > A Peek into the Madness of Mattycollector’s Return Policy

So, here’s an update on my Wind Raider situation.

The long-suffering Dr. Mrs. Ghostal, who ordered my Wind Raider using her own account as as Christmas gift, had to call Digital River to request a replacement. DMG hates making cold calls to anyone, so we were already in a bad place.

We bypassed the standard customer service and called the Escalation Department directly. This probably saved us three to five business days of bureaucratic runaround, but both DMG and I suspect Digital River will soon close down this backdoor and require a ticket number from customer service before allowing someone to talk to the Escalation Dept. This would support what we now believe is an unofficial policy to try to make getting replacements so difficult as to cause the customer to give up entirely.

Adding this image and link so that it shows up in search results for DR.

I had read that the Escalation Dept. often sent out a replacement without asking for a return, but in this case we were asked to box up the Wind Raider and send it back. Here’s where it gets even more frustrating. Rather than simply emailing us a UPS label to stick on the box–or even letting us just bring the damned box to a UPS store–we have to give the box to a UPS delivery person, who will have the label. The UPS person will apparently arrive sometime during business hours in the next three days. 

I ask you, who in the 21st century can just sit around at home for three days in case UPS comes by? That’s crazy. Crazy. Even the goddamned cable guy gives you a four-hour window. But more importantly, why the hell am I handing this package to a UPS person at my own home instead of printing the damned label myself?!

When my wife asked about this bizarre policy, the guy told her “this is how we do it,” and that the only other option is to pay for shipping ourselves. Yeah, we’re not gonna do that, thanks. We’re also not going to wait around for the UPS person. We’re just going to leave the box with a note by our apartment door and hope the UPS person figures it out.

Incidentally, once the item has been picked up by UPS, we’re supposed to call customer service back and tell them it’s been picked up. At that point, they’ll supposedly mail the replacement Wind Raider (which I fully expect will have some other sort of problem, be it poor sticker applications or a bent anchor or whatever).

I generally try not to be too cynical about this world, but such an asinine protocol appears deliberately designed to make it as difficult as possible to return a defective item and get a replacement. It contrasts sharply with my wife’s experience with Macy’s recently. She ordered a special mug for her mother for Christmas. The mug came had a crack, so she emailed them asking for a replacement. Here’s what they did: they sent her a replacement mug with a personal email saying they hoped her mother liked the mug–AND they refunded her money. They refunded her money.

Longtime readers of PGPoA will know I’m a fickle bastard and I go through fads. Well, right now I’m not really into MOTUC as much–hence the distinct lack of reviews–and between this, the ongoing QC issues, and the fact that I haven’t even received a shipping notice for my sub Demo-Man/BG Evil-Lyn, if I could cancel my subscriptions to Club Eternia, the 30th Anniversary sub and Club IE, I would.

Full disclosure and mea culpa: When I was more into–or rather obsessed with–MOTUC, I was too willing to be patient with all the Mattycollector crashes, shipping delays, terrible customer service and endless QC problems. I wouldn’t say I was an apologist, but I didn’t get on Mattel’s case as much as I should have.

Now that that era is over. No longer, Mattel. And I know there are fans who hit their breaking point way before I did.


Wind Raider review addendum – missing guns


Pic of the Day > P1030893 by kafka4prez


  1. Dead Man Walking

    Welcome to the Will-Never-be-Mistaken-for-a-Mattel-Apologist side, Poe. We've been wating for you.

  2. You know if an overly complicated or inexpensive toy has a quality control issue, I don't really have a problem. But MOTU characters are neither. $25-$30 per figure after shipping is not a figure cheap. And given the same 2 body types are used in 75%+ of the figures, they can hardly be called complicated.

    This is a case where Mattel has to look at the source of their quality control issues itself – the manufacturing offshore – and find ways to make a better product. And that may mean spending more money (and likewise passing that cost onto the consumer). But it has to do something.

    I have no trouble with a return policy. But a logical return policy is required. You waiting for three days is not logical.

    Finally, I find the exercise ironic. The Wind Raider was a present and it was the highest scored MOTU figure/accessory I can recall on your site. Hells, Matty should issue a press release triumphing your review on facebook or twitter. And then they blow that good will with a terrible bit of cheapness because of a mistake at their end. If the toy had been craptacular, I doubt anyone would care, but to have the perfect toy review lost because Digital River is insane with their return policy? That's bad business. And bad for the bottom line.

    • Monkey boy

      The problem is that the figures are already ludicrously expensive…at $20 plus shipping & mystery fee for minimal paint apps and each figure being almost entirely a re-use, they’re damn near the priciest thing on the market at least in terms of bang for your buck. So if they moved to a better, more expensive factory the figures would end up being like $30-40 plus shipping and mystery fee, because nobody’s going to eat costs. The fact is the current financial model works well enough for Mattel because it has a loyal enough customer base. The model seems to be: keep figures at the upper range of what people will spend on such a figure, use cheapest labor available, re-use parts as much as possible, create a customer service model that dissuades too many people from attempting to exchange their poorly and cheaply manufactured product, ???, profit. And when they actually have to eat some of the costs, likely they won’t raise prices since MOTUC is already too pricey…chances are they’ll just unceremoniously end the line and blame the fans for not supporting it enough. Remember mattel’s motto: it’s the customers fault if a line fails!

    • Dark Angel

      Oh, but they HAVE raised the price, bud! Starting with the sale on January 17, non subscribers and subscribers buying additional single figures outside of their sub commitment will be paying $22 each. The 10% raise is across the board, so the $30 price point will now be $33, etc. and so forth.

    • Monkey boy

      Fair enough. But I still maintain that a price raise will never come from something that actually improves the product (or the conditions of workers in factories, but that’s another matter). Price increases come from the idea “hey, couldn’t we be makin MORE money?”

    • Finally, I find the exercise ironic. The Wind Raider was a present and it was the highest scored MOTU figure/accessory I can recall on your site. Hells, Matty should issue a press release triumphing your review on facebook or twitter.

      While I appreciate the thought, I think you grossly overestimate my personal influence. But more importantly, Mattel's relationships to fan sites has always been tenuous at best and at worst, they've come within angstroms of deliberately closing down the biggest fan sites. Which means they tried to kill their best source of free–FREE!–marketing.

      Mattel is a money-grubbing dinosaur of a company run by execs with no understanding whatsoever of how to build brand equity in the 21st century. There are a few people trying their damnedest to make MOTUC work, but they're stifled at every turn by corporate idiocy.

  3. Dark Angel

    Yes, apparently they were just OVERWHELMED by people falsely claiming to have faulty figures in order to get additional free figures. It must have been that, and not the DEMONSTRABLE FACT that they have been selling a shitton of faulty figures…

  4. Thomas b

    I had to do a return on a faulty man e faces. I just emailed them via the link on Matty collector and it wa s pretty much it. A week later or so anti had new toys. I never had to return the faulty ones.

    • Snarf! Snarf!

      Apparently this Return the old one Policy started with Swift Wind.

  5. Monkey boy

    I commend you for coming to that realization Poe and I’m sorry for your ordeal. Matty is just flat out a company that does not care about it’s customers, and eventually more and more people will see it, as you have.

  6. Snarf! Snarf!

    It's not cool the way they keep screwing up and making it harder for customers to get their product… Or get a non-defective product.
    In March, they cancelled my King Hssss and Battle Armor Skeletor and they had the nerve to claim that I had refused the order LONG before it should have arrived to my PO Box. In November I had to call them due to a lack of Flipshot and CS was not exactly very friendly. Problem is that when these issues add up, people give up on the line! I don't want the line to end, but if the customers give up on it due to bad QC, CS, etc.
    I mean the excitement for these toys has shifted from: "Oh Wow! I can't wait for _____ to arrive!" to " I hope that my _______ does not suffer from ________, or_________!"

  7. dayraven

    i have a question… and i mean this in the nicest possible way… but why are so many of us "willing to overlook QC errors and shipping delays?" what is this bullshit euphoria that we collectors get off on that makes us oblivious to problems? QC errors are ERRORS, shipping delays are crap, there are what, 4 nationwide delivery services who have standardized practices that get packages from point A to point B in set time frames… why is it ok to overlook when a major company uses some fly-by-night courier service that is actually slower and just as costly as the couriers we already have?

    i admit, i did it too, for a while, and so, i'm not blaming everyone else, i'm owning my part in the fiasco… but we as a demographic have to start being smarter about how/when/why we make purchases. there's zero percent chance that conditions will change, especially for a company as large as mattel, if we don't stand collectively and FORCE them to hear us. that means, in business terms, we drop a toy line, regardless of our love for the characters, our nostalgia goggles, or our love for the studio behind the work… the horsemen don't redeem the crap we receive from mattel, not due to love of he-man, or our fandom of jack kirby, or whatever… it doesn't make us bad fans to refuse to buy crap from deceitful companies. it doesn't reflect badly on us as fans to take a stand and say "i like he-man, but this is not MY he-man, and buying in the hopes that one day they make my he-man is pretty much like doing drugs because one day i'll die." hold out for the good stuff, and use the internet as the tool it's supposed to be. if a product is inferior, SAY SO. we turn on each other at the smallest hint of decent, but seriously, regardless of anyone's love of the DCU, the dcu line is crap. that's not up for debate, it's true. the toy line sucks. trying to berate each other because "well, i guess you're just not a big enough fan" is absurd.

    we also have to be more real than some folks are willing to do… sure, make a top 10 list on the fwoosh or whatever, talk up your dream characters, or your favorite team/era… but don't whine like a spoiled child when that character doesn't get made. some "fans" are little more than manchildren, and often times, they are more vocal than the sensible folk amongst the fan community, but they aren't the majority. not even by a little bit. so, when it comes time for the creeper wave, all you non-creeper fans? keep the "they're killing teh lein" shit to yourselves, that makes it impossible for the real commentary, on things that are actual successful, or defective, to be heard… complain when there are legit complaints, praise when it's genuinely earned. but come on, we have to stop acting like chicken little because a batman fig had the symbol and cowl mismatched.

    so where i'm ultimately going w/ this is, we are more responsible for these crappy conditions than i think most folks are willing to admit. we all collectively have to stop making terrible choices. we need to stop being suspicious when another fan reports a problem w/ a company/product. we need to start being honest and admit flaws where they exist, without turning molehills into mountains. in short, we need to get our heads out of our fanboy asses and start being real people again. poe has finally taken a step here, and many of us have already taken that step, or are considering it… kudos to them for finally waking up and smelling the truth. but the question remains, why did it take so much time and such repeated mistakes to get this far? mattel's not the only problem company out there, but they're the largest right now, and should be the first who are made to "get w/ the program."

    thinking about this in terms of other products we buy and use, if any of us were going around the web talking about a toilet paper brand that ripped our assholes open when used, would any of us be suspicious? would any of us be out there saying "well, you just don't like charmin like i do!" or accusing people of making up stories of dread? no… we'd collectively be saying "holy crap, that's terrible!" and we wouldn't buy that toilet paper brand if they were giving away free handjobs w/ a purchase. why? because that's the sensible reaction. the entire reason humans associate like we do is to benefit from shared experiences. that's why we have satellite cellphones and whales still pee where they live.

  8. dean

    You would think Matty would see comments like these are becoming more prevalent and fix the situation. What troubles me, is instead of taking care of it responsibly, Mattel may simply cancel the lines we love claiming we did not support them strongly enough.

    I will go on record as saying I really want to see all Mattel's collector lines succeed, but I'm not going to keep paying for their mishaps.

    BTW, I appreciate how we can discuss this in a well reasoned, non confrontational manner. We are simply voicing our concerns hoping Mattel will pay attention and do something about it. Great posts and some wonderful food for thought.

  9. Ridureyu

    I remember when McFarlane would go out of its way to replace defective stuff, or even toys that merely broke. And McFarlane Toys has never had the amount of resources as Mattel – it costs Mattel way less in thelong run to replace something than it ever did Todd's company.

  10. The Flash III

    I had a QC problem with one of the figures in my Legion set and filled out the online customer service form rather than calling. I hate dealing with CS by phone. At any rate, I got an email a few hours later asking for pics of the problem, then the next day (after I sent the pictures) they were sending a new set with mine to be picked up when it was delivered. Unfortunately, the figure I wanted replaced had a different QC problem, but I wasn't about to try another exchange. However, I've talked with multiple people who made returns with the Legion pack, and it seems like everyone had a different experience and set of instructions, which is much more irritating than a stupid (but uniform) return procedure.

  11. Newton Gimmick

    Sorry to hear that Poe and I can tell the honeymoon phase is over. I feel the same way, only I had this happen a year ago with MOTUC. It's the reason I skipped the sub last year and only made very selective purchases. Of course, that worked out for me due to Mattel's many sales last year, but I'm already dreading getting back into the fold of the sub this year. It seems every other figure has some sort of major QC issue and I know that calling Digital River is useless.

    In comparison, this is perhaps a little better than Macy's as an example, I got a BifBangPow Twilight Zone figure for Christmas. Unfortunately when I pulled it out, part of his leg broke. I posted up about it on a website, with some photos about how I was disappointed and that if anyone knew a good fix or had similar issues. Then the guy in charge of BBP saw it and gave me contact info to get a replacement. I emailed him and now have a replacement figure in the mail. No fuss, no muss. If BifBangPow can do it and they're a tiny company in comparison to Mattel, Matty should have an easier time with returns.

    I'm not saying every company should just send you a replacement if somethings wrong, but they should at least allow you an easy process to return your broken item for a fixed one. I stopped shopping at a well known GI Joe online store a few years ago after they tried to do a run around on me for a broken figure. It wasn't that the figure was worth much, but the way they treated me who had been a loyal customer for years, was enough for me to spend my dollars elsewhere.

    • clark

      I had a GI Joe break on me, but since I purchased him from ebay I couldn't contact the seller and complain, after all he sold me an unopened product. Instead I contacted Hasbro, told them I had one of their figures and it broke. They emailed me back the within a day, didn't ask for my receipt or anything like that, all they said was that they had a pre-address envelope in the mail, when I receive it to simply put the broken Joe in it and mail it back and they'd have my replacement to me in a week.

      That is a large toy company helping me out pretty painlessly. So if a huge company like Hasbro can do it, and a small company like BifBangPow can do it….well I'll just say that I'm glad I haven't had to go through any replacements with Mattel, yet.

  12. I hate calling places too! And that's insane!

  13. The_Fun_has_been_Doubled

    Wow! Matty is getting worse by the minute! What bothers me the most is that they KEY issues (Crappy CS, Website issues, QC Problems) they don't fix, but the brand manager seems to find a way to cry poorhouse or find a way to say that we're not buying enough product!

    The subs have gone down, Mattel better try to figure out why. Here's a hint: Newgistics sucks! DR's Customer Service is getting worse (they always find a way), WSOD, QC issues… No wonder the BBB gave Mattel a non-surprising F but on the other hand Hasbro gets an A+ How is that possible? http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Commercialhttp://www.bbb.org/boston/business-reviews/toys-w

    While I've HAD issues with both of them (3 if we count Matty as a separate entity from Mattel), but Hasbro gave me the best Service compared to both Mattel and Matty. I am seriously considering stop buying from Matty and become a super cherry picker and buy the 15 figures I REALLY Want from scalpers (when they're available) IF the line does not die before they get made.

  14. Brad

    I received MOTUC Skeletor from MattyCollector today, and both of his swords were completely warped and his head was turned almost completely around while still in the box.

    At thirty bucks a pop for figures, these kind of QC issues really are irresponsible and frustrating.

    People are shelling out a ton of money for these things and we keep getting crappy product. And I’m tired of Matty’s excuses and cop-outs.

    Sorry things went so crappily for you Poe, but I’d love to hear your side of things on Roast Gooble Dinner some time.

  15. barbecue17

    Poe! Poe! Poe!

    Seriously, that is definitely about the worst customer service story I have ever heard. I came home and checked and fortunately had the guns/ whatever they are on the bottom of my Windraider.

    Man, I'm also really bummed to hear that you aren't digging the MOTUC figures like you were. Your enthusiasm in your reviews really reignited my interest in MOTU and got me into collecting MOTUC. I hope that whatever you are interested in now is less stressful and more fun for you, even if it is Norwegian aliens.

    Fans complain and argue about toys: Fact of life. Regardless of how the line was managed, fans would still complain about 200x vs Classic, be upset with particular character choices, and complain about how a certain figure could be improved. What fans should not have to worry about is the ridiculous QC issues and the hoops Matty wants fans to go through to get there toys. These toys are so much fun, and yet with every new release there seems to be a problem. Worst of all, there is no easy way to solve these problems. I've returned stuff plenty of times from places and never have I been treated like I have been or others have been when dealing with Mattycollector. Never have I dealt with a company whose public relations person belittles and bashes the fans (well, there was Shocker toys…). Never have I purchased a toyline where the anticipation for the figure arriving was almost always overshadowed by the dread of what could be wrong this month. The fact that this line survives is a testament to the fans love of MOTU and possibly/probably the 4H. It is successful in spite of Matty.

    • dean

      Excellent post.

      Can't believe I forgot about Shocker (but i do refuse to buy their stuff).

      I guess there was also Andgor back in the day…

      The problem is those two examples were/are small companies; Mattel is the LARGEST TOY COMPANY IN THE WORLD! Boggles the mind how such a large company can treat customers as poorly as some fly-by-night basement run toy company.

      My friends and I have discussed that dread you mentioned as well. Back in the day, we ran the numbers on the QC for the first five waves of DCUC. The average failure rate was 30%. I'm not talking about paint…I'm talking broken toys and mismatched limbs. 1 out of every 3 figures was bad. I had to purchase and return 4 long haired Superman figures to get one good one. It took me 6 months to complete Despero due to having trouble finding CNC parts that were not mismatched or broken. I'm not sure it has gotten any better. Sorry for the rant.

      Once again, great post.

    • I try to understand that Mattycollector, or even just MOTUC are very small parts of a larger business. I can see how this small section in some ways must operate like a small business, since they aren't dealing in Barbie and Hotwheels numbers and they've got to turn at least a small profit with the resources they have. If a tiny part of a large corporation fails to make any profit, they don't get to borrow some of the Barbie money and keep flushing it away. They just get shut down. That's why I try to be patient.

      I understand that things aren't perfect because this sort of monthly release schedule is an unusual thing. I find it ambitious and pretty fun, despite the frustrations with orders and occasional errors.

      That said…your point still bears repeating. They are part of the largest toy company of the world. Either things should work a bit more smoothly than they have been or Mattel as a whole should be providing more basic support to the Mattycollector area of the company. I doubt replacing a Polly Pocket would be such a hassle, but maybe I'm wrong. I do know that collectors like us are the ones who can walk into a store and immediately identify which brands are made by which companies. I've personally done pretty well with Mattel lately, but this sort of irritation makes me more likely to head towards Playskool than Fisher Price.

      I'm not irritated by QC at the moment since for all I know, Poe's got the only Wind Raider on earth that's missing guns. I am irritated by the struggle necessary to get the actual product that he paid for 3 weeks ago. Even when trying to track the late arrival of my Wind Raider, I got frustrated while checking Matty, Digital River and USPS, with each entity pointing me towards another for answers in an infinite loop where nobody had to be accountable. I'm pretty sure it was DR, since they basically point fingers in both directions, but that makes it Matty's problem as well.

    • Barbecue17

      You know, I think I'd be more willing to patiently overlook qc errors and shipping delays if I felt confident that Mattel would do what they could to make things right. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem at all what happens. When you have defective product, most companies bend over backwards to at least replace product easily, if not restore confidence.
      I think Matty really has fostered an "us vs. them" attitude, which is sad. It never feels like Mattel and collectors are on the same side.

  16. dean

    Give 'em hell Poe!

    CoolToyReviews also had an excellent article on the Matty situation.

    I was discussing with a fellow collector tonight…If not for the Four Horsemen we would have already quit this line, and it would have been because of how Matty and DR handle stuff. The 4H have earned our business. DR and Matty Guru have done everything possible to push us away. We love Masters. Some of our foundest youthful memories are playing with Masters, but dang, I should not feel so bewildered over why I purchase a line of figures. No other company treats us so poorly, if they did they would be out of business.

    Toy Guru, can you understand any of this, or does your MBA and the corporate spin machine give you selective hearing? If you want to be a rock star, fix it. No more BS…just fix it.

  17. Mysterious Stranger

    Call tags like the one they issued you are actually quite common in the business world. I just had an issue at one of our offices where the office supplies they received were wrong so the company issued a UPS call tag and the driver stopped by to get the box when he made his deliveries, easy peezy. But for residential customers it can be a pain in the ass which is why most companies (like Amazon) include a return label in the original shipment just in case. If Matty insisted that Digital River include this in their shipments then a lot of the hassle of the return process would be gone. The customer could return the item at their convenience AND have the tracking info to insure it was received by DR. But then why are we expecting Digital River to do the logical thing.

  18. Handwritten Macy's note? That's classy. That and they employed the real Santa that one time.

    Don't feel bad about tolerating MOTUC problems prior to this. They were so frustrating to obtain that the success of having an item arrive at your door was practically intoxicating.

    Returning this thing sounds like a nightmare. I was puzzled and stressed out just by seeing in my tracking info that I had to be home during business hours to sign for it to be dropped off. I don't get that since I've had several Matty orders with a total value greater than this. I ended up being thankful that it sat in New Jersey(an hour and a half from here) for 8 days since it miraculously arrived on my day off for the holidays. Returning an item is that experience times a billion or so.

    I can understand them not wanting to hand out a bunch of extra $45 toys plus shipping for free, but to the degree of making it this difficult. It's their mistake, not yours. It's not like we could pay them $30 for this toy, wait for them to ask for the full amount, and then demand they return the original $30 at their expense in exchange for the proper $45 at our leisure. Someone even suggesting a scenario in which you'd pay for the shipping yourself is preposterous.

    • It wasn't a handwritten note actually–just an email. My wife corrected me 🙂

    • Still, it was a personal effort that still counts as something even if the money hadn't been refunded with the replacement.

      I bought a Masterpiece Rodimus Prime from TRU earlier this year and it was one of some odd batch whose joints were disintegrated right out of the box. It was tough to find $60 item and it was the worst QC I've ever seen in my life, so I emailed Hasbro with my disappointment without being mean and asked if there was any way they could replace it.

      A woman replied to me and told me that they could only provide me with the value in Hasbro store credit, because it was a TRU exclusive. I was disappointed(I've since found another Rodimus) but the fact is that I quickly got a very nice and personal response from someone with a name, an apology and an attempt to make me happy. It wasn't what I wanted at the time, but I still felt a lot better because I didn't feel insulted or worthless for my effort in contacting them.

      Matty earned respect from me last year for quickly sending me a new Roboto, no questions asked, when mine was cracked. That was cool, even if my original Roboto has developed a canyon across his chest and the replacement's grown a crack similar crack. I'll take 2 cracked Robotos over playing mail-tag for a month and praying I get something decent in return one day. That's crap.

  19. Dark Angel

    Not that the whole situation isn't wrong, but the fact that they don't seem to appreciate just how much this line needs its hardcore fans is particularly disheartening. And I lay the blame for every bit of on person's doorstep myself…but I won't turn this into a bashing thread. Anyway, Poe…good luck!

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