October 15, 2008

Group Hug! Nice Customer Service Stories From Wooden Toy Companies

There's a story on Consumerist about how awesome Melissa & Doug's response was when a mom called about a broken propeller on her daughter's new wooden plane. Though she only called about replacing the plane--and warning the company about the potential safety hazard--M&D's customer service rep gave the mom two replacement toys of her choice. [And I'd like to think the safety thing went into a separate todo pile.]

Anyway, it reminds me of an email I got the other day from DT reader Geoff, who had a couple of similarly pleasant customer service encounters:

I bought some of the German language blocks from Uncle Goose. These are made in the US, and the colors are not painted on, but rather dyed, so they won't come off due to banging or teething. Well, after playing with them for a while, I noticed that one of the blocks was in English: Skunk instead of Stinktier. I called the company and they said that it was obviously a mistake and they'd send me a Stinktier immediately, which they did. Pretty great.

Next product is another wooden toy, this one from HABA. Their game "Wir gehen einkaufen (Let's go shopping)" is a great little card game with little carved wooden groceries. Again, very well crafted and a perfect game for our 3.5 year olds. Well, one of my girls snuck the plum and the cherry toy outside to the park and then lost them. I went to HABA's contact page on their website, mentioned that I had lost these pieces and got no reply. But then 4-5 days later, a little wooden plum and cherry set arrived in a padded envelope. A wonderful surprise.

Melissa & Doug's Sky High Customer Service [consumerist]
Uncle Goose foreign language blocks [lindenwoodinc.com]
Check out HABA's "Let's Go Shopping," $24 at Olie Bollen, a DT advertiser [oliebollen.com]


I found another Haba dealer that offers great customer service. Check out Landbridge Toys.


Their toys are still made in China. With what? Who.knows.

Haba is made in China, but Uncle Goose is made in Michigan - and the Uncle Goose folks are great people.

I agree that Uncle Goose is a great company; we have the Greek language blocks and my son loves them.

I want to add that Plan Toys makes fantastic toys with recycled rubberwood and non-toxic finishes, but their customer service is shitty. My son lost the ramps to his PlanCity parking garage, and when I asked to purchase replacements I got a "We don't sell replacements, buy another garage" response from Plan Toys. Seriously. Buy another $80 toy. Thanks. When I insisted that this wasn't a reasonable option and asked if there were any road sets I could buy that had parts that could sub in for the ramps, I was told to contact the headquarters, not the USA division, and there was no response to that email. So the toys are great, but I'm out of luck if I need any help with them.

That's too bad about the Plan City toys. I saw a quick review of them a little while back and thought they looked pretty cool.

But if their support is lacking then I'll think twice about getting into them. Thanks for the heads up.

OK, I need to follow-up on Plan Toys - after I posted this, I figured I'd give it another shot and wrote another plea (my third try) via the "Contact Us" form on the website, not the email address I was given by the U.S. Plan Toys rep. Tida Teeravatin in Bangkok wrote: "Thank you very much for your inquiry and being our valued customer. We will replace 2 ramps of Parking Garage, free of charge especially for you. Please kindly note that we may need 1-2 weeks to arrange the replacement part from our factory in Thailand and other 10-14 days for mailing to U.S.A." If I receive the ramps, I apologize in advance for bad-mouthing Plan Toys. :P

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