Mattel recall: chaos reigns, consumers penalized

    MONTREAL, Aug. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - A snapshot survey conducted by Option
consommateurs reveals that Mattel's toy recall process is a shambles, and as a
result, consumers are penalized. First of all, Mattel offers no support or
information in French about the procedures to follow for returning a toy.
Second, the return methods vary from one retailer to another. For instance,
while certain stores grant a refund by issuing a credit note when toys are
returned, others categorically refuse to take them back or will not do so
unless they have the original receipt and packaging.

    Confusing replies

    Option consommateurs obtained information about the return procedure
required by twenty-five merchants across Quebec--ten Toys"R"Us outlets, eight
Walmarts, and seven Zellers, as well as their respective head offices--and
discovered that the situation is totally chaotic. Generally, Zellers stores
agree to take back the toys in question if they figure on their list. The
majority of Walmart stores, however, refuse any returns unless consumers can
produce the receipt, and even sometimes the original box intact--even when the
toy has been shown to be dangerous for the health of their customers. Each
Toys"R"Us outlet has its own policy: some agree to take the toys back (under
certain conditions), others refuse. Consequently, consumers are penalized
depending on the area they live in.

    No French instructions on the Mattel site

    What should you do if a merchant refuses to take a toy back? On the
Mattel Canada Website, French-speaking consumers can obtain a partial list of
the toys concerned and two telephone numbers for further information. When
consumers dial these numbers, they are redirected if they want to be served in
French. After that point, they are given a non-existent Internet address: "This means that it's impossible for Francophone
consumers to obtain the information they need to return toys in their own
language. The upshot of all this is that many parents no longer know what to
do with the toys," says Option consommateurs director, Michel Arnold.
Furthermore, he deplores the absence of rules that would enable consumers to
get a refund more easily.
    The organization recommends that retailers standardize their methods for
returning toys whenever dangerous products are recalled. Option consommateurs
requires Mattel to do the right thing for its Francophone customers by making
all information related to recall notices available in French.

    Option consommateurs is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the
rights and interests of consumers and ensuring that they are respected.

For further information:

For further information: Jacinthe Lauzon, editor of the guide Jouets or
Danielle Charbonneau, coordinator of the dossier Jouets, Option consommateurs,
(514) 598-7288,

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