Mattel is blaming a potentially bankrupt cardboard box vendor for supplying 967,000 toys covered with lead paint. The toy maker publicly identified the Lee Der Industrial Company in Guangdong province in the hopes that other toy makers will take their business elsewhere. The AP tried to call Lee Der for comment, which resulted in this odd exchange:
A man at a Lee Der Industrial Company in Guangdong province said it made cardboard boxes, not toys, while a woman who answered the phone at another number listed under the name said that company had gone bankrupt several years ago.
U.S. companies are not required by law to disclose the names of manufacturers involved in voluntarily recalls. Mattel announced Lee Der’s identity after completing an internal investigation, saying: “We do not consider safety to be a competitive advantage.” It is impossible to tell if Lee Der’s baffling response is an indication that Chinese manufacturers haven’t quite mastered the nuances of damage control, or a sign that the AP was dialing the wrong phone number.