If You Think Your Dog Will Destroy Kong's Nearly Indestructible Toys, Save Your Receipt

Pet owners (and pets) prize Kong brand toys for their indestructible qualities and incredible funness. What happens when one of their toys fails? Mike tells Consumerist that if you want a replacement toy when yours breaks, you’d better hold on to the receipt.

I’m writing to warn fellow Consumerist readers about Kong, a company that makes dog and cat toys. They have a reputation for quality products, and are priced accordingly, because they call themselves (on the website) “Nearly Indestructible Dog and Cat Toys”. A good family friend sent a toy to my wife and I, from Kong, to celebrate our adoption of a 5 year old black lab, Jake (pictured below). It was a “Braidz” Giraffe, a tough toy designed for playing tug of war with. Jake loved it immediately and was chasing it all over the house and yard the first day we used it. Then the second day, I’m playing tug with him and the head tore off! I thought that, given their reputation, this must have been a manufacturing defect, seeing that we play tug with all sorts of cheaper toys and towels that never rip, so I gave them a call. This morning, I received a call back from C. in quality control department. C. told me that the “best he could do” was a coupon for “a dollar or two off of a new toy.” When I pressed the issue, he said no exchange could be made without a receipt and terminated the call.

This was my first experience with Kong, and it’s going to be my last. I wanted to warn other readers that Kong is misrepresenting themselves and their products, so buyer beware.

Considering that this toy retails for around $10, a $1 or $2 coupon isn’t much help.

Here is the promised picture of Jake:

Jake.jpg

Comments

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  1. georgi55 says:

    Ummm….DUH?

  2. bermygirl says:

    I have a wiener dog, and the super kong toys, the black ones made for really powerful chewers, are the only toys I can buy that he can’t immediately destroy. I wish I could get some of the other fun toys out there, even the regular kong toys like this giraffe, but alas, Dweezil the Dachshund would have it destroyed in 2 minutes.

    • trillium says:

      Look up Tuffies. We have a chewer as well that is a mighty hunter of the squeakie. He hasn’t been able to destroy either of the Tuffies we got him, despite killing three of Kongs “tough” toys. We also found a piece of recycled fire hose that is stuffed with squeakers at the pet store. One of his favorite toys that he can’t chew through.

      • bermygirl says:

        I’ve tried Tuffies, and toys made out of recycled fire hoses. Neither lasted very long at all. He’ll have to stick with his rope and super kong.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I can’t remember the brand name but there is a line of dog toys sold at Tractor Supply that are seemingly indestructible. They’re made up of solid blocks of high density rubber and coated with a tennis ball like material on the outside. Our dogs love them and even our (former) incredibly strong German Shepherd couldn’t destroy them.

    • ellemdee says:

      I have a terrier/daschund/??? mix that tore through a Kong in minutes. She decided, rather than lick the peanut butter out of it, it would just be faster to bite chunks out of the Kong.

    • WagTheDog says:

      Agreed. That’s not an appropriate toy for out-of-supervision play, nor is it a tug. OP is learning about Labs and made a mistake.

      As a Lab owner with 27 years experience, I recommend the black Kongs. They are tougher than the red ones. Put peanut butter inside.

      And make your own tugs from some fleece scraps.

    • spamtasticus says:

      I bought one of the huge black ones for my Great Dane years ago when Kong toys came out. It took him all of 20 minutes to reduce it to little blocks of rubber. I returned them in a zip lock bag.

  3. TC50327 says:

    What? It was a gift and you’re bitching that they won’t replace something that cost you nothing?

    Also dogs destroy things. Even things that are nearly destructable. It’s what they do.

    I might as well kick off the blame the OP festival now.

    • agent 47 says:

      So if somebody bought you a Dodge Viper, and it completely broke down after putting only 100 miles on it, you wouldn’t care because, hey, it was a gift? Get real.

      • jeepguy57 says:

        Dodge Viper? Welcome to 1997.

        Comparing a car to a dog toy is apples to oranges. A car comes with paperwork and an odometer. The company knows if the car is covered. A consumer product would need a receipt to show it was still new, otherwise people would be returning items that were 3+ years old claiming they just bought it.

        • agent 47 says:

          Vipers are still relevant! If you’re a dog toy company that claims your toys are indestructible, then it should, by nature, come with a lifetime warranty. But that’s besides the point, at not point did I say the OP shouldn’t have to provide a receipt, I was just refuting TC’s claim that the OP should just shrug the issue off just because the item in question was a gift.

        • Bativac says:

          LOL at someone called “the hanging chad” mocking somebody else for not being “with the times”

      • Alvis says:

        Letting an animal gnaw away on the toy is comparative to entering that car in a destruction derby.

        • agent 47 says:

          How do you figure that?! That’s what the toys were made for ya fool! What, you buy your dog toys and then put them away so they can’t chew on them?

        • Pax says:

          No.

          Driving the car down the road (the design intent of the car) is the intent of letting the dog gnaw on the toy (which is the design intent of the toy).

    • Hoss says:

      Man, that’s obnoxious

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Well, not to blame him, but the Braidz aren’t meant for “tug of war”. According to the site: “Kong Braidz Giraffe Plush Dog Chew Toy is designed for dogs who like to tug, shake and squeak their toys“. Tugging a toy is putting a paw on it, and pulling at it, which is different than someone actively pulling back. For THAT, there is the KG1: http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Tug-Dog-Toy-Black/dp/B000FEN1NO which IS designed to play tug of war with either a person, or another dog. When I was helping raise the Seeing Eye puppeh, we got one so he and my Aussie could play, and that thing was double tough.

  4. dbeahn says:

    We also require some sort of proof of purchase for warranty exchanges where I work, and that policy never seemed too out of line to me. On the other hand, I’d escalate this issue – an EECB if needed – just because it can’t hurt, and may result in the policy being waived.

    I see no reason that people “need to be WARNED about this company!” because they have what seems to be a reasonable policy, but more power to the OP for “writing to warn fellow Consumerist readers about Kong”…

    • MeOhMy says:

      Do you know why this policy is in place?

      I have run into this with other vendors (*cough* Pampered Chef *cough*). I don’t know your industry but for both Pampered Chef and Kong we’re talking about products sold exclusively under their brand names. If you crack a piece of Pampered Chef stoneware (and you *will* crack a piece of Pampered Chef stoneware b/c that’s pretty much how they work), they will completely hang you out to dry even though each piece even has a serial number that they can surely use to look up the data of manufacture to at least get a baseline idea of whether it’s within the warranty period.

      If you got the item as a gift and the giver did not give you the receipt, you’re basically told that you have to find the consultant that sold the item and they (and only they) can get you the magic receipt that you need to get them to stand behind their own product. I got a piece in the anonymous “wishing well” at a bridal shower so I don’t even know who gave me the one I got (which is not the first one that’s cracked on me, btw). Pampered Chef basically said “We do not stand behind our products, just yellow sheets of paper.”

      Which is to say, they do not want you to give their products as gifts and I am happy to oblige them.

      In both Kong and Pampered Chef’s case we are talking about inexpensive items. Pampered Chef has surely lost more sales from me than they gained in not replacing my $30 stoneware just because I don’t have a receipt. Same with Kong…what are the chances the OP is going to buy a Kong product now? And all this b/c they can’t be assed to replace a $10 chewie without a receipt?

      I understand they want to prevent warranty abuse, but this seems ridiculous and serves only to antagonize the consumer.

      • buckeyegoose says:

        Even with the receipt Pampered Chef will only replace it once, the say their pitcher is dishwasher safe, yet the “stirrer” that is the main feature of the pitcher likes to get warped, and they claim its not a defect, and will only replace it once.

        • jvanbrecht says:

          We have that same pitcher, put the stirrer on the top shelf of the dishwasher, that’s what we do.

          • bobosgirl says:

            Yep- @ buckeye- we’ve had our pitcher almost 10 years. I just make sure the lid/stirrer assembly is on the top shelf of the dishwasher. no problems whatsoever.

      • apple420 says:

        What are the chances the OP is going to buy a Kong product now?
        Well the OP said they had never even purchased a product from them before, despite their great reputation.

        • MeOhMy says:

          Of course he only got the dog recently….if you don’t have a dog, generally you don’t buy kongs. :-)

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        “Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That’s all it is, isn’t it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.”

  5. tedyc03 says:

    I’m upset there’s no photo of the dog! She said it was included in the email! :(

  6. corrie06 says:

    It’s pretty standard to require a proof of purchase to act on a warranty.

  7. TuxthePenguin says:

    Really? My sheltie has torn through two of their toys and they’ve replaced it.

  8. minjche says:

    Congrats to the OP on adopting Jake!

    With that said, I don’t see it as too out of the ordinary to require a receipt to use a warranty. It’s not as though the Kong folks couldn’t have just comped her a new one in the interest of keeping a customer, but that’s just a pleasantry and not a required action.

    I think the warning here should be to not buy your dogs expensive and over-promising toys. My puppy has chewed through countless rawhide bones, at least 10 “decent” toys, and even three dog beds in the past 6 months, and the only thing that has lasted the test of time was a $1 dog toy I got at Walmart (it’s a little blue stuffed animal that can only be described as looking like the Hoops and Yoyo from those Hallmark cards).

    • KittensRCute! says:

      I have to agree. i have two cats. and it seems only thing is clear about getting toys for these pampered beasts… the less expensive the toy the more they like it. their favorite toy in the world?? rolled up ricola cough drop wrappers. second favorite? cat treats hidden inside rolled up aluminum foil…

      instead i think pet owners should spend the money on quality, never been recalled, pet foods and on quality non clay litter for cat owners.

      • minjche says:

        Yeah I also spend the extra coin for better dog food. The price difference is really not even that drastic. I like it, too, because it makes for easier clean-ups.

  9. sgtyukon says:

    I could see a store wanting proof of purchase, but I think possession of the broken toy ought to be good enough for the manufacturer to see that you had one.

  10. pop top says:

    If you need some tough dog toys and you don’t like/don’t want to use Kong (which are actually good toys and it’s stupid to think you can do an exchange without a receipt…), try some of these:

    Huck Zogoflex: http://www.westpawdesign.com/catalog/dogs/dog-toys/eco-friendly-dog-toys/eco-friendly-products/huck
    Hurley Zogoflex: http://www.westpawdesign.com/catalog/dogs/dog-toys/eco-friendly-dog-toys/eco-friendly-products/hurley
    Fire Hose Dog Toys (made from the same material as actual fire hoses):http://www.kyjen.com/shop/index.php/dog-toys/fire-hose-dog-toys.html

    Pet Supplies Plus also carries a few tough toy brands I can’t think of off the top of my head at the moment, but they’re stitched with nylon and have a tough nylon outer ring covering the inner stitches to help protect against tears. If I remember the brand, I’ll post it…

    • jesirose says:

      Oh yeah the Hurley is great!

    • MomInTraining says:

      I agree on the West Paw toys. We have the Tux and it has held up better than any other toy we have owned. We have a Boston Terrier/Beagle mix that will tear up most toys. Even the regular red Kongs are chewed up within a week. The black Kongs are okay, but the Tux is nice because it seems “chewier” than the Black Kong. I am thinking about getting more of them. They are expensive, but if they last, they are worth it.

    • weestrom says:

      The firehose toys lasted all of 10 minutes with my pit mix Georgia. http://www.goughnuts.com/ ftw.

  11. jesirose says:

    PetSmart will exchange items without a receipt, buy from them and you’ll have no problem.

    Although, I have two destructive dogs. I wouldn’t buy those Kong Braidz. I do have the Wubba and it’s held up so far, but the best toy I’ve gotten was a $3 stuffed duck that I figured they’d destroy. I look at the cheap toys first now.

    • kayfouroh says:

      Ha ha, yeah right. I tried going in and getting a different sized collar for my lab and asked if they would allow me to just get a smaller size. Nope, not without receipt. I asked if they could pull up my receipt with my debit card. Nope, not possible.

      What a joke.

  12. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I don’t get how the Consumerist thinks this is a story…BREAKING NEWS! COMPANY REQUIRES PROOF OF PURCHASE TO HONOR WARRANTY!

  13. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    “Chad told me that the “best he could do” was a coupon for “a dollar or two off of a new toy.” “

    That sounds like a reasonable offer for someone who lacks any kind of proof of purchase. I

  14. jeepguy57 says:

    I can see how the consumer would be upset and a company like Kong would be well-served to just replace the toy. However, I don’t see the need to tell people to avoid Kong. We buy Kong toys frequently and I will admit – they ARE destructible. It takes my dogs usually about 3-4 months to destroy each one, but given their size and their jaws, I assume its pretty reasonable. I just buy another one rather than expecting the company, which makes high quality (Made in USA) products to replace it.

  15. BATMAN!!!hAHA says:

    Yes, its standard, but why? It makes no sense to require proof of purchase for a chew toy…who steals that kind of thing?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I don’t think it’s about theft. They probably want to make sure it isn’t a factory second and that the OP is the first owner.

  16. George says:

    If the company advertises the product as being “nearly indestructible”, it should be nearly indestructible. Needless to say when I get a dog I am not buying one of their toys

    • pop top says:

      Kong has really great products and it’s not silly of them to have this kind of policy in place so they don’t get taken for a ride.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Do other dog toy manufacturers have different policies?

  17. JamesBE says:

    Are people whining that the OP doesn’t have sufficient proof of purchase to deal directly with the company?

    Wouldn’t the actual ITEM suffice as proof of purchase? I would understand if they were trying to return it to the local PetCo or something, but c’mon. They have the item, it broke too soon, they want a new one. It’s not exactly a bold request.

  18. neverandever says:

    My mom’s two Jack Russells absolutely annihilate every toy, and Kong’s are no exception. They may take a day or two longer, but they’ll go down.

  19. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I think you have to realize no toy is indestructible. I gave a Kong to a friend for their lab mix, and although it lasted longer than any other toy they’ve had, it still died.

    Teeth = erosion = destroyed toy. It’s inevitable.

  20. gnubian says:

    My ten and a half month old lab puppy has eaten through every toy we’ve given her except for the 2 black kongs we bought recently.

    Give her a tennis ball, she’ll peel it nicely, shred the cover everywhere then proceed to reduce the core to a pile of rubber bits.

    That said, try calling them again in regards to the toy .. maybe you will get someone who either has the power to resolve the issue for you or can transfer you to someone who can resolve it for you.

  21. EverCynicalTHX says:

    A soft plushy toy as pictured above is not the same as a hard rubber Kong chewer in case some folks didn’t notice..

    Regardless, someone gives you a dog toy and your dog tears it up…wah..wah..wah..

    is this really something worth writing and emailing Consumerist about?

    Wish that was all I had to complain about.,.flame on.

  22. Saltpork says:

    I have a lab/pit mix named Duke. When we play tug of war we use an inch thick piece of rope that’s about 2 feet long.
    Tennis balls for catch.
    As for a chew toy, he has rawhides(he will eat through them in 1 day) and a hard plastic rod that costs me 2 bucks.

    Dog toys don’t have to be fancy, expensive or colorful. The dog doesn’t care as long as it knows that these are its toys and can play with them.
    Duke is happy as can be when he’s got a tennis ball in his mouth or his chewing rod.

    I know dog owning has hit a popular(ie expensive) swing again, but remember it’s a dog.

    • minjche says:

      Some pet owners (or the more P.C. “pet parents”) will equate the amount of money they spend on their dog with how much the dog will love them.

      In reality dogs just love people, and a cheap rawhide bone (which even my five-pound puppy can chew through in a day) will do the job.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    The only Kong that has lasted more than a few days with our smallish (beagle and pit) mixed-breed dog is the black super-duper one. Even that gets frayed. Nylabones? – forget about it. She eats them. I don’t give her chew toys anymore for fear she’ll ingest something indigestible and start barfing up foam. (BTDT)

  24. mandarynn says:

    These toys are crap. I bought this exact toy for my chihuahua and she didn’t do much to it other than swing it around. It fell apart in less than 2 weeks. Absolute garbage!

  25. osiris73 says:

    Our dogs shred dog toys in a matter of hours. HOWEVER, the best dog toys we’ve found by far are the stuffed mice and rats in the kids section at IKEA. Seriously. THey’re cheap and last us for weeks if not months. Whenever we are near an IKEA we get a few more.

  26. BBP says:

    So…

    - You get the item as a gift – you didn’t pay for the product.

    - Toy breaks and you call for a replacement, though you can’t prove you actually purchased it because you have no receipt.

    - CSR tells you that you need a receipt and STILL offers you a decent coupon as a way to make things right.

    - You lambast the company on the internet because they’re the bad guy here.

    I don’t think you’ve got it right at all. Frankly, you could have contacted the “friend” who bought it for you and had THEM give you a receipt. Don’t people give gift receipts anymore or anything? Given that the companies policy, as well as most other companies I can think of, is to only provide a replacement if the customer can show proof of purchase, is very reasonable and is no reason to take this as far as you did.

    They don’t misrepresent their products, either. We have two of these toys and they haven’t been torn to shreds (yet). I think you got a bum product, for sure.

    • dg says:

      It all depends on what’s written on the warranty for the item. Look into the Maguson-Moss Warranty Act (Federal Law). Depending on how they wrote that warranty, they have certain responsibilities.

      If they haven’t met their responsibilities, sue them in State Court if it’s under $25.00, or Federal if it’s over $25.00

      The prevailing party gets their attorney fees…

    • dg says:

      It all depends on what’s written on the warranty for the item. Look into the Maguson-Moss Warranty Act (Federal Law). Depending on how they wrote that warranty, they have certain responsibilities.

      If they haven’t met their responsibilities, sue them in State Court if it’s under $25.00, or Federal if it’s over $25.00

      The prevailing party gets their attorney fees…

  27. KishuT says:

    I have had Kong toys for my huskies for years, and they have almost always held up for much longer then anything other toy in my house. I live down the street from where Kong make their toys, and the one time I did have an issue I called them up and they said come on over and they would replace it. I ended up walking out of their place with not one replacement but 6!

    There is no reason to bad mouth a company for reasons the OP is. Almost ANY store you buy something at will require a proof of purchase before they will fix a problem with one of their products, sometimes individuals at a company will bend the rules, sometimes not,

    Lastly, wasn’t the OP given the toy as a gift? $1-2 is more than what they paid, thats a profit if you ask anyone who can do simple math.

  28. psm321 says:

    Where’s the picture? (of Jake)

  29. snarkysniff says:

    I highly recommend godog toys with chewguard. I have 2 dogs and one of mine LOVES the dragon.

  30. TheGreySpectre says:

    I like the warranty policy on ASP batons of, we stand by the fact that these things are nigh unbreakable, so we will replace it as long as you explain how it broke in the first place.

  31. azsumrg1rl says:

    Dude, where’s the picture of Jake the Lab? WTH, Consumerist?

  32. Deeya says:

    Return the item to Petsmart, they will accept returns and exchanges on defective or broken merchandise without a receipt.

    My Jack Russel is the destroyer of toys, and after awhile the sales people at petsmart began to recognize her, and the wake of destroyed toys in her wake. The only thing that she has yet to destroy is the black “Extreme” kongs, everything else has been ripped to shreds in mere moments. And before people complain about me using Petsmart to try out toys, each toy I purchased had some sort of labeling that says “Tough” or “Durable” on it.

  33. jbandsma says:

    If you want truly long lasting dog toys that cost practically nothing, go to your local fire station and ask them to contact you when they’re going to get rid of hose liners. While most stations will give them to you, it would be polite to make a donation. These liners can be cut into all kinds of shapes (you’ll need to use tin snips to do it, even in the worn places) or tubes. I’ve seen dogs able to demolish Kongs not be able to get through a piece of hose liner. (I have Bouviers, dogs often used for Schutzhund, and absolute terrors on their toys)

  34. pearlysweetcake says:

    Not surprising…my dog will utterly destroy any stuffed animals (he likes to eat the squeakers out of them most of all) within hours. Kongs (the rubber ones) last a while with him but “indestructible” is relative…he eats chunks of firewood for fun so it’s not really realistic to expect any toy to last forever.

  35. weestrom says:

    Let me take this opportunity to pimp a product I’m really happy with after my pit mix destroyed about a kong a day for a month with her chewing needs.

    http://www.goughnuts.com/

    Yes, they are a $40 dog toy, but my pit hasn’t destroyed it in the 2 months she’s had it, and she loves the challenge after destroying all the other toys. The are guaranteed period. If your dog destroys it, they will, no questions asked, send you a new one free of charge.

  36. Red Cat Linux says:

    My border collie sneers at Kongs. On the field of battle, there are many bodies of the fallen… true, the Kongs number in few, but they are there – they just last longer along with the Ruff Wear toys. Right now he has a plush Kong toy that has made it to three weeks *mostly* intact. That is exactly two weeks, six days, 23 hours and 55 minutes longer than the normal plush toy lasts with him.

    If there is any such thing as an idestructible dog toy, then the dog likely would not want to chew on it. All a Kong is, is a toy that will withstand the punishment longer than another similar object.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of dog ownership, OP. Luckily you have adopted a 5 year old and will not have the wonderful experience of having a half grown pup gnaw off every 90 degree angle in your house.

    I will pay $15 for a Ruff Wear frisbee that lasts years without batting an eye because it will last. If I try another one, and it does not last, or fails to hold the dog’s interest I don’t replace it with the same.

    I suggest you take the coupon and get a proper tug toy. Rope bones are still all the rage in my house.

  37. 3.1415926535898 says:

    Has anyone heard of Cuz balls? They’re $6 – $8 squeaky balls with feet and ears (they also have a dino-cuz and a chicken-cuz, but they don’t last as long). Anyway, I really like them and they last pretty long.

  38. clammyclams says:

    Bought my Malamute a “Kong Ballistic” stuffed ring with squeakers in it. Said on the packaging “Tiger Tested!” and so far, two of the four squeakers are still squeakin’, and all four are still inside the toy. And this is a dog that would have no problem chewing through a wall to kill a squeaker. I figure if I get a couple weeks out of a $10 toy, we’ve gotten our money out of it.

  39. ydoll says:

    ugh, the key word here is nearly indestructible. I work at a non-corporate pet store and we get people trying to pull this ALL the time. There’s a reason why manufacturers never claim that a toy is COMPLETELY indestructible. For any nearly indestructible toy, there’s a dog that can destroy it in five minutes. That goes double for soft toys.

  40. JANSCHOLL says:

    My dog is a mutt of about 90 pounds. He kills every toy we ever gave him. 10 minutes is the max . so we gave him a bowling ball made of solid rubber. it works. not sure where we found i t but its been 3 years now. I am still waiting for him to grow up tho.

  41. perfectly_cromulent says:

    I love this brand. Also, I would expect with pretty much any brand or store, proof of purchase must be given.

  42. Mphone says:

    Seriously? We have to have receipts to replace things? What is this world coming too? For shame…

  43. mydailydrunk says:

    From past experience with a lab, short of a toy made by Goodyear, there is nothing that they cannot destroy once their little brains get set on it. Especially if there’s a squeaker involved.

  44. caddisfly says:

    Hey Mike: that tug-of-war game you play where you hold one end of the toy and shake it while your dog holds the other end in his mouth? Please don’t do it. I learned this lesson the hard way by paying $5000 for an MRI and disc repair in my pup’s neck. Those kind of rough games are like candy for kids- it’s all bad for them, a little probably won’t hurt, but too much is almost always harmful and can take years off their lives. Play fetch instead.