Everyone Knows You Need All Of The Pieces To Make A Voltron… Except Mattel

Sure, Salem had a happy childhood in Dubai. But it lacked one crucial thing: a toy Voltron. He eventually moved to the United States for a decade, enjoying all that New York City has to offer: career opportunities, a variety of cultural experiences, and the ability to order special-edition Voltron subscriptions from Mattel that aren’t sold overseas. You know, important things. He subscribed to a five-toy collector’s series comprised of five lions that join to form a Voltron. He moved, and the blue lion (Voltron’s right leg) shipped to his old address in error. Mattel is happy to refund his money, but won’t send a replacement blue lion. It’s not about the money. The blue lion is sold out.

He could go buy one on eBay for almost double the list price, but he paid for the whole subscription so he could own all of them at the original price. If he wanted to buy them on eBay, he’d buy them a few years from now after he moves back from studying in the UK.

My name is Salem and I was quite a lucky child growing up, when it came to toys. Unfortunately, growing up in Dubai we never got those transforming or combining toys. I moved to NYC in 2002 and last year I saw Mattel was offering subscriptions for the limited edition 5 Voltron Lions, to be shipped throughout the year. I was excited! I signed up immediately. However, I recently got accepted into an MBA program in the UK and will have to leave the country. I updated my shipping info on MattyCollector.com a couple of weeks ago and waited.

Today I get an email saying the 4th Lion (Blue) was shipped to my old address. I call Mattel Customer Service and they say well when the Lion is returned (as my old apartment building wil no longer accept shipments for me) that they’ll refund me my money and not to worry. I asked if I’ll get that Blue Lion they said no. I asked if they could ship me another Blue Lion to the new address (more money for them!) and just refund me the money in a month or so when the Blue Lion from the old address comes back to them, they said no. They kept trying to assure me that I’d get my money back and I asked them if they even knew what the product was. That without all 5 Lions I won’t be able to form Voltron (oh god this seems like an old episode of the cartoon itself).

I said fine, who is it being shipped by, they said USPS. I call USPS and get a change of address put in and provide my order number so they can track the package. They said that’s not a USPS order number. So I call Mattel back and they said a USPS tracking number has not been generated yet because they haven’t picked up yet. I asked Mattel to then change the address if USPS hasn’t picked it up yet and Mattel said they couldn’t do that.

So basically, they shipped to the wrong address. They think my money at this point is more valuable than the actual product that makes the other 4 work. They won’t reroute my package. They also won’t give me a tracking number so I can reroute it myself.

Oh, Mattel, we thought you were nice. Or is that only to little girls with years of toy-buying ahead of them, and not adults who want to relive their favorite childhood cartoons?

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  1. Snapdragon says:

    I was about to say that Mattel can’t ship what it doesn’t have (the sold-out status of the blue lion, based on the intro paragraph) but then I saw where Mattel was unwilling to correct the address on a package that hadn’t even been picked up yet. OK, finding it to change the address might be logistically difficult, but come on–to say outright that they couldn’t what was in their power to do, to make sure a customer got what they paid for, especially if the Salem proactively updated his address, is just plain pathetic. A little effort makes for happy customers.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      Having worked in customer service for a similar type company (large company that sold toys via phone & internet ordering)- it is probably just plain impossible for them to find that package. The person on the phone is probably not physically located anywhere near the warehouse where things ship from. The package with the wrong address is probably somewhere in a massive pile of packages that are going out from Mattel. Even if they could efficiently get a message from the customer service person to the warehouse (which may very well be harder than it sounds) they probably don’t have the manpower to let someone spend what could be hours looking for one package- if they did that every time this happened… you can see where that would go.

      Point being, it’s *not* in their power, and it’s not “a little effort”.

      Now, what would be awesome would be if the OP could correct their address while the package was en route. I know you can do this with UPS. I seriously doubt you can with the USPS.

      • Snapdragon says:

        Well–I did say it might be logistically difficult. :) I totally understand what you’re saying–I worked for CS and got folks calling about their lost payments and to just ‘go and look’ (as if my office accepted the payments). I guess the flat dismissal on their part (to try to bounce it back to him if it was returned) struck me the wrong way. I suppose it’s possible they tried offer more explanation to him, and he didn’t include that here.

        (I wonder if he contacted the post office that handles his old apartment building’s address? A friend once sent an SASE to someone she later found out to be bugnuts, and worked with the Postmaster at the receiving post office to intercept it prior to delivery.)

        Yeah, I doubt it’s possible to change the address en route with the USPS. I think it’d be awesome if the guy got his money back then the postal services managed to get his package forwarded to the correct address.

      • Leohat says:

        Bravo Sierra. They have the UPS/Fed-Ex tracking number. They know exactly where it is. All they have to do is re-route the damn package but that would require more than the barest of minimum amount of work.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        ‘Impossible’ ‘Difficult’

        You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

        How the hell is it “difficult” or “impossible” to send an email to Bob in Shipping to have a hold placed in a COMPUTERIZED PACKAGE TRACKING SYSTEM so that a package can go back out?

        Why is it that people think none of these companies have dozens of millions of dollars invested in state-of-the-art inventory control?

  2. redskull says:

    No reason the general public should know this, but Mattel incompetence at subscription services, as well as their ability to actually get their product into stores, is light years worse than that of Sears, Best buy, ComCast, K-Mart and Bank of America combined.

    Seriously, they are the worst.

  3. dolemite says:

    I’m baffled by the “subscription service”. Is the entire toy too expensive to purchase at once? Is the anticipation of receiving a new lion every month the draw? Is it part of the storyline? “You win this time Lotor, but next month, prepare to face VOLTRON!”

    • redskull says:

      It’s a way to squeeze more money from the collector.

      For Mattel’s Masters Of The Universe line, they claim there’s not enough demand to mass produce the toys. Therefore they offer them through a subscription service so they don’t make any more than they need. If they sell 3000 subscriptions, then they’ll make 3000 Ninja Stealth He-Mans (well, they might make a couple extra, but you get the idea).

      The problem comes when you realize that they don’t tell you what all the subscription figures will be for the upcoming year before you subscribe– you pay the subscription and then every month they send you a figure. It might be something really cool in March, but then the most ridiculous and asinine figure ever in April. And you’ve got to sit there and take it.

      I’m honestly not sure why the Voltron figures are being offered this way– it can’t be to ensure that they sell all the figures equally, because who would want all but one of them?

  4. SharkD says:

    Not to blame the OP, but why didn’t he submit a Change of Address to the USPS, when he moved?

    It’s free.

    It’s easy.

    And, it ensures that you get any mail (or packages) sent to your old address, for at least 12-18 months (6-12 months to overseas addresses).

  5. nicless says:

    My biggest question is, how does a cat play with Voltron toys?! I mean, sure, magic… but still!

    • dolemite says:

      Well, the same reason boys play with wrestlers and gi joe figures…larger than life representations of themselves. So naturally a cat would play with robotic lions that formed a giant robot.

  6. AtlantaCPA says:

    This seems like some evil plot to drive middle-aged geeks crazy. Ship them 4 of the 5 Voltron lions then watch them squirm!

    • StarKillerX says:

      Also only make 1/10 as many of the 5th lion, wait 6 months and then ebay them one at a time and watch the money roll in.

  7. sixsnowflakes says:

    Could you ask for a refund for the entire subscription?

  8. samonela says:

    I’ve still got my old beat up but original and complete Voltron (minus the sword). It went missing for probably a good 15-20 years. Finally, my cousin (whose family lived with us when she was a toddler…shes now in her early 20s) posted on Facebook early this year “Wow check out this old Transformer I found in a box in our garage”. I saw the picture of my COMPLETE Voltron and nearly fell out of my chair! Picked up the (cell) phone and just like that we were reunited.

    After my wife and I lost our daughter last year, for some reason it felt right to put it in her room. Kind of a tangible display of one of my fond childhood memories in a space that was dedicated to her…something I would have definitely loved to have shared with her as she got older.

    Anyhow. That’s my Voltron story.

    • Kuri says:

      That nearly got me choked up.

      Sure to some they’re just toys, but, stories like yours always explain why these things continue to live on and why people try to get back what their parents discarded

  9. Galium says:

    The problem is that they do not ship overseas; you had that problem in Dubai. (Overseas shipping cost a heck of a lot more than US shipping), neither Mattel nor the USPS is going to pick up the tab just because you are moving. Your best bet is to have it shipped to a friend in the US with a change of address to them at the PO, in care of, and have them ship it to you, or buy one on eBay from the UK. Your entitlement cup runnith over.

  10. Torchwood says:

    He should be grateful. It could have been the fifteen piece Armored Fleet Dairugger XV instead of the five-piece Beast King GoLion.

  11. El_Fez says:

    I’m not exactly shocked. I’ve been buying the Ghostbusters figures from Matty Collector (the same place that Matel sells their he-man and Voltron and DC figures through) and I have never seen such a desire not to take my money. The customer service is crap – it took them forever to understand simple basic functionality of my broken Ghost Trap, and I eventually gave up waiting for a return to process so I just reversed the charges (for which they banned my credit card).

    So no, this is not a surprise that they dropped the ball. Also – press them on the issue. They maintain a back stock of figures and toys for returns – which is why you’ll occasionally see Sold Out toys come back months down the road. Press them and get your missing leg!

  12. theamazingyeah says:

    I know that hating on Mattel’s customer service is the point of this article, but I actually have the entire Voltron that I was going to sell, but if it means this much to the guy I’ll give him the blue lion free of charge!

    • theamazingyeah says:

      I had a couple of buyers lined up on craigslist but they’re all kind of sketchy (fiance said no b/c they have a wedding to pay for, wife said he had too many toys already, a girl who was looking for a date and not a toy). I told the first guy that this was only his first marriage but Voltron lasts forever!

  13. ecuador says:

    According to USPS, with a Change Of Address (which is free) packages are forwarded to your new address. Why would you move and not file for a Change Of Address with USPS? Even now you can probably do it and the Voltron will arrive (since it has not yet shipped). This is a non-issue and the OP is mostly to blame.

  14. backbroken says:

    Many (most) of the original Voltrons were recalled long ago because they are pretty much made out of lead. So if anyone reading this article has a 25 year old Voltron they are thinking of giving to their kids, do a Google and find out if yours is one of the recalled ones.

    This public service announcement brought to you by Backbroken.