Thomas And Friends Railroading Parents On Shipping Charges For Recalled Toys

The maker of Thomas the Tank Engines recalled for lead poisoning promised to send a replacement toy and refund parents the full cost of shipping back the recalled toys, but several parents are angry after receiving less-than-full reimbursement checks.

Marlo & Elaine spent $5.25 and got back $4.60
Jill spent $3.03 and got back $1.81.
Carolyn spent $8.23 and got back $5.30.
Jeff spent $5.00 and got back $1.81.

Seems like RC2’s shipping clerks may have gotten exposed to too much lead paint dust in the course of fulfilling their recall duties!


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  1. Buran says:

    Why can’t they just send out prepaid shipping labels? At the very least have you fill out a form describing what you need to return and allow you to print the required postage for USPS/FedEx/UPS at home and provide your own box? Amazon does this…

  2. dmolavi says:

    we shipped three or four units back to them as part of this recall, shipping costs reached $15 and change. We received a check for $1.81.

    But, they did send us a free locomotive as a “thanks for being patient” gesture. However, I would have preferred the rest of my shipping charges instead.

  3. Trai_Dep says:

    This has to be an error, omission or screw-up that slipped through. TELL me that RC2 isn’t this stupid. Opening themselves up, giving the story legs, for a buck or two “savings” in shipping.

    It’s like… It’s like… It’s like charging someone the price of a bullet that’s used to shoot them in the head, dead.

  4. ArtDonovansDrunkenLovechild says:

    My guess, they have the “base” usps rate for shipping. They plug in the distance and send that amount back. Just a guess, cause I had an issue with someone on that. Was returning a $260 item and went priority (which is what the rep told me was ok). Got a check back for $272 instead of $280. Called and it was explained that way. Probably a system thing

  5. Hanke says:

    According to the letter I recieved, they based their shipping refunds on USPS rates. I got back $2.32, which is eaxtly what it cost me to send 4 cars and a sign back to them, first class mail, in a padded envelope.

  6. beyond says:

    Just strip the toys and paint them yourself. It’ll be a fun project!

  7. catnapped says:

    We appreciate your riding the Chinese poison train–thank you come again!

  8. Xerloq says:

    @Buran: Your prepaid label is a great idea. That way there is no reimbursement, and RC2 would get to keep their low corporate rate.

    @trai_dep: Is it like paying the executioner to sharpen the axe?

  9. MajorXP says:

    My wife just threw the junk away. It wasn’t worth the cost of the time to ship it to get the money back…let alone the shipping cost.

  10. scoobydoo says:

    @MajorXP: I bet RC2 is hoping most people will do that. They probably just don’t realize that folks will never ever buy anything from them again.

    RC2 is pretty smart, just before the recall they closed their learning curve retail stores, no angry mobs to deal with.

  11. revmatty says:

    Well, I mean, come on! This is obviously all China’s fault too! They must be handling the processing of refunds.

  12. bufftbone says:

    Well I’m not really sure what to say so, ummm… here it goes. Any time now.. Ummm….. “tada!”

    That was wierd.

  13. bufftbone says:

    I got a replacement engine the “We’re sorry here’s a free Diesel engine since our warehouse is over flowing with them. I didn’t get a refund check though.

  14. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: That’s exactly what Targus did when they recalled a bunch of their travel power converters. You went to the website, filled out a form, and they sent you a pre-paid padded envelope. I had my check in the mail within a couple of weeks.

  15. j-o-h-n says:

    @Hanke: Same here. We got back exactly what it cost to ship vis USPS. Did people actually think they were going to pay for a premium shipping method?!?

  16. acambras says:


    I suspect you’re kidding, but just in case people take that idea seriously, stripping the paint is a bad idea — then ya got airborne lead dust.

  17. dbeahn says:

    I suspect they are calculating shipping based on the corp. contract they have with their shippers, not the prices that a consumer would pay.

    Still, seems like a huge fubar to not take into account that they pay a different rate…

  18. azntg says:

    Unless the customers completely signed off their rights, I think two class action suits might be in order. Namely, one for selling the uninspected lead-poisoned toys for young children and the second for shipping rebate fraud.

    Normally, I’m in favor of tort reform, but I think this one is just really pushing it and adding insult to injury (and some might be long lasting too for that matter) just doesn’t sound right at all.

    Also, I can’t wait to hear the health consequences of the workers in China who were exposed to the damn paint in their factor. Sucks for them too, though probably not nearly as much as children stateside who decided to suck on the toys *sigh*

  19. mconfoy says:

    Well at least they are replacing the cars instead of pretending to do it like Magnetix.

  20. timmus says:

    RC2 = Remote Control 2? Royal Crown II cola?

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    “Normally, I’m in favor of tort reform but…”

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? A decent case comes thru that wouldn’t, if our legal system wasn’t as open as it is that makes it worth dealing with the dumb ones.

    We have a pretty good system, propaganda to the contrary. Sure, any idiot can file a suit. But the courts are pretty good about winnowing out the losers. Game over for them. No real harm.

    In a similar way that our system – since its founding – has been predicated on the notion that it’s better to let a few guilty go free rather than convict an innocent, we’re more lax with filing (judgments are another matter). But frivolous suits are usually taken out of the running. And this laxness in filing rules lets victims that were wronged, but lack the resources of, say, the RIAA, have their day in court.

    Evil companies HATE that. Big companies would prefer it wasn’t so. But the system is so slanted in their favor that people really need this sliver of a chance. Perfect? No. But a good balance. Despite what the anti-individual tort “reformers” say.

    So, consider that. :)

  22. Hanke says:

    Was originally ‘Racing Champions’, and they had a license deal with NASCAR. Then they bought ERTL, which had the license deal with HIT entertainment (Bob the Builder, Thomas, others).

  23. artgyrlbeth says:

    I returned about 7 items (do we win for having the most lead toys?) for the recall, via USPS Priority Mail (whatever you can stuff in their standard envelope). I made sure that the shipping cost printed on the label, figuring they’d use that to send me back exactly what I’d spent.

    Shipping cost me $6.25 cents and I got back a check for $7.00, based on standard USPS shipping, they said in the accompanying letter – whoo hoo, $0.75 profit!

    And we got the free/”sorry” gift (which happened to be one my son already has, but no biggie).

    I’m not happy with the hassle of this, nor the fact that he’s played with these for years (and yes, the paint WAS chipped in several areas), but I have to at least point out that not everyone had a problem with the recall.