Little Tikes Offers Refund If I Write All Over My Daughter's Toy Pony



Tatiana’s daughter has a Giddy Up and Go pony from Little Tikes, a cute toy horsie that isn’t cheap. When there was a problem with the toy and it was beyond repair, she contacted the company and they offered her a refund, but with a catch: she had to mutilate the pony beyond the point where someone would pick it up from the curb, somehow keeping her daughter from seeing this. Then she had to send Little Tikes detailed photos of the mutilation. This makes sense, but Tatiana has never heard anything like it, and wonders whether other readers have either.

She writes:

I just have to tell you about this crazy exchange of emails between me and Little Tikes. Last September I bought my daughter a Giddy Up and Go Pony- retail price $269. A few months ago when we went to change the battery, the zipper came clear off the track and cannot be repaired. I knew the warranty was about to expire so last week I finally emailed to see if we could get replacement covering for the head. I sent my original receipt to them along with ten very detailed photos. The company admitted it was a warranted item and said they would have replaced it but it’s no longer in production, so they offered me a store credit on their website instead.

But here’s the catch: I have to completely deface the entire product- with permanent marker- to make sure that no one can ever use it again then photograph and document all of this and mail it to them to approve before I would get the credit. I guess the initial photos of the flaws weren’t enough. Or the second set of photos they requesting asking for a clear shot of their logo on the product, though it was obviously theirs. Here’s today’s email from them:

From: “” Subject: RE: Product Question, Replacement Part, or Warranty
Date: September 17, 2012 1:09:15 PM EDT

We are sorry that your Little Tikes Giddyup ‘N Go Pony has a defective part. We can offer to assist you in the following way.

Please send us a photo of your product completely defaced, we will be happy to send you a Coupon Code for the purchase price of the item. To deface the product, please write the activity number 307924all over the item, on every part and side, several times using black permanent marker. The goal is to make the item as unattractive as possible, so that no one
will want to take it from your trash or recycling and use the item or call us with a similar complaint. E-mail your photo of the defaced product to] in a jpeg format, or
mail it to:

The Little Tikes Company
Attn: Consumer Service
2180 Barlow Road
Hudson, OH 44236

When submitting the photo, please reference your name, address,
phone number and the above activity number.
Your photo will be reviewed and placed in our service files, and we will send out the Coupon Code. This offer is good for 30 days. Do not discard the defaced product until you have received the Coupon Code. If you have any questions please contact our consumer service line at 1-800-321-0183 and we will be glad to assist you.
Thank You,
The Little Tikes Company
Consumer Service

Is it just me or is this bizarre??


Edit Your Comment

  1. TheUncleBob says:

    At least they didn’t ask for you to mail it back. I can’t imagine shipping on something like that would be very cheap.

    • Kabusted says:

      That’s one of the reasons they do it, so you don’t incur the cost of mailing it back, but also know that it can’t be resold to someone else and run a scam on getting free products. A lot of companies do this.

      Black And Decker will ask you to mail them back the severed plug from a coffee maker.
      Chef’n wants pictures emailed to them
      Fischer Price might want the electronic part mailed to them or proof that it’s mutilated

      I’ve dealt with all of this. I am loyal to these brands because they make it pretty easy. And come on, really? Who doesn’t want to find some instant gratification with destroying something and then taking pictures. Have fun with it.

      “This is what happened to Sugar Foot. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow the instruction that are attached to this picture.”

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        I’m surprised a severed plug is good enough proof — That can be fixed in 5 minutes and $0.50 worth of parts.

        • Southern says:

          Only if there’s a way to completely replace the cord, all the way to the circuit board – it might take some soldering.

          Anyone who “repairs” an electrical cord on an item like this with wire nuts or electrical tape is just asking for a fire.

      • TD99 says:

        “Black And Decker will ask you to mail them back the severed plug from a coffee maker.”

        Funny. I came into the comments to say the same thing because I went through this myself.

  2. Quirk Sugarplum says:

    Please send us a photo of the horse’s severed head in bed alongside Jack Woltz. Then you’ll get your reward. Not until.

  3. triana says:

    At a clothing store I worked at, we had to destroy any damaged or defective clothing after taking it out of our inventory. They didn’t want people dumpster diving then trying to get a refund. We got to take out our aggression with razors and Sharpies.

  4. msbaskx2 says:

    I don’t understand the problem.

    They’re refunding your money and they don’t want anyone else to be able to put in a claim for the same horse. What better way to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Dear Tatiana,

    After reviewing your submitted photos, we strongly feel that you didn’t put your heart and soul into mutilating your daughters pet pony – we are therefore denying your request for a refund. Thank you again for your purchase and have a sparkling day.

    The Dedicated Denial Team

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      Actually, I was thinking:

      Dear Tatiana,

      Thank you for e-mail. We are sorry that your child defaced the Little Tike’s Toy Pony. Sadly, our warranty does not cover damage done by permanent marker so we must reject your request for a refund. Thank you for your business.

  6. Danny says:

    its pretty common, they would rather have you destroy it that bother with shipping, and then them just disposing of it any ways.

    many book stores (whats left of them) dont send back old stock and instead rip off covers of the books and magazines.

    • GreySoul says:

      Yes, because a book cannot possibly be read if it’s missing a cover. I collect coverless books…

      Personally, I would take the pictures of the horse with the numbers written all over it, then several more of the horse on fire, then it being fed into one of those giant industrial shredders and possibly the machine then being set on fire.

      • nolitt242 says:

        That is what we did at Borders…it was company policy to rip off the covers and throw them in the locked dumpster. it kind of made me feel sick to my stomach. i would’ve taken those books if they were just going to toss them…

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Locked? Barnes & Noble leaves the dumpster open. I used to collect magazines when I walked by one every day to work.

  7. Bsamm09 says:

    I don’t see a problem

  8. jeepguy57 says:

    I’ve had this with other companies in the past.

    Keurig once made me send in a crucial part of my brewer so they could send me a replacement. I think that keeps people from making bogus claims to get a second one. Think about it, you could make a claim, get a replacement, and sell the replacement. The part I had to send back cost about $3 at the post office, vs. probably $20 to send back the whole brewer, plus finding a large enough box.

    Also, I ordered photos through SmugMug once that we didn’t like. They offered to reprint them provided we sent a photo of the other batch cut up. Makes sense to me. Too many people abuse the system and these little tasks they request of us keep everyone honest.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      Interestingly, my wife called Keurig to get our Keurig replaced under warranty. They told her she needed to mail back the K-Cup holder from the old machine. Of course, they never provided a return shipping address, and never got credit card information from her before shipping out the new machine. I then pointed out it was unlikely they’d get their K-cup holder back, all things considered…

  9. RxDude says:

    What are the terms of the warranty? Repair, replace or refund is pretty common. Defacement as part of the warranty, probably not so much.

    BTW, safety pins.

  10. Thnaggle Tooph says:

    What ever happened to donating? Send in the Goodwill receipt. Didn’t this happen to hundreds of bridal gowns from a company that went out of business? They spray painted them I believe. What a hideous waste.

    • ovalseven says:

      I’m not sure if Goodwill wants your broken toys. Why not donate a quality toy instead of your trash?

      Plus, Little Tykes does not want the recipient to email them with a similar complaint on the same item.

  11. quail20 says:

    Did anyone else think she should use a washable marker, take the picture, get the refund, wash the horse, and fix the zipper herself?

    No? Didn’t think so.

  12. Delicious Spam is delicious says:

    I once spent a day smashing 30 thousand dollars of mikasa crystal for similar reasons. No children were harmed in this smashing.

  13. SirWired says:

    That’s not uncommon for warranty replacements. It’s a much better alternative than you, at your own expense, mailing the thing back.

    They simply want to make sure you aren’t going for a new one, while keeping the old one “in the market.”

  14. atomix says:

    You can “somehow keep your daughter from seeing this” by disposing of it somewhere besides home. Or ask a friend to put it on their curb. It makes sense for them to maintain their brand’s value in this way, though it does probably feel a little weird to be on the receiving end of it.

    • Pre-Existing Condition says:

      Yeah, I really don’t see the big deal about smashing it up at work or in the alley behind one’s house, or even just waiting until the child is asleep.

    • KyBash says:

      She has to do it, e-mail the photos, and wait for them to issue the coupon code.

      How long will it take for them to examine the evidence? It could be days or weeks.

      And if they decide her markings aren’t large enough or dark enough, they could ask her to do more and send in new pictures.

      • atomix says:

        *sigh* OK so hide it in a closet until enough time has passed. My parents hid stuff from me all the time and I never found most of it. This is not a difficult problem.

        • KyBash says:

          Depends on the kid. My sister knew where everything was in the house and could tell the difference between normal changes and sneaky ones. One year, my mom hid the Christmas presents in the attic, which required using a ladder. It took six days for sis to find and unwrap and rewrap them. She was 8.

  15. Sarek says:

    I suppose this is a variation on when I had to cut the plug off my coffee maker’s cord and send it back.

    The OP should be happy she didn’t have to send part of the horse back. Any part.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Well I’m sure that if they required it to be shipped back we would have a story with someone complaining about having to pay to ship it back.

      Seems like a case of the OP looking for something to complain about.

  16. Pre-Existing Condition says:

    I’d rather destroy the thing than pay to send it back to the manufacturer.

    Manufacturer’s have this requirement because a) They don’t want customers to exaggerate damages to get a free replacement; b) To prevent a used market from impacting the new market; and c) Shipping can be more expensive than the product is worth.

    Yes, I’m sure the thing could be fixed with duct tape and given to a niece or nephew but that’s exactly what the manufacturer is trying to avoid.

  17. pegasi says:

    what ever happened to finding someone who can sew, and having them take out the bad zipper and put in a new one? doesn’t anyone fix anything anymore?

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      For a $269 toy, you bet I’d be doing this!

    • KyBash says:

      I don’t know about this specific situation, but I’ve seen fabrics so thin you can’t really sew it. Any place it isn’t glued to the unit, you have to glue or heat-weld a wide reinforcement. To sew through that, you’d probably have to drill a hole for each stitch.

  18. josephbloseph says:

    I ordered a memory foam mattress from Woot once, and while my mattress has worked out quite well, there were some complaints that when other people had theirs delivered, the mattress never fully expanded. They are packed quite tightly when shipped from the factory/distributor, and there would be no practical way for me to ship it back for anywhere near the original $5 shipping cost. The commenters who did have issues were instructed to cut the mattress into quarters, which although likely troublesome, a saw is cheaper than shipping a mattress across the country. I think this is actually a really good system in this particular story, because the company is instructing the customer to write what is presumably a case or RMA number on the item, so that the item can only be used for this one warranty request. Also, requesting the picture of the logo is a fair one if they are concerned at all about knockoffs; I believe Vibram (five toed shoes) had a large problem where when their product started getting a little exposure, it began getting a lot of knockoffs sent in for warranty requests.

    It’s only really bizarre if you would expect them to want the item back to recondition it, or if they needed to investigate some sort of safety issue. What they are basically asking you to do is to dispose of the item yourself, so neither you nor they have to pay for shipping, and so that they don’t have to throw the item out themselves.

  19. Black Bellamy says:

    It’s totally easy to “deface” the horse using a water based ink that will totally wash right off.

  20. golddog says:

    I don’t know if I could resist the urge to fashion a branding iron with 307924 on it to use in the photos. That’d be a special memory for Tatiana and her daughter.

  21. Kestris says:

    So, simply writing on it is supposed to deter people from picking it up from the curb?


    You want to make it unattractive? Try gutting it and mutilating the electronics. THEN possibly no one would be interested in picking it up from the curb.

    Otherwise, learn some sewing skills and sew buttons and loops over the zipper closure and go on with your life.

  22. Kuri says:

    And then someone who is decent in doing upholstery picks it up and manages to repair it.

  23. ginnel says:

    Some of us cannot afford $300 toys for our children. I will gladly take the “mutilated” horse and convince my daughter it is just really into tattoos. And figure out something to do with the zipper.

  24. glich says:

    I used to work retail. we had some products that when they expired or when out of season we would have to smash into little bits and send pictures back to vendor for a refund. basically stuff that costs more to ship then its worth.

  25. Starrion says:

    So Deface it with marker, but make sure there is no tactile difference. Once you have the coupon, drop it off at a school for the blind.

    Problem solved.

  26. clickable says:

    People live very sheltered lives, if they can’t figure out the logic even if this is the first time they’ve heard of it. The product is defective and the company will replace it, but they don’t need the defective product back. To save shipping, whether at their or the customer’s expense, they just want proof that the product is unuseable, thus asking the customer to destroy it.

    I’ve been asked to snip power cords or send back other parts of defective items as proof that the item is unuseable without that particular part or piece. Makes sense to me.

  27. impatientgirl says:

    Makes sense to me.

  28. JonBoy470 says:

    The only toy I’ve ever returned for replacement was a Tickle Me Elmo TMX bought the Christmas those were the new hotness… Elmo’s eyes were jacked up, not on the center of his head; he didn’t tumble and roll properly due to the defect. Fisher-Price was very helpful, not requiring the receipt, and cross-shipping the replacement after getting a credit card. They did want the old one back, I imagine for failure analysis…

  29. JonBoy470 says:

    This toy would seem to be expensive enough that it would have a computer-generated, pseudo-random serial number. Then all you need is for the customer to provide the serial number to get warranty service. Once the unit is blacklisted in their system, no more worries about multiple warranty claims for the same defective device.

  30. NorthAlabama says:

    i think the op wanted the refund AND the pony. in that case, the washable marker is the best option. photochop is too easy to recognize, would jeopardize the refund.

  31. AtlPatrick says:

    Deface the cover, then sell the innards to someone to make a fire-breathing robot out of it:

  32. Kisses4Katie says:

    This seems a little much to me. Shouldn’t they promote giving it to charity, and then using the tax write off form as proof? that way some little girl might get this gift her parents could never afford, complete with broken zipper? This pisses me off the same way those assholes destroying wedding dresses with red paint does.

  33. Sad Sam says:

    Aw, the poor pony. I understand the reasoning behind it, but I hate to see a product be destroyed when someone else might be able to use it, seems like such a complete waste.