PRSA Boston Blog

This is a blog written by the PRSA Boston president (Tom Nutile for 2008) about events and activities involving PRSA Boston

Monday, September 10, 2007

Praise for a disaster handled well

I wanted to take a step back from promoting PRSA Boston and its events, to give praise to a company for handling crisis PR very well.

Like many families, mine was impacted by the Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train recall. My 2 year old son loves playing with them, brings them everywhere and reads the train catalog daily telling me what he hopes Santa will bring (he calls it 'Reading the news').

Two weeks ago we send back his Red Sodor Island Caboose for replacement with one with less lead in the red paint.

On Friday we received a package and a letter from the manufacturer - RC2. The letter was a standard apology, and a check for $1.30 to cover the cost of postage. Nice, but expected.

The package included a new red Caboose, and not just one new train as a thank you/apology but two new trains. My son is ecstatic with his new spotlight lorry and cherry picker (It picks cherries, daddy...).

I will be buying more from them in the future.

Quick response an apology and over the top customer service made a bad situation into one that reaffirmed my commitment to buying from the company in the future.

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  • At 3:09 PM, Blogger Adam Zand said…



    Toy Maker's PR Outreach Backfires: RC2 Sent Thousands of Toys to Recall Victims to Maintain Loyalty—But Many of the "Gift" Toys Now Recalled
    The first recall for RC2 Corp., the maker of popular Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys, was bad enough: A million-plus toys pulled because of lead paint. The second was surreal: The maker of the smiley-faced trains sent customers "bonus gifts" so they'd stay loyal—and now some of those toys have been recalled, too, the AP reports. It's yet another mind-bending episode in a cascade of recalls that already had parents fretting what toys were safe for their kids. "This is so exactly what the villain in a children's movie would do," said one consumer. "It's just ridiculous."

    The double recall dredges up issues of global supply chain management and China's role as factory to the world. It also shows how a company that says it's doing everything it can to ensure quality cannot guarantee that its products are lead free. For many consumers, the consequences are simple: no more Thomas toys.

    While just 5 percent of Thomas toys have tested as exceeding the federal limit for lead paint (0.06 percent lead content in a product's paint), one angry consumer is severing all ties—and he wants RC2 Corp. to do the same with China. "It just blows my mind that no one even seems to consider the possibility of not doing business the way they do it," he said.

    The goodwill gesture flopped when further testing showed that lead in the paint covering about 2,000 "Toad" train cars in the bonus shipment was up to four times higher than acceptable levels. The company had sent the stick-of-butter-sized items as part of 146,000 gifts it distributed to customers. Last week, RC2 recalled the affected Toads, along with about 200,000 other Thomas items.

    The company—which ranks in the top 10 of U.S. toy makers with 2006 sales volume of about $500 million—has dropped its supplier, Hansheng Wood Products, which made the Toad pieces as well as the items in the first recall.

    In a letter addressed to "Dear Valued Thomas and Friends Customer," company executives recognized the anguish the second recall would cause. "We are deeply apologetic for and embarrassed by this turn of events, and remain determined to make it up to you and restore your confidence," wrote RC2 CEO Curt Stoelting and president Pete Henseler.

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