- January 27, 2017
- Posted by: Kerry Tomlinson, Archer News
- Categories: Archer News, Mobile Devices, Posts with image, Robotics
Attorney says tech toys need to work as advertised and ”with a certain degree of ease.”
Two wildly popular, high-tech, furry robot toys. Two very similar scenes on Christmas morning.
Now one group of families has taken action.
A class action suit has been filed against Spin Master, the maker of the Hatchimal, saying many of the plush robotic creatures did not emerge from their eggs as promised.
“Corporations need to sell products that work,” said Ben Meiselas, attorney with Geragos & Geragos, the firm that filed the Hatchimal suit.
A Hatchimal emerging from its egg & a hatched Hatchimal.
No class action suit against the maker of the Furby Connect has been announced. But some parents say this toy should be next in line.
“Yes, I do, as I think we were all fooled by the company about the Furbies,” one father said to Archer News.
New Furby Connect in box. No class action suit has been announced against the maker, Hasbro. Image credit: Archer News.
The Hatchimal—selling now for around $100 on Amazon—starts as a 10-inch egg. Your child is supposed to play with the egg until the hatchling breaks out of its shell.
But for some children, the hatch never happened. Complaints like this one spread online:
“This hatchimal did not work on Christmas Day!!! The one present that my 7 yr old daughter wanted!!! She’s very upset and crying,” a parent wrote on Amazon. “We finally after day 3 cracked it open and it never went through any stages of growing.”
Parents reported malfunctioning Hatchimals on Amazon.
You might contact the company for help, to try to get your money’s worth out of the pricey toy. But complaint after complaint shows some families were even more disappointed in the results.
“Replacement hatchimal arrived today, started hatching process and died, this is ridiculous,” wrote Nikki Ways on the Spin Master Facebook page.
“Spin master, I still haven’t gotten any response to my email messages sent in December, and I am becoming increasingly frustrated and disappointed!!!” wrote Kiley Andreas on January 24.
“Besides getting an email stating that they would be getting in contact with me I have heard nothing! This company sells nothing but broken dreams!” said Brian Stephenson on January 18.
Some customers complained about poor customer service on Spin Master’s Facebook page.
The new class action suit says the toy flop is more than just broken dreams on Christmas morning.
“I think that the way it gets to class actions is because there is a lack of responsiveness to the consumer by corporations,” said Meiselas told Archer News. “And by the time it gets usually into my hands, there’s not only been a failure of the product, there’s been a failure of responsiveness and a failure of accountability by the corporations.”
The suit could bring change, not just refunds for customers, Meiselas said.
“The message needs to be sent, for next Christmas and for future Christmases, so corporations don’t sell the consumers broken and defective products,” he said. “Or the consumers are going to fight back.”
Some customers reported on Facebook that their replacement Hatchimals did not hatch, either.
Spin Master, maker of popular toys like Etch-A-Sketch and Build-A-Bear Workshop, said the allegations are inaccurate.
“Given the popularity of Hatchimals and the overwhelmingly positive consumer response, a large number of Hatchimals were purchased as gifts and opened on Christmas day,” Christopher Harrs, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at Spin Master, said in a statement to Archer News.
“As a result, the Company experienced a higher than anticipated number of consumer calls over the holiday period,” Harrs continued. “Spin Master took extraordinary and proactive steps to respond to consumer questions regarding Hatchimals.”
That included bringing in more people to work customer service over the holidays and extending service hours, the company said.
“The Company provided troubleshooting support and where required immediately made available replacement products for those few consumers whose toys did not work as they anticipated,” Harrs said.
Spin Master’s Facebook page shows happy posts from parents who received replacements, though also comments from frustrated families still waiting for help.
A tweet on January 15 compliments Spin Master on its good customer service.
Another high-tech trouble spot this Christmas—the Furby Connect, which now sells for about $75 on Amazon.
This interactive robot toy also generated a large number of parent complaints online during the holidays, when their Furby Connect would not do as its name declared—connect.
More than 10,000 people searching for Furby connection help from December 25 to 27 landed on Archer News’ story about Furby Connect glitches from this summer, according to web metrics.
More than a month after Christmas, this father said his family’s Furby Connect is a disappointment for his daughter and a waste of money.
“We could not get it working and it just sits in her room, not working,” he said.
Furby Connect in box. Image credit: Archer News.
Some parents told Archer News that they have received multiple replacements, some still with connection issues.
Other families found out after the purchase that their phones or tablets were not compatible with the toy.
“Why release a product that clearly wasn’t ready and connect with an app that is only compatible with certain devices?” asked Sarah Jones, who said she’s now on her third Furby Connect, after the first and second did not work properly.
“This is the problem,” said another mom. “They always want to rush the product without making sure it works correctly.”
Some parents called the Furby Connect app a “hot mess” and a “nightmare.”
Meiselas sees problems, too.
“You’re having corporations and companies trying to push the boundaries of technological advancement,” he said. “You have increasing reliance on new forms of technology that are being tested and brought to the market. But, unfortunately, you’re finding that the technology hasn’t been sufficiently vetted.”
“I think there’s a push for profitability with a lack of accountability,” he added.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel jokingly called Hatchimals “Disapointimals.”
Hasbro did not respond to Archer News’ contact for this story.
In the past, the company said, “There may be a number of factors affecting connectivity, such as the specific device being used, and consumers are advised to contact the Hasbro Consumer Care team to help troubleshoot any challenges: http://www.hasbro.com/en-ca/worldwide.”
One Furby Connect trouble-shooting technique involved turning the creature upside down, pushing down on its tongue, pulling its tail for ten seconds and uninstalling/reinstalling the app.
Some parents complained about the Furby Connect app on the app store sites.
Other steps included confirming both your phone and your Furby Connects are updated, checking the Apple, Google and Amazon play stores to make sure your operating system meets minimum specs for the app, “hard-resetting” your Furby, and pairing your toy with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth—“a one-time update that may take some time,” the company said. “You’ll know the update is complete when Furby re-boots and says to you, ‘CONNECTED!’”
One troubleshooting technique involves pushing on the Furby’s tongue & pulling its tail. Image credit: Archer News.
Companies that make high-tech toys also need to make sure the toys work in real-life as easily as they appear to work in marketing materials, Meiselas said.
“The consumer has the expectation that they’ll be able to use the product as intended with a certain degree of ease in its functionality,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to decipher hieroglyphics to play with your Furby or open up your Hatchimal.”
Some parents said there had been a spate of complaints about the Hatchimal in October.
Meiselas said if the company was aware of problems before Christmas, they could have taken steps to provide additional instructions for parents or warnings about the device not working as advertised, or even recall the product.
Hatchimals were called “the toy” of the 2016 holiday season.
‘Just fix the Furby’
As the Hatchimals suit moves forward, some parents wonder if legal action would help with the Furby Connect and other hyped holiday products.
“I think there could be a suit for toys that have done nothing but break and had to be replaced numerous times at Christmas,” Jones said. “Especially as Christmas is such a special time for children, and they have been so disappointed at such a magical time of year and no useful support from their customer services.“
Others just want a working toy.
“It definitely would be nice if they would just fix the Furby and the app because, regardless, our children don’t understand what’s going on,” said a mom to Archer News.
And for some, the race for the most popular holiday toys is over—for good.
“I will not fall for the ‘the most sought after toy this season’ ploy again!” wrote a grandparent on an Amazon Hatchimal listing. “They had more fun and got more exercise with a bag a balloons I bought! Shame on me!”