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Aug14
Mattel Recall - Where Are the Outraged Bloggers?

If word of mouth marketing is so strong - where are all of the 150 powerful mommy and daddy bloggers?  The know-it-all MBAs? The thousands of bloggers who claim to have a message that the world just has to hear? The DC PC Police and defenders of the downtroddenWhere are their blogs expressing outrage at this negligence? The powerful Arianna Huffington, The Daily Kos, or Michelle Malkin seem to be silent. Maybe the new Technorati number one blog - Buzznet Music could take a station break to address the issue. (No links they don't need the help.)

(I did find quite a few blogs that wrote about this, Lewis Green and my pal Hal Halliday to name two. I did not find it on any of the top Technorati blogs that I checked. Maybe there should be an O-list for outraged consumers.)

What is going to happen to the supplier?
Where is the name, address, and phone number of this careless unfeeling child poisoner? Why can we drag Don Imus out in the street over stupid remarks but we cannot know who is enabling our children to be exposed to these materials? Where is Al Sharpton? Why isn't Al Gore ranting about this inconvenient truth? Where is Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olberman? Instead of playing tit-for-tat about who spins what way, should they be screaming about this? We should be demanding to know the name and identity of every executive in the whole supply chain. You can bet Mattel knows quite a few. They have signed contracts. They should have copies of all of the supply agreements. They should show some responsibility.

Maybe if Al-Queda was making the toys it would receive more attention. Maybe if the children in Murtha's district are directly affected he can earmark some money to increase enforcement. Maybe if Brittney Spears kids get sick people will find the outrage at the careless ness exhibited in these situations. Perhaps the newly reformed Paris Hilton could use this as her cause to make the world a better place. Maybe those aggressive 24 hour news agencies like TMZ, Insider, or even Perez Hilton could make themselves useful for a change. Put OJ on it, give him something to do. Send a horde of paparazzi over there to take pictures of the crooks as they leave work. That could be more painful than a fine!

This post is continued...

Mattel Is Not Alone - Leader or Loser?

Bob Eckert has a big problem and he says knows that. Today, on several taped interviews that I saw he repeatedly reiterated, "I'm a parent of four." He understands that toys with small parts, parts that can cause severe damage to a child, are a bad thing. He knows that children put painted toys in their mouths, particularly small children. What he does not seem to know is how to go after the people who did this. He is just trying to reduce his liability exposure.

What I was waiting to hear was what Mattel was going to do to the supplier about this. Not just what he was going to do about the problem. Yes, they recalled the toys and improved screening of every "batch" of toys that comes out of China. If you recall the Tylenol scare, then you know what J&J did. (If you need a refresher, this analysis is brief.) As I recall, they did not just recall "batches" they pulled every bottle off the shelves. They changed the packages and put tamper proof seals. They bent over backwards to make sure the person who opened the bottle the first time was the person who bought it. What are Mattel, and the other toy companies, going to do to manufacturers like this? My guess; get new ones who will do the same thing.

Who is going to pay for this recall? We are
Well, the insurance company - with the premiums that we pay - will have to shell out millions to cover the losses. The Chinese government will not get involved, they allow this kind of abuse to occur to their own people every day. It should not matter. There should be a boycott on every single product that comes out of every single facility involved. There should be a tariff to cover these kinds of recall expenses. It should be in the contract with the manufacturer, if it is not already, that they have to cover the US government costs for the clean-up and increased inspections. Charge them on any produc they try to import from that company or those executives. (You don't think they would try to change names, locations, and businesses do you?)

Follow the money:
Everyone knows what greases the wheels - money. If the sales from US parents stop you can bet it will be a little harder to make the decision to try and sneak a few tainted toys in. Of course if you are a manufacturer all you have to do is to look at the lead tainted candy coming from Mexico into Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The issue was identified in 2002, and people are still finding it being shipped into California as recently as May 2007! Why is that? Because they can and nothing happens to them when they do. Perhaps Richardson (NM), McCain (AZ), and Arnold (CA) should see if they can answer the question: Why after 5 years are Mexican companies still being allowed to ship this garbage into our country?

Bob Eckert has been in business long enough to know what he is dealing with. Maybe this letter from, Maureen Keene, the mother of a 2-year old will get his attention. Her blog Made Deadly in China is probably not popular over there but it is getting to be more popular over here.

She asks two questions:

1.  How can you be certain that toys made before the current recall period do not contain lead?

2.  Why did it take almost a month from the time that you learned there was a potential problem with lead paint in your products for you to announce a recall?

Here observations are quite important. You should visit and Digg her post. It should be one of the most highly ranked pages on Digg.  

What is new here?
Anyone who has been dealing with offshore suppliers knows that you must have your own testing done inside your own facilities here. Blood is still thicker than water and money makes people do things they may otherwise not have done. In one company, we were having antibodies produced overseas. When they tested them, 100% worked. When we tested them, 10% worked. Would you ship product like that? I once worked for a company with n English supplier that kept changing the product specs without being asked. They felt it made the device better. If we did not test each box when it arrived, then we would not have caught it.

If you do not test, then you are allowing faulty products to be shipped because everyone who cars to check knows that suppliers try to cheat all the time. Random testing of toys is not enough now. There has to be some means that Mattel, and every company that imports toys, can implement to assure each parent that the toys they buy are free of lead. All parents should inspect toys they buy to see that there are no small pieces that present a choking hazard.

My Suggestion:
Government officials should lose their job and their pension if they do not enforce the laws that already exist. That means, when a problem is brought to their attention, they need to act on it and enforce appropriate sanctions, penalties, and criminal charges. In private industry, you should lose your job and seniority as well, if your negligence allowed something like this to happen. There are plenty of people who can step into those jobs and many of those executives have been let off the hook too many times already.
It may be easier to be ignorant but it should be a lot more expensive and painful for those who choose that tactic.

Remember, it is not just about China! It is about not enforcing the same standards of practice that are the law here. It is about moving production to areas where it costs less to do business because they do not follow our rules. Rules that we made law to protect us from companies and people who do not care less about the public safety than they do about their bottom line.

Maybe if it hurts enough it will stop. Hopefully those hurt will be the ones responsible, not the innocent children.


11 Comments/Trackbacks




I caught part of the CNN special, Made in China, and was they pointed out that the volume of imports makes it impossible for government agents to test everything. So companies should be the ones ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety of their products. Clearly, they're not doing their job.

I shudder to think what repercussions are going on within China what with people getting executed and supposedly committing suicide. Everyone on both sides thought they could get away with it. Thank goodness they didn't.

I think the "DC PC Police" are more concerned with how we treat each other than trade issues. Cute.

Roger,

Excellent analysis. My point of view is that we are more interested in cutting costs by manufacturing overseas than we are in protecting children. I don't mean that those who make these outsourcing decisions are nefarious; I mean only that their decision making is driven by the bottom line, so they seldom think about the downsides until it is too late.

Some of us are doing our part. I'm pretty goddamned outraged, even if I don't have the netularity to be heard far and wide. Does this F*#@ You China post count?

http://www.speckblog.net/2007/08/14/yet-another-toy-recall/

I was wondering the same thing -- where is the kind of widespread public outcry we heard just a few months back, when an imported ingredient in pet food was tainted with a pesticide?

I've had to throw away three toys in as many months. I'm sick of this. And I don't want another toy, I want my money back.

A lot of my friends are threatening to stop buying all Mattel products, but I think this is a much larger problem, and all major corps need to have a serious discussion about the true costs of low prices. According to the Obama campaign, nearly 90% of toys come from China… To boycott Chinese products is to relegate your kids to playing with wooden tops and tin foil (or is that from China, too?)

We’re about to see dozens more of these recalls. There’s another story on a blog about lead in bibs, but the company isn’t recalling them yet:

http://www.unboundedition.com/content/view/1978/50/

@ Hsein, - "Everyone on both
sides thought they could get away with it." I think this is the point I am trying to make here. We cannot simply blame China - we have to hold accountable the people who are importing this poison as well.

@ Concerend Dad - Thanks for your comment. Sorry about the toys. It is possible but expensive to try to buy around China. It should not be so hard to buy around those manufacturers if we begin to shine more light on them. Great link too.

@ Lewis - Looking at the bottom line is not a sin. Looking the other way when suppliers ship poison is. I think it is important not to focus solely on China. The trouble is that people are people and often they do uncaring and unfeeling things. If we assume that everyone will abide by their contract without some sort of review and oversight we are lax in our responsibility.

@ Geoff - Children are not deserving of your protection? Why, they can't sign-up for your services?

@ Krissy - I made your one word more family friendly. I appreciate your level of disgust.

@ Jen - it takes a lot of energy to make a tidal wave. If you think about it though the fairly big waves come from the huge number of tiny gravity tugs from the moon. If the blogosphere is the moon, then each blogger is a bit of gravity.
Thanks for your input.

Roger,

Thank you for discussing this important issue and for bringing attention to my blog. And I agree with you that it's not just about China, even though China is the main focus of my blog because it has become "factory to the world" and not a lot of people seem to realize yet that counterfeit goods, banned chemicals and adulterated ingredients are business as usual in that factory.

Globalization is not going away, so American consumers need to start putting pressure on companies like Mattel to tighten their safety controls or else lose our business. Likewise, we need to let our government know that we expect the agencies charged with food and product safety to have the appropriate resources and authority to do their jobs.

Thanks,
Maureen Keene
www.madedeadlyinchina.com

Maureen
You are very welcome. I thought you expressed what needed to be said quite nicely.

I have been wondering where all the bloggers are as well. I did one into one site you may know of that is at least tracking the issues:

http://www.madedeadlyinchina.com/

» 6 months! from ModernMagellans
It's hard to believe that this blog is 6 months old. When I started, I was not sure what I would find at this point. I certainly had hoped to have a huge audience and lots of traffic. That has... [Read More]

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