Mattel Apologizes to China Over Recalls
By ALEXA OLESEN
The Associated Press
Friday, September 21, 2007; 8:38 AM
BEIJING — U.S.-based toy giant Mattel Inc. issued an extraordinary apology to China on Friday over the recall of Chinese-made toys, taking the blame for design flaws and saying it had recalled more lead-tainted toys than justified.
The gesture by Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, came in a meeting with Chinese product safety chief Li Changjiang, at which Li upbraided the company for maintaining weak safety controls.
“Our reputation has been damaged lately by these recalls,” Debrowski told Li in a meeting at Li’s office at which reporters were allowed to be present. “And Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people, and all of our customers who received the toys,” Debrowski said.
Mattel ordered three high-profile recalls this summer involving more than 21 million Chinese-made toys, including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed. The recalls have prompted complaints from China that manufacturers were being blamed for design faults introduced by Mattel.
On Friday, Debrowski acknowledged that “vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel’s design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China’s manufacturers.”
It would be interesting to peek under the rug of this relationship. Mattel was quick to recall (which is a good PR move) and quick to disavow itself from responsibility (which was more PR than fact, it seems).
The Chinese pushed back.
Mattel (apparently) had little choice but to finally do the equitable thing and take the hit they tried to pass off.