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toy recalls

I’m very interested in all these toy recalls, especially the ones involving Mattel. Back in August when the issue first started heating up and before Mattel was forced to recall not one but multiple items, this quote appeared in the August 3, 2007, copy of the Wall Street Journal:

Mattel won’t publicly name the manufacturer until the El Segundo, Calif.,
company completes an investigation of how the toys were tainted. But Jim Walter,
the company’s senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance, said, “It’s
my understanding that they are producing toys for other companies.” He said if
products from the factory were sold to other companies, it would be the
responsibility of the factory owner, not Mattel, to alert them

“We have no right to go in there to ask, ‘Who else are you
producing for, and what else are you making?’ “
Mr. Walter
said. He added that he had personally received no calls from toy companies
seeking the name of the factory. The Toy Industry Association, which has close
ties to Mattel, said it hadn’t asked for information on the toys’ source.

That Mr. Walter is the senior vice president of “world-wide quality assurance” is not reassuring to me as a parent. His quote strikes me as “we have no moral or ethical responsibility to our consumers if it doesn’t wear a Mattel label.”

First of all, a company as large as Mattel surely knows who else is using their vendors and manufacturers. Do they have an a moral or ethical responsibility to their consumers? I think so. Where is the “greater good” concept that people used to believe in?

Personally, I believe most of the toy industry is in the same bed as Mattel and knowingly so. It’s hard to believe that these many products could come from the same country and the senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance didn’t know they had lead in them.

Second of all, how did this guy get to be a senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance and still allow himself to be quoted like this in the WSJ?

It’s obviously a much wider issue than just toys and Mattel. The larger issue is our dependence on cheap stuff and, therefore, our addiction to Chinese resources.

Now, of course, the company is taking a totally different posture and the CEO is putting out warm fuzzy videos that seek to “empathize” with parents and consumers. Maybe it’s conscience; it’s probably a simple matter of economics spelled C-L-A-S-S- A-C-T-I-O-N- L-A-W-S-U-I-T-S.