Barbie for big girls.

There is Grey and There is Black and White

No this isn’t an April Fools’ joke.  I wish it were. 

I was all ready to share a quick blog post about the new Camel Coat Silkstone Barbie that became available on the Barbie Collection website yesterday for BFC members (a day ahead of general public distribution).  I was all ready…and then…something happened that sank me and many collectors into a state of complete and total disbelief.  It was a situation where something was so clearly black and white that I could not stay on the sidelines and watch it happen without comment.  Our story begins with a Sneak Peek on the BFC.

I can’t show you the sneak peek because that would violate my agreement with the BFC but I can tell you that pictures of the doll were shown last week (3/24/16 to be specific) and a release date of March 31st was given.  The big surprise — and a pleasant one at that — was the $50.00 list price.  This doll had a full outfit with accessories (yes she has earrings and a purse!!) and the price was more than reasonable.  The verbiage in the sneak peek was general…name, label, designer and…price.  It was not listed with suggested price, not estimated price, just price:  $50.  For the entire week after the sneak was posted, member after member commented how this price seemed low.  There were questions as to its validity but no correction or retraction was submitted or offered by Mattel.  As of this morning, $50 was the set price.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Gates open in the morning at Barbiecollection.com and many collectors were able to purchase Miss Camel Coat at $50.  Somewhere after the first hours of happy purchasing, the price jumped to $75.  To say collectors were surprised is a gross understatement.  When people questioned this, the response back from the official Mattel channels was, “We are having issues with the price and that she was really $75.”  Hmmmmm…what issues change a doll with an “advertised” price of $50 to $75?  Look, I understand that mistakes are made and if Mattel had explained after say…a couple of days in the sneak peek forum that “oops we goofed, we put the price down wrong.” , I think it is fair to say that most of us would have understood.  Stuff happens.

When you hike the price up 50% mid-sale while people are purchasing (yes, collectors have stories of seeing the dolls price change while still in their cart) then you have a bigger problem I think.  You not only have a problem of epic customer service proportions, you also have a potential legal issue.  Let me explain.

I need to state up front that I am not a lawyer.  I have never been one.  My background is in business and finance.  While studying for my bachelor of science in this field, one of the main areas of study was business law.  The first lesson we learned…and I mean the first lesson, day one… had to do with unfair and illegal marketing practices.  One of the most common ones is called “Bait and Switch”.  It is illegal in the United States.  Here is a brief description of what it means:

"Bait and switch advertising is a violation of consumer laws. It is a type of fraudulent business practice where one party, such as a manufacturer or business, will offer the "bait". This could be a product that is advertised at a very low cost and is designed to lure in a customer. Once the customer is attracted, the manufacturer will pull the "switch". The proposed product will no longer be available at the advertised price, but instead it will be offered at a much higher price or an altogether different product will be offered."  **

Simply put, you can’t advertise something for a price then hike the price when people come to buy it.  You just can’t.  Now, here is where things can get a little grey.  Do you consider the sneak peeks we receive in the BFC “advertising”?  I will admit, kind of grey because this is information shared only with BFC members and it could be considered preliminary.  If that had been the only place where Mattel had mentioned a price, then perhaps categorizing this as bait and switch could be debated.  However,  it’s not the only place they advertised the price.

©2016 Mattel, Inc

This was what you found when you went to the BFC tab of the website all day yesterday.  This is not a grey area.  This is advertising space on their public website. 

While I sat at my computer and saw this story unfurl I was shocked that Mattel was not coming forth and 1) apologizing for their error, and 2) honoring the $50 price for BFC members.  To me, this was so black and white.  They advertised it at $50 for BFC members, some BFC members had already purchased dolls at that price, and I assumed they would simply have to honor the price for other BFC members.  No brainer, fair, legally and ethically right.  But for a time, Mattel was silent and calls to the customer service center in Wisconsin just gave the response of, “The price is $75.”  Holy cow!  When I called the customer service center, I explained that if that doll was $75, then they needed to yank the ad that stated she was $50 or they could get slapped with false advertising.  The ad remained up all day. 

By late afternoon, Mattel did respond stating that the $50 price would be honored if you called customer service but it was a one day only deal.  For those who had purchased the doll at the $75 price, they could email customer service and their account would be adjusted.  On my third call to customer service, I finally was able to purchase this doll for the price she was advertised for:  $50.00  This was half my day people, to try to accomplish something that should never have been set up this way.  And this was half a day in which I had to argue with two customer service reps that their website and company were in violation of consumer law.   Not something I do every day…every year or frankly every decade.  It has left me repeating one phrase over and over again…”What in the Sam Hill is going on over at Mattel?”

For those unfortunate collectors who come late to the party tomorrow hoping to use their brand new quarterly reward on a $50 Camel Coat Silkstone, good luck.  I hope Mattel will do the right thing here and honor the $50 price to the BFC members they advertised it to.  I am hoping but I don’t expect it.  I am left with a lingering sense of mistrust in this company I have supported for years with many compliments, time and dollars.  What a sad way to show their appreciation.  #customerfail.

I’m not even showing the doll or giving the link.  Caveat Emptor people!  Now, as they say over at Flickr when a disturbing or alarming picture is about to be shown, “Take me to the Kitties”.  I have such a bad taste in my mouth on this one, I need a whole box of Altoids and hours of cute animal videos.

cat6776

** – http://consumer.laws.com/deceptive-advertising/bait-and-switch-advertising

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38 responses

  1. Sheba Erickson

    If u call barbie collector they will credit your account

    April 1, 2016 at 6:35 am

    • Glad to hear they are continuing to honor the price for those who call.

      April 1, 2016 at 6:59 am

  2. bevey99

    ……and, This is why I did not join BFC this year. She was the only doll that had caught my fancy. Mattel has “More issues than Vogue”. [that’s me being nice]

    April 1, 2016 at 6:37 am

    • {Snort!} Yes, you called it Bev.

      April 1, 2016 at 6:59 am

  3. Suzanne Shirley

    Hi Rebecca,

    Did you know that Mattel has taken her off the club doll advertisement section today. We were all in shock yesterday and a bit hostel with there betrayal. In the end they did do the right thing, but we should never have been put in that situation in the first place. You are absolutely right I called it false advertisement myself.

    Suzanne

    April 1, 2016 at 6:39 am

    • Yes, I saw that this morning 😉 First thing I checked when I woke up. But, the sad part was they had it up all day yesterday which, I believe, is why the $50 price was honored for people who called yesterday. This whole situation just undermines trust in this company.

      April 1, 2016 at 6:58 am

      • Sheba Erickson

        I just called today and it was honored

        April 1, 2016 at 7:00 am

  4. L orena

    Thank you for the article. I went on BFC yesterday the 31st and the camel coat was still $50 I put her and the Andy Warhol doll and my cart and was going to purchase on April 1st so I could use my $20 fan club money. To my surprise she had jumped up to $75. I went ahead and bought them both what’s the difference with the $20 was only $5 more. Should I call BFC and complain?

    April 1, 2016 at 6:52 am

    • I would. I would call customer service and explain your situation and see if they do the right thing. If the customer service rep doesn’t do this for you, I would talk with the supervisor. You are a BFC member who saw the price advertised at $50 and put it in your cart yesterday. I think you should get the $50 advertised price. Hopefully Mattel will do the right thing. Good luck.

      April 1, 2016 at 6:55 am

  5. Harsh reality, I hope Mattel does the right thing. I was on the fence about this doll, not anymore but again, I fear for the future of our beloved Silkstone Dolls.

    April 1, 2016 at 7:49 am

    • I am right there with you…fearing for the future of this product line and company. In the world of business, this kind of stuff can be fatal.

      April 2, 2016 at 8:56 am

  6. thebarbievignette

    I had an odd feeling about the price yesterday morning, and for whatever reason, thought they might jack up the price after the BFC members made their purchases, so I went ahead and ordered her in the morning before the fiasco. It didn’t make sense to me knowing that the rewards were going to kick in the day after the pre-orders, that were they really going to sell this doll for $50? But I wasn’t in the legalities mind set, it was just me knowing that she couldn’t possibly be profitable at $50. Cray cray!

    April 1, 2016 at 8:11 am

    • Well you and your intuition were spot on my dear! ( next time call a girl k?) I was woefully unsuspecting on this one. Watched in horror from the sidelines then got a bee in my bonnet and waded into the fracas. I can’t remember anything after that LOL!

      April 2, 2016 at 8:59 am

  7. Janet Hatfield

    Such sad news. I was one that was waiting to use my new quarterly reward. I must admit I was surprised that second doll for the year was only 50, but the first was only 40, so why not? Sad, just sad.

    April 1, 2016 at 8:18 am

    • So sorry Janet. Yep, very sad indeed.

      April 2, 2016 at 9:12 am

  8. Pam

    I was one of those unlucky saps who waited for today to order and use my reward. Thankfully CS did honor the price originally posted, but you have to call in. This just made my morning so much better!!! And a BIG thank you to the other blog readers who posted this little tidbit. 😉
    Mattel really needs someone to monitor the club and information posted to the club beyond what the member mods already do. It could solve so much strife and problems. Keep up the fabulous work Miss Rebecca!!

    April 1, 2016 at 9:28 am

    • Thank you Pam and glad you were of the ones you got Mattel to give them the advertised price. Sadly, there were some that were not able to get that yesterday. The fact that the CS reps were not consistent in this is so very disturbing. Yes! Mattel would be well served to actually look at the forums and see what is being said. A huge helping of humble pie might be in order.

      April 2, 2016 at 9:14 am

  9. T

    Haha! Very funny post… April Fool, right? Of course, that would mean all of the other quality control & IT issues Mattel’s had with their website for the past year(+) are part of the joke too. Did you let them know who they were talking to… “Berry. That’s THE RABerry, who has painstakingly promoted & generated 1000’s of Mattel sales in her free time for years!? The same RABerry who has personally spent… just put Robert [Best] on the phone, please!” 😉 On the upside, you know the folks over at Integrity are standing by with open arms, and working on the next stunning design that will console our broken Barbie girl hearts! (One fantastic camel coat coming right up! Lol!)

    TBH, Mattel doesn’t seem interested in catering to the adult collectors, or continuing the premium doll lines. From what I’ve heard, the premiere edition of the articulated Silkstone was a joke. Seems they took notice of the collector’s love of the jointed bodies, but produced a slightly altered basic playline body with a BFMC headsculpt. Once she was in your hand, what made her special? The basic black cocktail dress? Boots? You have the most vast collection I’ve seen… How many 1/6 cocktail dresses do you own? Black dresses?? How many blonde Silkstone’s do you have??? Hmmm… How many of your very favorites have you NOT had Jon or Matt enhance? Which makes me wonder: what did you love most about this Classic Camel Coat Barbie, or the other recent BFC releases? If Mattel packaged the complete ensembles (with accessories) of half of the BFMC’s you own and sold them (without the doll) @ $29- $59 each, would you have ordered them? I think if Mattel is going to slack on the quality of the adult collector dolls, then PLEASE just stop making them. Instead they could focus efforts on creating a line of gold & platinum label fashion packs & accessories. Bet sales would be the same, if not better… Especially if the list price is $19, but changes to $39 when added to cart! ;D

    April 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    • Well put from T. Integrity Toys have already done a camel coat (Elise Jolie ‘Fine Print’ 2015), but that was $145 USD. I don’t know what Mattel were thinking, were their computer people all out to lunch or something?? Seems shockingly careless.

      April 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      • Indeed Julie! Careless and for many collectors just plain hurtful. Not a good mix if you want to sell somebody something.

        April 2, 2016 at 9:33 am

    • LOL!!! Love this comment T. You always know how to get to the humor of the situation ;-). I wish I had that kind of pull at Mattel but I suspect the truth is more like..”Rebecca who?” from them. Let me see if I can answer some of the excellent questions you posed..

      What did I like about Camel Coat? …well..I liked the price first of all or at least I DID before they arbitrarily raised it. I did like her facial screening lower lashes and all. I LOVED that purse and while I think they can do WAY better on the design of this articulated body, I was still willing to try it out.

      Recent Releases: I also loved the facial screening of Classic Black dress. It is really very pretty. The body…not so much. The dress was a “meh” for me and the no panty thing was scandalous. My barbies do not go full commando in a dress…no way 😉

      I agree that the production and quality control issues are running rampant. It is so pervasive at this point using the word “control” is an oxymoron. And, as you say, Mattel doesn’t really seem to put much effort into their adult collector product line or at least they don’t seem to be listening to it. Sad. Many collectors have been screaming for collector or BFMC outfits for years. The word back from Mattel was that they were not big money makers when they did them in the beginning years of the BFMC. My reply would be ” you are not considering the timing on that”. The outfits did not sell well to begin with because they were just growing the BFMC brand. If they took a look at what those things sell for on Ebay right now, they might change their minds. One of the tricks of business is to know your market. I think this is one of Mattel’s biggest issues right now..they don’t have a clue about their adult collector market nor do they seem to be interested in knowing it. We are “out of favor” in the court…and that never works out well. Just my humble opinion and here I have written a book LOL! Now lets head over to the BC website and see what they are jacking the price up on today!

      April 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

  10. My only reaction is 😦

    Shame on them!!

    April 1, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    • My reaction too Debi. The reaction of many.

      April 2, 2016 at 9:33 am

  11. Sam Bey

    Thank you Rebecca for the very informative article. I did not join the Barbie Club this year and was on the fence. Over the years the Big M has produce some beautiful dolls and I have been very happy with all the dolls I purchase. But to my eyes quality has gone down and lack of interest in as said before a lack of interest in what the adult collector wants. My focus is mostly on Integrity dolls. Why some may ask? I love articulated dolls. Barbie is just as beautiful as any other doll on the market but the decisions made at the big M are driving long time customers away.

    April 2, 2016 at 1:08 am

    • Wow Sam!! I had no idea you were not even signed up for the BFC this year. Now THAT is a market indicator people. Here is someone who has been a loyal Barbie fan for many years and they left the fold. So very sad to see you go Sam but I can honestly say…I understand. See ya over at the IT forums 😉

      April 2, 2016 at 9:35 am

  12. Karen

    Wow, Unbelievable! I had no idea about this price switch until I read your blog. I just flipped over to the site to see it with my own eyes. Thankfully, I ordered her first thing Thursday morning at the $50 price tag. I figured I would just use my 2nd quarter reward on the next one coming out in April. I imagine she’ll be $100. Mattel sure isn’t making any new friends these days, and they’re losing many old ones. So sad.

    April 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

    • You were smart to go early Karen! No, I agree, Mattel is NOT making new friends with this kind of behavior. They are on the “naughty Mat” at this house.

      April 2, 2016 at 9:43 am

  13. Tammy

    You hit the issue spot on! I am one of the unfortunates that called on Friday and was denied. Not 30 minutes later do I see a post on the forum stating that someone just got their doll for the correct price. Could I have sucked it up and got her anyway, yes, but I am not going to do. It is the principle, not good Mattel, not good.

    On a happier note, I love your blog and your photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your doll world 🙂

    April 2, 2016 at 12:10 pm

  14. I am very conflicted on what to do. I was upset that they changed the price. If I had known earlier that morning I would have gotten her then. But I was busy all day so didnt go on the boards because I wasn’t going to buy her until my reward kicked in anyway. My parents were going to give her to me for a birthday gift. I am probably still going to get her. Just have to wait a bit. So unfair. BC should have continued to honor the original price. Not our fault they are idiots and weren’t paying attention.

    April 2, 2016 at 12:26 pm

  15. I was lucky enough to get an ajustment . Will show up when shipped i will then get credit of 25.00. BUt when i first ordered her on April 1st to use the 20.00 quarterly reward the sales rep did not give me the 50.00 price but charged me 75.00 to which i said okay if that is the way it is. Then i went into the Barbie Collector forums and read all about this fiasco and decided to call again….explIned my situation and that i was a BFCM and waited until today to order to be able to use the reward…without hesitation she had me on hold for a minute and said she woukd adjust the price to 50.00 much to my delight.

    April 2, 2016 at 6:35 pm

  16. Lorraine

    I was also one of the unlucky ones who called on Friday and got turned down. Even worse, there was zero interest on their part, just a “sorry/not sorry” sort of reply. I did go ahead and purchase her with my discount, but it left such a bad taste in my mouth. This was my first year of joining the BFC, and I had already purchased 5 other dolls from them, but now I feel so disillusioned and devalued as a customer/club member.

    April 3, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    • So my Camel Coat arrived yesterday and while her face paint was perfect, her left elbow does not bend properly. But if I want her replaced I will have to pay the return shipping cost myself. When I called their customer service line I was told nobody else had reported any issues with her joints – I find that rather hard to believe, but I guess I’ll just keep her – her clothes really are wonderful.

      April 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  17. Diane Johnson

    Thank you Rebecca, for giving us a heads up on this Customer Service fiasco.
    Mattel has had a poor attitude towards adult collectors for a very long time.

    In 1989 the Barbie National Convention was in their back yard…and part of the convention itinerary included a visit to Mattel headquarters for a tea event. Many signed up to attend convention, based on that wonderful event, and opportunity to see Mattel headquarters. So, the day prior to the event, once we all were already in California, anticipating this…they pulled their invitation, and uninvited an entire convention of adult collectors….. the event was cancelled with no explanation….Yes, I was there, we were all in shock, and very unhappy. So, seems this is just one more “oops” on their part.

    Speculation of what happened went around the gossip circles, but no fair explanation was ever offered. I’d heard they tried to blame it on a dispute with the event organizers, but this just should not ever have happened! I still have a sour taste in my mouth over that, 26 years later…..but trudged on as a faithful collector, even tho they did not deserve our loyalty.

    I have not ordered my Trenchcoat Barbie yet…maybe I will wait til they are stuck with them…and bring the price back down to what it should have been.

    Diane

    April 4, 2016 at 7:46 am

  18. Diane Johnson

    I meant to say Camel hair coat Barbie, not Trench coat Barbie…see, still fuming.

    April 4, 2016 at 7:49 am

  19. sarah

    I think the only way that a message would be sent to Mattel- is if nobody bought the doll. But I bet plenty went ahead and did so anyway, right? Mattel doesn’t care unless it hurts the bottom line.

    April 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  20. Evie

    Rebecca, let me say something positive first. I love your blog and doll photos, they are a joy to see.

    I have been a BFC member in the past and have ordered a few of the Silkstones over the years. But I tend to have a more budget doll collection and shipping costs put an end to my wanting a membership. Which is why I like your blog so much, because I can see all the high end dolls and enjoy them vicariously. So now you know where I’m coming from. I can say from the budget collector end, that Mattel isn’t listening there either. And have done some strange practices in the past years much to the bewilderment of playline collectors. Like putting a glue in the dolls heads that migrated and made the hair greasy and it doesn’t wash out with anything. In fact washing makes it worse. I have read something they say works, but it’s hard to get locally and a pain to use. People complained and perhaps Mattel stopped doing that. But we don’t know, because I’ve never read an online apology or explanation or statement that it’s not being done anymore. No acknowledgment of consumer complaints, or concerns if this viscous goop in their children’s dolls hair was safe. This was done to some Barbies and some Monster High. It essentially ruins the doll unless great measures are taken and nothing was said by Mattel on this? Though perhaps this may seem like comparing apples and oranges because it is playline and you have a blog about high end collectible dolls. The company is still the same and the disregard for good business practices is the same.

    Also there has been a major reworking of Monster High and a lot of the collectors of that line are unhappy and voicing it. We feel they’re are taking everything away that made the dolls unique and special all to appeal to a much younger demographic. The company doesn’t address it at all. So it seems as though they don’t care which makes me less likely to care to spend my dollars with them. Whoever is running Mattel seems to be making mistakes high end and low that is going to alienate the very customers who have supported them for years. Very foolish. They need to fire some of the top executives and hire some fresh blood that cares, and is capable of making better decisions than that. They also need someone who instantly gets that information, whether it be apologies or explanations, out to the collectors/consumers when they do make mistakes. Because high end or low there are other toy companies who would love our dollars.

    Sorry this is such a long post, but I feel pretty strongly about this. I wonder what can we do to let Mattel know they are really going wrong?

    April 8, 2016 at 3:00 pm

  21. Rebecca Veuillet

    Thanks to you Rebecca, I saw your wonderful post on time and was able to get her for $50 on April 1st. Got her yesterday and she is very pretty. I probably won’t redress heras all her articulations are hidden. I did mention your name and your wonderful blog.
    Love to you.
    Rebecca V.

    April 9, 2016 at 12:13 pm

  22. Wow! I totally missed this whole conversation — till now. It’s been a busy time in my world. I did, however, go to barbiecollector.com to purchase Camel Coat on April 1 so I could use my quarterly reward. I remember being so pleased at the cost of under $40, including shipping. She arrived last week and when I took the bill out of the box, it read $65. I found myself scratching my head, wondering if I was delusional. I called Mattel to check because I remembered it as being $50. The very pleasant customer service rep said, no, she is $75, which, with shipping and my quarterly reward, added up to the $65. Good to know I’m not getting senile!

    As regards quality. Sorry, Mattel, but, it ain’t what it used to be. I discovered Poppy Parker followed by Fashion Royalty in 2011 and actually did not purchase a Barbie doll for 2+ years. The Silkstones I’ve purchased more recently have been disappointing when compared to the earlier dolls. Less accessories, cheaper quality fabrics … not what I had grown accustomed to.

    I read about Mattel in the business section of the newspaper from time to time and it’s clear to me they are suffering from a lack of vision. Mattel was built by people with vision and I ask, where has that gone? Making toys, whether for a child or an adult collector, should be about making a happy customer. When Barbie was created, we weren’t just buying a doll. She had to have clothes and it was the fashions we were compelled to buy for her that made money for the corporation and created a fanbase of loyal customers. I, for one, believe that is a timeless business model: give us a little, leave us wanting more. But, not the way they’re doing it now.

    Finally, I was deeply offended by the way they handled the first Andy Warhol Barbie. I promised myself I wouldn’t get sucked in again. I don’t regret my purchases, but, they will be fewer than in the past. I have become a loyal fan of Integrity Toys because they don’t jerk us around and they deliver quality products. They treat their W Club members very well, too. If Mattel ever gets someone with vision and good business savvy in the Barbie department, I may reconsider. In the meantime, I enjoy what I have and am happy just loving Barbie.

    Enough of a rant. Didn’t plan it that way, so, thanks for letting me go on. I love your blog! Keep up the good work!

    April 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm

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