(Continued from above.)The "White Screen of Death" (WSOD)
When we first started buying figures from MattyCollector, we were all faced with a battle with other fans to fight and see who could purchase their figures first. On the monthly sales, we were having to wait a long time to get through due to a site imposed waiting screen. After 30 minutes or so after the start of the sales, the screens would finally go away and everyone would be able to make their purchases. Why is this a big deal? I read that MattyCollectors shipping service, Digital River ships approximately 27-30 million packages each year (if that number is accurate, I don't know. I personally think it is a little low). That's 82000 shipments per day, or approximately 1 every second 24 hours per day. Now, that number doesn't represent the number of Mattel's packages they ship, but for all of Digital River's customers. Why is it that a fulfillment company of this size is unable to handle a few hundred or thousand customers at one time? (Heck, even Ghostbusters Fans had a record breaking 9,400 users on in one 30 minute period on our rinkydink server. The servers at Digital River should be able to do much better, especially given that there are no doubt hundreds of them in the Digital River cloud. One of Digital River's taglines is after all: "No business is too big or too global for Digital River's premiere commerce solution.
" The wait screen was self imposed by MattyCollector in an effort to instill fear in the consumer. You saw that screen and thought: 'I better buy one now, heck I should buy two!'
No Ghostbusters figures have ever sold out in under 24 hours. In 2010 the Peter Venkman figure sold out in approximately 26 hours, the other figures lasted days even weeks. The PKE Meter and Ghost Trap were also both available for several days to several weeks. This fear was created by MattyCollector in an effort to sell more action figures and props. Since the line began, the WSOD has almost completely gone away due to (no doubt) complaints from MattyCollector's customers, and a decrease in sales."Sold Out"
MattyCollector has been manually listing items as "Almost Gone" and "Sold Out" in order to drum up further sales through fear and scarcity. Mattel has said numerous times that an item was completely sold out, only to make the item available at a Halloween or Thanksgiving sale at a price 40% off or higher. Those that purchased early on, were rightfully screwed. Prices and value dropped significantly. Now , I do understand that Mattel must keep extras on hand to handle replacements, but not in the quantity they made available at later dates. The "Sold Out" tag was just added to make sales look better than they actually were.Price Increases
Despite Mattel making over $700 million dollars in net income (profit) the first year the Ghostbusters line was active, Mattel cited increasing costs as the reason to make the already high priced $20 action figures, $22 in 2012, with the final figures costing $25 each. Meanwhile other toy manufacturers were making better quality products, at a much lower price. And let's not blame the prices on the fact that they were "limited collectors' items". The Real Ghostbusters MEGO figures from Mattel were $27 each, WITHOUT a pack in Ghost or accessory, AND were sold at retail stores in higher quantity. Once again however, they were figures that were over priced and extremely low quality. They didn't actually sell very well, and now (2 years later) you can still walk into your local Toys R Us and find them on the hooks for under $12. I personally sold dozens of them for $10 each in an online sale, taking a loss of approximately $8 per figure, just to get rid of them.Quality and Repetition
I will be the first one to admit there isn't a lot you can do with 4 main characters, that wore typically the same outfits during the movies. The first figures that came out, I loved, we all loved. They looked very good and were sculpted by the elite "Four Horsemen" team. Once we were presented with the four main characters, we were given a multitude of variations each one using the same bodies, the same heads, and re-used outfits from other lines such as Batman (despite Mattel denying this). It was lazy, the quality of the figures and the collectability of the figures was poor and eventually the line was taken over by Mattel's in house team of designers. The figures, while were still good, suffered. The likenesses (mainly due to rights) suffered on the Louis, Dana, and Vigo figures. Quality and sales went down as prices went up, and yet it was the fans who were blamed.Overpriced Shipping Costs
I wrote a lengthy topic on the shipping costs from MattyCollector a few weeks ago, that can be read here
. To summarize the findings, I found that Mattel (Digital River) shipped all UPS packages regardless of where they were going, as if they were going to the furthest location in the United States away from them. I was able to prove that Mattel not only overcharged by a minimum of 16% but as high as 919%, not factoring in any UPS discounts or surcharges. Everyone should be upset about this. Over the course of the Ghostbusters line, most fans have overpaid by $40 or $50 on shipping alone, that's 2 or more figures you could have gotten for free. It gets even more grim with an item like the PKE Meter, which has the shipment calculated at 3.5lbs per box, when in reality the weight is closer to 1.5 to 2lbs. This overage has resulted in me personally having been overcharged by 500% on two separate shipments. Another shipment pricing disparity can be quickly seen by adding a large number of items into your cart. Mattel's shipping calculator breaks, and starts charging astronomical prices for shipping for no apparent reason, usually with a jump of 80% by just adding 1 more item to your cart. When contacted about this Mattel denied these allegations, even though anyone can go directly to their site and verify this information.Billing and Shipping Problems
We have seen firsthand a number of problems with MattyCollector (Digital River) in regards to billing and shipping practices. Mainly having to do with subscriptions, and the now dead Club Ecto-1 subscription service. Some fans have reported that MattyCollector would ship orders to old addresses, despite having updated the address on file. Some were charged for subscriptions even after they were cancelled, or after the credit card had expired. We even saw reports of fans having received opened boxes with the action figure completely removed, or used (open) items sold as new. Most spectacularly and recently when Mattel shipped out the green Slimer "rewards" for having subscribed to Club Ecto-1 for 2012. They shipped them to addresses on file from July 2011, when the subscription was created. They didn't as much as contact subscribers to ensure the addresses were correct, nor bother checking their customers' current addresses already on file. When contacted about this, MattyCollector (Digital River's customer service) said it was the buyer's fault for not having the correct address already updated... and that is despite some fans having ALREADY updated their address. And regarding those Slimer rewards that were mailed out at the end of 2012, which had come far later than they had promised, Mattel only shipped one Slimer independent of how many Club Ecto-1 subscriptions were purchased. Mattel stated that they wanted to get the Slimers out before 2012, and would be sending the remainder out at a later date. I believe that this was a complete mistake on Mattel's fault, and they didn't have enough Slimer's to cover all the subscriptions. The replacement Slimers were sent out 1 month later, which is just about exactly the amount of time it would have taken to produce more. Those that had their Slimers shipped to the wrong address are left with nothing, as MattyCollector will not send replacements to the corrected addresses on file.Fan Treatment
When the line first started, Mattel was great to engage with the fans and were actually doing some phenomenal work. I was personally involved with some decisions regarding the 6" figures in terms of accuracy, and was contacted to help on the Vigo, and the 6" Slime Blowers a full year before they would be released, and provided input on a Gozer character. Ghostbusters Fans was seen as a resource for Mattel to use to improve their products, and also as a great marketing channel. We were given special information, even figures for review, well before they were released to the public. Once the line was decided to be officially dead in 2011, we were cut off completely. Despite having basically been the go to resource (aside from the archives at Sony). Once the line was on its way out... so was our community as far as Mattel was concerned.
The poor treatment of the fans didn't stop there. I was actually banned from MattyCollector's forum in 2011 for simply participating in a discussion about what Ghostbusters figures I had personally purchased, and for defending our website against the flock of rule breaking former members that migrated to MattyCollector's website. Another fan reports having been banned from MattyCollector's Facebook page for merely pointing out a grammatical error on one of their posts.
Through all of this, Mattel has always blamed the problem on the fans. 'The fans didn't buy enough products. There wasn't enough interest. Not enough fans purchased subscriptions... etc.'
All of that was poor planning and marketing on Mattel's' part. They were doing things as cheaply as possible to make a buck as easily as possible, and viewed the Ghostbusters license as something they could do easily, while making a premium amount of money. Ghostbusters fans are more frugal than that.The Hoverboard Fiasco
While not directly related to Ghostbusters, the Hoverboard from Back to the Future is a great example of Mattel's poor business practices and possibly fraud. A year ago, Mattel set out to build a prop replica of the Hoverboard from Back to the Future. They offered them for pre-order early last year and finally shipped in December of last year. The fans were promised a high quality prop replica on par with the PKE Meter and Ghost Trap that Mattel had previously released. What fans got was an inaccurate plastic pink board with stickers, despite being promised so much more. During previews at San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con a "prototype" was shown which was promised to be only a prototype, and that the final version would be much better. To ease fans' minds, they allowed orders to be cancelled after NYCC, but still promised that the fans hadn't seen a final version yet. The fans were promised the special holographic lenticular film would be used, and on the final version it was absent. Mattel promised the hoverboard would be as accurate as possible, but neglected to say it would be as accurate as they could afford to make, while still generating a large profit. Once the pre-orders were in, they dropped the ball and coasted with a 'good enough' attitude. Customers are left with the closing opportunity to return their hoverboards for a refund and to be left with nothing.
Meanwhile... NECA, McFarlane, Hasbro, Diamond Select Toys and others are making higher quality action figures and prop replicas for more obscure franchises at a lower price.
I personally believe that at this point in time, the only competent company that can release anything up to the standards set forth by the community is NECA. Not the NECA we knew 10 years ago when they last had the license. But the current NECA that is now producing amazing prop replicas, and amazing action figures and displays. We as Ghostbusters Fans should stand up and ask Sony Pictures and NECA to work together to produce the next level of Ghostbusters props and action figures that we DO deserve and we DO need right now. Sony should allow the license to expire after the lackluster Ecto Goggles are released, and shop it to a more competant company like NECA
Do you have a MattyCollector horror story, or want to add to this story? Post in this thread.
Please share this was as many fans as you can. Ghostbusters fans aren't the only ones to bring these problems up, nor will we be the last if the company does not change.
Webmaster of Ghostbusters Fanshttp://www.GBFans.com/