September 5 Mattel Recall and Wal-Mart's Safety Net Program

As soon as manufacturers informed us yesterday (Tuesday) of an additional recall, we immediately took action requiring all stores to remove the relevant toys from shelves, as well as place a sales block on all registers.  Items we carried from the latest list include the accessories from Mattel’s Barbie range and two of the three Fisher Price Items - Geotracks Freightway Transport and 6-in-1 Bongo Band.

Mattel signaled clearly last month that their enhanced testing program may result in additional recalls.  Still, we know how unsettling this has been for parents.  That’s why Wal-Mart has outlined its own plan - a supplier-to-shelf safety program - to give parents additional reassurance as the holidays approach.

The program covers five main areas:

•    More Checking – Wal-Mart has asked all toy suppliers to re-submit testing documentation for toys currently on Wal-Mart shelves or on their way to stores.  And with more testing than ever being done by toy suppliers, that will reassure customers that Wal-Mart has the most up-to-date information about the toys on its shelves.

•    More Testing - Wal-Mart has immediately engaged leading independent laboratories to carry out an average of 200 additional tests each day.  Toys being tested first are those for children up to the age of three, including ones that can easily end up in a child’s mouth.  This also cover toys with a surface coating and/or contain magnets.  The testing doesn’t duplicate, but complements current toy manufacturers’ efforts and ensures all suppliers – whatever their size –have access to the best testing available at a reasonable costs.

•    More Dialogue – Wal-Mart will ensure the results of its tests are shared with whole industry –retailers and manufacturers.  It will play a full part in building consumer confidence through groups such as the Toy Industry Association (TIA).  Wal-Mart is cooperating with the TIA in supporting new measures aimed at ensuring higher safety standards.

•    More help for China – Wal-Mart also stands ready to help leaders in China who are implementing new testing procedures to ensure the highest safety standards for toy products. 

•    More Selection - Wal-Mart will continue to identify and work with toy manufacturers from all across the world on finding new toy products for its shelves and providing parents with greater choice. 

Parents who’ve bought the latest items to be recalled can call the consumer hotline- (888) 496-8330 - set up by the manufacturer or visit their website at www.service.mattel.com.  Alternatively they can return them for a full refund at their nearest Wal-Mart. 

We will continue to devote all our efforts in the coming weeks to ensure the safety of toys we sell and provide parents with the reassurance they rightly expect.