By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 at 12:06 pm in Toy Recalls.
Toxic toys are the stuff of parental nightmares, so one would think that toy shop owners would endure some sleepless nights too… or at least a few arduous days of shelf-clearing. So we took notice when Martinez mom Yvonne Mills called to say she’d spotted AquaDots, the craft beads whose coating metabolizes into a date rape drug when ingested, on the shelves at Pleasant Hill’s Toys ‘R’ Us long after the dangerous toy had been recalled.
Mills said the store clerk’s response to her outraged complaint was “What recall?” And she got nowhere when she tried calling the corporate offices, the mayor and so on. The mayor’s response: not my problem.
Folks, this is everybody’s problem, and state Attorney General Jerry Brown agrees.
(So do federal legislators, pictured above at US Senate hearings on toy safety – although whether those hearings will actually achieve anything remains to be seen.)
But just because a toy has been recalled does not mean that consumers can assume corporations are looking out for their best interests. “I’m amazed,” says Mills, “by how much they care about the money and not the children.”
We stopped by the Pleasant Hill Toys R Us this morning to see if the AquaDots were still there – and we’re relieved to report that no, they are not. We’d like to think that this is because Mills drew their attention to the problem, and not because unsuspecting consumers bought them. But our cynical side suspects the shelf-clearing may also be related to the massive lawsuit Brown just filed against Toys R Us, Mattel and 18 other companies for knowingly exposing children to lead in the form of toxic toys.
And we have to say, we’re troubled by the absence of posted recall lists in this store. To be fair, managers may have posted the lists somewhere on the premises – in the employee break room, perhaps, or out on the loading dock. But recall lists are most useful to consumers when they’re posted where consumers can check them, next to the toys … you know, to make sure you’re not buying something that was recalled weeks or months ago. Like AquaDots.
Fortunately, most small, indie toy stores get it. Orinda’s adorable Sweet Dreams toy store (pictured, left) posts the Thomas the Tank Engine recall list next to the train display, so customers can check the list and rest easy, knowing not only that their locomotive is not on the list, but that Sweet Dreams’ owners have checked that list very carefully too.
Now we want to hear from you – have you spotted recalled toys on store shelves or on eBay? And where are you doing your shopping instead?
– Jackie Burrell