Confessions of a Webkinz Dealer:
We started selling Webkinz (from Ganz) before their products were popular (just before Christmas of 2006). We started out small and was able to place larger orders as their plush toy became more popular (we ordered over 1,000 Christmas Reindeer). We pre-sold over 700 Reindeers off our website and then sold another few hundred from our two retail stores. Those were pretty good numbers for a specific single item.
There were problems with late and missing shipments but we stuck with them. We promoted their products and recommended them to our customers. We even ordered their non-Webkinz products so we could maintain a certain status level to continue buying their webkinz. They demanded that we sign a contract (which basically protects them from legal actions) to continue carrying their products. Suddenly without any real reason, we didn’t get any shipments after signing the contract. We asked our sales rep and never got an clear answer. Finally we got a call from a sales manager stating that our account was closed because we violated their policy of wholesaling their products. We don’t wholesale (if we did, we could have easily sold several thousands more).
We were a bonafide retail operation that helped promote and build their product. Since we were a highly tech company, our employees had their own online webkinz to show kids/parents how to use the website in our store. We ran webkinz computer workshops in our retail store to help kids play safely online. We usually included webkinz tips on our newsletter that we handed to our walk-in customers. Ganz customer service was quite bad and we stepped in to help our customers whenever we could. We replaced codes and talked them through certain parts of the website. We really stood behind their product and endorsed it.
Once they terminated our account, we continued to buy their products through the backdoor. Ganz was selling skids of new webkinz to a person who claimed to be a non-profit charity. This person then sold these webkinz at a healthy profit to other stores and dealers. This was done under the knowledge of the employees and management at Ganz. It is ironic….they incorrectly (or deliberately) cancelled our direct account because of wholesale violations and then they sell skids to a so-called charity that wholesales it back to us. Oh…we could feel the dagger deep in our back!
We have stopped promoting this product. We still sell a few to satisfy our customers and once this product is dead, we will not shed a tear. Their web traffic has declined by half since peaking last Christmas, normally we are sad when a good product is declining….but not this time.
I think they had an excellent product but they failed to treat their specialty stores fairly. They also did not provide adequate customer service to the end consumer. They made all that money and was not able to address any of their problems (instead they spent their profits on lawyers and bullying).
We have been in business for 16 years and never dealt with any toy company worse than Ganz. People talk, whether they are employees of Ganz or retail stores that experienced first-hand abuse….there is much more dirty details that we will not mention here.
The toy business is not always about fun and good things…..it can get dirty and greedy. Ganz is a good example of it.
More interesting readings on Ganz:
Webkinz Annoys Parents, Trashes Brand: http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/12/greedy-webkins-infuriates-parents-bombards-kids-with-ads.html
Attorney General’s Suit Against Ganz for Lead Jewelry: http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=7488447