Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, September 21, 2007

Questionable Quote Of The Day

"Our reputation has been damaged lately by these recalls. And Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people, and all of our customers who received the toys."

That's Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel's Vice President of Worldwide Operations apologizing to Li Changjiang, China's chief of product safety.

At one level the apology is deserved, but at another it is troubling.

As you'll recall, many of the Mattel recalls involved a small magnetic clasp that was poorly designed, so it could break free and cause a choking hazard. That, Mattel now lately acknowledges, was their problem, not China's.

But the company also recalled toys with lead paint -- paint that had lead levels as high as 110,000 parts per million, or nearly 200 times higher than the accepted safety ceiling of 600 parts per million.

It is uncalled for to apologize for being over-cautious when dealing with lead and children -- especially if toys are from China, which has had a recent history of lead in toys.

Li was not nice to Debrowski. The AP article says Li "upbraided" the Mattel exec, but only provides us with this quote:

Li reminded Debrowski that "a large part of your annual profit ... comes from your factories in China.

"This shows that our cooperation is in the interests of Mattel, and both parties should value our cooperation. I really hope that Mattel can learn lessons and gain experience from these incidents," Li said, adding that Mattel should "improve their control measures."

Not exactly a rant, but still, it stinks as bad as the back door of a Shanghai greasy spoon (chopstick?). There is an implied threat in there: "A large part of your annual profit comes from your factories in China ... (and unspoken at least at the photo session) and remember who controls how long it will take for shipments from those factories to be cleared for export."

China does not appear to be responding to the toxic toy crisis by tightening its controls as much as it's response is tried and true Commie: Shut up the mouths of the complainers.

It's what we can expect from our economic dance with this brute. Our toes will get stepped on, not his.

Labels: , , ,