BOSTON — Your family is embroiled in a high-stakes game of Scrabble. You could clinch the win with a triple-word score for the noun "kumquat" - only there are no more "Q" tiles. Your toddler buried them in the backyard. Before you concede defeat (or break out a shovel) give Milton Bradley a call at (413) 525-6411. The company will send you up to 10 Scrabble tiles, free of charge. (The entire alphabet is a mere $5.)
While parents may not realize it, there are easy and inexpensive ways to replace broken, lost, or worn-out toys. Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call. As Carol Steinkrantz, public relations manager for Parker Brothers - makers of Monopoly, Sorry, and Clue, says, "If it's worn out, lost, or the dog has chewed it, chances are good you can get it replaced."
For example, if your Monopoly bank is looking a little thin, Parker Brothers will send you a complete set of Monopoly money for $2 in real money. And, in one of the best real estate deals since the Louisiana Purchase, you can purchase 32 houses for $1.50. A new Boggle timer also runs $1.50. Ms. Steinkrantz says other frequently requested items are replacement "weapons" for the Clue mystery game, Sorry tokens (25 cents a piece), and Boggle cubes - 16 cubes for $3.50. Write to: Parker Brothers, Consumer Relations Department, P.O. Box 1012, Beverly, MA 01915
And if your electronic battleship is on the fritz, you can write to the address listed on the inside of the product's box.
Milton Bradley sells replacement Yahtzee score pads in retail stores, but Mark Morris, public relations manager for Milton Bradley, says that in most cases, replacements are free of charge.
The same is true at Fisher Price. "Fisher Price is a trusted brand," says Laurie Strong, public relations specialist. "We build that trust by working with the customer to solve any problems." If a product is broken or defective, in many cases Fisher Price will replace it for free.
An example is their baby basketballs, which Ms. Strong says are forever bouncing down drains or onto roofs. Your first replacement is free. Also, Fisher Price has a toy store located on site with a Bits and Pieces wall for those looking to repopulate their Little People collection or restock their Fun with Food refrigerator. Ms. Strong says people frequently come in to buy an extra hamburger or ear of corn, and some even buy in bulk.
If you don't live near Buffalo, N.Y., Fisher Price also has a Bits and Pieces catalog you can order from their customer service department: 800-432-5437.
Mattel has gotten rid of the guesswork in their company's policy. All of their See-and-Say and Hot Wheels toys come with a lifetime warranty. So if your son's Hot Wheels track has derailed, call 800-524-TOYS and Mattel's customer service representatives will replace it free. Most other toys come with three- or 10-year warranties, but if a toy isn't covered, the representatives can either sell you a replacement part or tell you where you can find one.
Most toy manufacturers realize that the quality of service is almost as important as the product. Lisa McKendall, director of marketing communications for the California-based company, says, "Mattel is committed to manufacturing high-quality products, so we don't have a lot of problems. But if there is one, we want to be as responsive as we can. We'll do everything we can to help a consumer who is having a problem with a product."