January cock up at shop.LEGO.com: LEGO responds

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BrickFanatics has published an email that LEGO sent to one of its readers in response to a complaint about the appalling state of affairs at shop.LEGO.com earlier this month. It makes interesting reading:

A lot of things went wrong on the 5th January. We had a lot of technical problems and a lot of fans had many issues. Shambolic is the best way to describe it.

Our team for the shop made many mistakes what caused issues like false or missing pictures, the wrong spelling of words and other problems.

We made a wrong decision with our stock because we underestimated the whole situation. We should have learned from our new Frozen set that we need a big stock because a lot of people wants our new sets.

We made a lot of fans angry and disappointed with the mess we created and we are really sorry that we caused so much trouble.

We will learn from our mistakes and we will forward every problem you mentioned. I hope that we will get your trust in us back this year and don’t disappoint you any more.

It's surprising that LEGO has admitted its shortcomings so openly. Personally, I think the biggest mistake it made was to launch so many new products on the 1st January when the world, including the 'team for the shop', I suspect, was on holiday. Also, I find it very hard to believe that it could not have forecast demand for the Frozen set. Surely that was a no-brainer given it's still such a global phenomenon: calculate how many we think we can sell, then double it...

Still, sounds as if it is going to learn from the experience. I guess we'll see what happens next year...

Let us know what you think in the comments below or over at BrickFanatics.

53 comments on this article

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By in Sweden,

It's interesting the email starts by stating things went wrong on the 5th of January. I'd say the problems started much earlier. The email doesn't explain any of the problems I had (site wouldn't open at all and when it finally did on Jan 2 the new sets just weren't available yet and I could only order on the 3rd). Frustratingly, I still haven't received my order but I suppose it's DHL who are to blame now! Cannot believe what an unbelievable nuisance it has become to simply order a Lego set.

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By in Australia,

Not the most professionally written response - so perhaps not speaking from a position of authority on the situation?

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ I didn't notice that. Perhaps the complainant had issues that day, when there was a double VIP offer on for some.

I've received an order I placed that week although I'm still waiting for the Frozen set which is now back-ordered until 26th Feb in Europe. Luckily I managed to grab one in Argos at the weekend.

^ Maybe not but it's from a customer-facing representative of the company who has the authority to respond on its behalf.

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice to hear a proper apology from a big company these days. I had an oder that was a little delayed, but not too bad.

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By in United States,

I'm with aldredd, the way this is written makes me skeptical. Official Lego communication is MUCH more professional and well written than the above. Particularly the phrases "made many mistakes what caused" and "We made a wrong decision with our stock because we underestimated the whole situation" just sound off and sound as if they are being translated from another language.

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By in United Kingdom,

I applaud this openness and apology. So many companies - paypal to mention one - and people/organisations I have worked for will never admit their mistakes and lie their way through it.
I wish more companies did this. Making mistakes is something humans can do very well - but putting it right and doing their best so it doesn't happen again is another good human trait too. Congrats Lego for being so upfront and for treating it customers with respect and the world is still turning so its all good. : )

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By in Malaysia,

I had the fortune of being in Italy on vacation when this issue hit.

I placed an order on Jan 5 during 2x points and no issues. (German store).

My only disappointment is the lack of AT-DP promo, and redeeming the LEGO Wall Calendar 2015.

(I had to drive to and fro a total of 300km to Munich only to find out that there is only 1 coupon in the whole calendar to redeem a LEGO Store Minifigure in February, that's it).

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By in United States,

To those mentioning that it doesn't seem officially written, it may not be. If indeed it's an e-mail from LEGO, it might just be a customer service representative rather than an official company statement. Perhaps the representatives are given a basic script or some talking points to give when someone makes a complaint about the New Year's issues.

Whatever the case may be, it's just nice to see someone from the company admitting a mistake without a lot of corporate-speak.

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By in Canada,

I don't think it is an official apology from reading it. The words used clearly indicate the person is not a native English speaker. 'We need a big stock' instead of we need a large stock. My guess someone from the team was responding to an individual customer. Why from the 5th of January when all the problems started on the 1st? When I called customer service in the US they had no idea their website had so many issues. Would it be better if Huw asked for a response?

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By in United States,

This isn't an official statement by TLG, merely a customer service rep answering a complaint. It lacks both the scope and understanding of the problems that began occurred Jan 1. I would take it with a grain of salt.

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By in United States,

Wow, no exclamation marks. Usually when they send an apologetic email it goes something like this:
Hi! We're sorry to hear that! We will do our best to make it right! Happy building!

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By in United States,

^ I talked to customer service first thing in the morning on the second, and had to fill the customer service rep in on the mess that the site had been the day before. Her reaction was that she was going to have to apologize a lot that day. No one from Lego had filled in the US customer service representatives at all.

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By in United Kingdom,

Looks like the 'Brickset effect' has brought Brick Fanatics to its knees. Sorry Richard!

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By in United States,

Interesting, but it leads me to ask "is this reply really such a big deal?"
If, as Huw mentioned, it is a reply from a single customer service representative (or as Huw called them: "customer-facing representative of the company who has the authority to respond on its behalf"), can we really say this was an official reply from LEGO? Reply? yes. Official? I think not. At least not officially sanctioned. I wonder if the Customer Service rep stepped just a little over their bounds? Maybe this representative had sent so many replies that day, they finally made one a little more personal, and maybe said something they shouldn't? I wonder what LEGO administrators thought of this reply when (or if they ever) saw it? Maybe the customer service rep was reprimanded for 'speaking out of line"? We're on the outside looking in, so we should remember that everything we think goes on is all an assumption... It makes me think of those scenarios where the employees have a better feel for things than management, and when they tell management they get a lot of "Uh-huh" from above but no real change because management is clueless.

So this reply leaves me shrugging my shoulders, and saying, "Meh"... Until LEGO puts out a public statement we'll really never know.

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By in United States,

I think Everything is Awesome, and Everything should be forgivable. This company is under more pressure than ever to produce more toys than it ever has and this January has shown that the LEGO Fever has not died down one bit. I get excited when I see every LEGO Aisle almost wiped out at all the stores; Target, WalMart, The LEGO Store. It means that my favorite company is going to keep making great sets and more and more kids are going to grow up with a creative, problem solving mindset.

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By in Canada,

I'm a little disappointed the promotional polybags also disappeared within a few days, which I've never seen before. You'd think TLG would be better able to gauge demand... They could maybe produce more?

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ That is all well and good but for a company almost a billion pounds operating profit you expect better. Full shelves and a working website for starters.

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By in United States,

I don't see why LEGO should be coming out with an official public apology. Yes, their website was down and sets sold out too fast, but that's nothing unusual - neither for LEGO, nor for other companies. It is just part of business. I'm sure they will handle the demand and eventually restock all the sets.

They should train customer service reps though how to respond to situations like this, and come up with standard policies and procedures that reps can clearly communicate to customers. This is something they should definitely improve on.

While their customer service people are nice, they often convey contradictory information or have no clue what's going on, and it often feels like that they are completely on their own on how to respond. Which could be the case with this letter...

It doesn't sound professional, and it may get the employee in hot water, but it is not their fault. If reps get complaining calls all day long, management should be right behind them and instruct reps on how to handle the situation in a consistent and professional manner.

LEGO has been growing so fast, it can likely get chaotic trying to keep up with everything on all fronts. But I'm pretty sure they are working on it, and there is hope that next time around things will work out better... I still would like to get that flower-cart though... ;)

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By in United States,

^ @theBrickBlogger - well said! That's what I was trying to say! ;-)

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By in Puerto Rico,

I still have a "Pick a Brick" order in transit but it is nice to see these kinds of responses (hope Lego has less of these technical issues). Where is the latest Ideas review??

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By in Greece,

I will be happy when LEGO decides to start shipping to Greece and any other EU country that is not on her "shipping to" list.
I sent an email asking why this is happening and if they'll ever change this, but I never got an answer.

Greece has it's own LUG community and thousands of buyers. But LEGO doesn't ship here. Sad :/

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By in United States,

I was in a Lego store last week, and mentioned to the employee who helped me that the website had been having lots of problems. He had no idea what I was talking about.

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By in United States,

I think this whole thing is being blow up by a bunch of crazy lunatics fanboys. LEGO online has had a ton more issues throughout the years that have been much worse than this months mix up. Most deal with charging credit cards when they shouldn't, having horrible severs, running out of a set or promo in hours. I rather have LEGO actually fix the problems then release a statement just to get some good PR.

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By in United States,

To the extent that the LEGO shelves at the brick-and-mortar Walmart, Toys R Us and Target stores are bare, those are issues with those stores not being resupplied with stock quickly enough. For example, even though Walmart has one of the most sophisticated distribution systems in the world, the individual stores have little to no say in what inventory is pushed out to them. They essentially will stock whatever shows up on the truck every day. All of these stores seem to do a better job with online sales, since they can ship directly from the distribution centers where the inventory is concentrated. Unfortunately, the empty shelves mean lost sales in many cases. As far as the website, it was unfortunate but these things happen. The [email protected] website could stand a lot of improvement, though.

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By in United Kingdom,

Something tells me that email wasn't sanctioned by anyone in the PR or senior management divisions.

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By in United States,

Huhhuhuhhuhuh uhhhh... He said "Cock up".

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By in United States,

There are still frozen sets at my local lego store and target. Didn't realize there were problems with it being out of stock. I was more upset with them running out of the promo polybags on the 3rd day of the month.

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By in United States,

^My Local Target had 2 places for them, but all were gone. The other 3 were there. DDC was also gone as well.

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By in United Kingdom,

This folks,is why we love TLG! Few big companies ever apologise for shortcomings and mistakes and i'm sure TLG will learn lessons from this situation of there own making. As for the grammar and spelling of the piece - well if i had to write anything in Danish, i'm pretty sure it would be far far less than perfect!

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By in United States,

I personally was unaffected by the early January mess up, but can absolutely understand the frustration for those that were. When you combine:
-Disappearing bonuses (flower cart, etc.)
-Possibly limited availability (yes they made more Exo-Suits, but will this always be the case? Who knows)
-A small window for sales and deals (2x points one day only!)
-Items out of stock (when you want those 2x points, freebie, etc)

Added to the already "hurry up or you'll be sorry" atmosphere of sets being unavailable after 1-2 years (or LESS for Collectable Minifigs) and scalpers hiking prices up 100-500%, you get a customer base that is made to feel permanently anxious.

Availability has been a very weird issue for Lego in the past several years it seems. Growing popularity of the product is understandably difficult to gauge, but I have to wonder how much they stand to lose by overproducing somewhat versus limiting accessibility to the product with smaller-than-demand production runs. As an added benefit to overproduction, the secondary market is more plentiful and scalpers can't demand as much. These are the real "problems" at work, not temporary website mishaps.

Also, their polybag strategy is the worst thing ever. "We sell a thing you want, but won't sell them to you directly! Go try and find them somewhere, in some spotty, unclear window of time... maybe!" Jeez, just let me give you my money, already. This only incentivizes scalpers more and makes customers like me resent the "hunt" we are made to go on.

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By in United Kingdom,

Refreshing reading to see a major corporation being so honest. Only mistake, if that is what it was, that affected me was the Flower Cart 40140 being sold for a penny. I bought 2. Had to pay two lots of postage as could only order 1 at a time but still less than £4 each. Each came in a huge box which seemed a tad extravagant for a polybag. Was amazed Lego honoured the purchase.

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By in New Zealand,

on another note, can anyone tell me why Lego US won't ship to a freight forwarding company in Portland OR who I use to ship products to me here in New Zealand - the email I got after I placed my order with Lego shop which subsequently cancelled my order says it's for my own protection but I'm guessing it's really because they think they can make more money if I buy via the Lego shop and ship direct to NZ or when the product is released (Detective Office) and the price in NZ is approximately 35% higher than they are in the US. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

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By in New Zealand,

I think Huw summed it up nicely with "Personally, I think the biggest mistake it made was to launch so many new products on the 1st January."

On the NZ [email protected] page there is still a tempting: Just for LEGO VIPs win a unique Experience - however the T&C state this is open to European customers only!!! Clicking the Learn More button takes you straight back to the start.

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By in United States,

^^LEGO doesn't want their US inventory being shipped overseas. I think they made Amazon.com stop the practice recently.

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By in United Kingdom,

The problem started on the 1st so that's a minimum of 5 days where the site was virtually unusable and didn't work. I'm sorry but when your promise a global release on the 1st for several of your new toylines, its just idiotic that they didn't get many of the sets on the website until such a late date.

The sales were complete nonsense and all sold-out before even being put on sale, made worse by additional glitches such as a lack of display image. The aggravatingly annoying double points day for people who brought things on Black Friday just continued to frustrate me, given it excluded a majority of people.

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By in Canada,

That's a funny typo

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By in United Kingdom,

Not sure why some folk are grumbling about not getting double points on the 5th if they didn't buy on the Friday before Black Friday. My perception is that LEGO invited VIP members to make purchases the week before Black Friday to reduce (potential) chaos on Black Friday itself. I took them up on the VIP invite, bought something, and as a reward gained double VIP points on the 5th January - If you choose to ignore an invitation you can't very well expect the benefits in my humble opinion.

I do agree that the 1st January was an almighty farce though. I don't bother waiting up anymore for the midnight switch over - I prefer to get some sleep given the poor deals these days!!

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By in United States,

The 5th?! I thought they had things sorted out by then. Ah well, I do appreciate the apology.

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By in United States,

@mr_skinny

I don't know about other people, but I personally didn't take Lego up on the week before Black Friday offer for 2 reasons. One, they offered TRIPLE VIP points on Black Friday the previous year which I expected to reoccur; and two, I was not in a hurry to buy what I planned to get if there was 3x points.

I would have appreciated if they had warned us that not only was 3x points not actually happening, but even 2x points for Black Friday wasn't happening either. I think you could understand my disappointment. I wasn't very upset though, and just used it as an opportunity to actually use my points for once. Still, would have been nice to know 3x wasn't happening.

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By in New Zealand,

@flagsnz - thanks for that.
It's the US Youshop freight option that I'm referring to but as @L67 said, "LEGO doesn't want their US inventory being shipped overseas. I think they made Amazon.com stop the practice recently", so that's probably why the order was cancelled.
I've looked at your price comparison thread and I guess I could try UK Youshop but it's probably better to be patient and wait for Toyco to get their shipment in.
Thanks again.

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By in United Kingdom,

OK, I wasn't aware of the double points on the 5th, however I was bugged by the 1st.

China is 8 hours ahead of the UK, and I had to leave to go away for a few days at 08:30. I waited to get an order in (for the sales, and new stock), and placed it at about 08:20, but didn't see any of the new stock, or sales details shown. When I go back to Shanghai 2 days later, 90% of the items in the sale were either "out of stock", or "call to check availability"...

At least I got a flower cart I suppose... Just hope they will have to stock in for what I want when I am back in the UK in a few weeks time... Don't like paying the 50-60% price hike over here...

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By in United States,

Reading that response from CS, I would have to say it was not an official response either. From what I have gathered, with my own personal experiences with CS here in the USA, is that they don't have enough team meetings to inform everyone with policy/situations as they come up. Classic poor planning. I could call CS 3 different times and get 3 different responses to my issues.
I knew there would be problems on 1 Jan., and sure enough there were. I luckily am near a Lego Shop and was able to drive there to get everything I wanted to buy in person. Huge crowd, but at least I got what I set out to get. I am sure a lot of people didn't, if they couldn't go to a shop by 2 Jan.

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By in United States,

Hahaha... I like this "the wrong spelling of words and other problems."
Must be someone in LEGO China did that...

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By in United States,

I never saw a 2x VIP point offer but the disappearing AT-DP and flower-cart certainly made me hold off on ordering more than I did as well as rethink WHERE I will shop next time.

I just hope Lego isn't following the comic book industry's (ultimately short-sighted) playbook of the early 90s– trying to drive up demand by making things 'rare' and 'collectible.'

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By in United States,

I don't think Danish or Chinese people use the word "shambolic". I bet it was an Englishman/woman or Canadian who done penned that apology...

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By in United States,

@idogcow
I doubt that's the case. The 90s comic craze was pretty open with the fact that they were selling "investments", and I can never see Lego doing that and sabotaging their protective veil of "child's toy".

Which is ironic because nearly every Lego set released in the past 15 years appears to be a pretty stellar investment. Youngblood #1 Graded Mint will probably have DOUBLED to $8, while that Joker's Ice Cream Surprise will only get you a measly $500. Or $2300 for a Grand Carousel.

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By in Viet Nam,

A message like this one does not make much sense. We don't need this kind of message. We need a fast, good website, and good customer support.

I could say that LEGO Online Shop is the worst online store I've ever known. Website is slow, it often has error too e.g. if you visit on Sales page, then click page number 2 for first time, then you will be kicked back to home page, heheheh. I don't know why they created a complicated Contact page like that, where're LEGO's best designers?

I often asked myself why TLG could make wonderful bricks and keep innovation over years but could not operate a small online store well.

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By in United States,

Bogus is the word best to describe this alleged response. If it is authentic it certainly doesn't sound corporate approved in which case someone probably has lost their job over it.

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By in United States,

I keep getting kicked to the home page when I try to click on an order status link. I go back to where I was then do it again and then it goes to the order. This has been happening for a while now for me.

A lot of the time too, if I am in a category like 'Creator' and go from page 1 to page 2, it goes back to the home page. Maybe its a browser problem, I don't know, but they do need to fix it!

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By in Canada,

I have exactly the same problems Talos. I'm using an IPad to browse.

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By in Canada,

Mr Seatle us Canadians don't use the word 'Shambles' in that way. My friends however do use grammatically incorrect words like that as they aren't native English speakers.

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