Soapbox Sunday: How Much is Digital River to Blame for Mattycollector Fallout?


Get ready for a little rant – I just had another bad Mattycollector experience. This past Friday was Early Access. Normally it’s no big deal, offering the figures we’ve already subscribed for and customer service stock on a couple of other figures. But this time it was for some of Mattel’s San Diego Comic-Con exclusives.

Hurray for subscribing, right? Nope – leave it to Digital River to make it painful.

Lucky for me, I missed the 8AM start time, because those that did were treated to glitches in the Mattycollector store. Items became sold out and then available again, and more than a few people had to put in multiple orders, getting penalized with redundant shipping charges. I heard that some folks got shopping carts with totals 10 times the actual price.

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By the time I got online, those glitches were more or less ironed out – but I ran into a different problem. Even though it was Early Access for SDCC exclusives, what I really wanted was a regular He-Man figure. But since I was there, I decided I’d hop onto Early Access and get a He-Man and Skeletor mini-figure set to spread the shipping cost across figures. Mattel should be cheering the upsell here.

For some reason, I could not add both items to the same cart. Whenever I’d switch from Early Access to the regular store or vice versa, my shopping cart would lose the other item.

I spent about 30 minutes on two phone calls (one a disconnect after 10 minutes) with Digital River, most of it on hold waiting for a rep to get back to me. Finally, they told me that it was Mattel’s policy that we could not combine shipping of Early Access items and regular items. That makes no sense – either it’s a lie from Digital River or a stupid policy from Mattel.

Posting on the Mattycollector forums (hosted, I believe, by Digital River) was no help either. My post was deleted – I guess they don’t want feedback on bad customer experiences.

Frustrated, I just gave up. No sale for Mattel.

Sometimes shit happens – but this isn’t an isolated incident. Just this year, I’ve had a number of bad experiences with Digital River.

  • I picked the USPS shipping option to save a buck (my own fault) – but Digital River shipped my package around the country, making a 2-day shipment from southern to northern California take two weeks.
  • When I called to switch my subs to UPS, Digital River just cancelled my subs – they didn’t reinstate them. I had to call back when my subs didn’t arrive that month.
  • The next month, I had to call back again. They had just sent replacement figures the previous month, but didn’t reinstate my subs yet again.
  • Each time I’ve called, the customer service rep has asked for my password. I guess all they are doing is logging into the regular Mattycollector site. I don’t know of another customer service group that does that – in fact, most companies tell you to never give out your password, even to them. And maybe I’m dense, but I can’t find where to change my password, which has now been shared with five different Digital River service reps, on the Mattycollector site.
  • Worst of all, with every single order, I know I’m being systematically overcharged for shipping. Package weights are inflated, and I know from shipping with UPS that there’s a surcharge on top of the regular rates that are available to me as an individual. I guess that’s Digital River’s handling fee.

Digital River at NASDAQ

Given how bad the customer service has been, I was surprised to learn that they are not a small company. From Digital River’s financial statements, I learned they’re publicly traded (NASDAQ: DRIV), have over 1,400 employees, had revenue last year of $386MM with non-GAAP net income of $36MM – and that was a down year for them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against free enterprise. I don’t think businesses should be run as charities. But I do believe that they should provide commensurate value for what’s being charged. I have no idea what Mattel is paying Digital River to run the Mattycollector site – but I would bet my Fisto that they’re overpaying. I’d expect that the Digital River customer service reps would be better trained and have better systems available to them. And I don’t think Digital River shipping and handling fees should be so exorbitant.

Aside from my latest cart incident, the rest of my Digital River foul-ups have been corrected. But I shudder to think of how many folks have had to suffer through similar screw-ups, and how much extra cost fixing the mistakes have cost Mattel. Because, ultimately, Mattel has to pass those costs onto us.

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With just over two weeks to go, the Club Eternia and Club Infinite Earths subscriptions are at 35% and 20% towards hitting their minimums. Mattel has already sounded the alarm. I’ve got to wonder how many people are not subscribing because they’re fed up with Digital River.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. How would you rate your experiences with Digital River? Do you think Mattycollector and Mattel would be better off without them?

20 thoughts on “Soapbox Sunday: How Much is Digital River to Blame for Mattycollector Fallout?”

  1. Matty has had almost 2 years to hear, vet, and make changes to improve customer service. That includes Digital River. I’ve only had 1 or 2 problems, but unfortunately, when DR makes a mistake, it’s usually a whopper = instantly ticking us off to no end because it’s so outrageousand egregious…

    BBTS, Entertainment Earth, Amazon and EBay (gulp!) have made it work well for years! Matty needs to open their eyes and see that their customers are getting gouged for shipping. If not, they will certainly lose more business. $10 to $13 shipping for single figures is almost double actual cost if you or I mailed out something similar.

  2. Bottom line Mattel has the choice on who to work with. I put all the fault on Mattel for having such a terrible online store.

  3. I would like to think the reason why Matty has suck with DR is because they are under some sort of contract that prevents them from switching. 
    I would dislike to think the Matty doesn’t care and is OK with their customers being taken advantaged of. Several times, I have thought to buy something from Matty and the site was down or the shipping was too high or blah blah. Instead, I headed to Amazon and got it from there. Maybe a little more costly but at least I got what I wanted.

  4. Were we supposed to receive early access emails with links? Because I got nothing, and totally wanted a Rokkon and Stonedar

  5. reverendender  
     There is no e-mail. You just go to your “my subscriptions” link and click on early access.

  6. While I don’t collect, that’s an interesting article, and I hope that multiple people who read and are affected by it forward it to Mattel’s Facebook page and customer support and complaints online services, saturating Mattel’s exposure to it. That should create a big push from Mattel on DR to rectify the issues.

  7. ‘great article!……..I used to work for Symnatec…and for their Consumer business; they got rid of Digital river and built their own eCommerce systems……’no doubt Digital River could have kept that massive business if they’d been competent? ‘no doubt…….I wonder how many other major companies are having / had similar issues with DR; and how long it will take for Mattel to wise up if your story is the standard and not the exception.

  8. Hey There!
    Im a subcriber to the Club Eternia from Portugal.
    I got the Sub this year and i am guessing am not gona get the 2014 sub because os Digital River. The service to Europe only works well when i get one figure, or two.
    Its been Months and no one taht i know in Europe have got the FFM and karati Figures! Digital says its working on the problem. What problem? Put it in the mail and send them…even if it come from the other side of America, lets say California, it gets her in 2 weeks and not 3 months! My granamyr Order only arrived in March…is that normal?
    And all the figure got to Sweeden first and then to Portugal…why?
    Its like going to the Moon to deliver something that goes from LA to New York!!!
    I have friends in America that send me MOTUC from Canada and it gets here in one week!
    Yes! Digital River is to blame!

    Thanks for reading!


  9. Great article! The frustration level only seems to grow more every year! That we can sell you this, but can’t ship it with that is simply bullshit. I think enough is enough. Oh, and, BTW, that’s some picture of the Digital River folks ringing the starting bell at the stock exchange….THEY LOOK LIKE REAL CREEPS!!  I had no idea their company was that big & offered stocks to the public.

  10. Well there’s the problem! Look at the shit of the Digital River team! Some of their employees at 13 year old girls!

  11. Well there’s your problem! Look at the shot of the Digital River team! 13 year old girls may not be the most reliable employees.

  12. It is not all Digital Rivers fault. Mattel’s greedy practices. horrible subscription and constant price hikes on figures that are 90% re used parts are mostly to blame. Yes Digital River is horrible but when you have a group of impatient people all trying to order the same thing and then panicking because their order isn’t processing fast enough, so they just quit and place a new order only to get both and then want to cry about it you get a mess like this. The whole thing is a crock.

  13. While I no longer collect MOTUC, My Roommate has had a ton of problems with Digital River and shipping to Puerto Rico. They fix one thing then screw another.  He subscribed for 2014 because he wants the figures, but DR Drove me away and it’s starting to take the fun out of collecting for him.

  14. I live a thousand miles from where I’m having my MOTUC subscriptions shipped.  For all I know they might not even be shipping them, but that’s unlikely.  For whatever it’s worth, I haven’t re-upped because I’m tired of paying 9$ shipping on a 20$ item every month.

  15. For all that MOUTC and Matty does right, and let’s face it, the MOTUC line is freaking incredible, any experience with Digital River leaves me wanting to have nothing to do with action figures ever again. There just has to be a better way or system or service or company to use. The My Subs page that was finally implemented this year should’ve been a year two thing. And it still has glitches. There’s no reason why the site should crash every sale date. 700,000 Taylor Swift fans are able to all go and buy tickets to a Taylor Swift show at the same time on ticketing websites with no problems. So how do, what, 20,000 toy fans crash a website? A website designed for that purpose? 
    The crashing isn’t even the big problem. It’s, as you said, their abysmal customer service. Any time I have a problem I get a runaround that takes weeks to resolve. It’s asinine. It’s unprofessional. The only thing that would ever prevent me from getting a 2014 sub would be Digital River, and nothing else. The reveals, the figures planned, all of it is so cool. It’s head-exploding cool, the sheer number and variety of figures we’ve gotten in the MOTUC line. But man. Digital River takes all of that magic and excitement away.
    My only complaint on Matty’s side is that they allow subscribers to buy too many figures. No collector needs 10 figures. No fan does. The secondary market does, and they know that, and if they were really just for the fans they’d curb that practice. Unless it’s the Horde Troopers, or army builders, but really. Nobody needs 10 Glimmers. 
    Also, reward your subscribers more when it comes to the exclusives. Put one Spirit of Hordak or Strobo in reserve for the subscriber when they go on sale. The subscriber could then choose if he wants that exclusive or not. The line is funded by and built on the subscribers, yet we’re not rewarded for being the ones who take the chance/risk/economic hit for funding the line.
    Anyways, this was a good article. Digital River is a mess, and they don’t seem to care or want to change. And as long as Matty stays with them, they won’t need to. 
    The MOTUC line is too great to not continue, but certain changes need to happen. You can’t have a fan line succeed if you don’t respect and trust your fans.

  16. I didn´t subscribe for 2013 and I don´t plan to subscribe for 2014 and it’s mostly because of Digital River.  My experience in the 2012 was horrible.  I had to remind them almost every month I had subscribed.  In 2013 I learned that buying off the subscripiton was less painful even if I missed a figure and had to pay a little more for it on eBay.  The worst thing in 2012 was the custom service with their standard answers ( I bet they just Ctrl C + Ctrl V the answers) that never helped at all.  The felling I always had was that none was actually reading my complains and none even cared.  
    And there was also a problem with the selection of the figures.  I didn´t like it very much, but, if I didn´t had any problems with the susbcription, I could very well stand it.  MOTU, Filmation, 200X, NA, POP was never an issue.  What I couldn´t stand was having problems with figures I didn´t even want.  For me, to support the line paying for figures I didn’t want required a smooth transaction.  That was my limit.
    I want MOTUC to survive.  I want Flying Fists He-Man, Glimmer, Angela, Kowl, Lookee…  But I don´t think I want them that bad, if the price I have to pay is the same problems I had in 2012.

  17. Horrible service on Friday with the dns errors. Sad that even an off day to their normal sales with 3x less people logging into the site they still have such issues. Pathetic and inexcusable after all this time to still have such poor service.

  18. My concern is that you say digital river has 1,400 employees and from the pic above why does every one of them look like they are from the exact gene pool? all too evil  looking…Wheres the diversity with a company of those numbers???

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