Many families and children were left with “extreme disappointment” and unhappiness when their Hatchimals – arguably the most coveted toy of the 2016 holiday season – failed to hatch, according to a proposed class action lawsuit filed in the United States against Canadian toy manufacturer Spin Master.
The proposed lawsuit, which is being handled by lawyer Mark Geragos, claims the Toronto-based company tricked consumers in a “bait-and-switch” marketing scheme by hyping-up the toy, causing a buying frenzy.
“From Tomogotchis to yo-yos, from video game consoles to Furbies for corporations, developing, manufacturing, producing, and selling the ‘it’ gift of the season means a Christmas miracle in the form of millions, or potentially billions, of dollars,” reads the filing.
“Yet, in the race to manufacture products for the consuming public, the importance of corporate responsibility should never fail or falter in the name of unmitigated profit.”
Reports of defective Hatchimals flooded social media in the days following Christmas, parents outraged that the interactive toy failed to hatch out of its specially designed shell.
WATCH: Here’s why Hatchimal’s are the must-have Christmas toy for 2016
The popular toy comes inside an egg-shaped capsule that is supposed to be rubbed and patted for anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes before the toy gradually begins to hatch. The toy inside responds to tapping gestures by tapping back with its beak while making a variety of noises.
Once the Hatchimal hatches, kids can feed the creature and teach it how to walk and talk. As the weeks go on, the Hatchimal will grow from a child to an adult, at which point it’s able to have more sophisticated interactions.
The toys became so in-demand before Christmas, they were nearly impossible to purchase. In fact, the $59.99 toy surfaced on eBay Canada for as much as $10,000 at the height of the demand.
The proposed lawsuit alleges Spin Master marketed the toy with the hatching feature as the main draw for kids, but produced a product that fails to deliver on its promise.
It also claims Spin Master has not taken the proper steps to correct the problem, noting that the company “has not offered to recall the product or provide reimbursements to consumers who purchased the defective product.”
During the holiday period, dozens of complaints regarding poor customer service flooded Spin Master’s Facebook page, with some customers reporting being on hold for as long as three hours before having their call disconnected.
Global News contacted Spin Master to see if it was aware of the proposed lawsuit and whether customers with defective Hatchimals had been offered a refund or replacement toy.
In a statement, Christopher Harrs, executive vice president and general counsel at Spin Master, said the company took “extraordinary and proactive steps to respond to consumer questions regarding Hatchimals” during the holiday period.
“The Company provided troubleshooting support and where required immediately made available replacement products for those few consumers whose toys did not work as they anticipated. The allegations from the class action lawyer are simply inaccurate and not based on actual facts,” said Harrs.
The company did not comment on whether or not customers were offered refunds or replacement toys for defective models.
According to customer comments on Spin Master’s Facebook page, some customers may have been offered replacement Hatchimals; however, some recently reported they were having trouble actually receiving the replacement.
“I have emailed and Facebook messaged Spinmaster with NO RESPONSE. My daughter has been waiting since Christmas for her replacement Hatchimal,” Facebook user Sarah Christine wrote.
“It’s been two weeks, tomorrow, since we sent all the requested info and nobody from your company will tell me what the hold up in receiving a replacement is.”
Facebook users continue to ask questions about Hatchimals in comments on Spin Master’s page – though some noted they had cleared up their issues with customer service agents via direct messages.
In fact, several customer service agents had replied to customer comments noting there had been a resolution in their case.
The lawsuit seeks a recall, punitive damages for alleged consumer law violations, unfair competition, false advertising and breach of warranty, in addition to compensation.