General > Direct Service/Parts Queries

A long wait (268 days and counting)

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On 13 March of this year, I sent a parts order to Playmobil (UK), in the usual way, by email. Two days later I received a standard email reply asking me to phone Customers Services to pay for the order. I rang up, ready to pay, but was told that parts orders could not be processed ‘at the moment.’ The service should be available in ‘about a month.’ It seems I missed the chance to order by only a day or two!

The delay was confirmed in an email on 16 March:
“We are sorry but for technical reasons we are currently unable to process spare parts orders. Sorry for any inconvenience. I will let you know when this resumes again.” About this time the website started displaying a similar message.

I waited a month, then emailed to ask if the parts order service was up and running again. Reply stated “Unfortunately the spare parts service is still unavailable. Sorry, but we do not yet have an estimated date for it's return.” Asking for further detail revealed what I had suspected; “We do apologise that our spare parts service is temporarily not available this is due to Brexit regulations as we are not able to ship them via UPS Logic Mail which is the service we have previously used. We do hope to have the service available again very soon we advise you check the Website for updated information.”

Checking the website did not help (to this day it states “Due to technical reasons we are currently unable to process spare parts orders. Sorry for any inconvenience.”) and it was here on Playmofriends on 7 July that I learnt from Walts-Trains that parts orders were now once again possible. SO...

On 7 July I resubmitted my order, with additions (MISTAKE 1). As I was expecting to go on holiday in July, I gave my daughter’s address for the shipping (MISTAKE 2). On 27 July 2021, having heard nothing (I think I sent the list to the wrong email address MISTAKE 3: 20 days delay, my fault) I sent another email. 

On 29 July 2021 email from Playmobil UK “Please accept our apologies but we do not appear to have received your previous email you sent on 7th July. I will book your parts on today and email back as soon as possible with the information.” Later that day… “Thank you for your email for Playmobil spare parts.  We are pleased to inform you that we have processed your order and would request that you kindly forward your payment details to us so that we can order your goods from Germany. Expected delivery is approximately 14 working days” etc. Sounds promising...

18 August 2021 I waited until I was back from my holiday to make the payment requested on 29 July. (20 days delay, my fault). I was told the order would take 5 to 7 working days to be delivered. This was indeed a pleasant surprise!

07 September 2021 Having received nothing 20 working days later, I queried the delay. Next day I was told “We apologise, you have not received your order. Upon checking it seems it was never shipped.  I have contacted my colleagues in Germany and have asked them to ship it immediately. I'm currently awaiting a response.
Nothing for a while, so I queried the delay again.

22 September 2021 “We do apologise but for an unknown reason your parcel was returned to us [i.e. German HQ] by UPS on Monday, I was contacted by colleagues in Germany about this. I had requested that they re-ship your parcel ASAP. I'll contact them today for a follow up and get back to you with a tracking number when possible.”

28 September 2021 email from Playmobil “I have been advised by my colleagues in Germany that your parcel was returned to our warehouse in Germany, at the moment we are not sure why and are investigating it. We do apologise for the delay in delivery. I will let you know once it has been re-shipped. Please accept this 15% voucher code as a gesture of good will.”

5 October 2021 I asked “I wonder if my order has been shipped?  Perhaps you can confirm they have my address correct. It is…[address]”

6 October 2021 Reply from Playmobil "My colleagues in Germany have confirmed your order was dispatched again.  Upon checking the tracking on the UPS website, due to another current unknown reason, your parcel has once again been rejected at some point in Germany and is being returned back to us [German HQ]. I will ask my colleagues to investigate this further, and re-ship as soon as we know why it keeps being returned. We do apologise for the delay and inconvenience this is causing."

13 October 2021 I sent another email, short and to-the-point: “Another week has passed!”

14 October 2021 Response "We do apologise for the delay. There was an issue in our system when processing your order. Your parcel was repeatedly shipped without an invoice, just a delivery note with no value. Due to there being no value on the paperwork, the parcel kept getting rejected at customs and being sent back to the warehouse in Germany. We are trying to rectify the issue as quick as possible. We need a commercial invoice with the order value on it, so the parcel can pass through customs. Once again, we are sorry for the late delivery and inconvenience/disappointment this is causing.

I replied “That does explain why it is taking so long! I continue to wait patiently.”

19 October 2021 Further from Playmobil: “So, the reason behind this happening is because the billing address is different to the shipping. Our system is not creating an invoice to go with the parcel, because the addresses are different. I will recreate a new order for you, which should hopefully be dispatched by the end of the week. Please can you confirm the delivery address you wish to use.” I replied:“Billing and shipping address are both: [name and address stated]”

Playmobil stated: “Please expect delivery in 5-7 working days.”

12 November 2021 I wrote “Another 18 working days have passed. I understand you and your colleagues are very busy. However, the matter of my July parts order is still outstanding and I have still not even received a notification from UPS to indicate the package is on the way. When I ordered a new set recently (delivered from Germany), it arrived in under 1 week. Please can you use whatever influence you have to expedite delivery of this order which I made in July (well, March actually, but all parts orders went on hold until July).”

Reply from Playmobil “I have contacted my colleagues in Germany for an urgent update on this. I really can't imagine why your parcel has not been delivered this time. I will update you once I have any relevant information. We do apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this is causing.”

22 November 2021 Playmobil: “Have you received this order yet?”

24 November 2021 My response: “In reply to your most recent email, you seem to have forgotten I contacted you on 12 November and I have still not received my order since then.”

Playmobil response "I had contacted my colleagues in Germany who have advised that the parcel is once again returning to the warehouse in Germany... I'm not sure if you would prefer a refund at this point rather than the goods? We are still trying to rectify the issue, I'm not sure why we are only having issues with your order as we have sent a few other spare parts orders that were fine. It could be due to customs value. Please advise if you still want the goods rather than a refund. We do apologise."

I responded “I really do want these parts, not a refund."

6 December 2012 Still no news. I conceded defeat (having checked the availability of parts on Ersatzteilfinden on the German website, I discovered all but one of them was still available) and requested a refund of my payment of 18th August. I was advised that parts orders could not be processed this close to Christmas, so I will be making two orders in January 2022, each below £135 in total value (see below).

Mistakes I made;
1.   Giving a different shipping address (my daughter’s) from the billing address- apparently geobra cannot cope with such a simple issue.
2.   Adding more items to the order in July, taking it above a £135 threshold which German customs rejected.

I have often praised Playmobil’s UK spare parts service on this forum. Notwithstanding being given a 15% discount voucher on 28th September for my patience, I feel badly let down by the system, which I believe is a direct consequence of the UK’s secession from the EU.

I should add that the Playmobil employee in Basildon (UK) who has been dealing with this has been very professional, polite and apologetic (9 apologies to date), but has been unable to get German Playmobil to create an order which was not rejected at German customs. Thank goodness they don't manufacture and supply essential componenets of medical machinery! It's only toys after all.  :-[

My goodness, Graham! I feel bad for you and all fellow-UK-collectors! I read the whole story, it's unbelievable!

I'm always very curious myself when I expect a parts order, so I can imagine how frustrating this must feel. I really hope your next order will arrive without any problems!


--- Quote from: GrahamB on December 11, 2021, 17:54:09 ---
Mistakes I made;
1.   Giving a different shipping address (my daughter’s) from the billing address- apparently geobra cannot cope with such a simple issue.
2.   Adding more items to the order in July, taking it above a £135 threshold which German customs rejected.

--- End quote ---

I'm wondering if it's because it's goods that technically aren't sold through a UK Importer? There is no problem with having a different billing and delivery address for regular orders, but they all come with a flyer inside stating that Playmobil UK is the 'official importer' or something similar.

I wonder if the problem with the threshold is to do with the VAT collection. If you receive an expensive delivery from abroad via the Royal Mail they charge you the VAT plus a fee for collecting it (I have been stung by this in the past), but maybe UPS aren't authorised to collect the VAT and so can't deliver it.

Thank you both for reading my long post.

I was disappointed by many things, not least the fact that I was never offered the option (other shipping companies apart from UPS are available) to actually pay the import duties or VAT, something I am resigned to doing on imports now.

I'm not 100% sure that's the problem - the time I had to pay the VAT charge I wasn't pre-warned when I ordered. I only found out when the Royal Mail contacted me to say the charge was payable. And to be honest it would surprise me if UPS wasn't able to do it, because they're such a large company.

It's frustrating, but on the other hand you don't feel you can complain too much or they'll just stop processing spare parts orders altogether (I actually didn't realise you could circumvent the website block on them).


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