Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Webkinz Warning

I think I've mentioned before how Big Kid is completely obsessed with Webkinz. He adores the stuffed animals, plays the online game, has the folders, pencils and a notebook. His birthday party this year was Webkinz themed. Sometimes I have to ban talk of anything ending in -kinz just because it gets so insane and I can't take it anymore.

They are stuffed animals with an online character equivalent in a website with games, some social features, virtual rooms to decorate for your characters that you nurture and care for. He loves his animals. He draws pictures of them, they have personalities, they are well-known members of our family.

All 18 of them.

You have to buy a new pet each year to keep your account active. I hear people bitch about this, but whatever--you can get them for as little as $8 and the stuffed animals are really cute. As you buy new pets, you add them to your same account. I think your pets can even interact and go to each other's rooms or something.

The pets come with tags with an online activation code. I came across a ton of these in my desk drawer not long ago, and knowing they've all been activated, I threw them away.

Then Big Kid mentioned that he was having password issues. No biggie, I thought, I'll change the password. I thought for sure they would email the account that had activated the pets, like every website everywhere, but needed one of the secret codes in order to change your password. And if you didn't have it, you were just shit out of luck, never to see your pets again. Sorry. Stories from angry parents and heartbroken kids all over the internet confirmed their stance on this policy.

I felt sick as I remembered myself throwing away the tags. I admitted to Big Kid that I'd done it and he told me that they say not to throw them away. Had I seen that, I would've thought it meant not to toss them prior to activation and probably still would've tossed them. I didn't realize the importance of these tags.

Big Kid was sobbing and my heart was pounding and my mind was racing with plans to fly to the headquarters of Webkinz and tell them that they would give back Zumby and Wumby and Cat Matt and Cat Pat and Poodle Noodle and Poodle Doodle and Arctie and Drake and Sophie and Mr. Lime and the rest of them right then or they would die. Period. Because I wasn't going to carry this burden forever. A lost password shouldn't be the end of some kid's carefully created, costly virtual world that he spent years building and I'd just as soon be in jail as hear him cry about this for the rest of our lives.

I dropped everything and combed over the house search party-style, square foot by square foot, and finally, in the back of the bottom of a drawer, almost unrecognized in my panic, was 1 wrinkled Webkinz tag with code.

So he got his pets back.

But I really don't want to spend more money with a company that would willingly do that to kids for no good reason, and I'm re-thinking the Christmas list as a result. Expiring without a new purchase is pushing it, holding pets that you purchased hostage if your kids (or you) make a mistake seems villainous.

So I am warning you, if your kids aren't into Webkinz, I wouldn't introduce them and if they are--KEEP YOUR FREAKING WEBKINZ TAGS. Better yet, write the code down in 10 different places and then lock it up in a safety deposit box somewhere. Because Webkinz would rather make your kid cry than email you a new password.


Amy said...

Has he tried Club Penguin? Very cute site by Disney where the kids have a penguin, play games, design an igloo and "chat" with other penguins. My kids love it!

Jennifer said...

Baby Girl has a couple of these, but I didn't tell her about the whole interet thing. She was only four when she got them and I didn't want her begging me for the computer all the time. I guess if she gets any this year I'll let her, but I'll be sure to keep the tags someplace safe.

Caren said...

Oh Ashley! I can only imagine how heartbreaking that would be for both you and BK. It's a stupid policy, really, really stupid. The Son had a webkinz and liked it but he was young and I never really fostered the love of the internet games for him so he's forgotten about it. I guess I should be glad about that huh?

His current obsession is Bakugan and there are times when I too have to ban any discussion of it, he's consumed and can't believe that everyone wouldn't find it as interesting as he does.

Crazy kids.

Anonymous said...

That company sucks. I know what its like to spend a lot of time building an environment and developing characters (Sims style) and them have them lost forever because of something stupid.

Hippie at Heart said...

Thanks for the warning. My daughter is in love with her Webkinz as well but she goes through stages where she's on the website constantly & then doesn't get on it for months. She's more into the animal itself rather than the online world. After reading your post my heart stopped. A) I never knew about the 1 yr rule & I couldn't remember the last time we bought a new pet. B) I remember her complaining a couple of weeks ago because she couldn't remember her password but at the time, like you, I thought it was no big deal to retrieve the information. I just now finished my search & lucky for her I'm a major procrastinator so my desk drawer that I've been meaning to clean out for months (years?) still sits untouched & I found a handful of tags inside. Upon discovering them I proceeded to follow your advice & I scattered them around the house in various drawers, hidey holes & books. I even put one in each of my wallets & in the glovebox of my car for safe-keeping. I completely agree with you though. There's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't allow you to change the password. Fortunately, we activated a new pet in February so we're safe on that end for now. She has 3 pets on her christmas list so that should keep us covered for another year.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good to know.

DD(almost 6yo) has just recently really gotten into them. I'll be sure to keep those tags safe as they've just been hanging out in the junk drawer.

Ned said...

Good lord we have a ton btwn 2 boys, all with rooms etc. I have thrown away each and every tag!!!!!

Jenna & Jordan's Mommy said...

So good to hear this before we activate anything...We've got about 4 of them running around our house, but hadn't let them do the online thing just yet...Thanks for the info!!

Shannon said...

Not that I agree with the policy, but in GANZ BFF has a store and has carried their products for years and they have been a good comapny to deal with, at least from a retailer's perspective.

Cam said...

If you get more than 1 that have not been activated, hold off on letting them enter the code for the 2nd, 3rd, etc, as your year starts when the last code was entered. you can stretch it out that way, or you can pay something like $5-10 to re-up if you get overwhelmed with stuffed petz (and the time it takes to keep them healthy online!)

Anonymous said...

hilarious because we ran into this same problem. And i tried to find a 1-800 number to call and it's you can't find it ANYWHERE!!! It was like all that freakn money spent on 15 webkinz just went down the drain. We had to start over.

because I said so said...

My big one went through this and actually lost some of hers through my not saving tags......luckily there were only a couple on that account and there is some policy that you can create a new account and add your old ones into it...somehow

But nonetheless...I hate to add fuel to the fire but Walgreens has Webkinz for $9.99 right now and they come w/ the regular sized Webkinz and the Lil kinz that two for $9.99 (and both have codes)

I know....sorry

Julie H said...

Sheesh that's crazy. If we get some I'll make sure and save the tags, thanks for the heads up!

I'm really surprised we don't have any. My 10 year old likes the littlest pet shop VIP's which are similar. I had to email the company when one of them had a bogus code that wouldn't work. After about a week I got a new code, which was great.