TP Spiro Hop see-saw, not impressed

I’m a big fan of TP products. We have its swings at home. So when I was in the market for a see-saw, I ignored other makes to go for TP, despite that it’s not the cheapest.

The Spiro Hop is a see-saw that’s also a ‘merry go round’ of sorts. Children sit on it and they can spin round. The Spiro Hop has what look like two Space Hoppers that you sit on.

Here it is on the John Lewis website, where I bought it last year. It clearly says it’s for four years and up and that each seat can take up to 35kilos (equivalent to about five stones). My six year old weighs nowhere near that, neither do any of her friends (I weighed that at aged twelve for goodness sake).

Anyway it’s been used maybe a dozen times. And this is what’s happened to both seats. the bouncy ball elements have been taken out, please note my feet in the first one, wearing Chanel’s Paradoxal (latest shade, hello!).

Now, this is crap. Not at all what I expect from a child’s see-saw after many years of use, never mind hardly any. The only excuse is if really fat kids have been on it and bouncing as if their next Happy Meal depended on it.

And they haven’t.

So I wrote to TP Toys and John Lewis. Anyone who is familiar with my writings over the years will know that I am a big fan of John Lewis. Huge. But very occasionally the online service isn’t as good as it could be. All staff of JLP are partners, but not everyone who works on the online side of the business is. This shows.

I met the MD of John Lewis, Andy Street, in late 2008 when we both did a programme for Radio 4 (The Long View). I told him this, that the on-line customer service sometimes lets the side down, probably rather gauchely as I was heavily pregnant and taking no prisoners that day (oh dear, anyone who has been pregnant, or has had a pregnant partner will know what I mean).

I know the head of customer services, because we had a lot of dealings last year over a cooker I bought. I could have just emailed him. But I didn’t. I emailed the general customer service email this:

“Dear Sirs

I purchased the TP Spiro Hop from John Lewis last year (John Lewis order no: XXXXXXXX, 30th April 2009). Because I’d not long had a baby, it took us a while to put it up – the late summer – and since then it’s been used maybe a dozen times.

I write as a big fan of TP Toys and John Lewis, but I’m really disappointed by this product. I will attach some pictures and you can see what’s happened to both seats – they’ve broken. The see saw has not had anything unusual happen to it, other than children playing on it, which is surely what it’s intended for? The weight limit as printed on the JL website has never even remotely been exceeded, either.

Can I have your thoughts please?

Thank you.

Annalisa Barbieri”

I sent it to the customer service department of TP Toys and to John Lewis. To its credit, JL replied that day with this:
“Dear Miss Barbieri,

John Lewis Direct operate a 28 day return policy. This means that items can usually be returned, free of charge, for any reason within 28 days from the purchase date for a full refund or replacement. This period has now passed and as the item in question was not damaged upon delivery, or faulty, we are unable to accept it back for a refund.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused.

If I can assist you further, please get in touch with me.

Yours sincerely,

Oh dear.  A cut and paste job from someone who has either not really read my email properly, or hasn’t understood it. Nowhere did I ask for a refund or replacement. So I tried again:
“I’m not asking for a refund or a replacement. I’m telling you that a product that you’ve sold doesn’t seem to be fit for purpose.”
And got this reply:
“Please accept my apologies for any confusion regarding the Spiro Hop you purchased from us.

I can advise that receiving feedback from our customers, both positive and constructive, is crucial to the on going improvements we are constantly striving to make to both our service and our website. I would also like to inform you that your comments regarding your purchase have been retained for consideration within future enhancements of our service.

Please contact me if you require any further assistance.”

I still consider that to be pretty crap. TP Toys in the meantime, hasn’t replied yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Update. After I  posted this I sent another email to John Lewis, because I really think its reply is not up to it. I said this:

“I find that a disappointing response. You sell a see-saw which clearly states it’s for age four and up and can tolerate 35kilos per seat. I’ve done nothing to take that product outside of those parameters. And it’s been used not very much at all.

Do you not have any other feedback for me or comments? Do you think this product is fit for purpose?


and almost immediately got this back:
“Dear Miss Barbieri,

I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed with my response.

I am currently unaware of any  problems associated with this product; however, I have made the relevant department aware of this matter. They will investigate further.

Thank you for also taking the time to write to us regarding this matter. Receiving feedback from our customers, both positive and constructive, is crucial to the ongoing improvements we strive to make to both our web site and our services.

If I can be of any further assistance, please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

name withheld
John Lewis Direct”

Now what you can’t see here, because the format of this blog changes it, is that the font for the salutation (“Miss Barbieri”) and the sign-off “(Yours sincerely, etc) is different to that on the body of the message. This makes the cynic in me this is a standard email they have.
I’m afraid this makes me even more mad.

An update: 12 August 2010.

TP and I have been in regular contact. I still haven’t returned the seats to them, but have managed to take them off and put them in an envelope. Did I say ‘take them off’? I barked instructions at my boyfriend to do this and he did so.

TP offered to replace the Spiro Hop, saying it had sold many thousands. But I’ve really gone off it. Although I said this wasn’t about a refund or a replacement, the more I thought about it (and read comments that most of you put on FB rather than here, tsk!) the more I thought that I should have something to show for my £88 outlay. So I asked them to replace it with the wooden see saw.

This is fab. I will write a review of it in a few weeks/months when it has lived a little.

8 thoughts on “TP Spiro Hop see-saw, not impressed

  1. Lisa

    Oh no! That's terrible. I'm also a fan of TP (and John Lewis), so I can understand how frustrating and disappointing this is for you. I really do hope you get some sort of (meaningful) response very soon.And I need a close up of the toe polish, please.

  2. Joanna

    A propos John Lewis, I sent them a careful and detailed letter together with photos re two appliances out of warranty blah blah together with the 'off the record' comments of the engineer who came to repair them and quoted the Sale of Goods Act and like lambs, they paid for the repairs, as a gesture of 'good will' natch. You have to quote the right bits of the Act to them and then they seem to respond. The key phrase is the bit about having a 'reasonable expectation' that seems to do the trick. That's how Trading Standards advised me to word it anyway. From my letter:We request therefore that you reimburse our costs associated with these repairs under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as they are ‘not of satisfactory quality.’ This is generally defined as meaning they are free from defects, safe and durable. We have a reasonable expectation that these machines should last between 5 – 10 years without either of these components failing in this way. A propos the nail polish yes a close up please!

  3. Claire Stephens

    that's jolly good of sarah draper isn't it? still, the buck technically falls with JL doesn't it as the retailer. hmm hope you get it sorted. puts me off paying extra for TP things now

  4. Annalisa Barbieri

    Aye Claire, don't let it put you off. I'm keen to know why this has happened. I keep thinking "maybe it's cos it was out all the time, maybe it's cos children played on it" but then I remember, it's an outdoor toy and children are meant to play on it.Just to update you all. TP have asked for the broken parts of the Spiro Hop back (they are sending me a pre paid label) and for the guarantee number (the latter of which I've supplied). It's going to take me a while to get them off (find allen keys..) and package it up as I'm sure any of you with two small children will appreciate, how the simplest thing takes forever. TP are going to investigate what's happened and it's also offered to replace it in the meantime, an offer I've thus far turned down.Will keep you posted.

  5. John @ big game hunters

    ClaireSorry you had a bad experience. We sell hundreds of these every year and rarely have a problem. When we do TP are normally great.What was the outcome? Is it still on-going? I guess not by now, but happy to help resolve it if you like, we have some pull with TP.

  6. Annalisa Barbieri

    Hi John, I'm not sure if your comment was for me (the original post writer) or Claire.TP investigated and I think there was a problem with a small number of them. I can't remember why exactly and I don't want to mis-quote. As I recall though, it was something to do with the plastic and it becoming brittle. They replaced the whole see saw, with a wooden one (I requested that one, rather than a straight swop) and I have the option of buying new seats as a spare part and effectively ending up with two see-saws. Which I haven't done yet.So a good outcome, although naturally I'd have preferred it not to have happened.


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