Letter to AG

I’d mentioned to the store managers the day I bought *cough*a few*cough* dolls before permapanties why I was doing it and what I was unhappy about. But I’ve had a long day and wanted to feel like I did something so I finally sent in my own letter.

 

Hi there! As someone who has been enjoying American Girl products for 22 years now, I decided it was time I send you a letter so my opinion is noted. I know I’ll get the canned response. I get it; I work in video games, and I actually use to be the head of customer support for my company, so I know *you* who send me the canned response are not responsible for these changes. But please pass my voice along with the countless others you’re hearing from.

If you look at my account, you’ll see that a couple of weeks ago I purchased 4 dolls. That’s because these will be the last dolls I ever purchase from you, which is devestating to say because I have 30 dolls and have started a family that I’d hoped to raise to share my love of American Girl. But the decisions being made by this company lately have made clear that what I expect of American Girl and what you are willing to deliver are irreconcilable.

The decision to put permanent underwear on the dolls is baffling. To feed the public a blatant lie about the reasoning (they are not getting lost, come on) and then to walk it back (now suddenly it’s cost-cutting), to so egregiously mismanage what I know was a frustrating but poorly handled response on social media (you called the customer a liar rather than apologize that something slipped past quality control?!)… it’s all mind-boggling.

I understand the brand is struggling to define itself. Being a luxury brand is scary during a recession, and sales declined, so now it appears you’re wanting to go mainstream. And yet still charge luxury prices. Add in the clamshell packaging and plastic items that used to be metal and you’ve made Our Generation look way too good at a fraction of the cost. Not everyone buys the accessories and furniture; I know, so make them for the people who DO buy them And now permanent underwear, further devaluing the brand. You’ve made a decision about what time period these dolls are, and how little girls are allowed to play with their dolls. You changed the core product of a 30 year old brand without actually making sure it was an ok change.

Well it’s not. I’m fascinated but also afraid for your company to find out just how much money the customers you alienated have spent at you company. I believe I’ve spent around $1000 in 2017, largely because I wanted to buy up the last dolls I wanted before permapanties set in, dolls I don’t think I’ll have an easy time finding secondhand. You’re pushing the people who spend thousands of dollars towards ebay for higher quality secondhand dolls. That’s a crazy way to run a business.

Finally, a note. As I’m a product manager, I recently attended a marketing summit. In it, a well known consultant who I won’t name actually used your brand as an example. He said American Girl is a prime example of a powerhouse company purchasing a solid brand and driving it into the ground because it couldn’t figure out who its customer is or how to speak to them. I’d say your customers, young and old alike, have made pretty clear their dislike for the permapanties, for the lowering quality (the plastic, the clumped foods, the snagging velcro). Nanea looks incredible. I think there must be people in your company who know what the customer base wants. Listen to them, and to your fans, for everyone’s benefit.

Anyway, that’s all. Thanks if you actually read this whole diatribe. But clearly these dolls are a thing near and dear to our hearts. I still have the outfits my Grandma helped me make for my Sam and Josefina as a little girl. Despite what your social media team kept liking on Facebook, they aren’t “just a doll.” That’s not the phrase your brand was build on. I really hope that’s not what your company believes now.

Best, Jessa

And now I wait for my canned response. Sigh.

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