There may be times when a LEGO set you purchase is missing some parts, or perhaps you notice quality issues with an element as you assemble a LEGO set. So what is the best way to deal with these situations? This is what we will be discussing today. 🙂
➡ MISSING LEGO ELEMENT(S): Opening a brand new LEGO set is always an exciting event. You expect to spend quality time putting the set together either by yourself or with your building-buddies. You may even play some music in the background as you absorb yourself in putting the set together. Discovering that a part is missing can definitely jerk you out of your absorption in building a new LEGO set.
Fortunately missing elements from LEGO sets is quit rare. LEGO is very good at making sure that every set contains exactly what it supposed to. In fact in all the LEGO sets I have ever gotten I have only run into a truly missing element issue once (in a recent LEGO Mixels set). Having said that, there were several times when I thought a part was missing while I was putting together a set. In situations like this I take a deep breath before disappointments floods over me and remind myself that LEGO is really good at this, and most likely the part I can’t find is just hiding somewhere…
In my experience 99% of the time the piece that I thought was missing was in either of two places: stuck inside an inner bag (those clear plastic baggies you can find inside large sets to separate elements), or stuck inside another (usually larger) element. It is also a good idea to check around your work-area. If you are building on a table or other raised surface, parts could have easily rolled off. (I build on the floor so this is not an issue for me.)
If you are truly missing a LEGO element it is very likely that you already have it in your own LEGO collection and can easily replace it – especially if it’s a common part. You will likely think it’s no big deal, replace the part from your own collection, and keep building. This will allow you to continue uninterruptedly, however there is one problem; LEGO will never know that the part was missing. If a LEGO element is truly left out of a LEGO set, it is very likely your set was not the only one. So even if you were able to replace the part from your own collection, it is a good idea to give LEGO customer service a call and let them know. They will not just send out the part to you, but will also make notes. If several people notify them about the same missing parts they will notify the appropriate department to correct the issue.
So if you encounter a missing LEGO element, give LEGO’s customer service a call. The LEGO customer service phone number in the USA is 1-800-835-4386, or you can also call the main LEGO shop phone number at 1-800-453-4652 and they will transfer you to customer care. For other countries you can check the LEGO customer service website: service.lego.com. You can also fill out an online form to report and request missing pieces at the same website.
➡ MISSING BAGS FROM LEGO SETS: For larger LEGO sets elements are grouped together into clear bags. This is to help you in the building process and to not have to search in a heap of thousands of pieces. The bags are usually numbered based on the building instructions, but please note that there are usually several #1 bags all related to the first steps in building, then several #2 bags, etc. Also, larger bags may contain smaller bags inside (usually with the tiny parts).
In very rare circumstances entire bags may be missing from the box, or you get several bags including the same pieces, while missing other ones. Unfortunately in situations like this you are usually stuck as it is less likely you will be able to replace all the missing elements from your own collection. Again, this is a very rare situation, but it has been reported happening sometimes. Your best course of action is to call LEGO’s customer service right away. They will send you the missing bags and take note of the problem.
A variation of this scenario is when you shop from a LEGO retailer and not directly from LEGO. This could be either at a local retail shop (like Wal-Mart or Toys’R’Us) or an online retailed like Amazon. You get a set that has been returned (and carefully resealed) by a previous customer and when you open it either entire bags are missing, or the content of the box have been replaced by non-LEGO (random toys, garbage, etc.). In situations like this you should contact the vendor immediately for a replacement or refund. If it is a local store you can just stop by, or if it is an online vendor give them a call. It’s not a pleasant experience having to deal with such things, but retail-theft is a very real phenomenon and calling the vendor helps them monitor these issues.
➡ MISFORMED & MISPRINTED ELEMENTS: It is extremely rare to find misformed LEGO element in a brand new and sealed LEGO set as LEGO’s quality control is excellent. However if you do find such a part, you can call LEGO’s customer service to replace them. A bit more common is misprinted parts; perhaps part of the printing is missing, or applied on the wrong surface. These can actually be quite nice variations. Some misformed and misprinted elements are highly collectible and desirable and can go for quite a bit of money. For example LEGO bricks with more than one color (referred to as marbled bricks), or some facial misprints on minifigs that actually look really good.
➡ BROKEN & CRACKED LEGO ELEMENTS: You can be pretty confident that all elements in a brand new and sealed LEGO set are going to be in excellent condition. LEGO is also good at packaging their sets, so it is rare to find an element that is broken right out of the box. (Of course if the box itself shows damage due to handling or shipping, it is likely that the parts inside are also damaged.) If you do find a broken part LEGO’s customer service is happy to replace it for you free of charge. A more common issue is parts that break during or after assembly of the set. Some elements are especially prone to breaking and cracking with very little use. One well-known such element is the small “cheese-slopes”.
Such problems can be the result of defective moulds, worn out moulds or just weak designs. Also, certain colors can be more prone to cracking and braking than others. This likely has to do with the chemical composition of different dyes. Again, the answer is to contact LEGO’s customer service. They will send you replacement parts and will also note recurring problems to alert the quality control department. The more people call and complain the better.
➡ INCONSISTENT COLORS: While having completely wrong colors in a LEGO set is almost unheard of (like including red parts instead of yellow), having several shades of a color in the same set is unfortunately quite common these days. In the past LEGO used to buy already dyed granules from another company and the colors were very consistent. However since LEGO has been doing the dying themselves, they have been unable to achieve a reliable consistency. This is especially visible in dark colors like dark-red, dark-green and dark-blue. In the recently released #10246 LEGO Creator Detective’s Office I have counted at least four distinctively different shades of dark-blue. I ended up replacing them from my own collection and also called LEGO’s customer service. If you are not happy, call them. LEGO’s motto is “Only the Best is Good Enough”, so hold them to their word.
➡ OTHER QUALITY ISSUES: There are other issues you might run into on rare occasions. For example recently LEGO fans noticed serious problems with the large LEGO baseplates; the studs won’t hold elements properly and almost anything you put on them simply falls off. This has likely to do with a worn out mould. The issue was recently raised at the LEGO Ambassador Forum, and Keith Severson, who is the Senior Manager for community support at LEGO said the following:
“I understand you are addressing a potential quality issue. However we do not have the power to inform or affect it. The only way quality and engineering review potential issues is through data that is gathered through customer service. Every time a customer calls in, it is logged with the specific element. Once that element receives a certain amount of issues they will review it. So the best thing you can do is to report issues through the system.”
Another element that has been having problems due to an old and worn out mould is the robot-arm that has been around since 1985 and is included in many sets. LEGO fans especially noticed this in the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit set, where the part simply fell off from its position. In addition the part had a bad shade of the light-gray color, not matching any other elements in the set. Just a few months later this same part was still included in the #10243 LEGO Creator Parisian Restaurant where it keeps falling off due to the worn out mould (this time in black color). LEGO is now aware of the problem and last I heard they are working on fixing it.
As you can see, in all in all of these scenarios, the best course of action is to contact LEGO’s customer service. That is the most appropriate and effective way to alert them of any quality or other issues, get replacements, and also save other LEGO fans from disappointments. LEGO cares about their reputation and their customer service is excellent. Missing defects before a product gets on store shelves can happen to any company. In general LEGO’s quality control is one of the best, but things can still slip through with the staggering volume of LEGO bricks, sets and minifigs they produce on a daily basis. We can do our part in keeping the quality high by promptly reporting issues we notice.
Have you run into any problems with your LEGO sets? Missing parts? Misprinted parts? Something else? Did you call LEGO’s customer service? Or how did you handle the situation? Feel free to share your thoughts and own experiences in the comment section below! 😉
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