(Written by William)
If you’re like me, every now and then, I’ll see a set from a company other than LEGO and think it looks pretty sweet. However, the thing that stops me from buying it is that it’s not LEGO. For me, this decision has always been one based around the quality of the product. In short, I trust what LEGO does and how they fix things if something goes wrong.
What I hadn’t thought about was all the work that goes into ensuring that this level of quality exists. Recently, LEGO invited Recognized LEGO Fan Media (RLFM) partners to participate in RLFM Days where LEGO Ambassadors had the chance to connect with various LEGO departments, hear presentations, conduct interviews, ask questions, and share concerns with LEGO representatives. The event normally takes place in Billund each year, but due to the virus, this year it was conducted virtually.
One of the sessions was a presentation on how the LEGO Quality Assurance Department works. I must be a big LEGO nerd, since I was just as captivated with that presentation as I was with product reveals like the #42115 LEGO Technic Lamborghini. So, let’s jump in and talk about what I learned!
COLLECTING AND ANALYZING DATA
Complaints come in all the time to LEGO. It’s not hard to see why. A global company that makes billions upon billions of little plastic pieces, it only makes sense to have some errors in the process. Heck, not too long ago, I had a board game published that only had a run of 2,000 copies and we saw errors in that print run. So, LEGO knows mistakes will happen and they want to act on it.
Much of the data comes in from complaints filed with LEGO Customer Service. Who, I might add, are some of the most pleasant people I’ve interacted with. They’re quick to identify what the problems are and take steps to make things right. But where do all these complaints go?
Enter the LEGO Quality Assurance Department. It is up to them to look at what the problems are and figure out if and where changes need to be made. The first step is to categorize the problem. Is there a certain piece that goes missing at an unusual rate? Is there a problem with the manufacturing of a part (bad print jobs, excessive color variations, cracking pieces, etc.)?
All of these types of issues are carefully gathered, tracker, and analyzed. LEGO will even track numbers based on regions of the world. Perhaps Germany is showing normal numbers, but the U.S. is showing an upwards trend on having a particular issue. All of this data needs to be studied before real action is taken.
Once the data has been collected and processed, the next step is to figure out how to solve a particular issue. Perhaps the instructions need to be changed because they aren’t clear, and a common mistake is the culprit for why people are reporting an issue. Other times it may involve re-tooling how a machine works because there is some quality problem with an element, or the printing on an element.
Some time back I pointed out that some models contain some unusual colors on the inside of the structure. A good example of this is when you find a bright pink brick in the middle of something dark like the Batmobile. It completely clashes with the model, but it is also entirely hidden. When I talked about this before, I pointed out how great this technique was because it created very distinct contrasts to make the building process clearer. Well, I was right! Sometimes instructions fail because people can’t really see what to do or what pieces to use. Black on black especially leaves a big margin for error. So adding different colored elements create much clearer instructions and prevents building mistakes from happening.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
LEGO can only be as good as the information they have. This means if you find an error in your set and don’t report it, then they don’t know about it and can’t fix it. I know there have been times when I don’t bother reporting a mistake since I have the missing part in my collection. But this could result in more people later on having the same issue and not knowing where to go to fix it.
I did ask about older sets that have gone out of stock, since that’s another area I feel weird about reporting stuff on. And yes, that doesn’t help the LEGO Quality Assurance Department since their focus is on currently produced products, but I was told that any issue is worth getting reported and fixed. LEGO stands by their product and wants to make sure everyone is satisfied.
The long and short of all of this is, LEGO wants to make sure you get the best product you can, but due to the volume of elements they manufacture mistakes can happen. LEGO will do everything in their power to fix these mistakes, and you can also help by reporting them. You aren’t bothering anyone or costing them their job by pointing out the problems you’ve found. Instead, you are contributing to the solution!
What do you think? Have you ever run into any issues with LEGO parts, instructions, minifigs, printed pieces, etc.? Did you contact LEGO Customer Service about it? Was your issue fixed? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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