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Pleygo Review: Netflix for Legos

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Seems like these days I keep running into websites advertised as “Netflix for…” I have encountered three separate businesses that say some vague all-seeing someone has called them “Netflix for books.” I was briefly a member of GameFly.com, the “Netflix for games,” which didn’t quite work for me because I kept being unable to find the borrowed game among my other ones. Plus, I didn’t want to return them. I’ve lasted a little longer with Pleygo, the “Netflix for Legos.”

Pleygo – What is it?

Pleygo is a mail-based Lego rental service. Cool, right? All the fun, with fewer Legos permanently lying on your kids’ floor for you to step on. I know y’all know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

How does it work?

As with Netflix, you go to the website, sign up, create a wishlist, and start populating it with Lego and Duplo sets. You must choose from one of three membership levels: Fan at $15/month, Super Fan at $25/month, or Mega Fan at $39/month. Fan lets you choose only smaller sets, the ones with less than 200 pieces or so; Mega Fan appears to include Legos with over 500 pieces as well as all the smaller Legos; this plan lets you rent huge sets like the Death Star or the Friends Dolphin Cruiser. Super Fan covers the Legos in between.

You put a Lego set in your wishlist, and it comes in a box or envelope with a shipping label that can be resealed and returned. When you’re done building and playing with your Lego, however long it takes, you pull it apart, put everything back into the box, and put the whole thing in a mailbox.

Each Lego set comes with a small Spare Pieces Bag that includes the most popular Lego replacement bits, just in case you’re missing one. If you’re still missing a piece you need, you can order bricks without charge from the website. If you lose a piece, don’t worry about it; you’re covered. If you like a set, you can purchase it.

Does it perform as advertised?

Here’s my situation right now. I’m not actually a member. I found this out on Friday after realizing that we mailed back our last set in early December and never got a new one (you know, what with holidays and a vacation and the FREEZING cold here in the Chicago area, I just forgot about it).  So I went back to the site, only to discover that at some point, our membership had been cancelled. Not sure how this happened, as I didn’t do it myself, and my calls and emails to Customer Service, which has always been responsive before, have gone apparently unheeded.

This isn’t the first problem I’ve had with Pleygo. Back in the fall the service charged me over $500 for no apparent reason and I had to call to get it removed. But usually Customer Service has been responsive. Our very first Pleygo set went astray on its way back to the company. The post office even sent us a mea culpa and a form to authorize a search, complete with the mailing label of the box attached (thus ensuring that wherever the Lego ended up, it wasn’t going to get to its destination). Pleygo was fantastic, and when it found out about the problem it issued us our next Lego immediately – actually, it issued us the next two by mistake. Maybe that was my first clue that the service still has some growing pains to deal with, even though it happened in our favor. Once one of their reps offered a free trial upgrade to Mega Fan, which was really nice of him, since I emailed after an initial free trial upgrade deal had expired and he let me do it anyway. Unfortunately, I was still too unorganized to take advantage of the second offer in time.

The other issue we’ve had is Legos disappearing off our wishlist. We found a rare Atlantis Lego on the site and were excited, but during the time we were renting a different Lego, it disappeared from our queue. At one point, I think we had five Legos on our wishlist, and a few weeks later I logged in and we didn’t have any and I couldn’t find them using the search. Did someone buy them out from under us? I have no idea. The last time I logged on in December, I couldn’t find that much of interest that we didn’t already own, but hopefully that was a temporary problem or perhaps I wasn’t searching properly.

However, the good news is that we only once received a Lego set missing any pieces we needed. Fortunately, it was a common one and we supplied it through our own Lego collection. We’ve found that given the specialized nature of most Lego sets these days, the Spare Pieces bag has never been that much help.

Final Thoughts

Pleygo sent me a survey last week asking me if I’d rent Thomas the Tank Engine toys from the company if they offered them. The answer was no, but only because my eight-year-old boy has grown out of Thomas. I think it’s a good idea, and I hope the company does it.

But now that I’ve had two months without Pleygo after having been involuntarily taken off the site, I’m thinking about not going back. I’ve always had trouble with these rental services because I’m just not good at returning things in a timely manner. It’s the same reason I don’t hang out much at the library anymore – with the overdue fines I rack up, I might as well be buying the books anyway. Once my cat threw up on a Dora the Explorer book and I had to buy the thing from the library for $20 and then throw it out.

So, frankly, buying Legos is less hassle for me – even if it’s more clutter – and I’m not sure if I think the balance is worth it. But for Lego-loving families with a sufficiently-sized mailbox (unlike me), a dislike of Lego clutter, and a willingness to deal with the issues I’ve discussed, Pleygo is worthy.

 

About Helen A. Lee


Helen is a veteran writer with credits in The Learned Fangirl, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Gamespot.com, Chicago Tribune and nytimes.com, among others (if pressed, she may cop to writing instructional guides to pop star hair and interviewing "Desperate Housewives" stars). She's a huge geek and her son, age 11, looks to be following in her footsteps.

  • MrsSweatheifer

    Thank you for this review. My husband had heard of Pleygo and was thinking about it for our 4 year old son. But it really sounds like it’s not worth the hassle. Plus I don’t see my son quite getting that he would have to send the Legos back!

  • Erica Chandler

    i think your article is a fair assessment of the service. I also had the hassle of trying to cancel and then they charged me for the next 12 months. When I tried to get a refund–Pley knew we didn;t have a set in our possession the entire time–they said it was against their policy and refused. Don’t get stuck in their trap!

  • Georgie

    Based on the great reviews we decided to try this service. We rented a 150 piece set. Two missing pieces were discovered immediately (on the second page of the instructions). We contacted the company and they said they needed to know exactly how many pieces were missing. Do you have any idea how long it takes to go through the entire set to verify the pieces. In the end 15 pieces were missing!!!!!!! And we felt like we were doing a service they should be provided for free. Specifically, we had to go through the set, determine which pieces were missing and give them the specific information. All in all this is a great concept that is being executed extremely poorly! Really terrible service.

  • Florda mom

    I wish I had looked for & read reviews ahead of time & I would have been dissuaded to join this service.

    I tried in Dec2015. They promised the first toy will be under the tree if I signed up on a certain date. I did. It was late & I was notified by 23rd or 24th that it will not just reach 1-2-3 days late but 5 days late. They say because of the distance (Florida) plus rush season. I get it if there is some unusual delay like storms/holidays . But really 5 days??? If UPS is holding your package for so long, take it up with them. This is YOUR biz model. You are liable for delivery. Not them.
    Same story the 2nd toy. I got a prompt email but haven’t received a confirmation of shipment being picked up in 3 days. I suppose another 1 week for delivery =10days lead time.

    Now, if it takes 13days from sign up to delivery, I figured I will have only 1 toy per month at this rate – not worth the subscription. I think of canceling because it’s under a month and consider small sunk cost change. Duh Duh. No refunds with cancellation. YES, they kept stating while signing up in bold letters, cancel anytime. Fine print dear brain – NO REFUNDS. Zilch. Just like the other reviewer said. Surely, is there no law protecting consumers?

    The problem is, there is no amazon reviews, yelp or tripadvisor to review Pley and I feel ripped off and do want to forewarn others. Maybe it works if you live near their distribution center. Maybe you are ok with $20+ for 1 toy per month. Just not me for a lego selection that isn’t stellar or highly interesting. Great concept but poor execution and poor customer service policy. A repeated complaint of non-refunds and yet they do not want to change. Well, buyer beware