Kenly, N.C. — Real pets are great, but they can be a lot of work and expensive to care for. A less expensive option is Webkinz. They are stuffed toys that cost anywhere from $15 to $30.
Each pet comes with its own individual code used to sign up on the Webkinz Web site. Owners can then play with their virtual pet and take care of it online.
Belinda and Michael Davis bought several for their daughters.
“It teaches them responsibility with feeding. You have to play every day so your pet will remain healthy,” said Belinda Davis.
The only problem was that the Davises couldn't access their pets online.
“When you buy a new one, you have to log in the code. I go to [the] new member [section] and I get a blank screen. So therefore, I can't play – and it's been going on since June,” said Belinda Davis.
The Davis’ computer was new and fulfilled the Webkinz system requirements. The blank screen problem was listed in the help section of the Webkinz Web site.
Michael Davis, who is computer savvy, tried all of the solutions listed, but none worked. However, he was able to get it to work if he tied into his work computer from home, which duplicates all of his work computer's settings.
“The only difference between this computer and my computer at work – my computer at work has Internet Explorer 6. This has Internet Explorer 7, which is the latest and the greatest. So this computer here actually has an upgrade from the one I use at work,” Michael Davis said.
The Davises called the Webkinz manufacturer, Ganz, repeatedly, but never got through. They also sent e-mails. After three months, they finally got a call back, but it didn't help.
Michael Davis called the situation “absolutely frustrating.”
So the Davises called 5 on Your Side. A quick Internet search revealed a lot of people have the same problem with white screens, as well as other issues. Many people also said the customer support was little help.
Ganz spokeswoman Susan McVeigh told WRAL they take care of most complaints in "three to five days." She admitted to "bad handling" of the Davis' complaint.
She also said the most recent number the Davises were calling wasn’t the right number. They said it was the number they were given.
Regardless, a Ganz representative has since called the Davises. The problem turned out to be a program plug-in. The Davis' home computer was apparently too new, and their version of Internet Explorer defaulted to the wrong player plug-in.
Ganz said Real Player has to be turned off for Webkinz to open. Another option that worked for the Davises and others – open Webkinz using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.
The Davis' Webkinz problem has been fixed, so the girls can finally interact with Webkinz. Their parents just wanted to make others aware of the issue.
“I just, you know, hate to see a lot of people lose a lot of money during this time of season,” said Belinda Davis, “and the kids be disappointed at Christmas."