I have to give some companies credit for giving me outstanding customer service over the past few months.
First, Playtex. I purchased some straw-style sippy cups from them. Some of the parts were lost / broken, so I called to inquire about purchasing replacements. They sent me out a couple of sets free of charge as well as guiding me to the best place to buy them in the future.
Second, Playhut & MerchSource. JD has a Star Wars tent made by PlayHut. One of the supports broke. I called to get a replacement and they sent out two for free. The same thing happened to Bunny's Discovery Kids Princess Castle (a tent similar to a PlayHut product.) MerchSource, the distributor / licensing company for this particular Discovery Kids product was happy to send out replacement parts free of charge.
Finally, Accessory Innovations, a product licensing company, is providing me with a new backpack for JD. I stepped in the plastic bracket that connects the padded strap to the adjustment strap and it broke. I called and they asked for a pic of the backpack and of the damage. I used my Motorola Droid with built-in camera to take pics and email them to the person while we were on my land line. She said they would send out an identical or like replacement this afternoon.
I guess the moral of the story is: don't get pissed off. Just call the customer service number or use Google or your preferred search engine to find the manufacturer. If you're forthcoming (I admitted to breaking the backpack and to my kids breaking the tent and sippy cup parts) instead of going in guns a' blazing, they'll probably take pity on you and hook you up.
Why the manufacturer and not the place from whence it was purchased? Regarding the backpack,Target said that after 90 days there may be nothing they can do. Much of their merchandise, like clothes, toys, and things like backpacks are seasonal. I would say that the manufacturer has a more vested interest with your happiness. Target figures that, unless they really piss you off, you're coming back. (Though Target, generally, does try very hard to please their customers. Sometimes their employees get in the way of that.)