In the past few weeks it has come to the attention of most of us in the baby carrier industry that there are fake, knock-off, and counterfeit baby carriers hitting the market. These carriers are being sold from various eBay sites by sellers who are using big brand names to sell these impostor carriers at a ridiculously low price. And if you didn't know any better, heck you might just be suckered into buying one of them because the price is just too damn good to pass up!! Or like some comments I have seen on certain sites, maybe some people just don't care.
REALLY?? Not that you were one of the ones that CARED??
Last week the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) sent out this warning about the fake carriers and urges all consumers to be aware of these knock-offs and to only shop with reliable retailers, either online or in brick & mortar stores, to ensure that you are getting the real deal. If you are not sure if your baby carrier seller is legit, 99% of the time you can check the manufacturers site for a list of approved retailers.
But why is this such a big deal?
Here is the thing. We are talking about a product that carries your most precious cargo...your child. Why on earth would you buy just any kind of cheap, untested and potentially unsafe product to carry your baby in? Would you buy a knock-off car seat? One that was not tested? I think not! (or at least I seriously hope not!)
Now, I understand that some people may be thinking, how different can they really be, they look exactly the same? And so what if it was not really tested, I buy fake Coach or Gucci purses all the time and they look and function just fine. And I say to you this, a broken strap or unraveling stitch on your purse is one thing. A broken strap or unravelling stitch in a baby carrier can put your child in DANGER!
Some of the carriers in question have been 'tested' by concerned mamas and members of the BCIA and what has been found is that some do not rip, while others rip at the seams with a simple strong pull on the fabric. Do you want to take the risk that the one you purchase will be the one that rips? Personally, this is not a risk that I think is worth it in order to save a couple of bucks!
On top of the safety issue with all of these fake carriers, including versions of the ERGO, the Beco, the MobyWrap, the FreeHand Mei Tai and others, there is the legal issue of copyright and stolen designs, instructions and marketing materials. Not only are these practices not very nice at all, they are also ILLEGAL! And it's not just in the making of these products, anyone importing and distributing these products is also committing a crime, especially with the patented carriers like the Ergo, and these people can be prosecuted for their actions as a the 'middle man'.
I am writing this as a general buyer beware post. Beware of the 'wholesalers' selling 10 carriers for $30 bucks apiece, beware of the various eBay sellers and Co-op groups cropping up on Facebook to sell and distribute these and beware of these fake carriers hitting the resale sites like Kijiji and Craigslist.
My best advice is to buy your baby carriers from reputable online or brick and mortar retailers and pay for the product and the testing and the craftsmanship that goes into making a good, safe baby carrier.
And remember that if a deal looks and sounds too good to be true, if often is!
Don't get fooled Mamas!
Happy and SAFE Babywearing Everyone,