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,
Today was one of those days that I spent wishing and praying that I was ANYWHERE else except for where I was!
All was going to plan. We shopped at GAPKids, the kids were helpful in choosing the items that I bought them and then we went to Gymboree and they watched the little TV in there while I picked out some new swimwear for them. We then headed over to Jugo Juice for our regular mall lunch fare-a smoothie and a grilled chicken wrap.
As we finished up lunch, L told me she was doing a 'pee-pee dance' and so we hightailed it to the nearest bathroom. We made it, she peed and then we continued on our way and headed to Anthropologie for Mama to get her 'fix'. Not even 5 minutes in the store, L looks up at me again and says that she had to go back to the bathroom because she now is doing a 'poo-poo dance'. So, I load her and C back into our sit & stand stroller and we motor over to the bathroom on the upper level of the mall near The Children's Place. It is not a big bathroom and the handicapped stall was taken, so we used the last stall near the wall and I parked C and the stroller just outside the stall door. I had my purse on me across my body, but needed to take it off in order to move in the stall and get L on the toilet and so I took it off and hung it behind the door. (Yeah, at this point your warning bells should be going off!!!!)
L decided that this was also the point at which she would have a complete FREAK OUT, refuse to 'do' anything and tell me that she wanted to go to the bathroom at home. I am not sure about how anyone else handles these situations, but I get very flustered and frustrated when my kids hit the meltdown point and just want to GET OUT NOW. Which is what we did. We left the bathroom in a rush and headed for the entrance where I parked.
And it was not until C asked me for some coins to throw in the fountain that I realized................I HAD LEFT MY PURSE IN THE FUCKING BATHROOM!!!!!!
And not just ANY purse, my $400 dollar COACH purse that also contained my $600 iPhone 4, my car and house keys, my wallet AND my favourite lip gloss!
My heart sank to my stomach and then felt like it got kicked REALLY hard. I panicked, grabbed C's hand and headed back upstairs to the bathroom, saying every prayer I could think of on the way there. And it was....NOT THERE!
This is the point at which panic truly took over, the tears started flowing and my deodorant started to fail me. I was trying to picture making the call to my husband to tell him what had happened, how I would explain to the kids that we were literally stuck at the mall, how quickly I could get a hold of VISA to cancel my credit cards and how to just handle this overriding feeling of helplessness that was taking over my mind.
We made it down to the Security office of the mall and I picked up the phone and asked in my shaky, teary voice if anyone had returned a blue Coach purse. And the angel on the other end of the line said YES, she thinks that someone did and that it was over at Guest Services. After figuring out where the hell Guest Services was, I pushed and dragged my poor children for another 5 minutes through the mall to the Admin/Lost and Found office. I was full of hope...until I spoke to the girl behind the desk who told me that nothing had been handed in all day.
And then I just sunk into the chair and BAWLED. You know the cry, the ugly kind, right in front of my poor confused and exhausted babies and the administration office staff of West Edmonton Mall. It was not a pretty sight!
I managed to gather myself together enough to ask the receptionist to call over to Security again, because the angel over there had told me that it was found and to come over HERE. She did, and it turns out that I was one door away from the Guest Services desk-the folks who ACTUALLY had my purse. I wiped away my tears, mumbled a thank you and headed 20 feet over to the next desk where a lovely man handed me my lost baby purse! Completely intact and not a thing missing. Of course I was still crying, but the tears where now those of relief.
I took the kids over to one of the nice new seating areas, found some coins in my now recovered wallet and told my son to throw one in for Mama too and wish for a nanny! We headed back to the entrance after I managed to stop my hands and body from shaking and I have never been so relieved in my life to get out of that place.
I called my husband when I got home and told him what had happened and that we were just now going to all jump in bed for a nap (it was 4:30 PM) and that if he wanted to eat tonight, he had better bring something home for dinner. I also told him that I am in desperate need a FULL MENTAL HEALTH DAY and that this consists of at least 8 hours at a Spa, away from the world and from my life (and I may have promised him sex for the next five days straight as well, but I can't be sure)!
Lessons learned from today:
- NEVER take your freakin' purse off of your body (or at least only when a suitable husband is around to hold it)!
- The 30 minutes of vigorous activity a day that Health Canada recommends for kids should probably not be running after your frantic, bawling mother at the mall. (C was still complaining of his legs hurting "from all that running" as I was putting him to bed tonight!)
- There are Angels and good souls on this earth who will DO THE RIGHT THING and I am so very thankful for that and to them.
- I need a vacation!
That is all. I am done for today. Me and my glass of wine are now going to hang out for a bit.