MacPinto: Lingering Echoes

Can’t get the whole stroller thing out of my mind. I keep imagining how those moms must have felt, innocently opening up a stroller and next thing you know, wham! …on the way to the ER.  Then, then having the company say it was your fault mom…not ours! Well, I don’t buy it; but even so, what about the second through 11th child who lost fingertips because Maclaren failed to issue a recall?  Mom’s fault? I think not! The company knew these pint-sized pintos were harming kids; and like so many companies before, just dumped all info into risk/benefit calculations (risk outweighing silence at #12). Then, when it had to finally break down and issue a recall (because it was good for the company), the PR approach was to still insist on product safety and blame the very customers who line their pockets! Greedy and shameless.

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2 responses to “MacPinto: Lingering Echoes

  1. I am a Maclaren Mom and have I have done my homework. Every year there are around 12,ooo child related injuries and 3 deaths associated with strollers out of which around 500 are finger related and the rest are due to faulty frame, faulty harness, tipovers, rollovers …. All folding strollers have the exact hinge mechanism. What are all other stroller companies who cause these hundreds of injuries every year doing about their hinges?????At least we can give Maclaren that much credit and be fair with your commentaries. It is important to be informed with facts and if you were you would not feel at risk.

  2. happypenguinkidswear

    The statistics you cite are frightening. Sure, it is true that 12 kids aren’t a whole lot (compared with 12,000); but if my child was one of the 12, I’m not sure I’d be looking at it that way. Of course, that’s not the point.

    Without doubt, many levels of the issue are raised. Should companies that manufacture window blinds, for example, stop designing them with looped draw cords just because there will be purchasers who have children, and of those, some will not have thought to cut the loop? (Well, why not make the design safer? I’ve cut the loops myself and have the exact same blind. It looks the same, functions the same way, is, in every respect, exactly as good- only better. Because one known risk has been so easily removed.)

    Examples with children’s products in particular are everywhere. One example would be the portable play pen that comes equipped with a removable changing pad. The changing pad is secured over the edges of the pen to create a convenient and sturdy changing table that is supposed to be removed when the child is in the pen, lest the child stands and suffers a broken neck. The fact is, the manufacturers warned purchasers of the danger in the product’s user manual. Should the changing pad not be offered because a certain percentage of parents will remain ignorant of or disregard the warning? If the child is harmed in the warned-of way, should the maker be blamed, or was it ‘mom’s fault’? Is there a better way to analyze the dilemma than the risk/benefit hotchpot?

    The Maclaren situation is qualitatively different. Exposed hinges offer no benefit to the end user. In the Maclaren situation, it appears the company was aware of the risk, and that risk was presented to parents who purchased the strollers. One could thereby say it was mom’s fault, (you were warned; hey, if you can’t be bothered to follow instructions…). But one could quite easily say they are even more culpable since they knew of the problem and could have just provided the cheap hinge cover to begin with. They thereby passed the buck to parents, in light of the injuries they knew in advance would be suffered. If it is in fact true that all or most (or even many) strollers have the same hinge mechanism, and that the numbers of children you cited are being injured by that mechanism, then it is true that manufacturers of the products should be motivated to apply a relatively painless fix in advance of sale.

    I do not doubt that Maclaren is not alone in its knowing distribution of products that have caused injuries to children, including those wherein the dangerous aspect is entirely unnecessary to the product function. I had not had any personal experience with the company and never gave it a thought until the stroller recall. I thought “Maclaren” was a school for troubled boys. And I acknowledge that it may be true that the company’s defining quality is that, overall, they have the record for the safest baby products in the US, the world, the universe. (I really have no idea.) There wouldn’t be many choices in the stream of commerce, nor would there be many developments toward truly ideal products if every manufacturer was legally forced or morally compelled to protect people from themselves. But these heady issues are for philosophical debate on Maclaren’s day off, because they are not suggested in this situation. We are not talking about lawsuits arising over not warning users of hair dryers not to dry their hair in bed; (If you’ll excuse me for the crass label, the ‘duhhh factor’.) Here, we have a relatively easy fix, a rather ugly consequence for failure to fix, and complete foreseeability that these injuries will result even in cases with reasonably attentive, caring parents.

    That you have done your homework, and that after having done so you are a ‘Maclaren mom’ speaks highly of the company. They may be the best company we have from which to get our strollers. (Again, I do not know; I am merely acknowledging that I do not know, but it may very well be true.) And you have made me realize that when I was critical of their failure to warn, that that was likely unfair. The warning was there, on their page of ‘don’ts’. Nevertheless, the fix was there, too. They could have used it. My point was that they should have.