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The Inspiration for the See Shell Baby Carrier
Salior : The Inspiration for the See Shell Baby Carrier
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Introducing a NEW section on Baby See Shell!
Products for Mom!

Parenting Journals Editor´s Choice

Business ETHICS & Baby Safety

With all the talk of recent poor ethics in business, you'd think I'd be over my naive outlook. You'd think with my 38 years, I would be a little less shockable. However, I recently discovered some big business practices that shocked me.

I know that I have a more utopian view of the world. I have accepted that many businesses don't think like I do. But when I recently discovered how many large businesses completely disrespect their customers, and in a dangerous manner, I was shocked. And more than a bit angry. I was nauseated.

Like many business owners, I belong to several groups & lists where we small business folks network about everything from where to find supplies, how to promote on a shoe string, how to keep your chin up in the first few non-profit years, and many other things. One day, a simple post to a list changed my views regarding business ethics from a grudging respect of their market share (despite my thoughts on how they do things) to complete disgust.

A fellow list member inquired how another's product testing had gone. And the member with the new product, an infant carrier, replied that it had gone very well for her, but not well for parents everywhere...

Sharon Abendschoen, the maker of the new carrier, had asked the product testing company not only if her product had passed, but how it measured up with other companies. Was her product 'average?' (Could she even hope to hear that her product was the best?!) What she heard not only angered her, but many of us on the list.

The basic response, after much shuffling on the testing company's employee (who was obviously upset by both what he had to report, as well as how he would be held accountable for his comments), was that no other companies do the testing.

Yes, you read that right. The other companies don't do the testing!

Now, yes, they do have to comply with safety standards for crash testing, and these are mostly done 'in house' (if you can believe that!) but none of the manufactures have the products tested for real world for performance!

Things like handles on the carriers, do they fall off? Do they pinch? Do the handles harm infants? (Oh, and yes they do, see the recall lists!) The normal wear & tear of a product, as it undergoes daily use, is never tested.

Why? Because these large companies would rather trust their teams of lawyers & count on their deep pockets, rather than pay for the testing. Ugh.

For myself as a mother who has used many of these products, I was sickened by this news. I had a hard time even believing it. I just couldn't accept that any company who sold products to families would simply not care about the product's safety. So I had to do a little research...

I wish I could report that I found the above information was wrong... Unfortunately, I found that this was true -- and much worse!

I contacted E. Marla Felcher, author of "It's No Accident : How Corporations Sell Dangerous Baby Products" and while she is now working on her government research of airline safety, she spoke with me at length about her disheartening research on baby products.

It seems that not only do these companies not test, but once the public numbers of accidents & deaths start to roll in, these companies do everything possible to cover it up, silence the news & even go so far as to paint the parents & victims as the culprits!

Says Felcher "Basically, these companies are not loyal to the consumers they state they 'serve', they are only in search of satisfying their board of directors in search of dollars." She went on to say that while she as a researcher cannot sponsor any product or manufacturer, she was delighted to hear that Sharon had her product tested. "It is unfortunate that the smaller companies have to take the hardest financial 'hit' to have the products undergo the testing, in some cases just to avoid the lawsuits, while the larger companies, who have the funds & hold the largest market-share skip it. It is these same small companies who will also have the hardest time in marketing, and even letting consumers know they do have safer products."

Felcher then explained to me how these large companies abuse the system that is designed to protect children & families.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is designed to follow reports of accidents & deaths as they pertain to product safety. With various means of collecting the information, including a toll-free hotline & gathering data from emergency rooms etc., the CPSC fields 100's of reports a week. From the reports, they try to take legal action, including product recalls. Not easy work when your agency is up against such deep pockets fighting to prevent any responsibility.

These companies stand up in court and blame the parents for the deaths & injuries, claiming it was the way the products were used. That the company had no way of knowing the products would be used in such manner. If they had participated in product testing they would have! (And how far of a reach is it to expect that a parent would put a child to sleep in a portable crib, carry an infant carrier by the handle, or that the movable handle could hit an infant in the head?!)

Even once the CPSC manages to get a product recall, the companies continue to abuse the system.

Since the law requires that both the CPSC & the manufacture have to put out a joint press release both sides must agree with what is written before it is released. So the companies of course, drag their feet, limit the language to sound harmless, and do their best to make it a meaningless piece of paper. Waiting longer does not give the CPSC any more power or ability to get an accurate press release written. Obviously, in their need to get whatever word out they can, the CPSC has to let the watered-down version go out.

And still the companies work to silence the release.

While manufacturers make use of their vast resources and marketing abilities to reach consumers to sell products, they actively counter-act the same efforts to tell consumers that the same products could be deadly. The CPSC is underfunded, understaffed, and buffeted by political forces, so it depends too heavily on the news media to warn consumers. But the media, receiving such bland press releases, often does not see the 'news' in the release, and let's it go unreported.

Even when the products make a recall list, that list is so little utilized by parents who think 'If the product is for sale, it must be safe.' And with 100s of products added to the recall lists each year, the lists are rarely utilized. Even by those people & organizations who are entrusted to know it.

Here is a story that illustrates the situation, and is what led Felcher to investigate. It is a sad story, a horrible one. One that most parents dread to even read.

But I urge you to do so.

Like Felcher, you may wish you knew before hand. Maybe it would have made the difference for Daniel, the son of one of Felcher's friends.

Seventeen month old Daniel Keysar died at babysitter's home when his portable crib collapsed, strangling him. All were convinced it was a freak accident, as just eight days before the state child welfare workers had inspected and approved the babysitter's daycare center.

Then, the day before Danny's funeral, they learned that the crib that killed Danny had killed 3 others, and had been recalled five years earlier by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Grieving family now had to cope with the loss of their dear son, and grapple with the reality that his death could have been avoided.

Daniel died as a result of the baby product recall system abuse.

Abuse that continues, despite the efforts of Felcher's book, and the organization that Daniel's parents started, in loving memory of their son.

For additional information on the valiant efforts undertaken by the KIDS team on behalf of child safety, visit this page: http://www.kidsindanger.org/news.htm

How can companies who sell consumers on the very aspect of safely do this? How can these people who make up the companies sleep at night? I would dare say that behavior like this goes past abuse of a system, to murder or manslaughter. What else do you call hiding the dangers of your products therefore allowing death to occur?

With all the talk of business ethics, what about plain old common sense & care for the human condition? Shouldn't a company that sells products to families, under the key points of safety no less, be held accountable to some human standard of decency?

Sharon Abendschoen thinks so. Grandmother first, and maker of the See Shell Baby Carrier second, she believes in more than the bottom line of her company -- she believes in the bottom line of her soul.

This Mommy, Auntie, and consumer agrees. Untopian? Maybe. But it's also just plain right.

By Deanna Ferber
GlamKitty, LLC

 


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The See Shell Story was published in the York Daily Record [ Click Here ]


 

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See Shell Baby Carrier Patent No. D434232
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