Sunday, September 7, 2008

Or I could just give him a stick to play with …

Another day, another toy of ours on a recall list. First up: a rattle from Habermaass that is A. wooden and B. made in Germany, so apparently geographically profiling your toys doesn’t work either. Second: a rattle from Manhattan Toy that was made in China, so, uh, maybe it does. Ironically the problem is the same in both – parts can break off, causing a choking hazard.

This comes after the recall on the lead-encased bib we brought back to the store and the recall on the Bumbo chair, because some kids discovered a chair without a safety belt is not incredibly difficult to wriggle out of. (To be fair, you're not supposed to use the chair on a raised surface. But the packaging used to be less than clear on that fact.)

So I’m supposed to, what, obsessively scan recall lists and burn my eyes out poring over every single parenting magazine on the market to make sure my kid’s toys won’t kill him? Because this information doesn’t get regular widespread exposure unless there were deaths involved. Frankly I’d rather find out about a potentially fatal object before it becomes fatal, not after.

Tempting to blame the media but I don’t think that’s the full story here. I think these recalls are considered more or less routine. Rattle is a choking hazard, stroller might collapse on you, teddy bear has a ticking bomb inside, oopsie! Call the company for a refund. Because when you discover you’ve been sold a shoddy product, don’t you want to ask the maker of that product for a different product? I’m sure there’s no way it will also be shoddy!

I think people have come to expect this sort of thing. For the life of me I can’t understand why. These aren’t display items. They aren’t collectibles. They aren’t sitting in a curio cabinet somewhere. We’re taking them out of the package and giving them to our kids. Under the apparently mistaken impression that someone, somewhere, did something resembling quality control before dropping the things on store shelves. Recalls happening at all is obnoxious; that they happen all the time is disgraceful.

My kid, of course, is fond of both of those rattles. Fortunately he hasn’t noticed their mysterious disappearance.

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