The Problem with Counterfeits

SO…

I wrote this a few weeks ago and never got it finished.  Today I heard of another co-op trying to bring “fake” Ergo’s into the US and figured it was time to get this post moving.  It’s time to talk about the counterfeit carriers out there.

If you’re here hoping to see a picture of yours to confirm it’s authenticity, you won’t find it here.  No pictures, no proclamations of fake versus real.  Because the fakes keep changing.  And we’d hate for a hopeful mama to continue to use a counterfeit carrier because it didn’t look like the “fake” we had in our area.

If you’ve just started using baby carriers and are just learning about how these tools can help your daily life, this might be new news to you.  Most of the babywearing community is aware that there are “fake” carriers out there.  

Ergo is working diligently to slow down the counterfeiters. They have new logos, new boxes, and labeling that you may have already seen (along with some other changes).  

I had the opportunity to talk to an Ergo representative at the recent International Babywearing Conference for 2012 held in Washington D.C., a little over a month ago.  Let me tell you, she cares.  Cares about the company, cares about the carriers, and cares about the babies worn in those carriers.

A WORD OF CAUTION

If a deal sounds too good to be true… it probably is.

Counterfeiters are smart, and getting smarter by the day.  Even the Ergo customer service tech I spoke to recently said it can be REALLY REALLY hard to spot some of the counterfeits. So please, for brands with known counterfeiting… buy from someone authorized (email the company to ask if their website doesn’t say), do your research, or ask for proof of authenticity or sale.  Or ask whoever you buy a used one from for proof it’s authentic.  A receipt from the retailer, etc.

Our group is aware of counterfeit carriers made to resemble/ replicate/ copy/ pretend to be Ergo, Beco, and Freehand.  There may be more out there, but those are the ones we are aware of.  Each of those websites has more information on the counterfeit issue.

 

A SAD DAY

It’s truly a sad day for us when we hear of another fake coming through our area. Sad for the mama, who had hopes of a high resale to get something else.  Sad for anyone else who was considering purchasing it.  When we know better, we do better.  That’s why sifting through the confusing and misleading information is so important.  So we can all be a little more aware for tomorrow.

We’ve heard about local co-ops selling fake carriers… knowingly.  We REALLY hope that if you ever see that you DO SOMETHING to help stop the cycle.

 

SO WHAT??

So now let’s get into the “why is that a problem anyway?”.  So what, isn’t it good enough?

Yes, they *may* be safe.  They *may* be super well constructed.  They may not though.  They have not been tested.  Not for metals.   Not for safety.  Not to make sure buckles don’t bust. Not to make sure nylon webbing doesn’t slip.  The counterfeiters copied/stole a company that DOES make good carriers.

Counterfeiting baby carriers is so bad on so many levels.  It makes people leery.  It HURTS those WAHM businesses WAHD businesses (because let’s face it, that’s where most of those carriers we love started off).  It makes it even harder for current WAHM/WAHD businesses to STAY in business.  It hurts resale values.  It hurts the babywearing community as a whole.

Do all mamas who make their own DIY carriers for themselves go through this testing?  Valid question, and no I’m guessing when someone local makes herself a ring sling she doesn’t do the steps above.  But she puts love and care into making them.  Choosing good quality materials to do so.  Making sure she is comfortable enough that she wants to put her own kids in there.

Babywearing International of Chicagoland doesn’t allow sales of counterfeit carriers.  We love to support each other, and do encourage local sales.  But we don’t support counterfeiters.  And we also keep an eye on local craigslist ads to make sure we don’t see them there either (and when we do we try and contact either the person or craigslist to have the listing removed).  If someone KNOWINGLY sells a counterfeit carrier, they will not continue to be part of our group.

 

FINAL THOUGHT

Here’s a final thought (from a local member) on how counterfeiting is harmful, and what you can do if you see/hear about a counterfeit carrier:

Whether the carriers are safe or unsafe is a moot point.   Counterfeiting is stealing someone else’s intellectual property.  Instead of working to create your own thing, you are just copying what someone else already made to try to benefit from their hard work.  Morals aside, though, it’s illegal.  ICE and Homeland Security have started seizing websites known to be selling counterfeit Ergos and going after them.  But those counterfeiters in a foreign country are out of the reach of our government; however, US citizens who import the goods are not.  I would be wary as a coop organizer—then you’re technically selling counterfeit goods!  Ergo is a known brand and does not discount much; if they do, it’s clearly marked on their own website.  Buy from a store that is linked on their store locator and if the price is very different from msrp, be wary and do research.  People can see how this hurts consumers as well, who then want to sell their carriers and resale is hurt because proving your carrier is authentic has become an issue due to the counterfeits out there.  You can file a report if you see what you believe is counterfeit merchandise being offered for sale on the internet as well.  You file an online report and it will go into a queue for investigation by the US government.

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Mundelein’s February Meeting

Mundelein’s morning meeting was alot of fun!  We had alot of new moms with us as well as older members of our group. 

Two of our members: Alisa on the left wearing her son Dominic in a Natibaby Fairytales. And Cassia on the right wearing her daughter Vida in a Natibaby Organic Ecru

We went over the various types of carriers that are used. There are 5 main types of carriers mei tais, ring slings, wraps, pouches and SSCs (soft structured carrier). Within all of these categories are many different brands and types.

Ring Slings: a piece of fabric with rings sewn on one end. Primarily worn on front or side/hip. Can be used for a nursing cover or blanket. Can be worn from newborn on up through toddlerhood.
Popular brands: Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, Sleeping Baby Production

Pouch: a sized tube of fabric. Primarily worn on front or side/hip. Daddy friendly, no fuss, quick and easy, small for diaper bag. These need to be sized, so most likely will need two different ones to fit mom and dad.
Popular brands: Hotsling, Peanut Shell

Mei Tai: rectangular body with two pairs of straps to tie; one for the waist and another over the shoulders
can be worn front, back or side/hip.
Popular brands: Catbird Baby, Kozy, Babyhawk, Freehand

Soft Structured Carrier (SSC): like a mei tai but with buckle style straps. Can be worn front, back and side/hip. Low learning curve
daddy friendly, no fuss, quick and easy
Popular brands: Ergo, Pikkolo, Action Baby Carrier, Beco, Olives & Applesauce

Wraps: a simple piece of cloth that wraps around the wearer to hold the baby. Worn in several carries in front, back and hip. This type has the highest learning curve but is the most versatile.
There are 2 types of wraps; stretchy(4 way stretch) and woven(diagonal give, most supportive)
Popular stretchy brands: Sleepywrap, Anaju and the Moby
Popular woven brands: Didymos, Natibaby, Ellevill, Storchenwiege

 Another very useful website is www.thebabywearer.com. It  can be like information overload at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to navigate.