Babies “R” Us Sells Defective Cribs, Won’t Refund or Exchange

Babies "R" Us sells defective, dangerous products. Do not shop there.

A little over two years ago, we bought a fairly expensive crib from Babies “R” Us, a Jardine Olympia model in black that cost over $400. It fit our decor nicely and we’ve had no real problems with it, other than some dings in the finish.

With baby number two due in a few weeks, we’ve moved that crib out of Katie’s room and setting up a nursery. It turns out that there was a government-ordered recall on our crib back in April 2009 and warned that “Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.”

Apparently, “CPSC has received 31 incident reports of slats breaking, including two reports of children becoming entrapped in the gap created by the broken slat on the crib models identified below. In 10 of these incidents, consumers reported that their child broke the slat while in the crib. There was one report of minor injuries (bumps and abrasions.)”

The company, whose line of cribs have pretty much all been recalled and is all but out of business, is offering a crib worth half what we paid and that doesn’t match the furniture. So, my wife contacted Babies “R” Us, which was the primary retailer of said cribs, asking if we could get an exchange or store credit.

In a word, no:

Thank you for contacting the “R” Us family.

We apologize that you’re not receiving a voucher from Jardine for your recalled crib. We regret to inform you that, as the manufacturer has offered a replacement or resolution for the recall, we are unable to assist you further or provide any compensation. Also, as the crib will be coming directly from the manufacturer, and was not purchased at a Babies “R” Us store, we are unable to accept a return or an exchange for the new crib. We recommend contacting Jardine directly, and they may be able to assist you further. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you, and we look forward to serving you in the future.

This, incidentally, would appear to violate Babies “R” Us policy:

5. If I purchased a recalled product at Toys”R”Us or Babies”R”Us, can I return that product to the store and receive a refund or store credit?

Customers who wish to return recalled products to a Toys”R”Us or Babies”R”Us store will be accommodated. If you have a receipt for the recalled product, you will receive an immediate refund in the form of cash, credit or store credit based on the tender used in the original transaction. There are some exceptions to this policy, so be sure to check with your local store for more details.

6. What if I don’t have a receipt or proof that I purchased the recalled product at a Toys”R”Us or Babies”R”Us store?We have a “no quibble” policy when it comes to recalls. This means Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us will take back recalled products sold at a Toys”R”Us or Babies”R”Us store at any point during the recall period. No receipt or proof of purchase is necessary to return a recalled product to one of our stores. If you do not have a receipt, you will receive a store credit for the lowest sale price of the product within the last 30 days.  There are some exclusions to this policy, so check your local store for more details.

We’re apparently not alone.  The Consumerist wrote about the problem (“Jardine Crib Recall Program Tells Customers To Screw Themselves“) way back in May 2009. Apparently Phil Villarreal was in the same situation.

Oddly, the CPSC’s blog says, of a different crib recall last May, “You do not need a receipt to return a recalled crib to the retailer. The recalled cribs were sold at Walmart, Target, Babies R Us and other stores nationwide. Contact the store where the crib was purchased to receive a refund, replacement crib or store credit.”

So, they’ve made a handsome profit selling defective baby cribs and won’t stand behind the product that they sell. Which means thousands of their customers are left with cribs that their kids can’t sleep in, which are illegal to sell, and their only remedy is to accept an inferior crib or screw off.

We’ll be contacting the CPSC to see if there’s further recourse. Regardless, however, we’ve made our last purchases from Babies “R” Us, Toys “R” Us, or any other store with quotation marks or reversed letters in their name.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. assi9 says:

    Boo hoo…the letter states you need to contact the manufacture for repair. If your car has a recall they don’t cut you a friggin check. They offer to fix it. That is what the company does. Did you even contact the manufacturer?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yes, we contacted the manufacturer. As the post states rather clearly, they’re not offering to repair the crib. They’re offering an inferior substitute.

    If I buy a Lexus and it’s recalled, they don’t replace it with a Hyundai.

  3. Franklin says:

    Congrats on your soon-to-be 2nd arrival!

  4. Of course the remedy for a defective product is against the manufacturer, not the retailer. However, given the image the BRU has tried to cultivate over the years one would think they wouldn’t be quite so cavalier about their customers getting screwed over. They’re under no legal obligation here but in an era where a company’s reputation can be impacted by one bad customer service experience that goes viral, perhaps they need to think this over.

  5. assi9 says:

    Better solution. Take the crib to babies r us return counter on a busy weekend, refuse to leave until refund is in hand. Tell everyone that brand is dangerous. I can only assume a refund would be quick to follow. It is amazing how much power a $10 shift manager can wield when under pressure. 😀

  6. anjin-san says:

    Kind of makes you glad there are tax supported government agencies that help us look out for the welfare of one’s family…

  7. anjin,

    The CPSC did it’s job here but there is nothing it can do when the manufacturer basically goes bankrupt (nor should there be)

  8. LadyLogician says:

    James – your story strikes an eerie sense of deja vu. You see a similar recall happened when I was pregnant with the Junior Logician 17 years ago and people ran into the same problems with the manufacturer and BRU. I never did buy much for the Junior Logician at an R Us store as a result. What little I did get there (diapers and onsies) were purchased on gift cards that were purchased for us and was always for things that were less likely to be recalled and dangerous.

    LL

  9. jwest says:

    How many stories like this do we need to hear before the people rise up against the Big Crib Industrial Complex? Why doesn’t Barack Obama name a Crib Czar or create a cabinet level position for a Secretary of Cribs?

    Until the jackboot of crib manufacturers is removed from the neck of child producers, tyranny will rain.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Franklin: Thanks!

    @Doug: It’s pretty customary, though, for the retailer to serve as the intermediary on these things and to take the hit otherwise.

    @assi9: It’s a possibility!

    @LadyLogician: The combination of outsourcing manufacturing of these things to cut-rate countries and very stringent recall policies puts them in a tight spot. Almost all cribs wind up getting recalled!

    @jwest: We don’t live in the 18th Century, where we all make our own crap or buy from Uncle Joe’s General Store. We’re dealing with giant conglomerates who import their goods from China.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    To follow up on Doug’s comment, it’s the manufacturer who is ultimately responsible for the defective product, the retailor isn’t in a better position to know about any defects or conduct investigative testing. The manufacturer also has the ability to procure product recall insurance. Perhaps, an enlightened retailor would require manufacturerers to procure such insurance coverage.

    (Though with the number of recalls of cribs, I would be surprised if this was very expensive or difficult to procure for that particular product)

  12. jwest says:

    “We’re dealing with giant conglomerates who import their goods from China”

    In this case, it appears that Jardine people are handling the situation quite responsibly. With previously recalled cribs, they are taking back nearly 500,000 units. Most are years old, they haven’t caused any serious injury and the company is still willing to replace the crib with a different (although lesser value) crib with shipping at their expense.

    This certainly seems like a company going above and beyond what is reasonable or expected.

    One alternative (if you like the crib you have) is to go to Lowe’s and purchase $20 worth of wood for thicker slats.

  13. Drew says:

    James –

    First, congrats on bambino #2.

    We all feel wronged when we get a product not to our satisfaction, whether it be a crib, or a cold sandwich or regular vs diet coke at the drive through. But 31 incidinces, only one with “minor injuries,” out of what must be a tremendous number of sales doesn’t seem apocolyptic. Perfection is not a real world concept.

    Setting aside that we don’t really know the truth behind those 31 incidinces – there’s almost always more to the story – the company is paying what amounts to the death penalty. They are going out of business. Despite anjin’s waxing poetic about government regulation, the regulators neither prevented the problem, nor are they offering you satisfaction. Two tits on a bull if you ask m.

    The market is working: you are voting your wallet. All is as it should be. Perfection is a goal, but rarely achieved.

  14. James Joyner says:

    @jwest and @drew:

    The recall puts us in a precarious situation. Knowing only that there were 31 “instances” and that the most severe injuries are ridiculously minor, I’m fairly comfortable with the risk. But, with a government-ordered recall, we’re much more hesitant. And we’re legally enjoined from selling the crib and recouping a fraction of our money.

  15. jwest says:

    James,

    Just think of the value you received by being able to purchase a crib for $400 instead of the Ralph Lauren Collection crib at $1200. Of course, the higher priced crib was built in a factory 3 doors down from the one you have, but they probably used the slat supplier.

    The only reason that Ralph Lauren cribs aren’t being recalled is that they probably only sold 20,000 units instead of a half million. So the one day the slat supplier dropped off 40 or 50 defective slats out of the millions they supplied, only Jardine received them.

    Or, perhaps all the slats were fine but the few that broke were the result of the older brother jumping up and down in the crib until a crack developed. Who knows?

    Use the pioneer spirit of Sarah Palin, roll up those sleeves and fix the crib you have.

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Cribs tend to be one of the biggest rip offs in the baby biz, for how much you might be tempted to spend against how long the infant will outgrow it.

    Since I’m past this stage by a few years, my natural inclination is to say that in my children’s day, they rested on shards of lead-based glass, and it made them tougher. But seriously, I”m pretty sure that our crib, which I have disassembled in the basement is probably not considered safe anymore. Didn’t they pretty much throw out all of the drop down cribs that parents loved back in the aughts?

  17. Now you know how Texas cheerleaders feel when confronted with an organization that should morally want to help them but is under no legal obligation to do so and doesn’t care.

    Babies R’Us should send you a bill to cover the costs they had answering all your frivilous phone calls.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Your are so right Drew, when it comes to product safety, we should simply rely on the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council. Those cats are all about the free market, and the free market is like a herd of magic ponies. I would not hesitate to trust them with my child’s life…

  19. anjin-san, master of the false dichotomy. Either their is absolute government regulation or the Wild West. Got it.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Charles,

    Please show where I have ever advocated “absolute government regulation” or anything remotely close.

  21. My apologies anjin-san, I mean, Dr. Pangloss.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Well Charles, It was a beautiful day in California, and the Giants just picked up their 5th walk-off win this year. I do live in the best of all possible worlds 🙂

  23. pcbedamned says:

    It still amazes me to this day how any of us Gen Xer’s and older ever made it to adulthood – what with all that lead paint we ingested while gumming and chewing the sides of our cribs…

    @PD – I concur. Especially when I think back to when my youngest was wee and figured out how to escape his bondage by one year of age {little bugger was walking by 6 months – the crib/cage didn’t stand a chance of confining his wily ways}. A sturdy bed was a Much Better investment.

    @James – Congrats on your pending arrival !!!!

  24. Drew says:

    anjin –

    I’m simply pointing out that perspective is needed. I don’t know if jwest’s citation of 500,000 units sold is data, but I bet its directionally corect. One known case of minor injuries just simply isn’t a cause for turning summersaults. If you feel it is I’d like to hear your regulatory proposal for 6 ton cars built like tanks and a 10 mile per hour speed limit so we can eliminate all risk of injury from auto accidents.