November 9, 2009

Macopalypse 2009: The Maclaren Recall Press Release

Just got a press release from Maclaren's publicists reaffirming the company's "unwavering commitment to child safety," their "Zero Tolerance policy of safety issues," and that their "umbrella strollers meet all U.S. ASTM & JPMA compliance standards." Oh, also, they're recalling all their umbrella strollers because of at least 12 fingertip amputations.

The full text is after the jump:

Voluntary Recall Announced by Maclaren USA

HIGHLY REGARDED FOR SAFETY, MACLAREN VOLUNTARILY PROVIDES CHILD PROOF SOLUTION FOR ITS STROLLERS SOLD IN THE U.S.

(South Norwalk, CT-- November 9, 2009) Consistent with Maclaren USA's unwavering commitment to child safety, we are providing U.S. consumers notice of a voluntary recall of all Maclaren umbrella strollers sold in the U.S. In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Maclaren is providing free of charge to all affected consumers and retailers a kit to cover the elbow joint on the umbrella stroller's side hinge mechanism which can pose a potential finger hazard to a child when the operator is opening or closing the umbrella stroller.

Safety is Maclaren's first priority and through this voluntary effort we urge consumers to contact us immediately to obtain the kit which consists of hinge covers designed specifically to fit all Maclaren umbrella strollers. These easy to fit hinge covers will insure proper precautions are taken by the operator to avoid injury when opening or closing the umbrella stroller.

This voluntary recall does not relate to U.S. standards not being met. Maclaren umbrella strollers meet all U.S. ASTM & JPMA compliance standards. These certifications guarantee Maclaren umbrella strollers meet the required maximum safety standards. Maclaren umbrella strollers have served as the benchmark for quality for umbrella strollers and have maintained outstanding records for safety along with durability for over 40 years.

To obtain the hinge covers consumers can visit our website at

www.maclaren.us/recall or contact us toll-free at 877-688-2326 between the hours of 9am - 5pm Eastern Time. Maclaren U.S.A. stresses all operators read the instruction manual prior to use which contains valuable safety tips and service recommendations.

Since 1967, Maclaren has engineered its strollers to specifically exceed global standards for safety, reliability and durability. Nothing carries the Maclaren name until it is researched, tried and tested. Maclaren's formal compulsory Zero Tolerance policy of safety issues is built upon the provenance when you buy something for your baby excellence is the least you expect.


Important Safety Tips from Maclaren

Always read the operating instructions before use--don't force the mechanisms--stop and check the instructions.

Keep children clear of the stroller during opening and folding.

Never leave your child unattended in a stroller - even with the harness fastened.

Always use the safety harness.

Don't overload the stroller. Heavy items hanging from the handles can cause the stroller to topple over.

13 Comments

It's unfortunate for the few mishaps here, but goodness, don't the parents know not to continue opening a stroller if their kids finger is in the way? And can't the kids be taught not to stick their fingers in there? Isn't there a possibility for your kids to do all sorts of damage to themselves if you don't teach him right from wrong (like oh say...drink the draino from the storage cabinet)....

And why is it just Maclaren? Last time I checked all strollers were made pretty much the same way.

Let's face it...accidents happen! What's next, a recall on dog food becuase your kid can't differentiate between that and his bowl of Cheerios...

i still stand by all three of my maclaren strollers! they are the safest and sturdiest strollers around! don't you make sure your childs hands and feet are inside the car before you slam the door shut? hang up your cell phones, turn off your blackberries, put down your starbucks - simply be aware and cautious parents!

it hasn't been 24h yet, and already I'm kind of tired of the smugness that seems to be the default reaction to this recall, and to lots of reports of child safety. Are the teen rednecks who get drunk and pass out while their pet ferret runs loose and eats off their newborn's toes irresponsible losers? Yes.

Are Maclarens suddenly a mortal threat to the safety of American Children? No. The type of injury and the number of incidents--which obviously didn't all happen this summer--almost certainly shows that the company knew for years--decades--that it was at least possible for a kid to get their finger hurt in any number of spots on their strollers. What happened was 12 sad accidents which, over the course of 10 years and a million customers, doesn't exactly sound like evidence of a generation of oblivious, tuned-out parents.

It's only a matter of time before all the other stroller manufacturers are forced to follow suit. As Mel says, they're all constructed the same way. Kudos to Maclaren for getting out ahead of this. And btw your kid's fingers should be nowhere near that hinge until it is fully locked in place. Don't put him/her into the stroller until it is open! I chalk this up in the "unfortunate and avoidable hazards of everyday life" category.

As a product designer in a different part of the industry, I can say with confidence that I would have shut down production and redesigned the hinge the very first time I heard that a kid lost a finger. You have to be damn near psychopathic to let this happen a dozen times before you decide to address it. As for this "voluntary" recall business- what really happened in all likelihood is that the CPSC called and said, "Hey, we're going to recall your strollers unless you do it first." I would also ask why the CPSC let this go for so long, unless Maclaren hasn't been forwarding their injury reports as they are supposed to do. And it also points out the general uselessness of the JPMA standards.

I really don't understand this whole "let it go to the last minute" attitude, even from a strict corporatist Ford Pinto cost-benefit perspective. They've got a hugely expensive recall on their hands now, probably a bunch of lawsuits, and they've turned Maclaren into a synonym for "finger amputation." It would have been far less costly to fix this a decade ago.

Why does everybody have such extreme reactions to this?

"Maclaren hates kids' fingers. And puppies."

"Parents are so irresponsible these days. How dare they remove the child's straight-jacket and leash and allow the child to come within three yards of the stroller prior to re-reading all the warnings in the stroller manual and triple-checking that the stroller is fully open and all hinges are locked in place."

Geez, people. Order yourselves a hinge guard and get on with your lives.

Hear hear. Or just say in the house until the kid's bubblewrap jumpsuit and protective helmet arrive.

Is it the side of the MacLaren's, or is it the metal rear part of the MacLaren's? I never liked the metal parts of the rear of the stroller, and figured that is where the amputation danger lurks.

It is the side/front hinge, see youtube video on it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR46uNouAjk
every umbrella stroller has a similar mechanism

Surely all strollers with this kind of hinge are potentially dangerous in this way - not just Maclaren? So kudos to them for being the first to step forward and think of a way around it. Having said that, it's just common sense that your child's fingers should be nowhere near the hinges when it's being opened or shut - just like a cardoor! The backlash on other websites seems totally out of proportion to the problem..

I am with totally with Scott. You guys need to put down the pom poms. I am also from the industry and fact of the matter is it happened well over 10 times in 10 years. It is not a laceration we are talking about, it is an amputation. So, that means there is an opening that is wide enough to accommodate a finger, an edge that is too sharp and where there is too much leverage. There may have been lax or archaic testing requirements that overlook the user error, but that is also why there is the requirement for an enormous warning label to be fixed to the back of every stroller. Not everyone is as bright as the people who read this site, and for a luxury brand with a savvy consumer, you need to be all over these PR disasters not caught finger pointing with your pants down. Designers need to account for the negligence and Maclaren is one of the few stroller brands with an in-house design team. So what is to be said of their poorly handling the recall? Their site couldn't handle the capacity after the recall was leaked and their first reaction was to say that every stroller has the same flaw. Sure, where are those lawsuits and why are they being applauded for an internal leak? Also, bear in mind the recall is for the US only. What about the rest of the world who get the same product with the same shortcomings? I guess just not as litigious?

The way I understand it, there was a relatively recent increase in amputations, or of the company receiving reports of amputations. Recent=five years or so.

But why would that be? It's not like the design changed or they vastly expanded their sales, is it?

Maybe there was actually a recent increase in *lawsuits* over amputations. Whichever, something triggered a change in the way the company dealt with the pinching hinge issue, i.e., they started dealing with it instead of dismissing it as user error.

As for their failure to handle the recall, I just don't see it. A website going down for a couple of hours is really not that big a deal, and treating it like a massive corporate dodging of responsibility ignores the reality of the recall itself. Kids will not face any more threat from the hinge if their parents have to visit a website two whole times to get through.

From what I read, there have been amputations and knowledge of the danger for 10 years. Given negligent parents now have someone else to blame, there will likely be an increase in new cases being reported. Some of these kids are now in junior high and it would be hard to prove an old injury was sustained by the stroller.
One person needs an expensive lawyer and to prove it is not user error. Several people coming together for a high exposure class action suit will usually prompt some hungry lawyer to go at it pro bono. Maclaren didn't decide that the 12th kid was too much. They carefully weighted the collateral damage of being pushed into the spotlight when the record of injuries was leaked. Ultimately for Maclaren the only thing that is important at this point is that their consumers, current and future, view their actions as proactive and responsible. I think that it was miles from well executed. I am in Canada and they don't even have a plan in effect. It is as if the recall didn't happen. I would like to see the reports where other strollers pose a similar risk before it is written off as CPSC issue. That is just my opinion.

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