November 12, 2009

Macopalypse 2009 2004! Or, How Not To Sell A Stroller

So we're starting to fill in some of the dates on the timeline for Maclaren's Global War On Future Concert Pianists. When I spoke to Maclaren USA chairman Bahman Kia, he said the amputating hinge issue came to the company's attention "a couple of years ago," which is also when Maclaren's engineers began working on a redesign for the hinge, and took a comprehensive look at any other potential injury spots on the strollers [Did you know that folding thing on the back is actually called "the music stand" and not, as I would've guessed, "the foot guillotine"?] Now it seems that "a couple" means, oh, five, give or take.

Hit-the-ground-running dadblogger Jeremy Olshan reports that Maclaren actually received reports of little amputations as far back as 2004. A 23-mo old Connecticut toddler named Carlos DeWinter lost his right pinky in what has to go down as one of the worst shopping days ever:

His mother, Jane DeWinter, was shopping for a Maclaren Triumph stroller at a Right Start shop near her Greenwich home, and she was testing the one-handed folding and unfolding mechanism.

As she was about to lock the stroller into the open position, Carlos put his finger on the hinge, and he suffered a "traumatic amputation," the court papers said.

Two unsuccessful reattachment surgeries later, DeWinter sued Maclaren and The Right Start, and eventually settled [no word on the details, like whether they got the free upgrade to the Techno XT.] Olshan found court documents from 2007 showing each side charging the other with negligence. He also raises the issue of when or if Maclaren notified the CPSC about the injuries involving their products, as required by law.

It's not clear what number DeWinter's amputation was, but since the company clearly viewed hinge-related injuries as a parent/pusher/operator responsibility--they've been selling the same basic design unaltered for 40 years, after all--I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually hear about some 9-fingered 9-year-olds with college already paid for.

Maclaren defect went unfixed for 5 years [dad on arrival @ nypost]

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