Update Monday Nov 9, 12:26 pm MST
We just got off the phone with Bahman Kia, the president of Maclaren. Kia contacted us after seeing our blog post and wanted to go over the recall.
"It is important for us to do this right," Kia told us. Given Maclaren's widely panned reaction to a 2004 problem with wheels popping off their Techno stroller, Kia told us they realized they needed to do better this time out.
Kia pointed out that Maclaren has had this same frame design for 40 years. He blamed the finger amputations on the "human factor"---users not following instructions that warn against having baby near by when opening or closing the stroller.
As you might guess, Maclaren has been inundated with calls and web site visitors since this story broke. Their web site is down as of this writing; Kia promised to look into the problem and get it back online ASAP.
Kia told us hinge covers have been sent out to retailers so their existing stock can be repaired. Kits are also being mailed this week to consumers.
Here's our take on the recall: Yes, Maclaren has sold over 1 million strollers in the past 10 years and there have been "only" 12 reports of kids who have had their fingertips amputated. So is this such a big deal?
Uh, yes, it is. First, millions of strollers are used every day without amputating kids fingers. What makes Maclaren unique is their frame design is more exposed than other stroller makers and hence those metal hinges can pose a safety hazard. When a company recalls 1 MILLION strollers, that is news . . . even if "just 12" kids have been permanently maimed. (There could be more out there that have not been reported to Maclaren).
As readers of our book know, we have recommended Maclaren strollers for many years. This is the first we have heard of finger amputations. But clearly, Maclaren has known about this for some time. While they failed to take the simple step of covering the hinges to prevent this problem is puzzling.
And while we will give Maclaren props for advance planning for this recall, it is disappointing their web site has crashed today. Yes, there would be an overwhelming number of folks who will hit their server today---but they clearly didn't plan enough bandwidth. Lesson learned, we assume.
To be fair, we should note that many strollers are dangerous to around for toddlers or babies---especially when opening or closing. While it is safe for a baby to be IN a stroller, playing near or next to a stroller is clearly not a good idea. But are some strollers (like Maclaren) more hazardous than others? When did Maclaren know its hinges posed a safety problem? And no matter how vigilant you are as a parent, others (caregivers, friends) may quickly open a Maclaren stroller with a toddler nearby . . .
This is the same debate that often develops around recalled baby products---is the design defective? Or are parents to blame?
We'll keep you posted on this recall as the situation develops.
Original post: Saturday Nov 7:
Breaking news: Maclaren plans to recall 1 million strollers---all its production between 1999 and 2009---after receiving 12 reports of hinges on the stroller that amputated children's fingertips. The company will send out a cover for the hinges to all owners.
BABY BARGAINS has learned the CPSC and Maclaren will issue a press release in the recall this Tuesday; Maclaren began notifying its dealers of the recall in the past couple of days. We have seen the letter that went out to retailers last week and can confirm the details.
Here is the take-home message until the recall is official:
• Stop using all Maclaren strollers---yes, every model made since 1999.
• When the recall goes public on Tuesday, order a hinge cover from Maclaren's web site or phone line. (Note: the web site is not live yet as of this writing).
• Wait until you install the hinge cover before using the stroller again.
We will blogging updates on this recall as it develops this week.
Update 11/09/09: We've just been sent the official press release on this from Maclaren which we are copying below. The web site is live but when we tried to access it at 12:30pm Eastern, it crashed, probably due to the volume of inquiries.
"For Immediate Release
Tricia Chan, Public Group LLC
T: 203 663 4554
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.
Maclaren Press Release
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."