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Today's Rant

1. Borax is toxic--is it safe for laundry? Borax is an ingredient in skin creams. (sodium borate) According to the material data safety sheet, it is toxic/fatal if ingested. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs much of what is on it. If borax is dissolved in hot water, and well-diluted, it may be safer than laundry detergents, which have more potent chemicals. However, check your skin care product labels--if sodium borate (borax) is on the label, discard it!

2. Flawed studies! A study by the University of Alberta says that for children who eat fast food more than twice a week, the beneficial effects of being breastfed as an infant are reversed, and the incidence of asthma is increased. The news report did not mention whether the study took into account other socio-economic factors that might be involved, such as hectic lifestyle, or a general lack of healthy practices such as nutrition and exercise.

Metro Lite Stroller Hazard
D.B.
Kitchener, Ontario

We purchased a Graco Metrolite stroller on April 4th, 2003, and were quite
confident in it - as we trusted the Graco name. We decided on the Metrolite simply because my wife is < 5 ft tall and weighs < 110lbs - the metrolite stroller itself weighs approx 15 lbs.

Soon after, we noticed that opening it up and breaking it down took a bit of an effort. i.e. when opening it up we really had to force it until we heard 2 clicks. Closing it we had to push both buttons and jiggle the rest of the unit to unlock it.

For some reason we just passed this off as being a characteristic of the stroller, even thinking that it is a good thing it locks so hard into place. We really didn't use it alot,
maybe 15 times throughout the year.
I guess, subconsciously, it was just more convenient for me to carry Derek in my arms or in his car seat than go through the hassle of opening and closing the stroller.

In Mid-March 2004, however, we were going to watch a hockey game at a local arena and decided the stroller would be the most comfortable arrangement. I opened the stroller up (as usual, forcing down and waiting for 2 clicks) and set 9 month old Derek inside and buckled him in.

I was wearing a very light nylon jacket at the time and had a thick wallet inside one of the pockets, making it uncomfortable for me. So, I turned for not even a second, and opened my car door to leave the wallet in the glove box, when I suddenly heard screams coming from my son.

The stroller had collapsed forward, Derek was obviouly trapped inside and his head was against the pavement. He had a bump and scratches on his forehead the size of an egg, and the crying didn't stop for a good 5 hours after we had returned from the hospital.

When we had returned home I opened and closed the stroller a few times and the force and jiggling actions to set it or unlock it now required a lot of extra strength. Much more than a mother weighing 105lbs could handle.

The next day, we were able to obtain a full refund from Sears, who really weren't too concerned with testing the stroller themselves for defects. They had assured me, however, that all defective items are returned to the supplier.

A few days later, I wrote Graco/Elfe a polite letter, and expressed my disappointment and concerns with the product. I kindly asked that Graco/ Elfe management address the issue personally and advise me on their investigation.

After a few weeks went by, I recieved an email from a Joanne Thibault from Elfe, who asked for more information. She gave me a 1-800 number to call, yet everytime I called I was put on hold for over 20 minutes. I requested a call from her, thinking it should be them that are concerned with their product injuring children. I am doing a service to THEM.

The phone never rang, and despite about 20 attempts at getting through on the 1-800 line, I was still where I was a month previously.

Finally, after stating that I was fed up with the service, and ready to take the issue to alternative sources, Ms. Thibault started to respond via email. After some humming and hawing, the blame was put on me, for not maintaining the stroller in good condition. This information was apparently obtained when Ms. Thibault contacted the rep at Sears, who again, hadn't paid any attention at all to my demonstrations of the defects while returning it.

I was utterly insulted. We had done everything in our power to keep the stroller nice and clean and in the best possible condition. We don't just buy something and throw it around. Our child's safety is of the utmost importance to us, as it should be to any parent.

Finally, Ms. Thibault informed me that an investigation couldn't be done on the stroller, as no one, including Sears, knew where it was. I was told, again in an email, that the case was closed and forwarded on to the Legal department.

Unsatisfied with this result, and explanation, I demanded that Ms. Thibault provide me with a superiors' contact info, and the contact info of the legal department. I haven't heard boo from them in 2 weeks, I have not been able to reach Ms. Thibault by any means of communication.

I, a parent and consumer, am not reassured that Gracos' products are safe. I am still concerned, scared, even terrified, that other innocent babies will be injured and that other parents will be treated with the same arrogant behaviour that I have experienced.

All I want, is for Graco/ Elfe to write a formal letter to me saying "We are very sorry, we are going to take a good hard look at this product and make darn sure it is safe, before we let another one out the shipping door into the consumers hands." I also want to speak personally with Ms. Thibault's boss and suggest that they adopt a more sensitive attitude when dealing with disgruntled consumers. Finally, I would like to know why this stroller was lost and why an investigation wasn't performed.

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If you have had a similar experience with this stroller, please e-mail to tell us about it. We'd like the word to get out to other parents about the problem.