Wednesday, 2 July 2014

If it's not Safe for Children, is it still Child Friendly?

When we went to the BBC Good Food Show Summer last month, we came across what we thought a fun and clever children product (that's our understanding from what we saw) - Ladybird Crumbs Collector from Crumbs Away Ltd. They showed images and videos of children having fun collecting bits and bobs from the floor using it. They also had a demo unit and we all had a go. It collected all the crumbs and pieces in no time. With children who drops crumbs every time they eat, this is like Godsend to me. 

We didn't buy it at the show, but every time I had to clean up after the kids, I thought of the ladybird. Abby is 6 now and has started to become more and more independent. The ladybird will be perfect for her to clean up after herself and her brother. Eventually I gave in and bought one, and I ended up wishing I didn't.

Within 2 minutes of her first use, the ladybird has managed to scrape off a thick layer of skin off Abby's finger. Thankfully, it was just a small injury, but obtaining it was painful enough to put her off from using it again. Upon close inspection, I found that, although the brush was fairly soft, there are sharp, hard plastic edges around the brush at the base:

Sharp, rough corners
They got their crumb collector design right, but they haven't bothered to dull the edges. Even if this is an adults only product, we might get hurt as well, although we wouldn't be as bothered by it. In fact, I'd probably trim the edges down myself. But we are talking about a supposedly child friendly product aiming for children to use, which was their unique selling point, widely advertised by them at the Baby Show, on their website, on their YouTube video (mentioning that "it's child friendly and even a 1 year old can use it"), eBay as well as their own packaging and leaflets. 

Initially I wasn't very sure what we wanted, so I asked for everything - a refund, an injury/ emotional compensation in any form (a sincere apology directly to Abby would be lovely) and a sign that the company (distributor and/ or manufacturer) wants to do something about it to improve their product quality to make it as child friendly as they have advertised. 

I admit that my email wasn't very friendly and probably a bit demanding, but I don't think we deserve the following response. After all, their product has caused my child injury and distress, so I would expect them to be more apologetic.

Surely the point is not how Abby has managed to injure herself (I don't know, maybe she is really so stupid that she gets hurt with a product that "even a 1 year old can use"), but the fact that she was hurt by their product?

After some thinking, I decided that money isn't really the issue here. I decided not to return the crumb collector to get a refund as 

1. comparing to Abby's tears and pain and my feeling of guilt from buying it for her, £10.99 is nothing
2. to proof that I'm not making a big fuss just to get £10.99 back
3. I want to keep the evidence just in case

I'm quite annoyed that they didn't feel the need to apologise to a 6 years old though. No matter how she managed to hurt herself, she did get hurt, so surely she deserves an apology? It's lucky that Abby is a cheerful girl and she doesn't hold grudges.

The thing that I want to push further, however, is that Crumbs Away Ltd and the manufacturer should do something about this. I would expect them to investigate my complain and see whether there is a need for quality improvement. If they can improve, they can live up to their "Child Friendly" selling point and I'm more than happy to buy an improved model myself. But if they can't, then surely they should stop advertising it as Child Friendly, and stop misleading us into thinking that it's a children's play thing?

I've taken further actions somewhere else, hopefully I'll hear from them soon.

Update 2nd July 2014:
I forgot to mention that, I asked them who their manufacturer is as I'd like to contact them regarding this incident, hoping that they'll show more interest in this. The Crumbs Away Ltd Business Development Director advised me that she can't tell me who it is, but she has forwarded the complaint to them.