We pulled 10 recently tested umbrella strollers out of our warehouse for inspection. First we looked at the side hinges on the recalled Maclaren strollers to see how children could get their fingers entrapped as the strollers were being unfolded. Using a piece of Slim Jim, that ubiquitous stick of mystery meat, we saw how small fingers could get caught and crushed -- or worse have the tips sliced off -- by the hinges as a stroller is snapped into position.
But the Maclaren wasn’t the only manufacturer to use that type of hinge design. Most of the other umbrella strollers we inspected have similar hinges. As the photos here show.
Although we weren't able to inspect all the umbrella strollers in our Ratings, among the various brands we did see were a range of risks, some worse than others. We found one stroller in the batch of 10 that had a hinge design that would prevent a finger from being entrapped.
Because they are designed to fold, all umbrella strollers have some level of hazard from pinch points to scissoring components. That’s why it’s critically important to keep children well away from strollers as they are being set up or put away.
We asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission why only the Maclaren strollers had been recalled when so many others posed similar hazards. We were told that Maclaren was singled out because of the number and severity of the injuries seen with this brand. However, the CPSC said it is currently investigating other umbrella stroller brands. Could more stroller recalls be on the horizon?
ASTM-International, the group that sets safety standard for industry to follow, responded quickly to this newly identified hazard. The current voluntary stroller safety standard does not address hazards associated with folding or unfolding the strollers. It only covers safety issues that may be present when the stroller is set up, or in ASTM parlance, in the "manufacturer's recommended use position." But an ASTM task group is now looking into the problem and may identify solutions in the future. Maclaren’s solution is to provide a zippered fabric hinge cover that will prevent a child’s fingers from getting in harm’s way. (A solution we plan to evaluate.)
After the recall, there was an outcry in other countries that Maclaren had recalled the stroller only in the U.S. Health Canada, the Canadian government’s safety agency, followed the lead of our CPSC several days later by recalling the Maclaren strollers. But the agency said that, when used according to the manufacturer's instructions, the strollers are safe and comply with Canadian stroller regulations. Maclaren did not recall the strollers in Europe, where a lower number of incidents have been reported.
Last week, Maclaren summarized the steps it was taking. They impressed us as a good measure of corporate responsibility. The company says it has:
- Provided all U.S. retailers that sell Maclaren products with hinge-cover kits to fulfill on-site requests so consumers don’t have to wait to receive the fix-it kits in the mail.
- Announced that any parent or care giver who owns a Maclaren stroller can receive the hinge-cover kit, no matter where they live in the world.
- Shipped all new strollers with hinge-cover kits.
- Committed to offer its hinge-cover design to all stroller manufacturers and waive the company's rights to patent protection.
This is stupidity at its highest. As stated: "The current voluntary stroller safety standard does not address hazards associated with folding or unfolding the strollers. It only covers safety issues that may be present when the stroller is set up,..."
There is a reason for that - the kids should in no way be able to get their hands into it while the parent is setting it up. If they can, there are other issues at play.
Guess what, most tables have corners. If I kid falls just right he might poke out his eye. I guess all furniture should be round, and made out of foam.
This situation is beyond ridiculous. We have a McLaren stroller, and like people with an ounce of sense, KNOW that our kid should not be anywhere around it when we are setting it up, or putting it away.
Be aware the if you purchase a Maclaren from Babies R Us, the hinge covers are not included in the box. You need to make sure they have them available before you purchase it.
I purchased a Maclaren stroller last year. The stroller colapsed while my baby was in the stroller. The clip did not make full contact when opened, however, it appeared to be open correctly.
When the stroller colapsed my baby suffered a very bad injury which required a week in the hospital. When I tried to contact customer service I was never able to speak to anyone. I left several messages but never heard back from Maclaren.
I was able to get a phone number for the CT office from the store I purchased the stroller from. Again I tried several times with no success (more messages no response).
Finally I was connected to a man named Ted. I tried to explain what my situation & he stopped me. He told me it wasn't his job to listen to or answer questions from "consumers" he only spoke to "Major Customers".
I asked for a name and he said there is no one I could speak to, I had to leave a message with customer service. I told him I had tried that and he told me that was my only option. I asked if I could leave my name & number - he said "he didn't have a pen handy!" Then he abruptly told to return the stroller and hung up!
These people are nasty. I would never recommend Maclaren to anyone, they are non-responsive and have awful employees. I'm going to see a product liability attorney, maybe they will talk with a lawyer.