Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Counterfeit carriers - buyer beware!

The range of baby carriers available has expanded a great deal over the last 10 years or so. Unfortunately, as carriers become part of the mainstream, some unscrupulous people are trying to cash in by making illegal copies of popular carriers. These copies are a problem as there is no guarantee of workmanship, materials or quality control. You trust your baby carrier to safely support your baby and it's also something that they're likely to chew on. With a fake you just have no idea what you're getting -  whether they used safe dyes, whether the stitching is appropriate etc, etc. These counterfeiters are sneaky and use the original marketing material from the proper carrier manufacturers (without permission), so what you think you're buying could look completely different when it turns up. Proper carrier manufacturers have put time and money into their testing and marketing, which of course is reflected in the price of the carrier. Yes, genuine carriers can be expensive but I know what I'd choose to use with my children. Carrier manufacturers are working hard to shut down the counterfeit trade but with all this talk of fakes it can seem a bit overwhelming if you're in the market for a new carrier and don't want to get ripped off. So here's some tips to help you ensure you end up with the genuine article.

  • The most copied carrier is the ErgoBaby, followed by the FreeHand mei tai (the fakes are labelled as Minizone but use all the FreeHand stock photos). Manducas have avoided being copied so far.
  • If buying a new carrier, make sure you go through an authorised stockist. This is especially important in the case of ErgoBaby carriers. Babes in Arms is Australasian distributor and has a list of authorised Ergo stockists on their website They also have a list of known counterfeit sites. The counterfeit sites look legitimate on first glance but then you realise the English is not right and the prices are too low. 
  • If buying second hand through somewhere like Trademe, ask the seller where they purchased it from. If they can't tell you, I'd give it a miss. If there's a new Ergo on Trademe, check the sellers other listings to see if they're selling other ones. If so, they'll be fakes as Ergo won't allow second parties to sell via auction sites. Same goes for eBay and ones sold directly by Amazon (authorised Ergo sellers who sell via Amazon are fine though). 
  • If the price of a carrier seems to good to be true, it probably is. 
  • There's been a few small businesses here recently selling cheap mei tais (around the $40 mark). The photos for these have been the same as the Minizone ones which are the fake FreeHands. Again avoid. This review says why
  • Other tips here and
If you're unsure about the origins of your own carrier and worried it might be a fake, there are a few sites with some things to check:

However, some older versions of the Ergo may take some or all of the boxes for being a fake despite having been purchased from an authorised retailer. This is because early counterfeits went off previous Ergo versions. Ergo then updated their design to try and stem the fakes. Pre 2007 ones are less likely to be fakes. These sites have some info on the matter
If you're unsure of the origins, though, and your one meets the criteria for being a fake, I'd err on the side of it being fake. 

It's a real shame that these fakes have created so much confusion around what should be a simple purchase. Hopefully ErgoBaby and other carrier manufacturers will be able to get on top of the countereits in the future. In the meantime, we hope this has helped out anyone planning to buy a carrier.