Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to spot a fake Ergo (ERGObaby carrier)

Let me tell you a story about a Chinese reseller who tried to scam me...

I am bringing little (almost) 7mo old L on my European Adventure in 3 weeks.  In lieu of dragging a stroller and car seat with me, I decided I would wear him.  Because he is such a chubba, I decided to purchase an Ergo carrier since they are much better for you ergonomically (see what they did there?  haha).  Everywhere I looked they were $120+.  I am a cheapo, so I scoured the interwebz for deals, and came upon, who had the one I wanted listed for $103.  Now, during my search, I stumbled upon THIS.  I knew about "too good to be true" deals, but I didn't think $17 was "too good to be true", I simply thought I was buying last year's model or whatever.  I did some more research anyways, and decided to take my chances.

They weren't kidding when they said, "PURCHASE ERGOS ONLY FROM AUTHORIZED SELLERS!"

I am a photographer by trade, so when I opened the box, I saw something perhaps others wouldn't notice: the images on the front of the box had awful skintones!  Not to mean the people had bad skin, but the photograph was a tinge too green to me, and was something I would never submit to a client.  Not to mention the dpi was really low, so the images were either enlarged from a small image, or the printer was a crappy one.  BUT the text was clear, so I thought, "maybe they're just a small company that didn't spring for a good photographer?".  Wouldn't be the first I've ever seen!

I opened the box to find a carrier neatly wrapped in one of those plastic cello bags.
I thought, "Okay, this looks legit.  It's not, like, thrown in all wonky or anything!"

I inspected the carrier meticulously, and everything I found was barely questionable.  I never would have thought twice, had I not stumbled upon the above article!  There were tiny little things I didn't like, and each little thing I discovered put another straw on the camel's back.  Finally, the straw that broke the camel's back was that I found the tiniest row of stitching that didn't end in a backstitch.  I decided I was going to return it.  I didn't think ANY part of a child-carrier should have the slightest bit of defect, and boy am I glad I thought this way!

I immediately went to Target (an authorized seller) and purchased the same sling (*sniff* - goodbye, good deal!).  I IMMEDIATELY noticed the difference!  Let me show you what I found...

First, the box.  To put it in perspective, this woman's face is about the size of my thumb.  I took it up close so you could see how slight the discrepancies are.
On the left is the fake, on the right is the real one.  As you can see, the details are lost (in the dark spots) because the printing is shoddy on the fake.  This was my first tipoff, but to someone who doesn't spend day in and day out looking at pictures, it may have slid by easily, because like I said, the text was clear!  In fact, my non-photographer husband is reading this over my shoulder and said, "what's the difference in these pictures? I don't see it."  Plus, not many people will have 2 Ergos in hand to compare, lol.

This is what I found when opening the boxes.  On the bottom, the fake, in a cello bag.  I refolded it, that's why it's all wonky.  It was really neat when I first opened it.  But notice something?  The real one has a card in the pocket!  It's the warranty/recall registration card!  I never would have noticed it NOT being there  unless I knew it was SUPPOSED to be there.  Another little detail that could be easily overlooked.

These are the manuals.  Taken in the same light with the same camera.  See how the one on the right (FAKE) looks almost old?  Or washed out?  And the left (real) is crystal clear?  It's hard to notice if you don't have something to compare it to, or unless you're familiar with what acceptable print quality is.

Here are the two side by side.  The one on the right is the fake.  See how yellow it is?  When I first saw it, it looked perfectly gray!  When you have something to compare it to, it looks very yellow, almost beige.

This is another thing that almost got me.  Everything I saw said fakes don't have the two language warning on the belt portion.  Well guess what, this one did.  On the belt potion, in the exact right place.  The detail that got me was how blurry the letters were.  They were all legible, but they were fuzzy, like it was printed from a scan or on a bleed-able fabric, which was the case here.  The fake (top) was printed on a fabric that was smooth, almost satiny.  The bottom (real) was printed on a crinkly almost paper-like fabric (like a scratchy t-shirt tag) which made the letters crystal clear.  No fuzzy edges.

The seatbelt webbing was very different.  It was hard to tell without being able to compare the two.  It's not like the fake was obvious or crappy.  It was just different.  This is the two seatbelt webbings with the same amount of pressure.  As you can see, the one on the right (fake) is a lot flimsier than the one on the left (real).  When you handle it, it's very obvious.  The fake one will flop around if you wiggle it.  The real one is stiff and wont flop.

This is the part of the carrier that goes against your tummy/chest.  The left is the real one, and the right is the fake.  Other than the obvious color difference, there is a random trapezoidal stitch through the square on the fake one.

On the other article I read, they kept mentioning the thickness of the straps.  They kept saying the real one has nice thick straps and the fake has thin ones.  When I got the fake, I thought it was thick!  I had no basis of comparison!  Let me elaborate on the other article.  The fake is thin and floppy, and the real one is thick enough to stand taut.  I'm showing here the comparison against my pinky.  So you get an idea, my wedding ring is a size 5.  So my pinky is probably a size 4.  If you look at the left (real) you can see that the strap is more than twice the size of my pinky.  The fakey (right) is barely larger than my finger.

Look at these straps.  The left (fake) isn't even straight!  The snaps are not centered on the stitching.  Such tiny little differences, but when you have the two to compare, it seems so obvious!  The real one (on the right) is all perfectly centered to each other and on the stitching, and the straps are perfectly straight.

 The last few pictures are perhaps the biggest flags.  The stitching!!  The fake Ergo had ALMOST perfect stitching.  ALMOST.  The errors were so small, I doubted that it was fake until I had the real one to compare it to!  First, the thread was a hair lighter than the fabric.  The thread on the REAL ergo is EXACTLY the same color.

This is the fake, notice how the stitching on the left of the pocket is so much closer to the edge than the stitching on the right.  

The stitching across the center of the image, you can see, it's not perfectly straight.  It is ever so slightly not straight on the edge.

This is where the chest portion attaches to the belt.  As you can see, there's a tiny but of stitching that's peeking through the seam.  That is NOT okay!  That could turn into a hole, and that could injure your baby!
This is an example of how easily your child can be hurt. The bottom is the real one, triple stitched.  The top one is the fake, and two rows of stitching fell out when I pulled on the strap!  

This is where the stitching fell out of the under side of the fake strep.

This is the real Ergo.  First, notice the thread color is so close, you can barely see it!  Second, notice how PERFECT the stitching is.  100% perfect.  No errors whatsoever.  If you see any stitching errors, you are dealing with a fake!  These are all machine guided, the lines are perfect.  Fakes are hand guided, which leads to errors or imperfect lines.

As tempting as it may be to save a few bucks, remember that the safety of your baby is not worth that $17 bucks!  The Ergos are safety tested!  The fakes are not!

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