Fake Prada bags, fake Gucci glasses, fake Rolex watches, fake...baby carriers?
Yep, they're out there. There are fake Ergos, Becos and even Freehand mei tais. But should we be concerned? I mean, they work exactly the same, don't they? The buckles will stay locked, the straps will still tie. It'll work just fine!
Except, we don't really know that. We don't know if counterfeit carriers are safe or "just fine." They may look almost exactly like the real thing, but they aren't held to the same standards. The materials may be sub-par or they may have traces of unsafe chemicals left on them. We know that real Ergo carriers are tested for the safety of carrying children; we can't say that about the knock-offs. So in cases like these, isn't it better to err on the side of caution?
Yes, you can get fake carriers for cheap! A counterfeit Ergo may run only $40 while a real one runs over $100. But at what PRICE? It's more than just money; could the price be your child's health? Supporting illegal operations?
Let's talk ethics. Ergo created a popular design. It is theirs; they worked hard on creating it and they own it. You buy a knock-off carrier because you like the way the Ergo looks, but you aren't paying homage to them; it's actually a bit disrespectful. The people who deserve to be paid aren't being paid. Instead, you're giving money to design thieves!
But maybe you don't care and you're going to buy a fake Ergo carrier through a co-op anyways. You're just going to use it for yourself and you're smart enough to make this decision for you and your baby, yes? But what about the other people participating? Do you trust them to do the "right thing" with their carriers? Can you be sure that they aren't going to illegally resell them under the guise of them being real? You can't. And by taking on a "we're only responsible for ourselves and our own actions" stance, you are ignoring that this exact situation happens all the time. I've seen mothers in online groups, lamenting that they bought an Ergo off of Craigslist, only to find out it was fake.
There's also always the chance that your carrier won't even make it out of customs. Customs has the right to seize counterfeit merchandise. They're even cracking down online. Just last year, Denver Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized over 15 websites that were selling fake baby carriers!
So how can you avoid buying a fake carrier? Well, while eBay is a great place to buy HSA (highly sought after) wraps, it's notorious for having fake Ergos, Becos and Freehands (the latter of which is labeled "Minizone"). You know what they say, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are buying in person, ask for the original purchase receipt, if possible. If you have any reason to suspect that yours is fake, don't hesitate to contact Ergo with the serial number. If you bought a counterfeit one on accident from a secondhand store, ask for a refund. It was illegal for them to sell it to you.
I accept that we are all adults and we each make our decisions based on what we consider risk factors. However, as a group, our stance is that, for a variety of reasons, people should absolutely avoid buying and using counterfeit baby carriers.
**This post was written by Paula R.