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  • The Jardine crib recall is being handled poorly

    Before I get into the recall, I have to give you a little background. When Alex was 18 months old and I was seven months pregnant with Tyler, I decided to cross my fingers that Alex would continue to sleep in his crib for at least another six months and bought a new crib for Tyler. (Actually, my generous in-laws bought the new crib, just as they had bought Alex’s.) Needless to say, less than two weeks after we set up Tyler’s crib, Alex climbed out of his. But Alex’s crib converted to a toddler bed, and that’s what he’s slept in since that fateful day.

    Fast forward almost two years. A few weeks ago, I reported that Jardine had recalled over 300,000 cribs . It wasn’t until last Friday, when I was reading Freebies 4 Mom, that it finally registered that Tyler’s crib was made by Jardine.* I immediately checked the model and date codes, and realized it was part of the recall. I then completed the online submission form to receive a voucher for a new crib.

    Of course, the remedy per the CPSC press release announcing the recall states: “Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cribs and contact Jardine to receive a full credit toward the purchase of a new crib.” So we decided to get Alex a “real” bed and re-convert his bed back into a crib. It took all Sunday, but we did it. And Alex is thrilled. (Tyler, not so much. I think he was hoping to get Alex’s bed as-is.)

    Meanwhile, yesterday, I received a UPS envelope from Jardine, directing me to send them the mattress support hardware and identification label back to them in the enclosed envelope in order to receive my voucher. I couldn’t believe it. Nothing at their recall page alerted me to the need to save anything from the crib. We had dismantled the crib on Sunday, and left the final large pieces on the curb for oversize pickup yesterday morning. And while we might have saved some of the screws, we didn’t remove anything else from the crib during the dismantling process. (A copy of the letter enclosed in the UPS envelope is available on the web site, but the link leading to it simply says “review more detailed instructions.” Nothing about it alerted us to the need to keep any hardware.)

    If I actually needed the voucher now, I would be irate. Fortunately, I don’t, so I am just writing about this here to warn other Jardine owners not to act hastily if your crib is part of the recall. I can understand the company’s need to protect against fraudulent claims, but they need to inform customers who are completing the online submission form that they will need to send in parts of the crib to receive the voucher. I can’t be the only proactive parent who didn’t want to wait for a voucher.

    As a side note, the Baby Bargains Book Blog is reporting that Babies R Us will honor the voucher for online purchases, but you need to front the cost and then get reimbursed. (Read their post for more details.)

    *I never liked the Jardine crib much anyway. You could tell it was $100-200 cheaper than Alex’s crib (I can’t remember what brand it is, but I know they don’t sell the same model anymore). The rail on the Jardine never went up and down smoothly, so there was no hope of laying a sleeping baby down and then quietly sliding the rail up. The wood also came off the slats with the slightest scraping, so there were a few spots where I had accidentally scratched off some wood and paint with my engagement ring. It’s not hard to understand why the recall was for possible breakage of the slats and spindles. If I could do it over again, I definitely would have chosen a more expensive, better-made crib.

    Image credit: cpsc.gov.

    Fake coupons cost everyone

    For the last couple months, as I’ve really gotten into The Drugstore Game, I’ve been lurking on some coupon sites like A Full Cup and Hot Coupon World. They are wonderful resources, and I love finding out about deals and reading about others’ great shopping experiences. But with the good comes the bad, and for each great shopping tale, it seems there’s another tale of frustration or worse.

    If you shop with coupons, you know what I’m talking about: cashiers and managers who don’t know what the corporate coupon policy is* and even worse, employees who treat coupon users rudely. I’ve read some stunning stories about cashiers accusing customers with coupons of theft or making negative comments about coupons to other customers.

    Companies need to make a greater effort to train their employees about coupon use. I can understand why they don’t, because I don’t often see another customer with coupons (let alone a folder full of coupons) no matter where I shop – Target, CVS, Ralphs, etc. In fact, the nicest cashier at my favorite Walgreens has told me I’m his most amazing customer, even though I know someone like Mercedes could do even better. It’s not that cashiers act like they’ve never seen coupons, so I know other customers must use them. But in the big picture of corporate profits, proportionally we’re not that big a group, so catering to coupon-wielding customers isn’t that high on the priority list.

    What does get upper management’s attention is coupon fraud. Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been reading about Target’s evolving coupon policy stemming from the printable $5 off $25 toy purchase coupon that I posted over at CFO Reviews a few months ago. I noticed a month or so ago that the coupon was no longer available, so I took the sidebar link down but didn’t think much of it. Then I read that someone had altered the toy coupon to look like a general merchandise coupon, and that was where all the problems had started. Target’s powers that be have understandably ruled that the printable $5 off $25 coupons can no longer be accepted.

    Unfortunately, many Target employees don’t seem to understand the ruling and it looks like management isn’t doing a very good job explaining the limitations. I’ve read many stories of cashiers and even managers refusing to accept any printable coupons, even if they are right off the Target web site. In fact, when I was at Target last week, the cashier took my printable Archer Farms frozen pizza coupons to a supervisor to make sure she could take them. (Archer Farms is a Target store brand, and I was eventually permitted to use the coupons.)

    I just don’t get the mentality of people who would blatantly try to defraud and steal from anyone, regardless of whether it’s a person or a company. It took some serious forethought to actually alter that toy purchase coupon. Coupon fraud is becoming such a serious problem that ABC News just did a story about it.

    It’s probably not going to happen, but I hope that the person who altered that toy coupon is found and prosecuted. And I hope that the awareness of coupon fraud translates not into suspicion of coupon users but knowledge and understanding of how coupons work. That would make shopping at stores a lot more pleasant for both the cashiers and the customers.

    *Encountering employees who just don’t “get” coupons can be extremely frustrating. About two months ago at Target, the cashier flatly refused to let me stack a Target coupon with a Pampers coupon, insisting that I had to use one or the other. I would have asked her to call over a manager, but there was a line behind me, and Marc was waiting with the kids, so I just told her to take all of the items off my order. I ended up using my coupons at a different Target!

    Image credit: MarthaStewart.com.

    Good customer service from Sharebuilder

    I posted a few months ago about buying my first individual stock purchase – a tiny fraction of Berkshire Hathaway that I bought through Sharebuilder. At the time, Sharebuilder was offering a $90 bonus to Costco’s Executive level members, which we are. The bonus was actually my main motivation for buying the stock, since essentially the stock was free. The only problem was, we never got the bonus.

    Calling Sharebuilder about the bonus has been on my to-do list for a couple of weeks now, but today I finally realized I could use their online contact form so I sent them a quick email explaining the problem. Within a few hours, I had the following response:

    Thank you for contacting us about Costco cash card you never received. We have credited your account with $90, that you are free to use in any way you wish.

    I was close to writing off the $90 just because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of contacting them, but it turned out to be painless and worth the effort. I’ve withdrawn the $90 and will be using the money to fund my first Prosper loan. Stay tuned!

    Good customer service or just a sneaky ploy?

    We have a car loan on our 2003 Nissan Altima (its 1.9% interest rate has had us paying the minimum so that we can pay off my student loans, which have a higher interest rate). In yesterday’s mail, we received a “Payment Extension Offer” from Nissan, which stated that they know we might be experiencing a financial hardship due to the “recent disaster” (presumably the wildfires) in our area and giving us the option of deferring the next payment due “to the month following your last scheduled payment.”

    My first thought was, “Oh, that’s nice for the people who need that.” My second thought was, “My goodness, look at the extra interest they’re going to charge people who take advantage of this offer!” Because the form stated in smaller (but not hidden) print that “interest will accrue on the extended payment.”

    And in composing this post, I realized that not only were the fires nowhere near us (in terms of real danger), Nissan ought to know that by looking at our zip code. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose that someone who lives in our area could have been financially impacted by the wildfires either through damage to investment property or by losing a job when their workplace was destroyed. But the combination of the interest that would accrue and the broadness of the offer makes me suspect that Nissan’s motives are more profit-driven than altruistic.

    Anyone disagree?

    Some Useful Info About Graco

    When my first son was born, my in-laws purchased a Graco Pack N Play for us to use at their house. From the start, the middle fold in the mattress never lay flat and there was always a bump down the center of the playard. I never did anything about it because our son hardly ever used the Pack N Play, so it wasn’t a big deal.

    When our second son was born, however, we brought the Pack N Play to our house to use in our bedroom and he began spending a lot more time in it. The fact that the mattress doesn’t lay flat has always bothered me but I finally decided to do something about it because our son can roll over and I’m afraid he’ll get stuck in the gap at the ends of the Pack N Play that results from the mattress being raised in the center.

    I started with the replacement parts page on the Graco website. There didn’t appear to be any playard mattresses available, so I used the contact form to explain my situation and ask how I could obtain a new mattress. It turns out that if you enter the info requested at the right on the replacement parts page, the parts available for that specific item will appear.

    I was pleased that I got a quick response and was able to order a new mattress. I was less pleased that there was no attempt to address the actual problem with the mattress itself. I explained in my email that this was a problem that had existed from the start, so a company with five-star customer service would have wanted to know more and perhaps even sent me a new mattress and asked for the old one so they could examine it. And if the Pack N Play were new, that’s what I would have expected and would have asked for. However, because the mattress is two years old, I feel I’ve waived my right to complain. All in all, I think Graco’s customer service is good, but not great (assuming the mattress arrives promptly and is the right one, etc. – I’ll let you know).

    Thumbs Up to Medela Customer Service

    I mentioned a few days ago that I’ve been having trouble with the rubber plug on my Medela Pump In Style Advanced and that Medela was sending me a new faceplate. Well, the faceplate arrived yesterday and it was very easy to replace the old one.

    The faceplate was apparently redesigned around the time that I bought my pump (which was purchased in early 2005), and it is in fact slightly but significantly different. There no longer two holes for the rubber plug when you are pumping both breasts. Instead, the part of the plug that you use when pumping only one breast just hangs. It seems to eliminate the potential for the problem I was having with the old faceplate. And, most importantly, I used my pump this morning and it worked great. So I give a big thumbs up to Medela’s customer service.