A Tale of Three Things; Two that have Failed Me and One that I have failed:
So remember two months ago when I bought those Chicco hanging seats (or, to be technical, Chicco Hippo Hook-on Chairs?) And everyone was happy because we could all eat at the table together and I could help Caroline and Edward feed themselves without contorting into unbearable positions and the space around our table became miraculously uncluttered?
[Exhibits A and B]
Yeah, well that lasted just over sixty days. On Monday Edward was sitting in his Chicco Hippo hanging seat and decided that he wanted something juuuuust out of his reach. So he leaned forward, hoiked up his knees and did a little bottom wiggle and... huzzah! He was on top of the dining room table.
[Exhibit C, a re-enactment. note: Edward is theoretically secured in this photo]
I was startled to turn around and see Edward acting as a centerpiece and I thought, yikes, we need to tighten that lap belt on him. So we did. This is when we discovered that it is designed such that there is actually no way to tighten the three-point harness so an active or even semi-active child cannot escape.
Caroline watched him like a bright-eyed sparrow, looked at her own belt, and proceeded to shimmy out of it, sylph that she is.
So we had two children on the table.
Damn it. We just spent $100 on seats that were functional for a mere two months. I thought about it and concluded that a lap belt should offer more than a suggestion that the child should remain seated and I called the Babies R Us store from whence I bought them. My hope was that I could return them because they are dangerous and useless and then I could buy something else that is safe and useful.
The Babies R Us store person listened and then said they would be happy to accept the return provided that the seats were unused, repackaged in their original packaging material and accompanied by the original sales receipt. Oh, did I say they listened? Maybe not. She then told me that I can call the manufacturer and maybe they can help. Or if there is a formal recall, you know, when more children than just mine wiggle out and maybe fall and gash their heads and break their arms, THEN they will take them back.
I called Chicco. I explained that I had used the seats for two months and that both of my nineteen month old twins had recently figured out how to escape the seats and that there was no way to secure the belt to prevent this.
[this is when I got annoyed and decided to write this post]
"The three point harness is only intended for use while the parent is in the room and within view of the child."
It was the WAY she said.
My response, like Milhouse the night watchman, "Of course I was watching. First he started to fall over; then he fell over."
What? They think I cannot run a meth lab and feed my kids breakfast at the same time? The nerve.
As I type this I realize that I am not quite enough in the right to justify a refund. As she said, the lap belt only works as well as it works. And despite the fact that it is advertised for use between the ages of 6 months and three years, the unwritten caveat is that these ages only apply to preternaturally still children. So Chicco told me to go fuck myself as did Babies R Us corporate who I called next (and who could have done something. I worked corporate retail. we were insanely powerful. even as a grocery buyer in Chicago I was permitted under federal law to have people killed, if I so chose - getting a shabby product returned would have been a mere bagatelle; something I would do as I flossed with the bones of my P&G rep) suggested ditto (provided I had my original packaging to do so.)
So I have ordered different hanging seats with a five-point harness from Amazon (will advise as to efficacy) and in the meantime I have to sit in between Caroline and Edward as they eat, shoving them back into their seats every five seconds with a firm, "No standing. On your bottom please."
I really resent this.
My online product review now goes something like: Chicco Hippo Hanging Chairs are great unless you do not want your baby to sustain a concussion.
If you were considering getting these seats I would strongly advise against it. Or any Chicco product for that matter. I mean, what if something goes wrong with it? I can personally attest to their unwillingness to provide recourse.
In delightful contrast, let me tell you about Playskool Hasbro.
Caroline, as I mentioned, developed a passionate devotion to the Playskool Made for Me mp3 player. She carried it everywhere, listening to the music and dancing (or smirking, as illustrated here)
A week ago the mp3 plug-in part stopped working. I think it has a short in it because sometimes it plays and sometimes it does not. When it does not there is much sorrow.
I bought the thing in December for Edward's birthday present and, although it is not that old, I admit that it has been taking a daily beating from two toddlers. So I think it is reasonable that a wire might have loosened. In fact, I do not think the product was intended for use under eighteen months, although I might be making that up and I do not feel like looking right now. Anyway, my point is that I was disappointed that it was no longer functioning properly but I was willing to consider that the fault was ours.
Regardless, I emailed Hasbro and explained when we bought it and that a part was broken and asked if there was anything they could do. Within three days I received an email back. They apologized for the problem and said unfortunately they have discontinued this item (a real shame, I think, and I note that they are now selling for $40 online - you might want to consider it.) However, they said, they mailed an item of equal value to us and hoped that it would help ease our sense of loss. Or something like that. I have not gotten the package yet (I am very interested to see what we get) but WOW.
One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just isn't the same.
I have no idea where I read that nonstick cookware is not intended for extended use but I did. Something about the nonstick part turning toxic or breaking down on something. I read this aloud to Steve (whatever it was) and we said, huh, we might need new pans since ours are at least ten years old and look like they were used during the Battle of Hastings to hit the Saxons.
Then Steve had some sort of psychic break on Monday. In the morning I reached for a pan that was sitting on the stove top and then recoiled like I had been burned. Because I had been burned. Because Steve had made himself some sort of fried egg and wild mushroom thing for breakfast and then returned the empty pan to a still lit burner where it sat smoldering away for at least an hour. Uh, DANGER.
What the hell, Steve, I asked.
Oh, sorry! he said
Later that same day we were eating lunch and I said, "Do you smell something burning?"
Steve looked stricken and ran over to the stove where he had yet again left an empty pan over an open flame. Same pan. My ten inch nonstick saute pan is now deader than dead.
So two questions:
Do you have a good skillet recommendation? Something affordable, please, as we are in reduced circumstances this summer and I just had to buy two more freaking seats for the twinkles.
What's your worst customer service experience? I feel like continuing to burn with self-righteous indignation and my Chicco ire will only get me so far.
PS I will shortly be posting a caprese salad recipe over at Scrambled that I think is pretty good. With a twist! Get your tomatoes ready.