Couple duped by fake baby products

SAM BOYER
Last updated 09:47 08/10/2012
Jonathan O'Riordan Ergobaby
MAARTEN HOLL/Dominion Post
DUPED: Jonathan O'Riordan with a fake Ergobaby carrier he mistakenly bought from a scam website.

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A Wellington couple expecting their first child have been duped into buying dodgy baby equipment by an internet company selling counterfeit products.

Jonathan O'Riordan, 36, and partner Zoe, 30, recently purchased what they thought was a genuine Ergobaby baby carrier from a website calling itself an authorised third-party vendor.

But the website, www.ergobabynewzealand.com - as well as similar site www.ergobabynz.com - appears to be selling knock-offs, and the official Australasian distributor lists the websites as counterfeit.

Mrs O'Riordan, who is expecting her baby in February, said she felt ''silly'' being fooled by the website, which came up as the first entry in a Google search.

''It's a product that's been recommended to me by a few different people and I kind of just searched by name because I knew what I wanted.

''I feel really stupid and naive because I assumed nobody would be that horrible.

''I felt silly and taken advantage of.''

The product they ordered arrived late but appeared genuine, except it was delivered wrapped in plastic rather than in an Ergobaby box, Mr O'Riordan said.

When it failed to turn up on time, he did some research and found the product to be a sham

''I'm quite angry. It's a real danger. It's one thing selling [fake] cigarettes... but a counterfeit safety product for a baby is another thing.

''They are using and abusing the trust of parents who want to buy this [genuine] product,'' Mr O'Riordan said.

He was told by the official supplier in Australia that another person had also complained recently, after the strap of their baby carrier broke with their baby inside.

''If a baby falls ... it could hit its head. It's potentially fatal. I would have put my baby at risk when I put them in the carrier.''

On the official website the carriers cost $175.

The counterfeit site advertised them for $89.99.

On the advice of the official Australasian dealer, Mr O'Riordan cancelled his credit card and is hoping to recoup his costs through his insurance.

A spokeswoman at Ergobaby's head office in Hawaii told Fairfax there were dozens of websites internationally doing the same thing.

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''Every day we get calls saying, 'Our baby carrier is falling apart.' And we find out we didn't produce it. We hear it every single day, all day long.

''I think it's just the most popular carrier at this time - it's the newest, latest and greatest - and that's the problem.''

She said the company had closed down a dozen factories in China but others just popped up in their place.

Both the Hawaiian head office and the official Australasian supplier confirmed the website visited by the O'Riordans was fake.

Louisa Currie, director of Belly Beyond, a New Zealand Ergobaby retailer, said she had received about 10 calls from other Kiwis stung by the scam.

Allanah Kalafatelis, from the Commerce Commission, said while it was illegal to sell counterfeit products in New Zealand, it was up to the company to protect their intellectual property.

Customs spokeswoman Helen Keyes said companies were able to lodge border protection notices to protect their trademarks, but Ergobaby had not done so.

- The Dominion Post

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