Local Manufacturer of Baby Products Appealed Latest Recall For Two Years After First Incident

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–An importer of baby products delayed its most recent recall for over two years, according to an operations employee at the company.

Dream On Me Inc. felt obligated to take part in a lengthy dispute and appeal process with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), which issued the March 3, recall of 13,000 Dream On Me "2-in-1 Bassinet to Cradles."

According to the CPSC release, the bassinets pose a “risk that infants can fall out or become entrapped and suffocate.”

“Dream on Me received one incident of the wire frame support bracket failing and the fabric portion of the bassinet collapsing while an infant was asleep in the cradle. No injuries have been reported,” states the release.

The company, a family business based in South Plainfield, has a history of recalls. However, it says that it stands behind its products.

“Anybody is obligated to appeal any recall if they feel their product has been compliant,” said Terresa Singh, the operations employee at Dream On Me.

“We are obligated to dispute it, obligated to re-test it… to get a specialists to look at the item," Singh told New Brunswick Today in a phone interview. "It takes a while. I mean, we tested it to standard.  We meet the standard.”

No recall happens the same way, and they are voluntary, a CPSC spokeswoman told NB Today.

The CPSC pointed out that, if a company does not agree to a recall, then a civil penalty could be imposed, with the fine being determined by each incident involving the product.

"Usually we urge companies to just voluntarily recall, so it doesn't become a bigger situation or someone gets hurt," the spokesperson said.

Singh did note that the bassinet recall was voluntary.

But she said: “We agreed to the recall because, at the end of the day, we’d rather conduct it than not conduct it. The main priority is safety.”

Asked why the process took so long, Singh said, “It depends, if you sell 20,000 units and you have one complaint, how can you determine that one complaint is because of manufacturer defects?"

Singh said that all of the many factors have to be weighed in making a decision whether or not to do a recall.

"So they have to be weighed and it’s all up to the CPSC when and where and how a recall is posted," she said.

“There is a section in CPSC that they can pose a recall for a hazard; even if it’s not written in the standard to be tested.”

Singh says her company never had any communication with the consumer who initiated the CPSC incident report in early 2013. She added that the company “discontinued” the five recalled models with numbers: 439-A, 439-B, 439-G, 439-P and 439-W.

The model number is found on the removable law-tag, located underneath the mattress pad.

“There was no injury, sir. There was just a report to us, it was reported to the CPSC and they informed us of that… We have no complaints in-house or from other retailers,” Singh told NB Today.

“[The consumer] stated that they used it, and the side support came out 22 times; and they never contacted us pertaining to that or anything else.”

“The 439 was discontinued upon notification from the CPSC that there is a hazard,” said Singh. “We have no reason to lie about that, because they [CPSC] have that as public record.”

Still, the CPSC release states that the recalled model was sold "from May 2012 to October 2014 for about $60." Yet Dream On Me sold the flawed bassinet for well over a year and one-half after learning of the incident in 2013.

Dream On Me is offering a free repair kit but does not yet have it on-hand. The company is waiting for a shipment from China-based Shanghaid Daafu Baby, the manufacturer of its bassinets and other products.

Singh said the Chinese company is providing the repair kit at its own cost.

While the CPSC recall instructs consumers to “contact the company to obtain a free repair,” it should be noted that the consumer is responsible for installing the part at home, once they request and receive the free repair kit.

“We have not sent out any repair kits pertaining to the [model number] #439 as yet, because we are still working out information with the CPSC,” said Singh.

“We have to finalize everything pertaining to that recall with the CPSC, and as they were informed that we should have the shipment by the end of this month. The repair kit is not available just yet.”

Dream on Me has a recall hotline and can be contacted toll-free at (877) 201-4317, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

A customer service employee described the repair kit to NB Today: “It’s just a stick with a – I’m not sure how to describe this item – a metal spring with a type of fabric on it that’s supposed to secure it from not going down the bassinet, keeping it firm.”

“It’s supposed to go around the bassinet itself,” he said.

“It is an older model," said Singh.. "We don’t actually have a model of the 439 currently in production. We will not be bringing that concept back either.” 

“The way that the bassinet is built – a customer has option of removing the fabric," Singh told NB Today. "If it’s not put back correctly – if a customer tried to put it back together and they don’t put it [on] correctly there is a way that it could slip out – the brackets can slip out, and its basically a support bar that connects to the baseboard underneath the bassinet.”

NB Today was told by customer service that a newer bassinet model, the #440, already includes the part needed to prevent the canopy from collapsing. 

“The structure of the item is completely different. The look of the item is the same,” Singh pointed out, referring to the #440. 

But the customer service employee said: “I have here that the 439 and the 440 are the same, they just seem to come in different colors. [The 439] should be the same as the 440; that’s what I have here in my file,” he said, adding that the manual was marked #339/#440.

Model #440 looks like the recalled model; it's available at several online retailers including: Wayfair, Walmart, and Toys R Us, while at least one online seller has removed both models from its website.

A local Dream On Me dealer, Jack's Famous Furniture, located at 1007 Livingston Avenue in North Brunswick, had model #440 on display in a section of the showroom devoted to baby furniture. Aproximately 30 other pieces were being shown. They included: strollers, playpens, changing tables, and cribs.

Outside the  furniture store hangs a banner above the main double doors that reads: “Jack’s Baby Dreams Furniture.”

However, owner Jack Mamroud told NB Today he was selling-off the Dream On Me Items at half-price and getting out of the baby furniture business.

“I’m closing the children’s store. It didn’t do good,” he said on March 14.

Days earlier, on March 9, a salesperson told a customer that they had both the #440 and #439-W, one of the recalled models, available for sale, apparently unaware of the recent recall.

Dream On Me’s website includes a warning not to sell the recalled items: “Please do not attempt to sell, re-sell or donate the recalled [high chair] before it is repaired, as we don’t want a child to be injured and it is against the law to resell a recalled product.”

"Are they in trouble?" Mamroud asked of Dream on Me.

“I just started [selling Dream On Me Products] not even a year and it didn’t do good, so I’m closing up," said Mamroud. "That’s why I’m closing up.”

“I don’t know what we have [in stock]… I know they sell a lot to Walmart. I only bought one order from them,” said Mamroud. “You have to have the whole line to be in business.”

“Do I have a bassinet here?  I don’t know? I’m not in the business,” he said.

“I only have one [bassinet] – Anyway I’m finished with that business, so it doesn’t matter. I used to have a lot, but no more.”

Asked if he knew why Dream On Me did not notify him of the recall, he said, “I don’t buy from them. I’m not a big account. I only bought one time.”

Mamroud said he would dispose of the item if it was indeed recalled.

“I’ll put it in the dumpster… if that’s the one.”

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.