Caveat Emptor: “Let the Buyer Beware”

(The 1971 baby car seat that turned into many other items looked something like the one above whose metal support bars slid between the cushions of the upholstered car seat. It definitely wouldn’t pass today’s strict safety standards.)

I was 24, excited about my new pregnancy, and since we lived in cramped quarters, we bought into the sales pitch of a young man who talked us into a product that “would make our lives so much easier.” Oh, he came to our apartment and walked us through the ease and versatility of his product. He snapped it into its various positions, all the while regaling us with its virtues. We were young and oh-so-impressionable.

Yes, he sold us on his product–a baby item that morphed into: high chair, stroller, cradle, car seat….all in a matter of seconds. To me, it was a Godsend. But since purchase allowed for only a 3-day window for return and since the very variable that would disprove the item’s effectiveness wasn’t due for two more months (the baby), we got snookered, for I’d never know how it’d play out in real life until it was too late.

For instance, I could never anticipate that once the baby arrived, I’d lack the energy (or interest) to remove the car seat (with baby in it), place her somewhere else (“Where?”) and direct my focus to reconfiguring the seat into a stroller by adding a frame to it, and then placing the baby back in it.

Oh, the salesman walked us through it easily enough–even left us a video to help remind us of the steps to take. The only thing he lacked in his demonstration was the main ingredient–the baby.

For instance, when I finished shopping, I was then to ostensibly remove the baby from stroller and convert the stroller into a car seat with all of the requisite maneuvering (again, “Where‘s the baby in the meantime?”)

When I arrived home, I was to take the car seat out of the car, bring it and baby into the house, and now reconfigure the car seat into a high chair. The salesman never warned me that I’d just be too exhausted (as a new Mom) to perform that sequence. What was the end result of all this maneuvering and reconfiguring? You guessed it–We ended up buying each of those baby items that it was supposed to replace!

The saga was important to me, however, for it taught me to be a wise consumer. From that experience I learned to buy products in a timely fashion whose satisfaction and full refund are guaranteed. That also meant: I never wanted store credit.

This policy would become all the more important years later when we opted to buy a water bed.

Now, I was never keen on the idea. The mere thought of sloshing around on a king-size rubber mattress the dimensions of Cleopatra’s barge on the Nile just never appealed. And if the truth be told, I found the rubber mattress “clammy.” I didn’t get the sensation it could breathe and that bothered me. But my husband wanted it, so we bought it on 30-day trial.

I really tried to adjust to it. There was the night the floor cracked with a thunderous noise. I feared the neighbors would find him and me, by morning, drowned in thousands of gallons of water, after falling through the ceiling of the porch (our bedroom was above it).

Another night I sat on my side of the mattress too abruptly, setting into motion a wave effect that shot him into the side wall (it was before anti-motion devices would be implemented on water beds). And most important–each morning I awoke with back pain. Since the water bed wasn’t working, I called the company who sold it to us and requested they pick it up. It was the 28th. day.

On the day of retrieval, it poured buckets. A team of 4 came back and forth into the house, first siphoning out the water, then dismantling the superstructure (wood and leather padding), taking down headboard, footboard, frame, and side slats, along with the 4 huge posts that ascended some 4 feet towards the ceiling (it really was supposed to mimic an Egyptian vessel).

They worked in stultifying heat for hours, beads of sweat dripping off them, gathering up screws, pins, and wooden connectors, avoiding eye contact with me, doubtless thinking: “Who buys a bed the size of Texas (with all its ramparts) and then tells the company she wants them to pick it up? (thus making good on their 30-day, money-back offer that ‘If the customer isn’t 100% satisfied, we’ll take it back–no questions asked.’)”

Answer: Me.

The purchase of the Baby Seat-That-Morphed-into-a-Thousand-Other-Essential -Items taught me all I’d ever need to know. For all future purchases, I made sure I always understood conditions of purchase and return policy in advance because though the baby item sounded so-o practical initially, I found out that it was anything but in everyday use.

And because of that early realization, I saved myself from having to tolerate a backbreaking situation with a waterbed whose purchase we‘d have to “Suck up” for perpetuity.

(Now, click on the following link to find some forward-thinking advice about rear-facing child carseats…This information will be a surprise to most.)

***And, as always, Biddy invites you to send this post to others who might find this information useful via buttons below. Or “Got your own story to share as to how you became a wiser consumer?” Leave a Comment in Comments section. Your e-mail address is never given out. Promise.

And here’s something you can buy and it WILL deliver…”Grow-a-head” (of grass, that is). I sent these to my 3 grandsons two weeks ago; the “heads” were bald; and with proper watering, they’ve turned into this. The boys love them.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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