Saturday, October 18, 2008

Letter to Carters Executives

We sent this letter to the Carters Executives, we will keep you up to date on their response:

To: Michael Casey, Chief Executive Officer
Re: Carters Tagless Clothes Causing Chemical Burns in Babies

CC: Joseph Pacifico, President; James Petty, President Retail Stores; Charles Whetzel, Executive Vice President and Chief Sourcing Officer; David Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer; Suzanne Calkins, Executive Vice President OshKosh Brand and Licensing; Joe Elles, Executive Vice President Sales and Mass Merchandising; Eric Martin, Vice President Investor Relations

Dear Mr. Casey,

I am writing you as a final, desperate attempt to escalate a material issue to someone with authority at Carters. Let me first explain the issue and then I will appeal to your authority to resolve our problem and to publicly disclose the product safety hazard with your tagless product line.

Our daughter, Ava, is now six and a half months old. Since Ava was six weeks old, she has been suffering a chronic back injury caused by wearing Carters tagless products. Her injury was a severe chemical burn, which formed at the epicenter of where her skin made contact with Carters tagless labels. The injury caused severe inflammation and swelling, in Ava’s case, it was the size of a half pear. The burn was bright red throughout and weeps of mucus and puss. Ava has endured this excruciating pain of a fire red, weeping burn on her back for about five months.

When we first saw this burn, we thought it was an unusually nasty rash. We treated it topically with ointments, it did not go away. We eliminated detergents, changed beddings, and when our pediatrician thought it might be a chemical reaction to her infant carrier, we bought a new one--all to no avail. Then one day, the burn got worse and Ava was clearly in unbearable pain. We immediately took her to the pediatrician. The doctors in the practice saw Ava’s wound and agreed she should immediately be admitted to the children’s hospital emergency. Ava caught a staph infection from her open wound. As you may know, staph can be life threatening, especially to an infant; Ava was barely 3 months. She had to be in a strict sterile environment (medical masks, gloves and gowns were required by all who entered who room) and we waited for IV Antibiotics to mitigate further health risks. Ava and my wife were in the hospital overnight. We were alarmed by doctors who all claimed the issue to be very severe but none of whom could diagnose it. We were all horrified and traumatized by this, wondering if our daughter would recover. Ava was on antibiotics for at least a month, the burn subsided but never healed and continued to painfully affect her.

In our ongoing efforts to help Ava recover and monitor her wound, we cut out the upper backs of some of her clothes to apply her prescribed creams and to let the affected area air dry more efficiently. The burn would begin to heal and after a few days we would put Ava back into her uncut clothes. Immediately, the burn reappeared. We repeated this cycle many times, still unaware this wound was being caused by her Carters tagless clothing. Ava went to the emergency children’s hospital again. We continued our efforts to treat the burn, nothing worked.

Last month we read an internet blog written by other victims of Carters tagless clothes and everything became clear to us. We read their stories and saw their pictures--all were remarkably similar to our experience and Ava’s condition.

We had Ava in your tagless clothes all along. The irony is we always used your tagless clothes because we thought there might a chance physical tags would compound Ava’s condition. She has been in Carters clothes, gets the original burn, stays in your clothes and the burn gets worse, heals when we cut out your tagless marks, then the burn reappears immediately after we put her back in Carters uncut tagless products. We continued this cycle until last month’s discovery because we had no idea Carters tagless clothing was causing her wound.

We shared our internet discovery with our pediatrician. Our pediatrician confirms the injury as a chemical burn and is filing a report with the Consumer Products Safety Commission. He has also notified the pediatric community of San Francisco and UCSF hospital.

We contacted Carters to see if you had any information beyond the statement published by the ZRecommends blog. We talked with Sue in Consumer Affairs who had nothing new to offer. Sue offered us a product refund. We were sloughed off to Travelers to file a claim. Travelers did not know anything about Ava’s injury and offered their claims process as a resolution; hand over all medical records and receipts, subject ourselves to the mercy of Travelers claims processing, and hope for a resolution many months from now. We then talked to Mary, Manager of Consumer Affairs, who tried to console us. Mary either does not have the authority or is prohibited by policy from actually helping your victims. All in all, we made great efforts and in good faith have tried to resolve this with your company.

Your company’s response and attitude is miserable. I am furious. Your product injured my baby. My baby suffered severely for many months and in fact faced a life threatening complication. I am certain that you would not like a severe burn on your back for five months, along with many hospital and doctor visits, many treatments, and helpless doctors. Additionally, if this happened to one of your loved ones, you too would be furious if you discovered the injury was caused by your defective merchandise. To top it off, your company is not recognizing the issue beyond a content-free statement posted on a blog. Nowhere in your public website does it offer a statement assisting or warning the consumer on the hazards of your tagless baby clothes. You are ignoring the gravity of this problem and mistreating your victims. Your service policies are abhorrent. Your safety people are probably telling you that Carters does not have a problem or statistically a case like ours is “isolated” and “rare” (using the words we have heard from Carters). Read the internet and you will see that your internal product safety people are possibly very wrong.

If I were you, I would not take the risk of this problem staying statistically isolated. And, independent of the actual number of cases versus the number of tagless clothes you have sold, our case matters and the cases of all the other victims matter. Yet, you don’t seem to think so. You are unwilling to publicly discuss the risks of your clothes. What happened to standing by your website’s statement of Carters making “trusted products” when Carters cannot be trusted to inform their consumers of their defective merchandise? You are unable to diagnose the problem which means Carters has not prioritized the research of this safety issue. The lack of disclosure is causing serious harm to babies as consumers are uniformed and pediatricians do not know how to diagnose and cure the injuries caused by your clothes. You have not told your distributors as they surely would not sell clothes that cause chemical burns. You have not told your consumers, leaving the burden on them to discover the answers. Your company’s actions have been atrocious and immoral.

I will be relentless in my pursuit to publicize this safety issue and Carters immoral response. I am blogging now, I am writing every consumer safety organization I can find, I am writing every investigative news organization I can find, I will write your largest public shareholders and distributors, and I will pursue every possible legal way to expose this issue. I will not stop until you act appropriately.

I am hoping you will make a statement on Tuesday, after you announce earnings and as soon as you are out of your quiet period. I would like to see an honest and transparent statement on this public safety issue, immediate disclosure to the pediatric community, shareholder disclosure, and a press release that is picked up by publications your consumers read, a recall of your product, a hotline for all victims, and a compassionate and easy process that your victims can follow for refunds and medical treatment reimbursement.

If not, I will continue my vigilant pursuit.

Hoping you actually do care about your consumers,


Just Another Obscure Author said...

I haven't read all the postings on your blog yet, but have you retained legal counsel? I know a few law firms have been snifffing around this problem.Ava's burns are the most severe I've seen from the tagless problem. Please let me know if I can help. In the meantime, if you haven't already, I would consider hiring a lawyer. This has been going on for more than a year. The only thing that will make Carter's respond, I am convinced after covering this story, is legal action.

MommySuperShopper said...

I used to love carter's clothes, but after reading your heartbreaking story, I no longer will! I refuse to support a company that will not take responsibility for their actions and who clearly does not put the health and safely of children first!