Cash for Clunker Cribs

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Toys R Us is getting in on the clunker craze

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If you’ve been wishing you could get a better crib, car seat, or stroller than the one you have now — without having to first go online and type “no fax payday loans, credit check” into your Google search bar — now is your chance to upgrade while saving a little payday cash. From August 28 through September 20, all Babies R Us and Toys R Us stores across the nation will be offering discounts on replacement products to shoppers who trade in used cribs and other baby gear.

Unlike the popular Cash for Clunkers Program (the Car Allowance Rebate System Act, or CARS) and the much-anticipated federal rebates program for appliances, the baby-gear promotion has nothing to do with the economic-stimulus bill. Cash for Clunker Cribs coasts conveniently on the tailwind of the federal rebate programs, but it’s a private promotion offered by Toys R Us Inc. Shoppers who trade in used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play stations, or high chairs will receive 20% off the purchase price of new replacement items from selected manufacturers.

“Safety” comes first, but “used” is the operative term

The company is positioning the sale as a push for children’s safety, but your trade-in doesn’t have to be unsafe or recalled by the manufacturer to entitle you to the discount. Trade-in products only have to be “used” to qualify, but “safety” is the company’s catchword. In a recent CNN interview, chief executive Jerry Storch sounded like a candidate for a no-fax payday loan when he said, “We are all looking for ways to stretch our dollars, but in doing so, children’s safety should not be compromised,” adding that it is important to be “vigilant about potentially unsafe children’s items that may still be in the marketplace.”

More than 100 unsafe products so far this year

Now is a great time to upgrade the cats cradle, too

Now is a great time to upgrade the cat's cradle, too

According to Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety, 103 baby products including cribs, strollers and toys have been recalled so far this year. In the CNN article, Nancy Cowles, spokeswoman for the advocacy group says, “The [Toys R Us] trade-in is a good effort among many that are needed [to improve safety], and retailers can be an important player, but it would be easier to get safe products on the market in the first place.”

Cowles also said that many recalled baby products actually do meet safety standards, which indicates that stricter guidelines are needed for the industry. A safety improvement act was passed in 2008 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be phased in over the next few years, helping to make children’s products safer, Cowles said.

Sometimes “used” is a hidden danger

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A spokesperson for the giant toy retailer told CNN that “certain baby items should not be reused or resold.” Only 30% of recalled baby products are ever actually returned, “which means that many dangerous items remain in circulation.” Don’t be fooled by used baby products that look okay, because sometimes the danger is not obvious. For instance, “the materials that car seats are made of can break down over time, making the product less effective in a crash.” Think about that when you’re tempted to keep all your extra cash to yourself by picking up a car seat at the neighbor’s yard sale.

Take recalled items back to the store where you bought them

Safety is a noble goal, indeed, but so is getting by until payday without an installment loan. If you have a baby product that’s been recalled, try returning it to the retailer where you purchased it before you head out to the Toys R Us sale. Normally the retailer who sold the recalled product will provide a full refund or store credit. For a list of recalled baby products, check out About.com.

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