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Christmas gifts from China: A bad experience for all

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas should be a time for joyous family gatherings, lots of delectable food including jumbo shrimp, and the exchange of neatly wrapped presents. The shopping craze has pretty much come to an end and now we are confronted, in some quarters, with the return of some unwanted or wrong-size gifts.

Overshadowing this happy time though is having received or bought a gift that was manufactured in China. I realize of course that making a statement like that will open me up for criticism from businesses who rely on Chinese products to fill their shelves. It will also subject me to sniping from people who think that buying cheap, often shoddy products from China outweighs not paying more for quality products manufactured in the United States. But having said that, let me share with you why I will no longer be buying anything with a "made in China" label.

First of all let's recall just some of the defective products shipped to us from China over the years. How about car tires that shred, tainted baby formula, cribs that do not match U.S. standards for safety, and of course, jewelry that contains excessive amounts of carcinogens. If that isn't enough to boycott Chinese products, try this on for size.

We shopped at Macy's Department Store for many of our Christmas presents. One of the gifts we bought was a car wash kit. The kit consists of a microfiber wash mitt and a collapsible bucket. We thought it would be a fun gift for our son and son-in-law. Upon wrapping the presents we noticed the following warning on the box: "California Proposition No. 65 warning -- this product may contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause birth defects and/or reproductive harm" The kit was "Made in China" and distributed by E.B. Brands out of Hazelton, Pa. A call to E.B. Brands has not been returned. As a follow-up, I posted a review on the Macy's website indicating that the product should receive a poor rating. We will be returning both kits as soon as the after-Christmas mayhem at the stores subsides.

Two initiatives will guide me in the future: I will be sure to read all warning signs on merchandise prior to making a purchase, and if it reads "Made in China," I will certainly not be carting the product to the check-out counter. As far as I am concerned, let the Chinese wallow in their defective and carcinogen loaded merchandise. In 2013, I want to be China-free.

Editor's Note: Bill Kalmar of Lake Orion, Mich., retired from Comerica Bank in 1993 and was then director of the Michigan Quality Council from 1993-2003. The Fort Scott native now writes on a freelance basis.