A Party Favor Nightmare

I recently made a purchase from a place I’ve shopped before that has left me feeling angry and bitter.  And, once I tell you about it, I’m hoping you’ll be at least a little bit angry with me.

I’m guessing you’ve gotten catalogs in the mail from Oriental Trading Company, purveyors of inexpensive party favors and decorations.  There’s a good chance you’ve even ordered from them.  I know I have on multiple occasions.  The Big Cheese just turned 3, and we were having her party at Frogg’s Bounce House (in Fountain Valley, CA), which led to her wanting a frog theme for her party.  I immediately turned to Oriental Trading Company for favors, because, let’s face it, if it’s not a licensed character, it’s not at the party store.

I found these frog straw cups.

Aren’t they cute? 

 I love favors that can double as party decorations, so I ordered these cups right away.  They are $14.99 for 8 cups (plus S/H).  At less than $2 a piece, they seemed ideal.  The Big Cheese helped me open the big Oriental Trading box when it arrived and fell in love with these frog straw cups at first sight.  Then, I glanced at the invoice and saw a Proposition 65 warning.  “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.”  For those of you not familiar with Prop 65, it is a California state law that requires anyone doing business in California to notify consumers that the products they are selling expose the consumers to chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.  This warning has to accompany the products that contain these chemicals when these products are sold in California.  In the case of my order, this Prop 65 warning was attached to these frog cups, these cute cups that I was going to use to serve beverages to toddlers and preschoolers, these cute cups that could cause serious harm to those very children.

I immediately called Oriental Trading’s Customer Service number to question what horrible toxin was in or on these cups.  Their customer service agent assured me that whatever the chemical in question, it was at federally acceptable levels.  She told me that I only received the warning because I live in California.  In other words, because I live in CA, I know that these cups are dangerous, but, if I lived in another state, I would have no idea that these Oriental Trading cups could harm my children.  I asked if it was lead paint.  The agent quickly assured me it was not lead – but then proceeded to tell me that she did not know what toxin it was.  Not feeling at all reassured, I told her I refused to serve drinks to young kids in these cups.  She told me I could either receive a merchandise credit or a cash refund for the price of the item.  The Oriental Trading agent then told me I could either recycle the cups or throw them out.  Also, the shipping costs I incurred could not be refunded.

Still seething by the fact that Oriental Trading would sell cups baring a Prop 65 warning to young kids, I decided I had to write a product review on http://www.orientaltrading.com.  Unfortunately, Oriental Trading censors their reviews.  I wrote a beautiful review discussing Proposition 65 and the language that came on the invoice.  I wrote that I felt these cups were inappropriate for children because of it.  I then received an email from Oriental Trading telling me that my review was not posted because it violated their terms of use.  I made multiple attempts, all containing 100% truthful information, and many were rejected, including this tame review entitled “Would not give to kids:  These cups came with a warning that they contain a chemical that could cause cancer or reproductive harm.  While the company assured me they meet all Federal guidelines, California law requires the warning.  I would not use these at my daughter’s party.”  I finally got Oriental Trading to accept a review of these cups, but it is so watered down, it’s almost worthless:  “Poor Quality:  Poor quality and not worth anywhere near the amount of money they cost.  Will not be using these at my daughter’s party.”  That’s right.  Until I eliminated all references to safety and Proposition 65, Oriental Trading refused to publish my review.  So much for honest reviews of their products on their own site.  At least now you know the truth.  Please feel free to pass on this review.

4 Responses

  1. WOW I order from OTC every now and then but since my son is now 13 its not as often. Thankfully we live in california, what you wrote should be shared with every buyer from that company or the feds need to step up to the california standards. How can any level be ok for kids or adults for that matter. I bought one of the puss in boots cups from Mc Donalds and I loved it and now we are afraid to use it and will be taking it back, but how many things do we buy get recalled but we never even find out? The fact is that almost everything recalled seems to be an export from China so I guess we as Americans should try and only buy from the USA.

    Thanks for taking the time to inform us on this OTC policy, it scares me to see what they sell and how the edit the reviews, what good are reviews if they aren’t true.

  2. After a few stories I switched to Windy City Novelties and I’ve been pleased with their stuff. You can see their catalog at http://www.windycitynovelties.com
    However…if it’s something I can get from Discount School Supply…I spend the extra $. I do this because I have spoken with a few of the high-ups at Discount when products are “Unavailable” and in most cases they had pulled the product because their suppliers hadn’t provided the requested proof that the items met Prop 65 guidelines. It’s nice to have a company you can trust.
    And to Rainey: The companies that are selling the items should be quality testing. There are reputable companies in China, but it’s up to the companies here to work with people they trust. Don’t ban an entire country of companies…find companies that are honest about their wares. Oriental clearly isn’t one of those. Sad.
    On a side note – S & S has always been very up front about recalls and their customer service people are pretty cool. Hi Brian!

  3. […] bags many places. I have some from Etsy, and I ordered a bunch from an online party supply store (after making sure there’s nothing toxic in there) to give as goodie bags at Mouse’s upcoming half-birthday party. If the moms can pry them out […]

  4. […] A Party Favor Nightmare […]

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