The Story of Our Stroller

Yes, I love to baby-wear and carry Olivia around in my arms a lot. But I also use the stroller quite a lot, depending on what I plan to do.  Since we live in Germany and don’t need a car to get most places, I often spend the whole day on foot, which means sometimes I like to have the stroller there, even if it just to carry shopping bags 😉 Olivia also likes to sleep in the stroller, and I’ll be honest, it’s a great place to pull on and off her diaper when there’s no other place to change her.

Our borrowed Hartan stroller

Our borrowed Hartan stroller

Our stroller was lent to us by a good friend who lives in Paderborn. It is about 5 years old and has already lived through two children, so it has seen better days, but still worked fine when she gave it to us. It is a Hartan VIP – which is a top-of-the-line stroller here in Germany. I was ecstatic at not having to buy a stroller! And I am eternally thankful to our friends for lending it to us.

But about a month ago, it suddenly gave out. The plastic piece at one of the joints on the right-hand side had cracked. It makes sense that it would crack there, since every time you push down on the handle to get over a curb the entire force is put directly on that one joint. And despite the many good things about Germany, they unfortunately have a long way to go in installing ramps at every street corner. So basically you are maneuvering up and down curbs all the time. So it was clear that eventually something would have to give. But this is not our stroller… so now what?

I took the stroller to a store which sells baby stuff and asked them if they could order the plastic part for me. They couldn’t, they said they had to send the whole thing in to the manufacturer, who would then give me a quote for repair, since it was no longer under warentee. I knew even then that it would be expensive. no company ever just charges you for the spare part… they would most likely want to replace the entire mess of metal rods, if not the entire base. And to let me try to repair it myself – no way. They would rather have me spend 500 EUR on a new stroller. But even though I knew all of this, I let them send it in anyways (for a 30 EUR fee). They gave me a spare stroller to use while it was gone, for 2 Euros a day, and told me it would be four weeks.

The spare stroller made an odd clicking noise wherever I pushed it, but it didn’t seem to bother Olivia, and I got used to it pretty fast. I still used my carrier or a wrap a lot anyways. Then, about three and a half weeks later, the spare stroller cracked, too!! This one decided to give out on the handle bar, at a joint which is used to fold the handle up and down. It is also a highly stressed area, so it made sense to break there. But that didn’t make me feel any better! What would the store say? How much was this going to cost me?

The *next day* the store called, saying that my stroller had been returned to them with a quotation from Hartan – the repair for that one cracked joint would be 210 EUR, if I wanted to do it. They couldn’t even tell me what exactly Hartan planned to do to fix it. (super glue…?) So yeah… if I had waited ONE MORE DAY to take that last walk, the spare stroller would have been just fine, and I wouldn’t have had any issues! But now I had not one, but *two* broken strollers on my hands, neither of which belonged to me! If the first stroller was 210EUR to fix, would would the second one cost?!

Fleeting thoughts of trying to hide the broken spot on the rented stroller crossed my mind. Maybe I could glue it so that they wouldn’t notice, and then it would break on the next customer instead. But I just couldn’t do it. I really have a tough time being dishonest like that. So I sucked it up and took the stroller in, expecting a huge bill, on top of the 60 EUR rent for the past four weeks.

Fortunately, this is a story with a happy ending! The employees at the store were very sympathetic, and told me it wasn’t my fault. The rented stroller was already 6 years old and could have broken on anyone. They simply threw it in the trash. They almost forgot to even charge me the rent, until I reminded them about it. And even then, they only charged me for 10 days instead of 30! I wanted to hug them. I wheeled my broken stroller back out of the store, intent on trying to fix it myself later. I loaded Olivia into the car and drove home a happy girl. And to make things even better, Olivia even fell asleep on the ride!

Well, I got home, opened the trunk of the car, and what do you know, the stroller wasn’t there! I had left it parked on the street next to my parking spot downtown…! But being the panicked carefree, relaxed person that I am, I just got back in the car, and with Olivia still sleeping drove back for the stroller, which was still parked exactly where I had left it.

Of course, at the end of the day, our stroller is still broken. But I swear, I have the nicest friends in the world. Another friend of mine who lives in my neighborhood offered to lend me her stroller while she spends 6 weeks in Berlin. Her mother even pushed it all the way over to our house this morning, just to give it to me! (it is about a 15 minute walk) Knowing my luck, I will be *extra* super careful with this stroller, especially since it is brand spanking new.


9 Responses to “The Story of Our Stroller”

  1. 1 sweetdiaryofmine December 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Lol, fun times 😉 Thank goodness for wonderful friends.

  2. 3 Dad December 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    We need a bit more mechanical engineering here … how do you disassemble the stroller? Can you remove the elements of the broken part? Can you make a detailed drawing of it so that a replacement can be fabricated? You know, they do have 3D printers for plastic parts these days!

    • 4 Christiana December 11, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Hey Dad, That was the first thing that crossed my mind, too. It isn’t the simplest part in the world to make, but I’m good at that kind of thing, so why not? I could for sure make a similar part for less than 50 EUR, if you don’t include the time I spend. unfortunately that would be at least a two day project, if I had full days to devote to it. but I don’t have that kind of time… I only get small blocks of 20-40 minutes a few times a day. and in that time I have to do all the chores.

      Also, I don’t have access to a shop, and Even if I did, I would have to get a babysitter to watch Olivia while I drove there. If I’m going to go to those kind of lengths then I would rather get some of my other unfinished work done.

      At the end of the day, even if I were to invest all the time and money into this particular part, chances are very high that other parts would start to crack soon afterwards. The plastic is becoming brittle with age. So if one part cracks, the others are not far behind.

      Since it’s not my stroller, can I really give it back to my friend with some ugly self-made part? I think what we are going to do is buy a new stroller and lend that to them if they decide to have another baby.

  3. 5 mtetar December 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    God is always good, and knows our needs. He sent a friend your way. Be BLESSED, Mtetar

  4. 8 motherhoodisanart December 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Man, what an ordeal!! LOL! I bought a used stroller for $5.00 at a garage sale when I had my first and it is still going strong with the third kid! It makes you wonder if the expensive models are all they are cracked up to be!!

  5. 9 Christiana December 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I think the real issue is that there are hardly ever ramps here, so we are constantly levering the stroller over curbs and up stairs to get into stores. All that pushing on the handle is what made the joint crack. The US is much farther in terms of handicapped accessabilty so it isn’t as rough on the strollers.

    If I had been the designer, I would have made the highly stressed joints out of metal instead of plastic…. That would have made the stroller heavier, too, though so maybe that’s why they didn’t do it…? I dunno.

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