Premium Cloth Diapers versus “China Cheapies” – The Warranty

I’ve already done some looking at the benefits of choosing your premium cloth diapers versus the inexpensive cloth diapers made overseas (also known as “China Cheapies”).  There are pros and cons to going in either direction, but today, a cyber buddy posted about a brand new diaper (one of the China Cheapies) having a snap break.

A brand new diaper… with a snap broken in less than two weeks. Will your diaper manufacturer cover that? Or will they give you the runaround?

I’ve had snaps break.  I’ve had elastics fail.  With the snaps that broke, the diapers were heavily used in my cloth diaper stash rotation.  Really, it was disappointing, but it’s not like they hadn’t been work horse diapers.  (And now I have friends who have snap pliers, so I can get them fixed!)  With the elastics that failed, I’ve had three outcomes.  1.) It was a FuzziBunz one size diaper, so I didn’t have to worry about it because the diaper comes with extra elastics that can be fixed without sewing.  And it had been used for a couple of years, so it’s not like it wasn’t due to get a little TLC.  2.) It was a diaper that I’d had for at least a year, so elastics wearing out wasn’t unreasonable.  There are people in my area who can fix them (like Pearl at Cloth for a Cause).  3.) It happened with a brand new GroVia shell.  Actually, it was my very first GroVia shell, and I’d used it twice before an elastic actually broke in the washing machine.  Cozy Bums, my local cloth diaper retailer, replaced the diaper for me and took care of the warranty stuff.  (Best customer service ever.)

With the vast majority of my diapers, I have a one year manufacturer’s warranty.  That’s the warranty on GroVia diapers, Swaddlebees and Blueberry, and Cotton Babies products – Flip, Econobum, and BumGenius.  Happy Heinys has a different warranty depending on what it is, but elastics have a six month warranty and they’ll send you the materials to replace the elastics after that.  (Snaps are lifetime.  Hmm.  I really should have been better about keeping my receipts for my diapers!)  Rumparooz has a variable warranty similar to that of Happy Heinys.  Fuzzi Bunz now has lifetime warranties.

I don’t mind paying twenty dollars or more for a diaper when I know that the manufacturer stands behind what they make.

Some of the China Cheapies brands don’t have that same guarantee.  Sunbaby has a thirty day guarantee.  AlvaBaby (and its rebranded diapers) don’t have a date deadline.  I haven’t heard of people having great luck with getting anything repaired or replaced by other China Cheapies brands.  In fact, I tried a China Cheapies that I bought off of a daily deal site once as an experiment.  The diaper didn’t work.  I messaged the diaper company on Twitter and was ignored.  Fortunately, it was cheap, so I shrugged it off as “no big loss.”

I like knowing that my diapers are made to last.  I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the same quality or support from a diaper that I buy for five dollars as I would expect from a diaper that I buy for twenty-five dollars.  It’s where that old adage of one getting what one pays for comes in.

Have you ever had any warranty issues with a diaper company?  How was it resolved?

The Disadvantage of Buying Cheap Cloth Diapers

I like a fair and balanced approach.  Previously, I’d looked at the pros of cheap cloth diapers.  There are also plenty of cons.

I have no objection to using China Cheapies when buying cloth diapers.  You use what you can afford and do the best that you can.  AlvaBaby and Sunbaby diapers are great for what they cost, but you really are getting what you pay for.  It’s that whole “getting what you pay for” thing that really, really irritates me when I see AlvaBaby diapers rebranded with other labels.  (I’m not going to name names; Heather at the Parenting Patch already did that, and did it well.)

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The Advantage of Buying Cheap Cloth Diapers

I’ve had someone call me a “diaper snob” once just because I have mostly premium brands in my stash.  Here’s a dirty little secret, though: I hardly knew anything about the “cheap cloth diapers” when I was building my stash.  Had I known that I could find reliable cheap cloth diapers, I may have been willing to try them.  Or at least treated them like a cute little accessory.

When you’re paying $20 to $30 for a premium cloth diaper brand, you tend to shop for longevity.  You’ll want a diaper that will be good for all seasons, a diaper that will fit your child from birth to potty training.  With a cheap cloth diaper, there is a different advantage altogether:

At five bucks, who cares if the diaper isn’t good all year around?

It’s not painful to the pocketbook to buy a couple of cute diapers with jack o lanterns or witches for Halloween.  (Of course, I’d buy a diaper with little flying witches on them all year round.  But that’s just me.)  It’s not a big deal to get a few diapers that have Santa or Christmas trees or Menorahs for the round of winter holidays.  It’s five bucks.  Big deal.

With a premium diaper, though, I’d flinch over the concept of spending $30 on a diaper that would only realistically be worn for a month a year when we’re in diapers.  At best, I’d get two months use of one diaper for one kid.  Which means that if I washed diapers three times per week and had that diaper for two years, it would be used maybe two dozen times.  I hate the idea of basically spending a dollar per use on a diaper.  It’s not terribly cost effective.

I liken it to the concept of spending $300 on a pair of shoes I’d only wear once.  No thank you.  It’s just not practical for me.  If I spend $300 on a pair of shoes, I expect them to be good, classic shoes that will last until I die.  If I’m going to buy some funky, trendy shoes that will only be in style for the season, I’d rather go cheap.  And that’s pretty comparable to how I feel about seasonally appropriate diapers.

But if I’m getting two dozen uses out of a five dollar diaper?  Well, gosh, then I’m right back down into disposable prices of roughly 21¢ per use.  Now that’s a pretty reasonable price.

Most of my cloth diaper stash is comprised of premium cloth diapers.  But believe you me, I’ll be busting out some cute as pie holiday printed cheap cloth diapers just to have fun.

Have you ever bought any “fashion diapers” for an event?

Cloth Diaper Addicts, Price Points, and Snobbery

Cloth diaper addicts are plentiful.  There are a lot of women who love their fluff.  Cloth diaper addicts exist in all levels of income, and there are brands that are out there to help people of all income levels be able to afford using cloth diapers.  In fact, the start up cost associated with using cloth diapers is one of the things that scares people away from starting in the first place.

While having a conversation with an online group, I made the comment that cheap diapers are often cheap for a reason.

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