If you’re trying to buy American-made products and you notice any labeling that doesn’t look quite right, please take the time to say something to the seller. It takes vigilance on the part of consumers to keep shady businesses honest and honest businesses from making mistakes.
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Here’s my latest story, which involves Uncommon Goods, one of the good-guys when it comes to labeling products with country of origin. I was checking out one of their newest products, the Couch Bowl, a nifty item for those who like to eat while lounging on the sofa (guilty). It has a thumb notch on the rim and a concave space on the bottom for your fingers.
I loved it immediately. I loved it even more when I realized it was from the same maker responsible for the brilliant, American-Made Ooma bowl, a hand-held personal chip and dip container. ‘Perfect for a post,” I thought, and started writing a story with the Headline “Couch Dining Perfected.”
Midway through it, though, I spotted something odd. Even though the Couch Bowl page said “Made in USA” and had Uncommon Goods‘ American Flag icon next to it, and even though it contained an image of New York State and specified that it was “Made in New York,” the very bottom of the text column said “Handmade in Mexico.”
I decided to get to the bottom of this. Of course it would be nice if one could just pick up the phone and call the top executive of a company, but that almost never works. I usually start at the bottom and work my way up, taking note of whether everyone has the same story.
So step one was an online chat with Tom, who quickly confessed that he did not have the answer to my question, but would look into it right away.
About an hour later I started to get impatient (my problem not Tom’s) and decided to call the company’s customer service line. The woman I spoke to, whose name I did not get, told me that the bowl was Made in Mexico but that it was marked “Made in USA” because the designer, Thomas Both, designed it in California. “But ‘designed in the USA’ is not the same as ‘Made in the USA’ I said, ‘And why does it also say “Made in New York?” Her reply: “Because it’s made exclusively for us and we’re located in New York.” I was beginning to get a headache.
I told her that I suspected she was wrong because Uncommon Goods does not usually do things that way, but in any case, it was misleading and should be changed. She agreed to bring it to the attention of the proper people.
A short time later, I got an email from Tom letting me know that the information on the product had been corrected. I checked and it was.
Only problem is, I won’t be buying the Couch Bowl now. Still, the Ooma is pretty awesome, as are the many other American-made products at Uncommon Goods.