Canadian conglomerate Dorel is best known for their Cosco and Safety 1st car seats—but the company is also a big player in the nursery furniture biz. Just don’t look for Dorel nursery furniture under the name Dorel.
Dorel’s furniture subsidiary Dorel Asia employs a blizzard of aliases in the furniture market: Bertini, Bethany James/Secure Reach, Baby Relax (Walmart), Eddie Bauer (Target), Monbebe (Wayfair), Viv + Rae (online, Wayfair), and so on. (Amazon sells a couple of Dorel cribs under the Baby Relax and Dorel Asia name).
Why more aliases than a Jason Bourne movie? Perhaps it has to do with the numerous recalls that Dorel endured during the 1990’s under their main Cosco label. In fact, Dorel/Cosco was fined nearly $2 million for failure to report product defects to the government in the early 2000’s.
So, if you were the marketing whiz at Dorel, what would you do? Start calling your furniture anything but Dorel or Cosco.
Unfortunately, the company’s safety woes didn’t end with the name change. A Dorel alias sold at Babies R Us (Jardine) suffered one of the biggest crib recalls in history in 2008 when 320,000 cribs were yanked from Babies R Us for defective slats. Readers flooded our blog with complaints about how the recall was handled (Jardine and Babies R Us set up a Byzantine process to replace the defective cribs, with multiple steps and long waits). Like the name of a bad hurricane, Jardine is now retired in the pantheon of Dorel furniture brands.
Yes, these cribs are cheap (a Dorel Baby Relax is $140 at Walmart), but here are the trade-offs. Parents tell us the quality is slapdash—the crib arrives with wood that is chipped and damaged. Paint and stain appears to have been applied randomly by small marsupials. The soft pine of these cribs easily scratches. If you really want to buy one of these crib despite these warnings, look for it at a retail store and inspect it carefully before purchasing.
You’d think the more expensive Dorel cribs would have better quality than the Walmart offerings . . . but no. “Poor craftsmanship,” started another online review for a $450 Dorel crib.. “There are multiple nail holes and gashes on the crib that were not finished appropriately. The company said this is to create a ‘distressed’ look, but frankly looks cheap.” We guess when Dorel Asia does a “distressed” style crib, they don’t do it half way.
Perhaps the best rated crib in this line is Bertini’s Pembrooke. This $600 crib in a “natural rustic” finish earns good marks from readers. But even here we see a complaint to the CPSC in 2016 about “extreme off-gassing of chemicals from a dresser,” said one parent, who claimed the fumes made her sick. Other Bertini buyers complained about missing parts, misaligned screw holes and other quality issues.
Bottom line: given Dorel’s longstanding troubles with safety in this segment, we don’t recommend their nursery furniture, no matter what name they use. Rating: F