Baby Einstein Refund – a great talmudic debate?

baby_einstein_logoWhen I was pregnant, I fully expected to keep my kids away from tv for a good, long time. I managed to live up to this goal for about a year. That’s not to say that I didn’t watch tv while breastfeeding, especially once Ella became too active for me to read or use the computer while she was latched on. But I never actually planted her in front of the tube. However, shortly after Ella turned one, I became pregnant with her sister Zoe. Suffering (and I do mean suffering) from  nausea and exhaustion for most of those nine months, while her daily naps simultaneously dropped from 3 at their peak, to 2, and finally to 1, suddenly I needed help, and 16.99 for a Baby Einstein dvd was a lot cheaper than a babysitter.
Did I think the dvd’s would make her smarter? Did I expect her to learn anything, other than the fact the mommy is only human? No. I chose the dvd’s because they were colorful, much slower paced than most  tv (Miffy and that guy on PBS who used to teach people how to paint excluded, of course), and not too-too annoying. At least not the first 50 times or so.
Disney, however, made some lofty claims about the Baby Einstein series, which are well-documented here. Here’s one testimonial that ran on their website: My son, JJ, was born a month premature and was hospitalized for about 2 1/2 weeks. Some of the medications he was on can cause some delays and learning disabilities. He first received the Baby Einstein video at two months old. The first thing I noticed was how quickly it captured his attention. I also noticed how it increased the length of his attention span significantly. Unlike in the diet ads, nowhere did it say “results not typical.”
After threat of a class-action lawsuit, Disney agreed to offer a full refund for up to four dvd’s. That’s $67.96 that I never expected to see again (assuming I even bought the dvd’s, when in fact, I think we received them all as gifts.) All of which leaves me with a dilemma worthy of some real shakla vetarya (talmudic back and forth.) Even though I never believed the false advertising, am I entitled to the rebate? On the one hand, I applaud Disney’s being held accountable for deceptive sales practices. On the other hand, the rebate offer specifically stipulates “If you are not satisfied with the Baby Einstein dvd you purchased….” And I was satisfied. Totally satisfied.
So, readers, what do you think? Send the dvd’s back, or not?

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posted November 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm

1 vote for donating the dvds. they were most likely one of the best choices available.

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posted November 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I’m with Jill, donating them to a library or non-profit who can make use out of them is a great option (or, just keep them :)

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Miriam Foss

posted November 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

I think you should apply for the rebate if you choose not to keep the videos. It is Disney’s way of doing tshuvah for false advertising and you could help them with this.I would submit your blog along with the rebate application and let them know about the unintended benifits of Baby Einstein for you and Ella.

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posted November 9, 2009 at 8:31 pm

To complicate your Talmudic musings, the Einstein trademark is owned by Hebrew University, whose name now appears on the DVD packaging. Should Hebrew University repudiate the Baby Einstein brand because of the false claims that they were educational, and the fact that Baby Einstein is now saying that they never said the videos were educational?

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Ruth Abrams

posted November 11, 2009 at 8:43 am

If you send them back, you won’t have to store them in your house. You could donate the rebate to tzedakah–preferably to a charity that serves young families with books.

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Judy Meltzer

posted November 11, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Take into account the salutary effect those DVD’s had on old bubbe who took full advantage of the down time they afforded.

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