7 hours ago
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Disability rip-offs: You want me to pay 30 bucks for a spoon?
What I needed was a few teaspoons with big handles, of the kind Max uses at school. Specifically, a Vertical Palm Self-Handle Utensil. That's it on left above. So lovely to look at, right? Its charms include: It can be bent to 90 degrees. Dishwasher safe. Latex free. Phthalates free. Best of all: It enables my son to feed himself.
The OT at Max's school twists it then adds padding, customizing it so Max can better target his mouth. Like this:
The online stores that sell these utensils are typically geared toward people with disabilities and people in need of rehab. The results of my comparison shopping:
$30.18 over at United Health Supply. On sale from $60.70. Wowza. I will take 32 of them, please! At that price, it better well come with someone who will make the food for you. And someone who will clean up. And someone who will give birth to your next child for you.
$28.87 at Berktree.com. Retail price, it says, is $30.80. So they're giving you a deal.
$26.66 at AAAWholesaleCompany
$23.64 over at DevineMedical
$19.00 at Southwest Medical
$13.85 at Wisdomking.com, where I finally bit the bullet. I got four spoons (plus $9.95 shipping) for $65.35.
I'm pretty sure my wedding silver cost less than that.
Price gouging is, of course, not unique to special needs equipment and tools. It's inclusive, really, when you think about it—companies game to rip you off no matter what your (or your child's) disability is! But fools, we're not.
Don't get me started on adaptive toy rip-offs, like the 16-inch Giant Gears toy that sells for $399.95 (NOT A TYPO) at Enabling Devices. Or the large sensory room they've helpfully assembled ("more than 70 items that cover every sensory need") for $19,999.95 (REALLY NOT A TYPO). That could work out, if you purchased the room and moved your entire family in there, although it's unclear whether you could mortgage a sensory room.
Listen, I'm not expecting to find adaptive equipment dirt cheap; I get that this stuff costs more to manufacture. And they're specialty items; it's doubtful Target's coming out with a line of Carolina Herrera adaptive tableware anytime soon. But you want to take advantage of parents desperate for their children to develop? You want to charge people who likely have plenty of extra medical expenses $30 bucks for a spoon? Well, then, bite me.