Should Bloggers Edit an Honest Product Review?

11.29.11


An interesting discussion has popped up in blogging forums this week. Recently a baby carrier was sent out to a group of mom bloggers for review. One of the bloggers, Shawn Ann,  wrote a review of the product including images of how she used it and was asked by the consulting company to remove the pictures from her site.

Shawn Ann posted the following to the forums:

Anyway, I got an email today from Mom Central with this in it:

Quote

The Infantino team is very excited about this carrier and feels it is very important to make sure they are worn properly to ensure the comfort, support and safety of you and your baby. With that in mind, as I was reading through your posts it looks like the pictures you include show the carrier being worn incorrectly.
Since depicting proper use is so important, do you think it would be possible to take down the pictures for the time being? I’ve copied a member of the Infantino team Cary on this email and I’m sure she would love to connect with you to discuss further.

Since we followed the directions for the product, watched the video on how to properly use the product.  Would you remove the pictures or tell them too bad, that’s part of my review?
I honestly can’t see how they can say that the pictures show me wearing it incorrectly.  The pictures are showing that our baby isn’t comfortable in it and that he’s not fully supported in it.  I even pointed that out, the instructions are easy to follow (read wise) but actually putting the product on isn’t as easy.

The baby carrier review is here, and I’m assuming that the picture that the client dislikes is this one. [ed note: I added the text to the photo so that no one would be confused by seeing it out of context and think that this was a safe way to carry the baby, thanks for your comments]

Sync Comfort Wrap Carrier edited for clarity

 

It doesn’t look at all like Shawn Ann has used the carrier correctly… but that’s what’s so great about bloggers reviewing products. It’s good for moms to know that an infant carrier might be difficult to use. Maybe they’ll buy a different brand, or maybe they’ll buy that same carrier but only from a boutique where they’re given a lesson.

Remember this is an infant carrier. You will be carrying your infant in it. Safety matters (says the woman who dropped her baby 12.9 years ago and is still freaking out about it).

As a kudos to the women I spend my online time with there was a 90% consensus that it was a fair and honest review and that the pictures should stay up. These women are bold and brave and understand that their honesty could keep them from having more opportunities but at the same time they recognize that you can’t deceive your readers and expect to be trusted.

And then Rachel posted this in the forum.

I just got an email that they are asking everyone to remove the posts because so many are wearing it incorrectly.   I know for a fact, mine was on correctly, it is just a crappy carrier.  But I pulled the post for now.

If you’re a blogger I’m wondering what you would do, and if you’re a blog reader would you trust a blogger who “pulled a post” because a consulting company asked them to?

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51 responses to “Should Bloggers Edit an Honest Product Review?”

  1. M.O says:

    As a blogger, I believe in honesty and building a reputation of doing the right thing. As a reader of other blogs, I absolutely WOULD NOT trust a blogger who pulled a post.  It truly is bad enough that there are so many bogus reviews out there on the internet as it is.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t edit it.  Then again, if I was reviewing a product and I found it to not live up to expectations, I wouldn’t give a heads up to the PR company either.  When I hear about bloggers offering not to post a negative review I kind of die a little.  Are we to believe that every product is fantastic?  I think negative reviews are just as important as glowing reviews.   If the carrier was crappy and hard to use and not comfortable for the baby- that information should be out there.

  3. This is a tough question.

    Whether it is babywearing, cribs, helmets, car seats, there are many products on the market that can be used properly and safely and that can also be used improperly, creating safety issues.

    If a blogger was reviewing a crib, and put pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers and all sorts of things in the crib, the crib company may object. If a blogger was reviewing a car seat and the infant was improperly secured in the picture, the car seat company would probably object. If the blogger was reviewing a bike helmet and it was on backwards or too loose, the helmet company would probably object.

    The companies that sell these products usually put a lot of effort into describing safe use. That information is often ignored or not read properly by the parents.

    In the case of Shawn Ann’s review, I thought she did a good job explaining some of the safety challenges she had with the product. I think it would have been better if she’d put a caption under that picture that said: “Although I placed his head properly as per the instructions, he kept popping his head back out into an unsafe position like this.” That way it would have been clear that it was an illustration of the safety problems she faced with the product.

    I also think it illustrates problems with the approach that some companies use to select bloggers to review their products. I think that a company that makes a stretchy wrap would want to seek out bloggers who are already using a similar product and get them to test this one. That way, they would already have babies that are comfortable with that type of product and the moms would already be familiar with proper use.

    • Natasha Chiam says:

      Thank you Annie. I could not agree more!! If you have a new baby carrier and you want to have it reviewed, seek out a babywearing expert and/or educator (ahem, cough, cough, YoooHooo–over here!!). On the other hand, I have seen this carrier and it is NOT a safe carrier in my opinion. The instructions tell you that is can be used for back carrying and it is NOT one that any expert or even a proficient babywearing parent would ever use or recommend! You would think that Infantino would have learned their lesson in the baby carrier market already, but NO, it seems not. 

      As for pulling the review, NO, I would not. Already in the review world we are bombarded with LOVE, love, love posts every day. I prefer an honest review, with the good, the bad and the needs improvement all listed!

    • I agree with you. I get the company’s concern but if she followed the instructions and did the best she could to use it right, she should illustrate what followed. Your caption suggestion would be helpful. but I don’t think what she did originally was bad/wrong. I would not delete the photos if I were her.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, I think Shawn Ann did a good job.

  4. Sugar Jones says:

    I’ve worked with Infantino before… sort of. My daughter was a model for them, so I usually perk up when I hear their name. I know that there was an incident where a mom used one of their carriers incorrectly and the baby was smothered. I can see why they’d be concerned about the carriers being worn incorrectly. Maybe Infantino should have provided a video for the moms to share on how to properly wrap the babies with their carrier.

  5. Alison says:

    I’m not a fan of Infantino. Especially with that baby carrier that was recalled that I had actually got when my oldest was a newborn.. and was like wow this fabric really covers his face. I steer clear of them now because of that incident. The new carrier does look better but really if a mom by herself can’t get it on easily within the first couple of times then it’s not good. Now I have used wrap carriers in the past but I adore my Ergo. Sad that my youngest now doesn’t want to use it anymore.

    But if I was the blogger this happened too I would not delete the post or pictures. We need to let other people know that this product doesn’t work for us, but it may for others. Infantino just can’t go around deleting reviews from Amazon or anywhere else so they shouldn’t get the right to do so on our blogs when we are honestly reviewing products.

  6. I would keep the review and the photo. If so many moms are shown wearing it in a way that they describe as incorrect, then they should have their product design people looking at why this is so. Is it too hard to put on? Is it the case that when the product is put on as instructed it doesn’t fit the way it is supposed to? That’s what they should worry about, not the fact that they feel the mom’s are not wearing it right, but if so, why is this so common?

  7. While I would keep my review and photos up – because after all, I DID review the product – I would remove the name of the PR company that gave me the product, because at that point, it is no longer being endorsed by them. I would treat it like a product that I purchased and gave my opinion on. 

  8. Corinne says:

    Why not add an update specifying that the company contacted er and told her she was wearing it wrong so that people shouldn’t wear theirs that way. She van also note she followed the directions so that people should be careful they are wearing it correctly if they decide to buy one?

  9. Christy says:

    If a company asked me to remove a review I wrote for them I would honor that and remove it BUT I would then write a new blog to let my readers know WHY I removed it. I would let them know what was going on and that I removed the post at the company’s request but still stood by what I wrote. Then my readers could make the final judgement call themselves. Having never seen or heard of this product and going only off what I have read here it sounds as if there may be issues with the design of the carrier and instead of admitting this they want the honest reviews taken down. I respect honest reviews and question a blogger who only has 100% positive feedback for every product they try, especially if they are a larger blogger that gets a lot of products to review. This is one of the reasons why I decided I didn’t want to review products, because I absolutely refuse to lie or sugar coat things on my blog.

  10. I’m proud of Shawn Ann for sticking to gun so to speak. When a company asks for a review, they should expect honesty, sometimes, the honest opinion won’t work out in their favor. That’s just how it is.

    Fortunately for Infantino, I no longer have babies young enough to wear because this whole ordeal just made me lose any interest in ever purchasing from the company. I don’t like deceptive practices.

  11. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy says:

    I would honestly pull the post.  I don’t feel as bloggers we are responsible to speak out against every product we ever dislike.  I post product reviews of products I ENDORSE! Are there products that I don’t write about? Yes.  Does that make me untrustworthy? I guess in some people’s eyes it does but its what I have chosen to do and what I would feel is reasonable of any blogger I read.  If I have an issue with a product I give that feedback to the company, I don’t feel it serves my well as a brand ambassador to bash products.  I DO however review products that have cons to them but also have pros that I think someone might find worth while.  I only decline to post about products that I feel have no value and while I suppose I might save a couple people from wasting their money on something, if I haven’t mentioned the product previously in anyway to imply I would buy it then I don’t see the problem with not posting about it.  Granted this case is different it was up, but it was honest when it was up.  If it was seen it was seen. If it wasnt’… I think in this case I might share through other avenues because it is a baby carrier and that would be something I would feel led to share if its a safety issue but usually I just get the rare sucky product or website, nothing safety related.

    • The JackB says:

      There is a difference between speaking out and sharing your experience. You can provide an honest review without going out of your way to bash the company.

      Your readers will appreciated your candor and frankly the company should too. Your feedback provides valuable information and may help them refine the product and or adjust the instructions so that it works as it should.

      There is a middle ground here.

  12. Esc Junk Email says:

    Either way, infantino should be soooooo grateful for bloggers. This is a basically free venue for them to test products with people who know their stuff. If they were to do it in a focus group, it would cost at least $10,000 and the people may or may not know what the product is even for. Now infantino knows they either need to tweak the product or the instructions, or shelf the product. Priceless data for the company.

  13. That is why I go back and forth.  I know that my review was not at all stellar and while I think it is very easy to use this carrier incorrectly, I feel as though it was more about saving face and putting a good face out there.  Infantino carriers have a bad rap as it is.  Having all these posts littering the web talking about how no one really likes them, doesn’t help the cause.  

    • Anonymous says:

      But if they have a bad rap for a reason- wouldn’t you as a consumer like to know to steer clear?  Give them a chance to get it right instead of pushing a mediocre product.  There are a lot of baby carrier brands out there that preform much better, they happen to have a fairly well known name (and a fairly low price point) so people are going to buy their product.  There should be higher expectations. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would not remove it.  Freedom of speech for one thing and the fact that you are giving an honest review is another.  If they have everyone pull the bad reviews, people will buy the product thinking everyone loves it and will be wasting their money.

    What most places to is put a big UPDATE paragraph in there somewhere.  State that even though you followed the instructions, you found out it was on wrong and when you fixed it it seems much better.  Or state that you were contacted by the company and they asked you to remove the review because it was unfavorable but that because you have the best interest of your readers in mind, you decided to keep it up.

    • Alison says:

      Yeah if I was searching for a review of this product before I was going to buy it and found nothing but great reviews and bought it and it was a pain in the ass to use then I would be upset.

  15. Lee Allport says:

    I don’t think Shawn Ann should remove anything. But I do want to say that I see nothing wrong with a blogger who only chooses to post about her positive experience. I receive products weekly that I try out and decide I don’t want to review because of one thing or another. It is what it is.

  16. Yeah, it’s a tough call.

    You want to work with companies — and yet at the same time be as honest with your readers as possible. We gotta go with our guts!

  17. kai macmahon says:

    No, of course they shouldn’t remove it. If a company asked me to, I would politely decline, but I would offer them the opportunity to show me how I was using the product incorrectly, and do a followup post on that.

    This is earned media. If you earn something you don’t like, then tough shit I’m afraid.
    If Infantino were smart, their strategy would have been to work directly with all the bloggers to rectify the usage issues, then to work with them to put together some clearer guidelines on how to use the product.  Very simple fix.  Instead, a mess.

    Also, Infantino sounds like a character from the X-Men.

  18. Sharlene says:

    I have been asked to change things before and have declined. However, if the company feels that a product was worn incorrectly, I think that there is nothing wrong with keeping the blogger’s pictures and opinions up along with a disclaimer stating that the company has pointed out to her that the product was being used incorrectly.

  19. Marie Denee says:

    I had an issue, not with this but by another brand who asked me to take down a review in which what I stated was true… actually it wasnt even the brand, but the affiliate manager at that. 

    Needless to say, I did not take down my post because I knew if it disappeared my readers  would wonder and yes, some trust would have lost… I offered an update, but then declined once I realized it wasnt even the brand who I was talking to… 

    Go with your integrity and first instinct, as usually it is best… 

  20. My opinion is well-documented on the forums, but thank you for bringing this to light for everyone else. I write first and foremost for consumers. I do not trust or respect bloggers who believe that blogs should be all positive all the time (and there are many of them). I view my website as a means to educate people so that they can hopefully avoid some of the trial and error that I have often learned from. I harbor a special resentment for companies that try to cut corners and market cheaply made products that endanger children and waste their parents’ money. It’s not just the brand name that makes certain premium baby products more expensive–it’s the research, the materials, the care and the craftsmanship. You get what you pay for. If the majority of the Infantino reviewers couldn’t manage to wear the carrier properly and safely, that’s indication that the product needs to be pulled, NOT the posts!

  21. Jennydecki says:

    I once reviewed lotion that gave me a horrific rash. I emailed the PR team and sent them a pic of my rash. They sent out a sensitive version that worked fine. I put in my review that sensitive folks would probably get a wicked rash, but people without sensitive skin swore by the regular product. (My husband used it for months.) So I did a little extra work but they never had a problem with the honesty and rash portion of the problem. I think Infantino lost a huge opportunity to explain WHY they were on wrong and HOW this could happen and WHAT they would do to remedy the problem and get these bloggers wearing it correctly. Bloggers aren’t a bunch of yokel idiots, if they’re ALL wearing it wrong, everyone else probably is, too. 

  22. Anonymous says:

    As a blogger and consultant that reaches out to bloggers on behalf of a brand I can see how this is an issue for both sides. Bloggers should post fair and honest reviews. I always suggest posting pro’s and con’s of a product if there’s something I dislike to show both sides. This also is great product research and it is honest. When I work with bloggers I always ask them to contact me if there is an issue before posting something negative because often times it is a misunderstanding and can be resolved quickly. I only ask for changes when a blogger is making an untrue, inaccurate or false statement of claim about a product. Again, this is usually a misunderstanding and quickly and easily resolved. In addition, when working with bloggers I’m very clear about the expectations of the campaign and the agreed upon terms. If they participated and agreed to “take a post down if asked to” then that is a different story. I am guessing this was not the agreed upon terms and it was to just review a baby carrier.

    For this blog review the brand simply does not like this mother’s experience or opinion and frankly, it was nicely written. Perhaps the baby is being worn wrong but this should show the company that they need to improve their product or change the instructions and perhaps include a better video. It is free market research to improve the product. They wanted a different reaction and review but instead they cheaply and publicly received product feedback.

    Personally, I would not take it down but I would want to work with the brand to learn how to use the carrier correctly if I was using it wrong and then do a another post. I am happy to work with brand to make corrections or changes but not to conceal my opinions or be untruthful to my readers and community.

    • KaiMac says:

      No brand should be entering into an agreement with a blogger where the blogger is required to ‘take a post down if asked to’. Any blogger or brand who enters into an agreement like that automatically loses my trust.This is earned media. if the brand doesn’t like what it earns, then it needs to work harder to earn better media.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with you about taking the post down and entering into such an agreement- that was just an example of a term that the perhaps the company or consulting firm could have had with the blogger that we weren’t aware of – though I’m certain that wasn’t the case.

        However, this is not earned media. Earned media is something you do not pay for and frankly they paid in terms of product and they hired a consulting firm. This is paid media.

  23. Lorien Quattrocchi says:

    As a consumer of blogs in which bloggers occasionally review products, for the love of little apples DON’T pull your negative reviews. A) it establishes your credibility as not a paid schill for a product and B) mums do rely on the fair assessment of products by *trusted* ie. impartial reviewers, including  bloggers.

    If a blogger doesn’t negatively review a crappy product, then they are simply another avenue to advertising, and nothing more.

  24. Tanya says:

    Should a blogger be asked to pull a post? No. Infantino is asking Mom Central to 1) remove the image(s) that are portraying a safety issue with a brand because a person isn’t wearing the sling correctly and 2) Infantino and Mom Central (as quoted above in Jessica’s original blog post) are willing to work with the blogger to walk them through how to put the sling on correctly. No where in the above post or email quote was either Mom Central or Infantino asking that the entire post be removed.

    If a sling isn’t worn properly in an image and a new mother Googles to see images on how to wear a particular brand of sling and if the baby isn’t in the sling correctly this is a legal issue that goes to the brand as well as the blogger themselves.

    When I look at Shawn Ann’s picture above, it’s clearly obvious that she isn’t wearing the sling correctly. The baby’s head is no where near supported and this is isn’t the way the brand, Infantino, promotes their product. They promote their sling as the baby’s head NEEDS to be supported. Looking at the one image of Rachel’s baby in the sling, I can see that this isn’t worn correctly either.

    All the brand is doing is trying to get the bloggers to call in to talk to them so the brand can walk them through how to wear it properly – No one is asking that the posts be removed; just the images of the sling being worn wrong.

    Just by the blog post above and the unwillingness of removing images of a baby sling worn incorrectly does make the bloggers look bad for not willing to work with a brand to make it correct. This is like reviewing a pack and play and having it collapse on your baby because it’s not set up properly. Infant safety is obviously Infantino’s concern here.

    If it were me and I didn’t like the sling, I would take my thoughts to the brand and not to a forum where you really aren’t heard by the brand themselves, other than bad mouthing, then turning around and accepting the product plus the payment/code in return.

    • Is that a review then or an endorsement? 

      Is it fair to say that there are review bloggers and endorsement bloggers? They seem like different people to me. 

      • Tanya says:

        Either way, it’s clear that the sling is worn wrong and I agree with  Gib Wallis in the terms of just removing the image that shows where it’s clear she has the sling on wrong, then in a caption show something in her own defense that an image was removed, because in reality, if someone finds the post(s) and say their kid smothers to death because they were in the sling like she shows, they very well could come back after her and the brand and say that she showed the sling to be worn in the exact way that say infant death occurred, then yes, it will fall back on the images from the incorrect wear. I agree that her post was just fine, however it’s the one image that shows incorrect wear, in both posts that were linked.

        • Shawn Ann says:

          In which picture am I wearing it incorrectly?  I’ve yet for anyone to tell me which picture shows that I’m wearing it wrong.  If someone could point that out, that would be great.  Because if I’m wearing it wrong in one picture, then I’m wearing it wrong in two pictures.

    • Shawn Ann says:

      In my own defense, I never said I wasn’t willing to work with the brand, I just am not willing to remove images of MY outcome of the use of their product that obviously doesn’t work for ME.  I responded to them, haven’t heard anything else back.  And with regards to the picture of my sons head, HE IS LOOKING UP AT ME HIS HEAD IS NOT FALLING BACK BECAUSE IT’S NOT SUPPORTED.  You can see that if you read my actual review and look at the actual pictures.  The first picture is of my son in the same position in the carrier. 

      Also, YES they are asking bloggers to remove the entire post, as stated in a quote from another blogger! Because apparently most of us aren’t wearing it correctly.  Therefore, they are trying to deceive potential clients from seeing BAD reviews and reviews where people obviously can’t get their product to work as intended.

      Personally I don’t feel a mom should have to go through training to figure out how to use a baby carrier.  If I’ve read the directions and watched their video (that was put out after we already received the product – probably because bloggers had already been complaining that they couldn’t get it to work) then the product isn’t good and should be rethought out.  I spent over 30 minutes putting my child in the carrier for each position while my husband read the directions out loud.  We followed the directions….the product doesn’t look the same on everyone and isn’t going to work for everyone.  Also take into consideration that the model for their product is skin and bones with no boobs, I’ve got a figure and a full figure at that. 

    • Alison says:

      In that post another blogger has stated that they are asking for the posts to be removed. It’s quoted near the end.

  25. Sharon Mayes says:

    I don’t feel like Shawn Ann should remove her photos but maybe it would be helpful to her and the brand if she updated the post explaining that sling is not on correctly and maybe post a photo of the correct way to wear the sling. 

  26. Having been in a similar situation, I will say that if I could go back to change what I did when a brand asked me to pull a portion of my review, I definitely would have. I received a product and while I loved it, love the concept, my kids were not sold on it… so much so that they hated it. I didn’t want to put up a purely negative review because really it was my kids’ view points on the product that I was writing about so I opted not to post the review at all. Then I started getting emails from the brand telling us (the bloggers) that if we didn’t post our review, we would be sent a bill to purchase the product! I’d never heard of a brand doing such a thing so I wrote my review with a disclaimer that this was not a good fit at all and what my kids thought of it and that I wasn’t even going to share this review because of my kids’ large distaste of the product but I was being threatened to pay for the product if I didn’t write the review so here it is… the brand hated that when they read it and asked me to pull the disclaimer (which I did eventually do) but in hindsight, I should have left it up because it was going against what I believed. I wasn’t out to bash the brand at all but I wanted my community to be informed. 

    So do I think the blogger should pull her pictures? Not at all. I read her full post and she clearly states that they can’t get it on properly, that it’s difficult to put on and that she had extreme difficulty – the pictures support her review. 

    I’m not on board with any brand that only wants a positive review and is only concerned with the good points and doesn’t want to hear about the bad about their products; I’m happy to review a product but not at the expense of leaving out my full opinion on the product; it’s not fair to readers when you do that.

  27. Katie says:

    I don’t think she should remove her photos. However, if she wanted to put a caption near the one in question, she could say something such as “I watched the video, as did my husband, and we followed the directions exactly as stated and this is how the sling fit. I know it looks uncomfortable and on incorrectly, but we followed the directions exactly as stated”. 

  28. Pebblekeeper says:

    I wouldn’t ever pull a post. I might add a paragraph of the email – stating that the company says I am wearing it incorrectly and then include any followup of their help to have it adjusted on my body. I have seen reviews of moms who hated and thrashed a program because they didn’t understand the instructions, and it really hurt the company. I’d be careful of badmouthing a company, only honestly sharing what we experienced. I would add a line that says, disclaimer, the company feels that the photos show an incorrect use, please do not use these photos to help you put the product on. Contact the company for further instruction – or something like that.

  29. Onenickol says:

    I’d leave them up with an *edit* note that the company requests the photographs be removed because they appear to be improperly representing hwo the carrier was to be worn, but in fact the carrier is on properly it is just an awkward and uncomfortable carrier.

    Just tell the truth, even if it’s not good for sales. That’s what the free market is about, the consumers right to choose what is going to work for them.

    I also have to wonder how difficult it is to make a sling? I have made one and it was very easy. I bought another type that just seemed to be a simple loop of stretchy fabric (as a gift).
    We have gone through at least 5 carriers that included a few either uncomfortable or very difficult to use designs . One of my babies hated one of them and preferred a simple sling, another baby hated carriers altogether.

  30. GAHCindy says:

    I have that carrier. It’s a crappy carrier, even when worn “properly”. I absolutely would not edit my posts on the say so of the company. I would probably add something at the bottom to the effect that the company had asked me to, though.

  31. Janet says:

    It doesn’t look like it’s being worn properly. It seems fairly obvious that the baby’s head isn’t being supported. Perhaps there is a problem with the instructions? Did the person who wrote them actually know how to put it on?  Perhaps the blogger didn’t understand or follow the directions properly? Does it look like that in the company’s video? Perhaps it is a communication problem, rather than a product problem? I would clarify what the problem is, if it’s the carrier- I would leave the pics. If it was a communication error, I would pull the pics, and explain the error. Does that seem fair? :)

  32. Green Lifestyle Consulting Blo says:

     I agree with the general consensus that posting information about the fact that the company says the sling is on incorrectly, but to the best ability of the writer as to how the sling should go on. 

    More importantly, I hope that the company learned about the difficulties people are having with their slings, and have gone back to redesign!  I’m going to share this with my friend who is active in a babywearers group.

  33. If you can verify the blogger used the product correctly, I think the review should stay up. it is important to alert consumers that there are issues with products.

  34. […] one I hadn’t heard of prior and it seems to be quite new. There was some discussion about the Infantino Baby Sling post and it was all interesting. They weren’t sure what side I was on. I was unsure there was a side, […]

  35. Shawn Ann says:

    Just wanted to update everyone.  According to Infantino, I am NOT wearing the carrier incorrectly in the image that Jessica suggested.  They know that my son is it the carrier correctly in that picture and that he is looking up at me.  Their concern was with the other way I was carrying our son, which is incorrect because (and only because) he is to old/big to be carried in that manner.

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