The best tactic here is to be cautious and (I have come to learn) unfortunately downright suspicious. Having a whole family of allergy sufferers (milk allergy, nut allergy, nickel allergy, dust allergy, hay fever, the list never seems to end), I have come to realize the following truths:
1) People who don’t have their own allergy sufferer in their close family simply don’t understand the impact and hence the importance of the allergy. This means that they are immediately working under a different set of assumptions to you, the allergy sufferer.
2) Because of this, they fail to see the importance of verifying true allergy data. If you are talking to a shop assistant, their training will normally have been geared to ensuring a sale for the store. However this is not in your interest – you want the data to make a good decision and avoid the nickel based products – which will often mean the store does *not* get to make a sale.
3) I have been repeatedly disappointed by store assistants who not just don’t know the details on their products but can’t find it, won’t find it or who will simply downright lie for their own convenience. The phrase “I’m sure it wouldn’t have nickel in it” is guaranteed to be a lie – what it really means is “I don’t know whether it has nickel in it”. Ask to be convinced. Metal products which truly do not have nickel will be labelled as “100% nickel free” or “guaranteed 100% nickel free” or the product brochure or datasheet will describe the guarantee.
4) You immediately become the expert the moment you know you have a Nickel allergy and realize you have to deal with it. You instantly know more than most sales assistants regarding what’s right for you.
5) You’re often better off shopping online where you can gather better data about the products. This will also save you a huge amount of energy as going from one store to the next in the physical world after failing to get satisfaction will wear you down a lot quicker than simply hitting the next web site in Google. Plus for the nickel allergy sufferer, I have tried to gather together here some of the best shopping links to save you even more work.
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