Undercover Research Finds Retailers Failing On Children's Car Seats
|Newly published research has found that parents seeking advice on which children's car seat to buy are being failed by retailers giving out misleading information, and installing seats incorrectly.
The undercover research by consumer group Which? shows that almost a year after the group exposed problems with fittings at seven major retailers, assistants at some of their shops are still not asking the right questions to establish which seat will be safest, and making inaccurate claims about which cars they fit.
Halfords and Babies R Us scored worst in the exercise.
In seven visits by researchers to Babies R Us, the undercover reporters said the seat was fitted correctly only once. Errors included misrouted and twisted seatbelts, both of which could compromise a child's safety.
At Halfords, an assistant incorrectly told researchers that all belted seats fitted all cars, while at Mamas & Papas just one store fitted the seat correctly and three attached straps incorrectly.
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In John Lewis, Which? said staff knowledge was generally good, but seats were fitted incorrectly in five out of seven cases.
The researchers posed as parents with an 11-month-old child weighing 9kg (20lbs) – the lowest weight at which a child can legally move into a forward-facing seat.
Experts recommend that children stay in rear seats for as long as possible, as these offer more protection to a child's neck and spine in the event of a crash, and many infant seats accommodate children beyond this weight. However in 21 out of 35 shop visits the child's weight was not mentioned.
The report found that Mothercare offered the best fitting service, where assistants asked the weight on six out of seven visits and recommended remaining in a rear-facing seat in four cases. Although only three Mothercare assistants asked what car the seat would be used in, seven out of seven checked the chosen seat was suitable in the researchers' car.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said parents should be able to trust the advice they were getting from major retailers. "It is unacceptable that major high street retailers are still giving poor advice and failing to highlight crucial information that is key to a child's safety, despite some of them promising to do better last year," he said.
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