The Which? child car seat retailers best practice charter ensures the best help and advice
Trying to buy the right child car seat - one that is suitable for your child and your car and that fits your budget - can be a daunting experience.
Unless you really know what you're doing, it's likely that you will have to rely at some time or another, on advice given by shop staff – either in an independent specialist store or the mother and baby department of a national chain.
But just how good is the advice given?
Tests by TRL's Child Safety Centre have highlighted a growing problem of counterfeit child seats that may look and feel genuine but haven't been safety tested and could put a child's life at risk.
(1 November 2012)
In 2011 undercover researchers from Which? carried out an investigation into the quality of advice given by child seat retailers. They visited 43 stores – 7 from each of the big national retailers together with a selection of independent stores - across the country posing as parents of an 11 month old child ready to move into the next stage car seat.
Shop staff were rated on seven key points:
Overall 15 out of 43 stores didn't ask the weight of the child, and 20 recommended seats that weren’t compatible with the researcher's family car.
Half of the stores (49%) failed to install the seats correctly and two of the big retail chains failed to mention the importance of keeping a baby rear-facing for longer, in all of their seven stores visited.
Independent retailers demonstrated a generally high standard with a few exceptions and outperformed the national chains by a considerable margin.
The Which? best practice charter
Following their investigation, Which? gave detailed feedback to the retailers involved and has since worked with them to develop a "child car seat retailers best practice charter" - a set of 10 principles describing the knowledge and behaviour of shop staff involved in selling child seats or giving advice about choosing them.
Babies R Us, John Lewis, Mamas & Papas and Mothercare - all of which had stores checked as part of the Which? investigation - have signed up to the charter, together with the body representing independent specialists, the British Independent Retailers Association.
Child seat retailers best practice charter
Using a retailer that has signed up to the charter should ensure that you get the best advice and come away with the right child seat for your child – one that suits the child's current age/height; is compatible with your car and one that you know how and are able to fit correctly.
(1 November 2012)