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Car seats and buckle crunch - heard of this?

(81 Posts)
northerner Tue 31-May-05 11:22:15

We've got a maxi cosi priori carseat, bought from Mothercare about 18 months/2 years ago.

I was at a playgroup on Friday and they had a car seat safety woman there from our local council, basically, she looked at our ceat seat and told me it is not fitted correctly as the buckle part of our seatbelt is longer than most (common with Vauxhall Astra's and Vectra's apparantly) so the buckle of the seatbelt is too high up and rests against the base of the seat. Which means at best the seat moves around more than it should, and at worst in a hight impact collision the buckle could pop open under the strain. This is known as 'buckle crunch'

I have spoken to maxi cosi today, who are aware of this problem, and did admit that it means that my son is not as safe as he should be, but they said it is an issue with Mothercare as they sold me the seat.

Mothercare say that it is not their problem (they didn't fit the seat in our car, but did demonstrate in store on one of those seat things) At no time did they mention buckle crunch or tell me what to look for, even though they asked what type of care we had. They say it is up to me to go away and check it is secure.

So I am now left with a car seat that doesn't keep my so as safe as it should.

What do you think? Should I take this further with Mothercare or dose the blame lie with me and should I just stomach it and buy another car seat?

TIA

assumedname Tue 31-May-05 11:24:39

Surely the blame lies with the manufacturer?
They should point out that their seat doesn't fit certain makes of car as well as it should and so should not be fitted to x, y and z models of car.

babaworshipper Tue 31-May-05 11:33:49

I would try trading standards for advice. We have an astra and the britax renaissance fits fine. The priori does have buckle crunch an so do quite a few others. The first class is also fine.

Renaissance is 99 pounds from kiddicare - but halfords did a grand job trying them all for us!

Janh Tue 31-May-05 11:46:01

The responsibility lies with the user, IMHO - there are so many possible combinations of seat and car that it has to be down to the car-user to make sure the seat they want fits properly. (It's been an issue for a long time - 11 years ago we had a Britax Freeway in a 1989 Toyota, and on that the buckle was definitely way too high on the frame, it used to worry me then. It's not so much how high it is as whether the buckle is at an angle against the frame.)

Having said that, it makes me cross that so many car manufacturers are so dopey about this - how hard would it be to make sure that the buckle has the shortest possible strap on it so that it comes nowhere near a car seat frame? I know it makes it very awkward to fasten the belt when you're rummaging around practically underneath the person/child seat to find the buckle, but it's so much safer - as well as the buckle crunch issue, if the strap is too long it increases the risk of damage to a person when the buckle sits against their hip bone.

LIZS Tue 31-May-05 11:49:20

Think your complaint is with Mothercare as retailer if they sold it as appropriate for your car, but you would probably have to prove that you specified it as needing to fit safely in that type/model/year etc of car and not sure how you could do that if they didn't actually fit it or demonstrate it in your car. Perhaps TS could advise you - you can find your local branch here - or ROSPA .

lemonice Tue 31-May-05 11:58:15

We bought a car seat a few weeks ago in Mothercare and the assistant tried it in the car before we bought it, she also advised us against a cheaper seat on the grounds that it didn't have side impact protection. The first question we asked was do all the seats fit any car and she laughed and said no. I got the impression that Mothercare always fitted the car seat to the car before completing the sale - were you offered this or did you ask for it? If it's automatically offered in some branches then you may be able to complain to Mothercare if you were not offered a fitting (of course if you declined or didn't have the same car there then that wouldn't apply)

We have a Fiat Doblo and bought a Britax Asis which was redued because a discontinued pattern.

northerner Tue 31-May-05 12:01:53

I've just spoken to Trading Standards, who agree I was badly advised but because of the timescale it would be very dificult to prove I told them we had an Astra.

Janh I totally agree with you - why do they make cars with these longer buckles?

I'm so cross. Looks like there is nothing I can do

northerner Tue 31-May-05 12:03:48

lemonice - My local mothercare don't offer the fitting service because they are on the 2nd floor of a shopping centre so you can't park anywhere near the store. So they have one of those car seats in the shop and they use that to demonstrate.

Janh Tue 31-May-05 12:08:34

In that case they should be obliged to send you to a branch that does do proper fitting then, surely? I would have a moan to their HO, northerner.

lemonice Tue 31-May-05 12:08:36

It seems to me then that they must be aware that that is not an ideal scenario and they should make it very clear that they are only demonstrating how to fit the seat and warn you that it may not fit your vehicle.

I would try and gently persuade Mothercare that they could offer a goodwill gesture of a discount on a replacement seat to ensure your future custom. That is how I deal with complaints.(I don't work for mothercare obviously)

lemonice Tue 31-May-05 12:10:42

I agree with Janh - Leamington Spa branch fit in the actual car.

northerner Tue 31-May-05 12:11:50

Thanks for your opinions guys. I will put a letter together and send it to Mothercare.

starlover Tue 31-May-05 12:15:26

but shops aren't OBLIGED to fit a car seat... so you can't complain if they don't. And you wouldn't expect their staff to know which seats fit which cars.

This information IS available from the manufacturers.

northerner Tue 31-May-05 12:18:29

Starlover - I would expect mothercare staff to know which car seat fits which cars. They are the experts not me. And if they don't know or arent sure, then I'd expect them to tell me that at time of purchase and i'd go elsewhere.

lemonice Tue 31-May-05 12:24:52

Any shop specialising in selling products for safety reasons for children should be trained in their proper use and clearly Mothercare know that or they wouldn't be up to speed in some of their branches. I wouldn't expect them to know every make of car - ours for example is not very common, but they should state that an in car fitting by trained staff is the only way to ensure safety and if they do that in one store then they clearly know that is best practice and should be consistent across all their stores.

starlover Tue 31-May-05 12:25:16

who said they're car seat experts? they work in mothercare! that doesn't mean they should remmeber every single make of car and precisely which makes fit in them!
that's ridiculous.

Hausfrau Tue 31-May-05 12:25:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

starlover Tue 31-May-05 12:26:26

you can buy car seats online FFS... would you then say it;s their fault for it not fititng properly?

god, why can't people take some responsibility for a change.

starlover Tue 31-May-05 12:27:35

you cou;d have insisted that someone come out to your car to check it fits ok.

i would imagine that the instruction booklet would say something about the position of the buckle...


you could have taken it to halfords... they would have checked....

lemonice Tue 31-May-05 12:28:20

With reference to Hausfrau point I should make it clear that they fitted a store car seat in our car and we bought the same model from the store but then fitted it into the car ourselves.

starlover Tue 31-May-05 12:29:22

we did the same from our local nursery shop lemonice

morningpaper Tue 31-May-05 12:30:11

I think it's probably your responsibility for not fitting it in the car before you buy it.

To be honest though - unless it is actually loose and the babyseat can be pulled back from the carseat, it wouldn't bother me. You can only take so many precautions.

northerner Tue 31-May-05 12:30:44

Excuse me starlover, no need for that tone 'FFS'.

My point is I didn't know what buckle crunch was until it was explained to me by a professional. It was not mentioned to me by Mothercare staff, nor is it mentioned in my maxi cosi manual.

I would be prepared to take full responsibility, but I didn't have the facts. How does that me make responsible?

morningpaper Tue 31-May-05 12:32:45

I checked the babyworld website about this problem and it recommends going to your car manufacturer and getting new seat belts fitted or your current ones adjusted. Makes sense to me.

Tissy Tue 31-May-05 12:42:41

unless I've missed something somewhere, not all manufacturers of car seats will have a list of which cars they fit... Britax does (but it's not exhaustive- for example, it doesn't yet say whether the Britax Kid fits the Mk5 VW Golf). Maxi Cosi don't have a list on their website, and neither do Graco. We bought a new car seat for dd this weekend (as the most recent Which? tests called the car seat we had for her a "shocker" ). We went to an independent baby store, and the saleswoman told us that all staff had had "Britax" training, but that the other manufacturers don't run training courses for their seats.

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