‘Killer car seats’ still on sale warning

We warned parents over illegal and potentially dangerous child car seats being sold on online marketplaces.

We found dangerous car seats, which are made of fabric and offer almost no protection in the event of a car crash, selling for as little as £8 on websites such as eBay, Amazon and AliExpress.

Many of the car seats we found for sale online are described in listings as being suitable for young children from newborn up to five years old, but the seats quite clearly lack the kind of support needed to protect young babies and toddlers in the event of a collision.

The last time Which? investigated the problem, it contacted eBay who removed the car seats from sale. However, as there are multiple sellers all selling similar types of car seat many more have since sprung up.

The danger was highlighted in 2014 after Surrey Trading Standards and manufacturer Britax carried out a crash test which resulted in a fabric seat falling to pieces in a 30mph crash.

Alarmingly, the crash test dummy which represented a three-year-old child was flung through the windscreen when the straps securing the seat failed.

At the time, Surrey Trading Standards dubbed them ‘killer car seats’ and proceeded to remove dozens of the seats from sale but they have repeatedly re-appeared for sale on online marketplaces ever since.

The regulations state that only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. This means that only seats with a clear orange approval label have been put through EU safety testing and therefore can be legally sold on the UK market.

The UK e-commerce market is the largest in Europe and more than 30 million people in England and Wales bought at least one item via an online marketplace in 2015 – but this is making it much more difficult for consumers and the authorities to identify and trace rogue traders, and to take enforcement action against them.

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Which? Home Products, said:

“Online marketplaces should not be stocking these dangerous car seats that don’t meet UK safety standards. Using one in the car could mean drivers are breaking the law and unwittingly putting a child’s life at risk.

“The UK’s product safety regime is in dire need of reform to ensure these online marketplaces proactively identify dangerous products. More needs to be done by businesses and Government, so that the authorities can take action against these rogue traders to protect consumers.”