Not fit to fit car seats Retailers found wanting on child seat advice

18 September 2011

We visited 43 stores, posing as customers

We checked out seven stores from each major chain

You could unwittingly be gambling with your child’s life if you follow the child car seat fitting advice given by some child car seat retailers.

In our undercover investigation, almost half the stores we visited failed to install the seats correctly.

Fifteen of the 43 store staff failed even to ask the basic question – what is the weight of your child?

Twenty stores recommended seats that were incompatible with our ordinary family car.

And two major retail chains completely failed to mention the importance of keeping a baby rear-facing for longer, in all seven stores we visited. This is important, because in a front crash, a child is much better protected if they are in a rearward-facing seat.

About our research

In July this year, we visited 43 stores up and down the country. Posing as customers, we covered 1,500 miles and sought advice at seven branches of Babies 'R' Us, Halfords, John Lewis, Mamas & Papas and Mothercare, and seven independent shops. We also visited a Manchester branch of Tesco which was piloting child car seat sales, in an effort to find the best child car seat sales and fitting advice.

We filmed every visit using hidden cameras to record the advice offered, and then later made a detailed analysis of the fitting service.

Watch our video to see some typical examples of what we found.


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Next steps

We’ve opened discussions with the big retail chains we investigated – starting by giving each detailed feedback about how it can improve its child seat fitting services. And we’re hoping to work with several of them on an agreed retailer best practice charter that can be rolled out nationwide.

To read the full report and read all our advice about buying child car seats, including a ‘download and print’ buyer’s checklist to help you avoid the pitfalls of poor retailer service, go to

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