Which? calls for better advice for online child car seat buyersSupermarkets worst for car seats buying advice

18 April 2013

Buying child car seats online

Parents need good advice to buy and fit the right car seat

A Which? investigation into the quality of choosing, buying and fitting advice on child car seat retailers' websites reveals that parents aren't getting the advice they need to make the best choices for their children.

Visit our child car seats reviews to find out which child car seats we recommend.

Why parents need help buying child car seats

Many parents buy car seats online to get a better deal. 

But we don’t think this is the best way to buy because parents often need help to choose a seat that's suitable for their child and fit it properly in their car.

Which? child car seat researcher Victoria Pearson said: 'At one council fitting clinic, all of the seats bought online were wrong for the car, wrong for the child or wrongly fitted.

'This suggests that parents are not getting the advice they need to choose and fit their car seats properly.'

Finding good child car seat advice online

Which? visited the websites of 12 major stores to test their advice. We looked for guides on the different groups and types of seats explaining that fitting seats correctly can be problematic, and giving advice on common problems.

Asda fared worst with no buying or fitting advice and some poor product descriptions – it scored just 4% in our test compared with the highest score of 72% for Halfords. Tesco also offered little of the advice we hoped to see. 

Both Asda and Tesco say that they are planning better advice and information about buying child car seats for their websites.

The better websites – Halfords, John Lewis and Mamas & Papas – offered more helpful product descriptions and specification information to help parents find the right product and a range of buying and fitting advice. They also offer fitting services in their store.

Which? calls for better child car seat advice

Which? child car seat safety campaign logo

We want stores to make it easier for parents buying online to get good advice and have produced the following recommendations for websites:

  1. Give consistent, comparable product descriptions that include key information about what the seat is and how it is used.
  2. Clear signposting to buying and fitting guides.
  3. A clear description of the law on car seats and different groups, rear/forward-facing seats and attachment/restraint options.
  4. Clear advice that not all car seats fit all cars, with explanations of why and advice on how to tell whether your seat fits properly. 
  5. Make it easy to find the manufacturer’s car seat fitting list for that model and provide the manufacturer’s phone number.

We've also prepared a free child car seats buyer's checklist to help parents get the advice they need when buying a child car seat.

More on this...