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16 Feb 2019

Why are eBay and Amazon still selling these 'killer car seats'?

Illegal car seats are still on sale to parents despite previous Which? warnings

Child car seats that are illegal to use in the UKare available to buy from eBay, Amazon and AliExpress, despite repeated warnings from Trading Standards and Which?.

The seats, which sell for as little as £8 and are made of fabric, could be potentially deadly if involved in a car crash.

Surrey Trading Standards first warned about these types of car seats in 2014, dubbing them 'killer car seats' and pushed for them to be removed from sale.

In December 2017, a Which? investigationdiscovered listings for similar car seats on eBay. Following our investigation, the products we discovered were delisted.

Just over a year later, we've spotted the same types of car seats available on eBay, Amazon and AliExpress.

You should also avoid these otherDon't Buy car seats.

What's wrong with these seats?

Surrey Trading Standards dubbed these car seats 'killers' for good reason.

When car seat manufacturer Britax used one to show the effect of an impact when travelling at 30mph, the test dummy, which represented a three-year-old child, was flung through the windscreen when the straps securing the seat came loose.

If this had been a real child, it could have resulted in life-threatening injuries.

Watch what happened in that crash test and find out more about why these seats are unsafe by watching our video below.

Our investigation found:

  • Listings marketing these fabric car seats as being suitable for children from 0-5 years old, when the seats quite clearly lack the kind of support needed to protect young babies and toddlers in the event of a collision.
  • The seats described as, 'strong, durable, comfortable, safe' and boasting 'advanced side protection: lateral energy absorbers reduce force in the event of a side impact'.
  • Small print warning that the seat should not be used in a high-speed car, despite theadvertisement quite clearly stating the product is a car seat.

The law on child car seats

The law on child car seats states that only EU-approved seats can be used in the UK. These will have a clear orange approval label indicating they can be sold in the UK market.

The fabric car seat we bought on eBay lacked any form of labelling.

How to buy a safe child car seat

If you need to buy a baby or child car seat, follow these tips:

  • Check that the car seat has label with either ECE R44-03, ECE R44-04 or ECE R129, which shows it's legal to be sold on the UK market.
  • Buy your car seat from a retailer who can provide advice and help you fit the car seat correctly into your car.
  • Never buy a second-hand car seat as you can't tell whether it has been in any crashes just by looking at it. There could be internal damage, which could compromise the structural safety and isn't obvious from the outside.
  • Car seats should come with instructions that are written in clear English.
  • If a car seat seems extremely cheap, the price is probably too good to be true.

For more tips on buying a child car seat that's safe and durable, read our guide on how to buy the right child car seat.

Car seats that meet the requirements of the EU safety standard

What eBay, Amazon and AliExpress told us

eBay has since removed the listing for the fabric car seat we bought, as well as other listings for products that we highlighted as being similar.

eBay has contacted all the sellers involved and requested they contact the buyers to organise a return and to pay for the return shipping.

A spokesperson for eBay said: 'The safety of our customers is paramount and we do not tolerate the listing of non-compliant items by sellers.

'Our specialist teams work with regulators and Trading Standards to ensure our block filters stay up to date, using sophisticated software that monitors billions of listings a day to remove any prohibited items.'

Amazon has alsoremoved the listings we alerted it to and has contacted customers who purchased from them.

A spokesperson for Amazon said: 'All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don't will be subject to action including potential removal of their account.

'The products in question are no longer available.'

AliExpress has removed the listings we highlighted. It told us: 'AliExpress considers the safety of all our customers, especially children, to be of paramount importance.

'AliExpress operates a third-party marketplace where individual merchants and manufacturers sell goods directly to consumers. We prohibit the sale of products in contravention of the Product Listing Policy of AliExpress and we have policies and procedures in place to help us identify listings which infringe the policies of our online marketplace by third-party sellers.

'We will continue to take action against sellers who violate our terms of use.'

The company also confirmed that in its returns policy, third-party sellers are required to provide a returns and refunds guarantee to buyers which provides customers with the right to return the product within 14 days of purchase if the product is not as described or is of low quality.

Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home products, said: 'Parents will be horrified at the thought they could be unwittingly putting their child's life at risk with one of these 'killer' car seats. Online marketplaces cannot continue to turn a blind eye to dangerous and illegal products being sold on their sites.

'The UK's product safety regime is in dire need of reform. More needs to be done by big businesses and Government to protect consumers from dangerous products.'

Any customers that have bought one of these fabric car seats should stop using it immediately and return it, as it's not fit for purpose as required by the Consumer Rights Act.