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Mum is refused car seat refund over safety fear

A DUBLIN mother is furious that safety fears about a baby car seat have failed to force a big retailer to either replace the seats or to give refunds.

Mother-of-two Jennifer Calnan (32) said she was very angry that Argos retailers are not giving refunds or offering alternative baby car seats to customers who purchased the BabyStart Multi-Recline car seat Group 0/1 model.

Argos stopped selling the child car seat in July.

The company said that the model met all EU safety regulations so it would not be giving refunds or replacements.

Alarmed

But Which? magazine, the British consumer watchdog publication, advised parents to replace the seats after the model failed stricter safety tests carried out on its behalf.

Ms Calnan said she was alarmed the car seat model received a safety rating of 'zero' in the Which? tests. The report prompted the family to seek to exchange the seat or to receive a refund at a Dublin Argos store. The store manager refused to offer a refund and the company later confirmed no refunds would be offered.

"My husband Stephen and I feel strongly about this as a child safety issue. There is no way I am putting my daughter Farrah into that car seat," Ms Calnan said.

"Even without a refund, we will buy a different car seat.

"We want all Irish parents to be aware of this matter. But some parents might not be able to afford to replace it," she said.

The model met EU safety standards which involve a 50kph/30mph collision.

The Which? test involved a 60kph/40mph collision.

The shoulder parts of the harness were ripped out of the plastic seat shell as it broke under the force of the more demanding Which? crash tests.

In a crash at 60kph or more, the child would be at risk of colliding with the seat in front because of the failure of parts of the seat, it was claimed.

"Customer safety is our top priority and we were extremely concerned to hear of the issues raised by Which? when using their own criteria in tests involving the BabyStart Multi Recline car seat," a spokeswoman for Argos in Ireland said.

"All car seats we sell conform to rigorous quality checks and meet product safety standards.

"We can confirm that the BabyStart Multi Recline car seat passed all the requirements of the relevant European regulation," she added.

"We have asked Which? to urgently give us details regarding the methodology they have used in these tests as they differ from the EU standards we recognise," she said.

Investigating

"We are now investigating this matter further along with our supplier.

"The BabyStart range is sold exclusively at Argos and we stopped selling this particular car seat in July as part of our regular range review," she said.

When asked if Argos would offer credit or refunds to customers seeking to return the car seats, she said no refunds would be given, stating: "All our products are fully approved to R44.04 standard, which is the safety standard for car seats and are re-tested under conformity of production (COP) requirements.

"Due to this, we are not offering refunds."

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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