The convenience of online shopping is very appealing to consumers. For one, many items found online often sell for less than they would in a retail store. On top of that, delivery right to your front door means you don’t have to fight traffic or the crowds to make your purchase. Everything is done from the convenience of your own computer or mobile device, and it’s just like shopping at a reputable brick and mortar store, right?
Not exactly – at least, not always. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers and online stores are completely honest about the products they sell, and in some cases counterfeit merchandise is sold to unsuspecting consumers. While some knock off items cause no harm at all, there are definitely instances where a person’s safety can be put at serious risk. As much as we hate to acknowledge it, counterfeit child car seats are being sold online, and many families don’t realize they’ve been scammed until the product arrives at their door, or even until after it’s contributed to a child’s injury.
Car Seat Safety and Online Convenience Don’t Always Mix
Most parents do everything possible to keep their children healthy, safe, and protect them from harm. One of the most important pieces of equipment that any parent needs is a car seat. It is illegal to transport a child under 3 years old without a car seat—and foolhardy. According to the United States Department of Transportation, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 14 years old. Further, according to NPR, one-fifth of children in fatal car crashes die as a result of being improperly restrained. The last thing a parent wants to discover is that a child was injured as a result of being restrained in a counterfeit car seat.
Purchasing a counterfeit item online doesn’t usually endanger a life – it really only impacts your wallet. However, it’s always a good idea to be suspicious of highly discounted prices for items purchased online. When it comes to counterfeit child car seats, unscrupulous retailers are apparently more interested in profits than they are consumer safety and are putting the lives of innocent children at risk with every knock-off purchase. Remember, if you’re doing online research for car seats and an online price seems too good to be true, question the deal and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before submitting your purchase.
How Do You Spot a Counterfeit Car Seat?
The issue was first brought to light by a car seat technician at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Idaho. As part of their pediatric education and prevention program, the technician recognized a car seat as being fake as she was inspecting it for a new mother. Though the car seat looked like an expensive model from a known brand, it turned out to be made entirely of cheap plastic with straps that were wrongly proportioned, a harness that was in the wrong place, and a seat that was missing some of the clips required to securely fasten the child in place.
These flaws were obvious to the car seat technician from St. Luke’s, who then promptly alerted the media. However, discrepancies such as these are far less obvious to new parents who have never owned or used a car seat. Fortunately, there are certain details parents can look for when purchasing car seats online, including:
- Are the car seats being sold by a third-party vendor, not the manufacturer or a reputable retailer?
- Are there big discounts or deals being offered that are not available through the actual car seat manufacturer?
- Does the material look flimsy, cheap, or appear as if it may break or fail in a crash?
- Legally, a child car seat it must come with a manual, a registration card, federal labels, and stickers. Does the car seat have all of these items?
- Are the spelling and grammar in the manual correct, or is it jumbled or appear to have been written by someone for whom English is a second language?
- Is there Chinese lettering anywhere on the product or the manual or other print matter?
- Do the reviews sound legitimate?
What About Hand-Me-Down Car Seats?
If a car seat has been gifted from a family member or friend, make sure to properly inspect the car seat – even if it appears brand new – before putting it to use. In the event that a car seat is being handed down from a family member or friend, it’s important to keep in mind that car seats do have an expiration date and should never be used after that date. Furthermore, if the car seat wasn’t previously maintained and properly cared for, the shelf life of the car seat may have diminished even quicker as a result. Under all circumstances, car seats that were previously involved in vehicle collisions, no matter how minor the collision may have been, should be replaced immediately following the incident, and should not be handed down to anyone else.
Are Counterfeit Car Seats Still Being Sold?
The fake car seats discovered were sold online by Amazon and Walmart.com. When alerted, both companies immediately pulled the counterfeits and investigated their sites for any others that might be suspicious and pulled those as well. While this is reassuring, other counterfeiters may be offering fakes that have not yet been discovered and pulled from online sites. If you’re in the market for a new car seat, purchasing a questionably discounted model online just isn’t worth the risk. The safest course of action is to purchase from a reputable retailer and thoroughly examine the car seat before you purchase it to ensure it is brand new and fully meets all safety standards.
What to Do If Your Child Has Been Injured by a Counterfeit Seat
If you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, contact Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP if your child has been injured while in a counterfeit car seat. Our knowledgeable and experienced team of lawyers will dedicate themselves to seeking the compensation you need to recover.
For more information about how we can help, please contact us today by calling (214) 231-0544.