Child car seats which are illegal to use in the UK are still available to buy from online marketplaces, a watchdog has warned.
The seats were deemed unsuitable for use as they lack the support required to protect babies and toddlers in the event of a car crash.
‘Almost no protection’
The illegal seats sell for as little as £8 on online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and AliExpress, but are made of fabric which offers “almost no protection,” according to Which?.
The danger of the seats was highlighted after Surrey Trading Standards and manufacturer Britax carried out a crash test in 2014, which resulted in the fabric seat falling to pieces in a 30mph crash.
A dummy of a three year old child was flung through the windscreen after the straps securing the seat failed, leading Surrey Trading Standards to dub them “killer car seats” and remove dozens of them from sale.
Despite being described in listings as suitable for newborns and children up to the age of five, the consumer group said online marketplaces should have been able to recognise them as inadequate and remove them from sale to prevent customers from purchasing a product which puts their child at risk.
Amazon, eBay and AliExpress all said they had removed the seats from sale.
Safety measures in need of reform
Regulations state that only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. While the inadequate seats were made illegal, Which? said they had repeatedly re-appeared for sale on online marketplaces.
Seats which are approved carry a clear orange label with the codes ECE R44-03, ECE R44-04 or ECE R129 to indicate they have been put through EU safety testing and can be legally sold on the UK market.
However, Which? claimed that reforms to the UK’s enforcement system is needed to include measures that improve monitoring and policing of online marketplaces.
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.”
‘No longer available’
eBay confirmed the seats found by Which? were illegal and said it had asked the sellers involved to contact the buyers to organise a return and to pay for the return shipping.
An eBay spokeswoman 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 stated that all sellers who do not follow their guidelines will be subject to action and face potential removal of their account, while AliExpress said once informed by Which? about the third-party listings, they took prompt action to remove them.