War On Car Seats: And You Are Losing!

War On Car Seats_ And You Are Losing!

Title too brazen? A little bit on the edge?

Well…as it so happens that’s exactly what is happening in today’s car seat industry. And personally, I am despairing!

I wish to remind people about supporting the “little guys” (this means specialist non-chain retailers) and not purely focus on getting the best deals out of their car seat shopping…

The price matching is ruining the market!

Small businesses are being forced to close down because they can not keep up with the large companies that buy car seats in bulk.Without them, we will only be left with the high street shops we all complain about.

You might be lucky enough to say that you had a good experience in the major high street retail, the staff were well-trained,  they gave you excellent advice, in which case I rejoice with you. However, as it is today, this is not a normal occurrence, if the number of online complaints and anecdotes are to be believed.

I would say that, if we looked at the number of people that I and others help each and every single day who have had a bad experience in the high street, the numbers are frightening. Of course, this is not a ‘national number’ or a real statistic per se, but it is definitely worth looking at!

Please note, this is not a personal dig at anyone working with car seats in a major high street retail store, I know several who are very good at their jobs, who have a strong desire to help make sure that our children travel as safely as possible in the car. They spend hours making sure they are up to date with the car seats, the installs, and the regulations but also most of all, spend a lot of time trying to help push for more extended rear facing knowledge in their place of work.

I’m not trying to put the whole high street into a pot and say “you’re crap”, I’m really not. It’s just that, as it is today, high street retailers do not get enough training. It’s not the staff’s fault – it’s HQs fault. I am fully aware of that, so don’t jump on me because I’m putting it out there.

“Parents should look for retailers who offer ‘best’ advice before they look for the ‘best’ price when choosing this critical safety equipment.”  – Paul Sirett, Country Manager UK/Ireland, HTS BeSafe

Our Rear Facing Specialist Retailers in the UK are dying!

Because the car seat market currently has turned into “who can sell something for the lowest price and let’s not give a fuck about the aftercare”. Parden my french…

The aftercare is extremely important, and very much undervalued!!

You might then go “but it’s cheaper”… and yes, I suppose it is! But what the ERF specialists often have is a free fitting service, free aftercare and often, you can phone them up at any time or visit them should you have an issue.  This aspect of what they do is vital, not only because 4/5 car seats are installed incorrectly, but because you yourself learn so much from a friendly chat as well!

You may pay up to, for example, £30 more but at that price, all the aftercare comes both during your purchase while you are visiting the shop and afterward.

To put something in perspective: What I and many others do for *free* both on my personal Facebook page and in Facebook groups, is as a direct result of all that online buying and those bad experiences with the high street.  The vast majority of questions we answer every single day would have been covered in that one appointment at a proper ERF specialist…

‘When purchasing a car seat it is important to bear in mind that this is a safety product. There are a number of highly trained retailers who are able to offer advice and support on the suitability of the car seat not only with the car but also the child. This level of training has been timely and shows dedication to ensuring the correct car seat is selected and is installed correctly and safely, this is invaluable. It is sad times when we are seeing specialist retailers close as they are unable to compete on price. It is imperative that we support these retailers as without them, that level of advice and support will not be available to the market.’ – Jayne Caul, UK Country Manager, Axkid

I want you to ask yourself this: 

If you made an appointment at a proper ERF retailer with a good reputation, had a good chat with the person, tried some seats in the car, had a coffee etc… Do you think you would still have as many questions that are posted on our two Facebook groups as are currently posted?

You see, I don’t think you would. And I don’t say it because I think this is boring answering questions, I absolutely love my job, but in general I and many others we do spend our days answering many of the exact same questions time and again. So I am wondering if maybe people took more advantage of making appointments (when they are able ofc), I think a lot of those questions would be answered during that coffee.  

You don’t have to agree with me, but it’s something to ponder.  I believe that it’s very important that we don’t lose our specialists as there are few of them as it is (far too few if you look at the map really) and they are far between. By choosing to do business elsewhere, sometimes in a completely different country, it does damage our very own market.

I’m not heartless or unfeeling, I do understand that sometimes the pennies and pounds do matter, I’m only asking that we all ponder it for a moment.   

What can be done?

I don’t think that the major high street retailers are going to stop selling car seats, that’s just not very realistic, no matter how much I believe that they should. I personally believe that car seats should be viewed in the same way as a defibrillator is viewed and bought; as a life-saving device which you can only get from a specialist retailer.

One of the things that could help is if the high street shops improve their car seat training and staffing. If they actually had specialist staff who were focused and dedicated to all matters relating to in-car child safety, things would be vastly improved. At the moment most stores have staff who split their time between the car seat floor and other areas of the business, which prevents them from excelling in this specialist area.

There needs to be a specific role concerning the car seats, that way you are not hiring people who have no interest in car seats. Working and advising on car seats is a passion. It’s something you NEED to love really.

If you don’t? Well…you won’t be very good at it, and you certainly won’t be spending a lot of time keeping your self up to date with the constantly changing rules and regulations in this area. This knowledge, along with all facets of forward vs rear facing and its benefits are the most important things when selling a life-saving device for children.

And the ongoing Online Price Matching War?

Rules!! Regulations!! Common sense??

I feel it’s a manufacturer’s responsibility to help keep these very important retailers in business as much as they can! How? By implementing rules/laws/contracted agreements, that prevent online price matching wars!

Is this even possible? I honestly don’t know. But I can hope! Because if nothing is done about this I fear we’ll lose ALL of our specialists, and what do we do then?

It’s not like you can sit there and complain about the high number of incorrectly fitted car seats,  children who are incorrectly fitted in their car seats and the increasing injury/death rate that is bound happen if nothing gets done!



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War On Car Seats_ And You Are Losing!


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Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, giveaways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breastfeeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.