Buying a Baby Car Seat Online? Watch Out for Counterfeit Car Seats
For many people, when they need to purchase something, the first place they’ll look is an ecommerce store like Amazon or the online store of a popular retailer like Target or Walmart rather than taking a trip to a brick-and-mortar store. This is true whether they need new clothes or a car seat for their baby. Online shopping offers a lot of conveniences, but when it comes to baby car seats, there is a unique challenge to be aware of: counterfeit car seats.
Most people would be surprised to hear that counterfeit car seats are a thing that even exists, but they do. Counterfeit car seats tend to be knockoffs of popular but expensive models
and people often buy the counterfeit versions thinking they’re getting a better deal. They may look similar, but chances are, they don’t perform similarly. Unfortunately, these counterfeit seats can be very dangerously inadequate at protecting your child in the event of a car accident. Typically, they’re made with flimsier materials than the real version and haven’t gone through the same rigorous safety testing. In a 2019 investigation by CNN, they did a crash test with a counterfeit car seat purchased on Amazon which broke into pieces with the force of a 30 MPH collision.
If you walk into a store like Walmart or Target, you can be confident that you will be purchasing an authentic brand-name car seat. But when you shop on their online stores, or on Amazon, it’s extremely important to keep in mind that those marketplaces are open to third-party sellers who may or may not be selling authentic products. Because of differences in the way product liability laws apply to brick-and-mortar stores and ecommerce sites like Amazon, a brick-and-mortar store could be held liable if they sold a counterfeit car seat and a child was injured, but Amazon would not be liable if a child was injured in a counterfeit car seat sold by a third-party seller on their marketplace.
How to Avoid Buying a Counterfeit Car Seat
To avoid buying a counterfeit car seat online, the best thing you can do is make sure you are buying it directly from the seller you think you’re buying it from. With the way these online marketplaces work, it’s very easy to think you’re ordering something from a retailer you trust, but it’s actually sold by someone else entirely. For example, if you’re shopping on Walmart’s website, take a close look at product listings to make sure it says it’s sold by Walmart.com, not a third-party seller. Car seats directly sold by major retailers like Target, Walmart, or Amazon will be authentic. Also, take a close look at the product listing name. Often, counterfeit seats have generic names, not the well-known brand names you’d see on store shelves.
If you’re shopping for a car seat online, completely avoid sites like Wish.com, AliExpress, or eBay. Often, car seats sold on these sites are manufactured in China and do not meet U.S. product safety standards.
How to Tell if You Have a Counterfeit Car Seat
If you’ve already purchased a car seat online and aren’t sure if it’s counterfeit, check to see if it has a label about meeting FMVSS standards. Counterfeit seats are commonly missing these labels or the labels are fake and include grammatical errors. The car seat should also have a serial number and come with paperwork like a product registration card and user manual. Inspect the seat to check the materials used. Counterfeit seats are often made of materials that feel flimsy and have components, like buckles, that are made of plastic instead of metal. In some cases, counterfeit seats are missing important components, like chest clips, all together.
Get Help From a Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer
Every parent wants their child to be as safe as possible when riding in the car. If your child has been injured while riding in a defective car seat, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a Michigan-based lawyer who can help answer your questions. We’re experienced in handling both car accident cases and defective product cases, so we will be able to help you understand how the law applies to your situation. Contact us today to get started.
Image: iStock / Youngoldma