Britax Child Safety has a little explaining to do in the wake of a bombshell exposé by The Washington Post that revealed the stroller company had refused to recall a stroller that injured nearly 100 adults and children.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission started to hear reports that the company’s three-wheeled BOB jogging strollers were spontaneously losing their front wheel, causing adults and babies to go flying. The results were gruesome, including broken bones, smashed teeth, and bleeding. Staff members collected 200 consumer-submitted reports between 2012 and 2018. The agency investigated, and in 2017 deemed that nearly 500,000 of the popular jogging strollers needed to be recalled.
While many companies eagerly, if not happily, issue voluntary product recalls that could injure customers (Fast Company reports on these all the time), Britax didn’t want to recall the strollers, even though people were being hurt and more could be at risk. Per The Post, the company said the strollers were safe when used as instructed and met industry safety standards. They refused to warn customers. In February 2018, the Commission sued Britax to force a recall. Despite the increasingly public clash, Britax refused to back down even though the safety of babies was at risk. The company had a different plan: Wait until the commission was taken over by Trump appointees and then make the entire thing go away.
According to The Post, the plan worked. By November, the commission’s lawsuit against Britax ended with a settlement, approved by a 3-to-2 commission vote reflecting the new Republican majority.
While consumer safety shouldn’t be a political issue, after the commission switched hands, Britax didn’t have to recall the stroller, and consumers had no idea they or their children were potentially at risk. The government commission tasked with protected consumers is fine with how this played out, so now it’s up to consumers to see if they will hold the company or the government accountable.
When reached for comment, Britax sent this statement:
At Britax, we take safety very seriously and design products to provide parents with peace of mind. We disagree with the way the Washington Post article characterizes the BOB jogging stroller settlement. As we shared with the reporter, our decision to not agree to a recall was based on the fact that this product is not defective, and that it is safe when used as instructed. We take our legal and regulatory obligations seriously and respect the CPSC and its mission, but we could not agree to recall a product that was not defective. We have never been afraid to do the right thing and have taken action, when necessary, to voluntarily recall our products. Our customers will always come first, and designing products to transport children safely is built into our culture and almost 80-year heritage.