Britax Xtensafix child car seat withdrawn from sale after independent crash tests

The Britax Xtensafix child car seat has been pulled from sale after it failed a series of Which? safety tests. The £216 seat performed so dismally in one Consumers' Association test that Which? had to slap it down as a Don't Buy.

Britax is offering a refund on all Xtensafix seats. Why did it perform so badly?

Neck concern

"The Xtensafix," said Which? seat tester Victoria Pearson, "looked like an exciting new product that offered a long useful life span and the possibility to use a five-point harness for longer - which was good news for parents with heavier toddlers."

But down at the Which? test lab the seat failed to meet expectations. Front and side-impact safety were only rated average when the harness was used for children up to 25kg, giving a lower score of 52%.

"Things get worse when you use the adult seat belt to hold your child in," said Which? "The adult seat belt slipped out of the belt guide during front impacts allowing the belt to slip up to the neck and create high sensor readings in our crash test dummy's neck."

"This was worst," it went on, "when the seat was held in with the Isofix connectors and adult seat belt, giving a test score of just 19%."

Complicated to set up

Added to these negative noises, Which? was critical of the complexity of installing the seat, worrying the seat could be installed incorrectly given the huge range of installation possibilities on offer.

Britax confirmed in a statement it has stopped manufacturing and selling the Xtensafix. "Although we could have changed the Xtensafix's recommended usage modes to attain an improved score, we believe this would limit the versatility and value for money the seat offers."

If you've bought a Xtensafix, Britax says you can take the seat back to the store where the seat was bought in exchange for a store voucher or cash refund.

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Several cheaper alternatives

'We are working," said the company, "with our retail partners and setting up a website with full details of this which will be online soon. We do not have concerns in relation to the safety of the seat."

High-scoring Which? alternatives to the Xtensafix include the £190 Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix, which scored a top 82% score in the Which? tests, though it's only suitable for kids up to 13kg (12 - 15 months). For children weighing between nine and 18kg (1-4 year olds) Which? rated highly the Kiddy Energy Pro at £140.

The best budget buy Which? tested (for children up to 13kg) was the high-scoring (80%) Graco Logico S HP - just £70.

10 consumer rights you should know
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Britax Xtensafix child car seat withdrawn from sale after independent crash tests

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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