Q - I noticed your policy does not permit used or opened car seats to be returned. Why?
A – This is a great question and something we actually take pride in. We consider car seats to be the most important product you will ever buy your child. We sincerely hope no parent has to ever experience a car crash, but if you do, in that moment there is nothing you can do for your child except be confident that the seat you purchased and installed will perform the way that it is supposed to on impact and protect your baby.
That starts with choosing the correct seat for your child’s age, height, weight and your vehicle. In our stores we have certified car seat technicians (yes, that’s a real thing and requires real training and testing – read more on SafeKids.org) to help you make that decision. On top of assisting customers in making their decision, these technicians will bring the seats to the customers’ cars to test out their fit, then walk each customer through the use of the car seat and teach proper installation of the car seat in your vehicle. This is a complimentary service that we offer with the purchase of a car seat from NessaLee Baby.
We’ve heard people say things like, “It’s just a car seat. It can’t be that hard. I don’t need that service.” As a parent, you have the right to choose everything you do with your child and we respect that tremendously, but we always want to make sure the parents we work with are making educated decisions. There are studies that estimate over 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly in their vehicles. A car seat installed incorrectly is likely not going to be as effective as it should be in a crash and in some cases can be very dangerous to the child. As parents, we can all agree that when we know more, we do better and we believe that getting assistance from someone who is trained and at your disposal is invaluable.
In other instances we have heard people say, “I don’t need your help, I can just go to the police department.” If you do decide to go to a different CPST it’s important that you check the SafeKids website. Not all police departments participate or are certified. Some are great assets and extremely helpful. However, many police departments are well practiced on certain brands and because they do not have experience with many of the seats that we sell at NessaLee Baby, they are not familiar with their installation. We have experienced some situations where that was the case and the manual was not read, thus causing the seat to be installed incorrectly. At NessaLee we are not only certified by Safe Kids, but we also have routine training with each and everyone one of the manufacturer’s whose products we sell. So we are getting the best of both in order to properly service our customers and make sure their little ones are as safe as possible.
Now back to the original question – Once a seat is open, we have no idea what happened to it. We hate to be a downer, but unfortunately some people ruin it for everyone. We recently had customers in the store telling us they enjoy shopping at a particular big box store because they can “return everything”. They then proudly told us a story about their friend who was in a fender bender. She read her car seat’s manual and saw the company requires the product be replaced if it is ever in an accident (this is very common due to stresses that can occur in the seat that are not visible to the eye – read your manual!). She opted not to put the accident through her insurance company, therefore, a replacement was not financially covered. So what did she do? She boxed it back up perfectly; even going as far as to glue the top of the box shut and sent it back for her Free Return. After her credit card was credited, she purchased a new one. We looked her friends in the eyes and said to them, “Where do you think your friends car seat went?” and they said “I’m sure all returns go back to the manufacturer.” We are experts and professionals in the baby industry and can assure all customers that returns do not go back to the manufacturer. Nor is there a magical dumpster somewhere that smells like unicorns and allows piles of expensive car seats to go that people have decided to send back. I am going to be the bearer of some really scary bad news – if a seat is packaged well and looks new then it goes back on the shelf. It sits on the shelf and waits for the next unsuspecting customer to come along and purchase it.
Oh and let's not forgot the toddler car seat one of our customers bought from a major online only retailer. During installation they were greeted by a handful of Cheerios under the cushion. Think someone was snacking in the factory? We think not.
If you're still skeptical - We recently had a Live Chat with a major retailer and confirmed the fact that returns that look good get re-sold. In addition, when making a purchase, they have no way of knowing which box was previously returned. We have also spoken to every manufacturer we do business with and were clearly told that no car seats come back to them unless they are defective and need to be looked into and tested. A car seat is a large and heavy box that can cost as much as $100 to ship. No one is shipping that around the country for fun.
While the fender bender may not be the everyday reason for returns, the most common one is…vomit. My apologies. Gross word came out of nowhere. The problem with vomit (yuck, there it is again), well beyond the smell, is the fact that most parents panic and clean it by taking the car seat straps and washing them. If you’re nodding your head because you’ve done this before, it’s time to run to your car seat manual. Almost all manuals state that the straps should only be spot cleaned and never submerged in water. The reason given to us by the engineers is that this can break down their strength and cause them to not optimally perform in a crash. While many people would simply purchase new straps, there’s some parents out there that wash and Febreeze and then box it up….sending it back to the store looking shiny and new after it’s bath. And there it goes, on the shelf.
If you read up on car seats, experts say you should never use a 2nd hand car seat that you do not know the complete history about. After reading the above, are you 100% confident you know the entire history on a seat when a store takes returns on them?
At NessaLee Baby we do everything we possibly can to educate a consumer prior to purchase of a car seat and then make sure it is installed correctly and the child is properly harnessed. Most important, our Team makes sure that the parent knows how to take it out and re-install it properly if necessary. Our best interest is the safety of our tiniest customers.
The one thing we won’t do is take back an open car seat and we’re pretty sure that’s the reason to run right to NLB to purchase your next one.