Lisanne Watchell purchased a brand new Evenflo Symphony car seat in 2010. She purchased it because it can convert from a baby’s car seat to a toddler’s booster seat. She had no problem spending almost three hundred dollars on it because she wanted to use it for all three of her kids. Now, she’s hit a bump in the road.
“It was when I went to convert the straps and pull them out longer so that I could wrap them around into booster form. And I noticed that there was fraying on the portion of the strap that had been around the car seat where I couldn’t see the fraying. And it’s no longer usable because the straps are frayed and it’s not safe any longer.”
After discovering the problem, Watchell reached out to the manufacturer Evenflo. She was not satisfied with its response.
“They asked for a lot of photos and when I sent those in they responded back right away saying that it looked like a small animal had clawed or chewed on the straps.”
CKPG News reached out to Evenflo for an interview. It denied our interview request and responded with the following statement:
Evenflo welcomes feedback about its products and it takes these type of issues very seriously.
Evenflo had an engineer look at the photos provided by the consumer, and the engineer determined the fraying was consistent with small animal damage. Unfortunately, well-used car seats tend to accumulate crumbs and debris over time that are very attractive to small animals. This can lead to the very type of damage we saw in this consumer’s case.
Evenflo has investigated harness fraying complaints in the past, and has never found it to be related to any design or manufacturing defect in the car seat. Additionally, the durable harness webbing used on all Evenflo car seats is the same or similar to that used throughout the child restraint and automotive industries, and it fully complies with all abrasion and tensile strength requirements of all regulatory authorities. To help prevent this type of damage, Evenflo recommends periodic inspection and cleaning of the seat and its seat pad.
Watchell says she doesn’t buy it. After doing research online, she’s discovered she’s not alone. She found a similar case in the media in Ontario in 2014.
“It seems that there’s evidence of this happening to other people and it’s upsetting because you’re paying three hundred dollars for a car seat and then you’re told that nothing can be done and you can’t use it.”
According to car seat technician Samantha Waddell it is imperative to a child’s safety the straps be in perfect condition.
“It’s important because those are what hold the child in the car seat. And if they’re frayed or torn the forces of a crash could cause that to tear more. Or worse case scenario you become ejected. And especially when it comes to our children, we don’t want that. We want to keep them as safe as possible.”
For Watchell, on top of having her car seat replaced, she says she wants to make other parents with the same car seat aware of the issue.
“I didn’t see the damage until I pulled the straps way out. There could be other seats out there that have this done and if you don’t know as a parent and you have an accident it could be fatal.”
The best thing consumers can do is report any issues to Transport Canada.