When is a recall not a recall? CPSC and Britax settle BOB stroller dispute with “robust information campaign”

(Boulder, CO) Nov 20, 2018 @ 3:17 pmWhen is a recall not a recall? CPSC and Britax settle BOB stroller dispute with “robust information campaign” The CPSC and Britax/BOB have settled a dispute over quick release wheels on BOB strollers that the CPSC alleged were defective (see our previous coverage for details). The BOB strollers were made between 1997 and 2015.

In a press release today, the CPSC and Britax essentially agree to a non-recall recall. Sure, it looks like a recall and quacks like a recall . . . but don’t call it a recall.

“Britax will develop and launch an information campaign that will include an instructional video demonstrating how to safely and correctly operate the quick release on the front wheel of the strollers. Eligible consumers in the United States will be offered incentives to promote the effectiveness of the information campaign,” says the CPSC.

If you happen to have one of the NOT RECALLED strollers, you can watch a video Britax will put online in early 2019. Then you can receive “incentives” from Britax.

“The incentives include a free modified thru-bolt or free modified quick release that can be installed on strollers manufactured between January 1, 2009 and September 30, 2015, or a 20 percent discount towards the purchase of a new BOB Gear stroller. All other consumers who own strollers manufactured before September 30, 2015, and who participate in the campaign, will be offered a 20 percent discount towards the purchase of a new BOB Gear stroller or, if eligible, other incentives. ”

Naturally, the incentives are only available at Britax/BOB’s web site—so that 20% discount may be on a stroller that might be found for less than on sites like Amazon.

This non-recall recall only narrowly passed the CPSC by a 3-2 vote. The commissioners who opposed the deal issued a dissent that questions whether this “information campaign” will really reach consumers if it isn’t called a recall. They called the settlement “aggressively misleading.”

Considering the 200 reports of the wheels detaching and the nearly 100 injuries to parents and children, we find it out hard to believe that the seriousness of the issue didn’t lead to a formal recall. Kudos to Britax’s lawyers for negotiating a recall that dare not speak its name.

There are several unanswered question however. Why does the recalled (oops, not recalled) defective strollers only include those made prior to September 2015? Did Britax make a quiet fix to the quick release wheels after that point? And why do owners who bought a stroller made before 2009 not get the “remedies,” only a 20% discount? The strollers were on the market with that same design from 1997 to 2009—albeit sold by the original BOB company, not Britax. (BOB was sold to Britax in 2011; Britax still markets the strollers under the BOB name).

We stopped recommending BOB strollers when this lawsuit was filed earlier this year. In our opinion, the non-recall recall Britax deftly negotiated with safety regulators might have passed muster with the CPSC, but we aren’t buying it. BabyBargains.com continues to not recommend BOB strollers on our website or in our book for the time being.

 

When is a recall not a recall? CPSC and Britax settle BOB stroller dispute with “robust information campaign”