Dear Britax: This Is Where You Went Wrong With The (Very Serious) BOB Gear Safety Hazard

 

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This is a photo of me after I finished my first timed 5k in April 2015. I had my little sidekick with me – my daughter, who wasn’t even two yet – in the BOB Ironman jogging stroller. We enjoyed the race and many miles in this stroller. I purchased it because this single-child jogging stroller, priced at over $300 retail, seemed to be “the name” in jogging strollers for serious runners.

It seemed perfect. I was willing to make the splurge.

 

Sometime circa 2016, my sister-in-law told me she was running along with my nephew in her gently-used (in other words, manufactured prior to 2015) BOB Ironman and that somehow, the front wheel detached. The stroller flipped over leaving her baby with a bloodied face and leaving her in shock and panic.

She assumed it was her fault and that it was user error. When she told me about it, I thought, “Wow, ok, maybe – but the front wheel coming off? Britax should be making that pretty bullet proof. Even if the wheel isn’t on perfectly, it shouldn’t simply detach.”

Apparently, Britax also considered it user error.

For at least 200 runners using the stroller.

And for two years after the complaints started, they neglected to disperse any information about it.

Britax seems reluctant to take any responsibility for such a dangerous defect to their (very popular and expensive) jogging strollers.

Here are the details.

Several Britax BOB jogging strollers come with a “quick release” front wheel similar to those on bicycles. The problem in several models manufactured between 2010-2015 (and some as early as the 90s): The front wheel may spontaneously detach during activity and could cause serious injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly suggested that Britax recall 14 different models of jogging strollers made prior to September 2015. The CPSP labeled the spontaneous wheel detachment as a “substantial product hazard.”

Britax refused and fought back on the grounds that the product issue was user error. According to an article published by Consumer Reports, Britax responded to the CSPS’s request for voluntary recall by stating that the strollers are safe when used correctly and assembled as instructed. The CSPS responded strongly and filed a lawsuit.

Britax continued to fight back and noted that the amount of people who experienced injuries was “minimal” compared to the hundreds of thousands who use the strollers without issue. They placed “educational videos” on their website about how to properly assemble and secure the front wheel, but the company continues to insist that the safety hazard is “user error.”

As part of a settlement, Britax has issued a replacement part. They did so in a pretty condescending way that insists those who want the part must watch their video series on how to attach the front wheel properly.

In other words, Britax seems to be saying, “Yeah, here’s the part. But it still isn’t our fault, duh.” So…even though this egregious safety error apparently has nothing to do with how Britax manufactured 14 models of their strollers, they’re issuing a replacement part.

 

Here’s the thing, Britax:

Statistically, you’re correct. The number of product users who have been injured is very, very slim compared to the number of Britax consumers who haven’t experienced the detached-wheel issue. I’ll give you that.

My issue is that so many of us in the running community have trusted you with the health, safety, and welfare of our children during a high-impact, already-could-be-dangerous sport. Some of us run at particularly fast paces with our children in jogging strollers, and it’s disheartening that a brand that so many of us trusted would write our kids off as “not enough to matter” in comparison to those who use the strollers and do NOT have issues.

If your child was riding in a jogging stroller as you coasted along at 7:30/mile and the front wheel detached, barreling your child into the pavement and bloodying his face and cracking his teeth – all while you try to pick yourself back up after flipping over the front of the stroller and landing on the pavement, would you write it off as “well I’m sure this hasn’t happened to enough people to actually matter…?”

Doubtful. Because that shocked, afraid, bloody-faced child is YOURS. So, sure – it may have “only” happened to a couple hundred people, but those couple hundred people deserve your acknowledgement that they didn’t put their kids in danger because they weren’t intelligent enough to put a freaking stroller wheel on correctly.

They UNKNOWINGLY put their kids in danger because you didn’t bullet-proof your product for safety. It’s that simple.

You’re issuing a replacement part. Great. You’re publishing educational videos on how to properly install the front wheel. Fabulous.

But you still got it wrong.

You have yet to apologize and admit that perhaps it was shitty manufacturing on your part. You have yet to acknowledge that 200+ runners and children who experienced this so-called “user error” actually mean something to you and deserve your respect. You’re acting like a corporate giant who is so afraid of losing profits that you’ve now shot yourself in the foot, because let me tell you…

…I will not purchase a replacement part. I will not resell my stroller. Why? Because I no longer trust your brand or your judgement. What other defects have you discovered that you’ve kept under wraps for two years, just like this one? How can I trust my child in one of your strollers when if something happens, your response will likely be, “Well you’re just one person…?”

So many companies make mistakes. So many car seats and other baby swings, devices, and strollers have been voluntarily recalled for minor safety issues. Remember that time that a popular car seat company recalled a model of their car seats because getting sticky liquids on the hardness made it too difficult to detach? It seems crazy to me – give you kids water instead of sticky liquids. BUT, the point is that they took the heat for something to make sure that not even ONE child suffered because of this issue.

That’s what builds trust between brands and consumers – taking responsibility, and you have not done that. You were forced to issue a replacement part because you were sued, not because you care about the livelihood of “just a couple hundred” users.

In otherwords, #byefelicia. You’ve pissed off a lot of people and many of us don’t trust you brand anymore.

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