“We thought it was trustworthy. We were wrong,” said jogging stroller owner, Tess Sawyer.
The CPSC says more than 200 consumers have complained that the front wheel spontaneously pops off, causing joggers and children to tumble, and in many cases get hurt.
"It's a lot of money to spend on something that's not safe," said Sawyer.
The stroller, however, has not been recalled. The company is arguing user error.
In 2016 when Sawyer’s daughter Lila was still an infant, she had what she thought was a freak accident with the stroller during a routine run in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
“The last little bit I always sprint that street so I was running and all of a sudden the wheel just tumbles off. The stroller took a big dip forward,” she said.
Lila was strapped in tightly enough that she didn’t fall out or get injured. Tess was shaken, but avoided injury as well.
“It was really scary. I was scared that we would get hurt. I was really nervous for her,” she said.
Sawyer contacted Britax, the company that makes the stroller, through their website to file a complaint. They sent her a replacement wheel. Nothing was mentioned about other runners having the same issue.
They advised her to check to make sure the stroller’s wheel was secure every time she used it.
Through our investigation we discovered hundreds of complaints filed about the same kind of stroller Sawyer was using. The complaints concern strollers made before September of 2015.
The CPSC launched an investigation and pressured Britax to issue a voluntary recall. Britax said a recall wasn’t needed.
Then the CPSC filed a suit in early 2018. It was only the sixth time they’ve sued in the last 20 years.
The complaint listed children’s injuries like a concussion, injuries to the head and face requiring stitches, dental injures, contusions and abrasions. Adults reported a torn labrum and ligaments, fractured bones, contusions and abrasions.
Britax settled the lawsuit this January without any admission of a defect or substantial hazard. No recall was required in that settlement.
When we spoke with the company, we were directed to a video message from their CEO.
“When used properly the quick release feature is safe and doesn’t require a recall. It’s a part that’s been used on bicycles for decades,” Britax CEO, Robert McCutcheon said in the video.
The company agreed to launch a public awareness campaign, including an instructional video, and free modified parts.
“We’re going to work harder to help customers who have concerns about their ability to safely and quickly use the quick release feature,” McCutcheon went on to say in the video.
But the problem still wasn’t solved. Last month there were four reports of breakage on the axles that were shipped as a remedy to the quick release feature. No one was hurt. The company is now contacting the nearly 200 customers who received these parts to have them send them back.
According to CPSC, when a lawsuit is filed because a company refuses a voluntary recall, like Britax did, those cases can take five to seven years to resolve, offering very little benefit for the consumer along the way. The commission finds it more beneficial to work with the companies to come to a settlement in those cases, rather than force a recall.