The CPSC last year sued to force Britax to recall the BOB — alleging it was unsafe because the front wheel on the three-wheeled stroller popped off too easily. The company refused. That led to a controversial settlement in November allowing Britax to avoid a recall, while at the same time requiring the company to launch an “education campaign” and offer a new front-wheel attachment. The deal was harshly criticized by consumer advocates as being too lenient.
The new stroller attachment offered by Britax was a bolt — and it broke easily.
“That’s a sweet irony,” said Rachel Weintraub, general counsel at the Consumer Federation of America advocacy group, noting how Britax’s attempts to avoid one recall resulted in a different one.
The changes to Britax’s original settlement with regulators — struck last week in court but announced Thursday — addressed some of the problems first identified by The Post earlier this year. These included defective replacement bolts, consumer struggles with the company’s information campaign and how Britax missed a deadline to notify retailers.
The new deal requires Britax to provide monthly instead of quarterly updates to the CPSC. It also extends the company’s offer of replacement parts by one year to 2020 and redesigns the campaign’s website. And Britax needs to send notices about the BOB wheel problems to all customers who provided registration information.
Britax said in a statement that it was “pleased to announce” the changes to its original settlement, adding in part, “Our most important interest is our customer’s safety.”
CPSC spokesman Joe Martyak described the deal as “a mutual decision.”
The updated agreement is the latest development in a case that has roiled the agency for more than a year, highlighting how its views on regulation changed as the commission’s majority swung from Democrats to Republicans. The original decision to sue was made when Democrats controlled the commission. The decision to settle the case occurred when Republicans had a 3-to-2 majority.
The new settlement — approved 3 to 2 along party lines — was criticized by the agency’s two Democratic commissioners, who also opposed the agency’s original deal last year.
“The addendum may put more lipstick on the pig, but the underlying object remains as porcine as ever,” wrote commissioners Robert Adler and Elliot Kaye in a formal dissent filed in court.