More than 90% of child car seat fitting demonstrations provided by five of the biggest UK retailers are wrong, according to an investigation conducted by the BBC's flagship consumer show, Watchdog.
The programme, which airs on BBC One tonight, visited branches of John Lewis, Toys R Us, Smyths Toy Stores, Mothercare and Halfords and discovered that shockingly, the retailers were giving incorrect and potentially dangerous fitting guidance.
Tonight's programme will put the retailer's advice to the test, by crash testing cars at 30mph, and finds, in worst cases, that a child could be severely injured due to poor fitting instruction.
As part of the investigation, Watchdog visited 50 stores in total, ten for each of the five major car seat retailers. They secretly filmed fitting demonstrations provided at each store and then showed the footage to two highly regarded industry experts, Julie Dagnall and Claire Waterhouse of Child Seat Safety Ltd. They both concluded that installations were incorrect in over 90% of the stores visited.
The fittings were then tested at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the findings founds the worst cases could leave a child severely injured. A crash test was conducted at 30mph, which, in some cases, resulted in the seat belt cutting the neck, higher risks of abdominal injury and increased risks and severity of head impact with the seat in front.
Four of the retailers involved in the investigation have responded to the results; Mothercare, John Lewis, Smyths Toy Store and Toys R Us - all saying that they will be reviewing their training.
Mothercare have called the findings "extremely disappointing" and have launched an immediate, nationwide review into their staff training, with John Lewis following suit, carrying out their own independent review and "implementing a complete retraining programme for staff."
You can see the full exposé on Watchdog tonight at 8pm on BBC One.