Monthly Archive:: May 2012

CPS Innovations that Didn’t Quite Make it. Volume 2


The Carseat Houdini Preventor (Click Here to Buy One at Amazon.com).


Volume 1 can be seen here!


Charging for Customer Service

What has the world of retail come to?  I recently learned of a business that charges customers a non-refundable $25 fee for its “knowledgeable” salespeople to show customers the features of carseats and strollers. Sure, these salespeople could very well be people like the CarseatBlog writers (or Trudy or Julie, who work at BRU) and could talk carseats in their sleep (and, uh, do—just ask their spouses). Or these salespeople could very well be people like the CarseatBlog writers who could not talk strollers in their sleep, lol. I know when I talk Mac, it’s quite a bit different than when a stroller guru talks Mac ;).

And to be fair, this baby store does apply this fee to the purchase price of a carseat or stroller and the customer does have 6 months to make the purchase. The store also price matches within the city and online, so they are trying to make it easy. But still—charging for something that should be free. It rubs me the wrong way, especially when I know the information I’m being given by the salesperson may be wrong. Then again, in a city where I expect to see a tip jar even in the McDonald’s down the street—perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me. I do hope that as a private business they are hiring and training their sales staff appropriately, more appropriately than BRU does (and haven’t we all heard the horror stories from there?!). So, as a representative for you, I had to check it out and became a secret shopper.

There was a slight problem. Like I always tell my kids, “You are who you hang with.” Make sure you run with the right crowd because that’s how you’ll be known, KWIM? Well, I was spotted by the owner of this store with my friends at the spring ABC Show a few weeks ago. No big deal, right? Who am I kidding, I’m not that famous that *I* would be noticed. *I* don’t have an entourage (but I should <giggle>). No, the problem is that my friends were this guy’s competition AND I was his instructor for his tech class years ago. So it had me thinking of various disguises and whatnot to get into the store to be the secret shopper to test out this policy. I was sweating it out for weeks, but a dream the night before convinced me that the next day was the day to do it. The stress was simply too much.

I went to the store shortly after opening and made my way back to the carseat section. There was a simple sign saying to ask for help with any carseat. I nosed my way around the carseats a bit before a salesperson came back to help. She was very helpful and nice. I asked her for advice for her favorite convertible and she politely showed me several different models. We discussed the features of each, pulled each off the shelf, talked about basics, and adjusted each seat. Her knowledge of carseats seemed just fair—she didn’t know what a tether was for, but knew that a 19 month old most definitely should NOT be in a booster.

I gave her plenty of chances to ask for the $25, but she never did and I would have been happy to pay it since it was the stated policy on the website and I knew that going in. I definitely would have been upset to be an actual customer and have been asked to pay the money before being shown the carseats per the policy if there was nothing posted (and again, I didn’t see anything posted). There was another couple there looking at high-end strollers that didn’t seem to be asked to pay a fee for looking at the strollers either. I wonder if they’ve suspended the service fee or let it slide that morning.

Regardless, the fee is in writing on their website. I’m sure they’re not the only store in the country that has this policy. Frankly it sucks for the customer because it says that we don’t trust you to give us your business, but a part of me does get it. “Customers” are using brick and mortars as try-on shops and going home to order online because they can get a better deal. It’s part of the reason why my friends’ store went out of business.

Is this a new business trend? Should we be expecting more of this? This is obviously the first time I’ve seen or heard of it. Is it common in big cities? Share your experiences. While I love Amazon (and Amazon surely loves me, sigh), I wonder if consumers have collectively shot themselves in the foot here.

Graco Turbo “SS” Unboxing

No, SS isn’t for “Super Sport”, it’s for “Safety Surround”.  We previewed it last fall at the ABC Kids Expo.  The newest Turbo is very similar to the original high back Turbo, with the addition of improved side impact protection for the head and torso.  Look for the Graco HighBack TurboBooster Car Seat with Safety Surround next week at a Target store near you!  I know some of you at Car-Seat.Org have asked about the screws for adjusting the armrests and yes, they are still there.  The Graco owner’s manual indicates that the useful lifespan is 10 years from the date of manufacture.  Check back for our Graco Turbo Safety Surround Review soon!


TurboBooster® with Safety Surround™ – MSRP $79.99

We are excited to bring new innovation to a category that has become increasingly important as parents are beginning to keep their kids in boosters longer due to the AAP recommendation and multiple states changing their booster law requirements and recognizing the importance of booster seats for kids! We are excited to announce that TurboBooster® with Safety Surround™ will be launching exclusively at Target on May 27th both in store and online!

Going UnPostal?

Six months ago, the post office lost 90% a customer.  I’ve greatly reduced the amount of shipping I do with them both online and in person, due to the costs and hassle I incurred when they dumped my PO Box.  With the hours of time I spent updating addresses and things like business cards and forms, I estimate it was at least a few hundred dollars.   I later discovered that I will have to pay the US Copyright Office $135 and the Secretary of State’s Office $100 for filings I made last year that cannot have their address changed without an entirely new filing.  Great how governments conspire to screw you out of money, isn’t it?  Conservatively, $500 down the drain, assuming no more costs are incurred.  Nice.

Well, on the plus side, after months of delays, the new post office is now open.  Indeed, they skipped right over my PO Box number for reasons known only to the minds that run the place.  Fortunately, the new facility is great.  Parking and access is even easier than before.  The same great staff are back at the counters, too.  It was definitely worth the wait, but certainly not worth $500 and all the hassle!  I wonder if it was worth it for them?

Another CarseatBlog saga is coming to an end, too!  The same day my post box ordeal ended, Kecia was reviewing a Ford Explorer, one with the inflatable seatbelt option.  We were supposed to receive one after the 2011 Chicago Auto show, but a comedy of events delayed the review model until now.  Is it a good fit for your family?  We’ll have more to report soon!

Crazy Woman With Carseats (& large blond doll) Invades Serious Automotive Event!

Last week I had a date with some guy that I met on the internet. It was pretty awesome as far as first dates go. We met at Bear Mountain State Park, took a few nice rides together and got all sweaty in the backseat of a vehicle!  Then we had lunch, hung out in a $400,000 Rolls-Royce and had some fun with my BubbleBum. Seriously, how can you top that?

Okay, since we’re both married I guess I should elaborate before someone winds up served with divorce papers. The guy is new CPS Tech “Nopanegain” (aka Brett) and we met online at car-seat.org. Since we’re both New Yorkers, we struck up a little conversation and found out that we share many of the same interests.  Brett has been a serious automotive journalist for more years than I’ve been alive (haha – just kidding, Brett!) and he’s got a lot of connections. He gets invited to cool automotive events that I don’t even realize exist.  Since this particular event (where they allow the select group of invited journalists to drive all the vehicles present) was going on in my neck of the woods, he invited me to join him.  I was lured by the eloquence of this one particular line in his invitation:  “If you are a car person, you’ll basically crap your pants.”  ROFL!  I’m sold, dude!!

Here’s a peek at how we spent our grueling day at the International Motor Press “Spring Brake”. I hope all our readers will appreciate the sacrifices that we made and the hardships that we endured to bring you this very important information. Unlike the rest of the attendees, we were more interested in exploring the backseat than we were in zipping around on the park’s back roads. I know that sounds so lame but that’s how true CPS geeks roll!

2012 Jaguar XK Coupe in Crystal Blue: Beautiful luxury vehicle. Not sure why they bothered to make it a 4-seater, though. I guess the backseat is really meant for your briefcase/handbag/miniature purebred in a puppy tote. My head hit the roof back there! But we were determined to find a functional cps solution for that seating position. BubbleBum and Huggable Images to the rescue!  



2012 Fiat 500 Arbarth: Considerably less luxurious but cool nonetheless. Rear seat only accommodates two but is surprisingly roomy for a vehicle so compact. Rear-facing seats will be a very big challenge. We installed a Chicco KeyFit30 and rear-facing Britax Roundabout 55 but that left no room for anyone taller than 5′ in the front seat. I’m 5’4″ and my knees were crammed painfully into the door of the glovebox with the RA55 installed behind me. On the flip side, due to the contour of the back of the front seats – I had enough leg room to sit comfortably in back so forward-facing carseats and kids in boosters may not be a problem.  



2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II saloon: Hands-down the most awesome vehicle I’ve ever sat in. I’m totally sold. Now I just need to come up with about $420, 000 plus taxes, title and fees. The optional $4k sheepskin floor mats are not optional at all. Those are a necessity – trust me. I have no desire to actually drive the vehicle myself. I just want to sit in the back seat, drink Champagne in excess and eat Grey Poupon straight from the jar. As for kids and carseats – even though the backseat is wide enough to easily fit any combination of CRs, I wouldn’t dream of allowing children or carseats in this vehicle. Not even a Foonf (sorry, Clek). Hey, that’s what the Au Pair’s Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon is for!  Hence the lack of carseat pictures in the Rolls-Royce. Even *I* would not defame and disrespect this vehicle in that way.



2012 Bentley Supersports Convertible: Another outrageous luxury convertible that costs more than many average American homes. I would have loved to try some real installs in this vehicle but we only had a few minutes with it. Just enough time to grab the BubbleBum and the 6 year old Huggable Images doll again! The looks we got walking around with these things were priceless!  



It was a fun and fantastic day and I’m greatly indebted to my new friend Brett for the experience!  I do have more to share but it’s boring stuff that might actually be useful to our readers so that’s going to wait for another day. Stay tuned!