Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Bother with the SeatSnug - A Review

I enjoy doing reviews. Most of the time. I only try out products that I believe I can give a good review for. That's why this review is so difficult to write.

I was sent an invitation to try out a child safety product called Seat Snug from the Lap Belt Cinch, Inc people.
"SeatSnug is a device that easily attaches to an existing seatbelt to prohibit the seatbelt slack from developing and makes sure the child's seat is properly and safely secured in place during travel. With the signature "on-off" feature, SeatSnug is intended to stay on the seatbelt at all times and can be placed in the "on" position when a child is secured in a booster seat to properly and safely secure the child in place. Placed in the "off" position at all other times, the seatbelt will operate normally in the event anyone else, including an adult, sits in the seat and uses the seatbelt. The inherent safety features and easy usability make the SeatSnug an incredibly appealing solution for family car safety." Alison - The Safety Mom from Peekaboo Baby Proofing and Mom

"The Seat snug allows the lap belt to be lightly tightened around a child's hips while riding in a vehicle, preventing seat belt slack or looseness from developing.

By gently securing a child while riding in a booster seat, SeatSnug substantially eliminates bouncing, rocking, tipping, falling over, submarining {sliding under the belt} and ejection, thus reducing the potential for injuries and death in vehicular accidents. At the same time, SeatSnug improves child stability and comfort."

At least that's what the PR brochure states.

I enthusiastically agreed to try out this wonder product. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to improve the safety of one's child?

The instruction booklet has "Easy to Install" in bold letters across the top. This is an overstatement, in my opinion. The directions are stated simply enough; I understood what to do (the video on the site aided that portion), but actually doing it was another story. Sliding the crossbar into the housing took almost herculean effort. I had to resort to banging the end of the crossbar (against the car itself - don't tell The Calm One) to get it fully into the housing. And even then several attempts were necessary. This did not bode well for the rest of the installation, but I persevered wanting to give this product a true chance.

Having finally inserted the crossbar, I wiped my brow and immediately discovered that the housing/casing of the SeatSnug was not large enough to accommodate the sliding tongue of the lap belt. Suddenly, I went from slightly irritated, but still hopeful, to very irritated. My Toyota Avalon is not an uncommon make and model of vehicles out on the road today.

If fit was the only problem, then I would not have to give a negative review, I'd just state that it didn't work with my car. I noted that the Safety Information booklet does have a guideline that says, in part

" . . . (D)o not use if there is the slightest question of appropriateness of application, fit, or safety . . ." (emphasis, mine) The problem is that you don't know if it'll fit until you try to install it.

The booklet also cautions that the SeatSnug is meant to be a permanent fixture. Remember that nasty crossbar that was so difficult to insert? It will not budge. Um, yeah, oops. So, it's staying, unless I break the plastic housing itself. Which I am considering doing.

A Return Form was included in the package and they state that a full refund will be given (including shipping) if you need to send it back. Good to know. I, however, cannot send back the SeatSnug because it is impossible to remove the housing. Now, I have an unsightly, unusable half installed piece of purple plastic hanging on my daughter's seat belt. To needle and exasperate me every time I have to strap her into her booster seat.

So, I was unable to evaluate the claims put forth by the brochure. Perhaps others have had remarkably different experiences. I hope so. If you are interested in learning about others' experiences, email me and I can give you a few other blogs who are a part of this review tour.

The idea of a seat belt aide for my children's safety is a good one. In theory. Even if it comes at a hefty $34.95 + shipping price tag. Maybe once the bugs are worked out and a more universal housing component is included, I could try again.

And then again, maybe not.

Let's see . . . how can I count this as joy? Um . . . well . . . the weather was a balmy 50* so my children were able to play outside during my ill fated attempts at installation.

Yeah, that's all I got.

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