After seeing the other review of this car seat I thought it only fair that I give the Madrid Car seat another review as it's not that bad!
We purchased this as a spare car seat to be put in my partners car as I was still using the infant carrier in mine. We purchased the car seat from Mothercare after some shopping about. The Madrid seat is priced at around £70, but at the time was reduced to £35. My son tends to always be in my car so the Madrid was designed purely as a spare hence us getting a cheaper seat. The Madrid is a 2 tone grey colour with a standard 5 point harness, side wings, head cushion and attached base in black. It is designed to be used from birth to 9kg's as a rear facing seat, then turned around once your child is 9kg up to 18kg for a front facing car seat, (18kg is normally around the 4 years old mark). So this seat really grows with the child. The seat also has the added benefit of being able to recline, so should your child want to sleep offers a more comfortable journey.
To install the car seat is a bit of a pain. You have to thread the seat belt between the base and the seat, which I found was easier if you recline the seat first as this gives you a little more room. The seatbelt then runs along two runners and a red plastic grip holds it tightly. I would say I would have preferred a more stronger installation as the seat belt doesn't stay in position very well and the flimsy plastic strap doesn't seem sufficient. However, it does hold and keep your child secure. I would mention that this car seat is not ideal if you are constantly moving the seat. It seems best suited to being installed and left due to it being awkward to install and a bulky chair. This is what we wanted so can't complain!
The seat also doesn't quite sit flush to the car seat, partly due to my partners car having slightly bucketed seats, but this is not the seats fault, but do bear this in mind. It does however sit flush to the seat in my car which makes it feel more secure and stable. To recline the chair a simply lever under the seat can be pulled out while you move the seat to the required position. This clicks into place securely. The 5 point harness feel strong and safe and is easily adjustable. Should you need to move the straps up higher as your child grows this can be accessed behind the seat cover with abit of manipulation. The seat cover is basic, but of good quality and easy to remove and washable. It does fit snugly over the chair and is a nice design.
The Madrid Car Seat is basic - hence the reduced price, so in my opinion you can only expect a basic design which is what you get. The seat is bulky, fiddly to fit and not as secure as some other seats, but as mentioned this was not to be the main seat we used. When we come to replace the infant carrier in my car we will be looking to spend anywhere between £150 and £250 for a top quality seat to last our son. So the purchase of the Madrid was just as a back-up or emergencies so really does fit the bill! Despite is being a little less fitted to the sit and the seat belt not quite holding in position is does remain safe. We pulled and pushed the seat when fitting it to see how it moved and despite its down sides it doesn't move much, and feels safe and secure once your little one is sitting in it weighing it down a bit more. Also when our son is in it, he sits snugly and securely in it and looks comfortable and safe!
Basically this seat is ok for a spare, perhaps in grandparents cars etc. It is cheap and cheerful but safe (having passed all modern tests) and a good basic seat. You get what you pay for!
My baby girl had outgrown her 'newborn' car seat, so I really needed to pick up a new one for her. Although we don't drive, a car seat is essential for lifts from friends and emergency taxi visits, though thankfully we have not had any of the latter yet!
I visited the local Mothercare store to look at car seats and was a little overwhelmed by all the different models and the general busyness of the store. The staff member I spoke to recommended the Madrid Combination car seat due to its low price- it was on sale for £39.99- and based on the fact that I wouldn't be using it much. They were out of stock however so I ordered it online later on.
It wasn't a great decision. First it took 5 weeks to arrive, despite the website promising immediate delivery. I pestered Mothercare but received no reply, and meanwhile worried about our newborn car seat being unsafe for use in an emergency. It turned out that the car seat had gone to the wrong address and been returned back to Mothercare HQ! None of the employees thought to phone or email me despite the fact that I had ordered the car seat through a Mothercare online account and all my contact details were on there.
The Madrid Combination car seat from Mothercare is a large, bulky and heavy item. I had only used it a few times before wishing I had bought a smaller model and a better design. It is also not easy to use. Once you have lugged it out to the car you have to fiddle a lot to get it strapped in right. This usually takes two people to do correctly, as in order to secure the car seat the seat belt has to go through the car seat, but not all car seat belts are long enough for this to be achieved.
The car seat came with no manual and no explanation of how to use it. This implied that it would be easy to use, as per the basic diagrams on the seat itself. This has not been the case. Every car I used it in required the front seat to be moved forward so that it wouldn't be in physical contact with the car seat, but I only knew to do this because I had researched basic car safety online already. I wonder how many other Mothercare customers are fitting their car seats incorrectly even as I type this. This is surely a major safety issue and one that requires further investigation.
If it had been possible to do I would have returned the car seat within a few days of purchase, but I didn't get the chance to use it right away and the nearest Mothercare is a drive away.. There's simply no way of travelling with this car seat without a car. I contacted Mothercare Customer Services with my concerns and promptly received a reply from Raashmi, who told me to take the seat into my local store, to discuss its faults. So, I took it back to Mothercare to find out what was wrong with it, and to hopefully exchange it for a better model.
The car seat is grey and very basic-looking, but so long as it was offering my baby girl safety I wouldn't have minded that. Sadly it didn't. The design could be a lot better. When my friend gave me a lift to Mothercare to see if I could exchange the car seat, it barely strapped into his car. The fact that it was at a jaunty angle worried me. The car seat would also jump whenever the car turned a corner at speed. But the main reason I wanted to exchange it was that whenever my daughter fell asleep in it, her head would fall forwards and I would have to hold it up the entire time she slept. If there had been a car accident with her head at this angle, I feared for the worst.
When we arrived, the manager was busy with several other customers in the 'complaints' section of the store. I could tell that she wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible. She didn't make eye contact when she asked me what was wrong and I while explained about the seat. Then with two other sales assistants she fitted the seat into the model passenger seat in the store. When we put my baby daughter in it, the seat was fine and she fit in it fine. However I had used the car seat in at least 4 different vehicles, and never seen it fitted so well. My friend, who had driven us there pointed out that the store passenger seat which Mothercare uses to test car seats is of a front seat, not a back passenger seat like we had been using. However when we bought the Madrid car seat there was NO specification to use it only in a front seat.
I explained that in my friend's car, the seat didn't sit level like it did in the store seat. The sales assistant said that this was because 'no car seat is designed for every car. The seat you have is for specific cars only. We do advise customers of this'. I said that when I came into this very store to choose a car seat, I had not been advised of that at all. Nor was it written anywhere in the store or on the online sales website, as we had spent some time browsing the car seat section before our purchase. There was also no manual for the car seat to point his out. None of the cars we had used the Madrid Combination car seat in were an unusual model of car. Surely this is essential information regarding Mothercare car seats and should therefore be made in store/by sales assistants and at the point of sale, whether in store or online? Otherwise Mothercare are misleading customers regarding their products.
The manager didn't really listen to anything I said, she just asked to see the car seat in my brother's car. Along with the two sales assistants we went to the car park, where the Mothercare staff tried to fit the Madrid seat correctly. This took them all of 10 minutes, and they needed our help in the end! The manager asked me: 'did you manage to get it in before?' because the seat belt did not fit around the car seat easily. I explained that we had not driven there without the car seat being secured by a seat belt! I showed her how the belt had to be adjusted and pulled in order to get it around the car seat, which made the seat unlevel. Then I put my daughter into the seat. It was clear that she was not supported properly and that the seat was not secure. Now the manager stopped to think. Then she said that this was because the seat needed to be forward-facing, then. I explained that we had bought the seat as a rear-facing one (ideal for taxi rides) and also that I thought only older children could sit in this car seat when forward-facing.
The manager was relentless, and determined not to compromise. She asked me how much my daughter weighs, her age and whether she is sitting up alone. I said that she is roughly 22 lbs in weight, 8 months old, and has started sitting up recently, but not always unassisted. The manager said that she could sit in the car seat forward facing, then, as a baby over 20 lbs who can sit up alone can sit in the seat when it is forward-facing. They rearranged the seat so that it was forward-facing. We put my baby in it and it did seem more secure.
I was still unsatisfied, and also unsure whether it was true that it was safe to sit her forward facing at only 8 months. I decided to do more research at home, so the 50 minute long episode ended, as I didn't want to argue with the store manager and sales assistants. At home, I looked up the Madrid Combination Car Seat on the Mothercare website. It states: 'Use rearward facing from birth to approx. 15mths, and forward facing once your child can sit up unaided (approx. 9mths-4yrs)'. My daughter is only just 8 months old, and she has only just become 22 lbs in weight. When we purchased the car seat last year she weighed less than this, and she was also not sitting up at all at the time.
This means that, previously unknown to us, for the last month we have been using the car seat incorrectly - the exact opposite reason for buying a car seat! In fact the manager told us that it would have 'gone over' in an accident in the rear-facing position. I wonder how many other people are putting their babies in danger without realising it. I also wonder how Mothercare have been getting away with this, and how they can have staff who advise on and sell car seats without training individuals on the basic safety features. Even a basic manual to highlight the safe way to use Mothercare car seats could help to prevent a catastrophe- as I said, even the manager of this Mothercare store demonstrated that they are NOT easy to fit to ensure maximum safety.
This car seat therefore does not seem suitable for either newborns or older babies, as we had been led to believe.
I have complained to Raashmi again and I am also planning to report the faults with this car seat to a consumer watchdog as I feel that Mothercare have put my daughter's safety in danger by offerin inadequate and misleading information about the nature of the Madrid Combination car seat.
I would not recommend this car seat to anyone, for any reason. I'd also suggest avoiding Mothercare altogether, as the staff are not trained about their equipment, but such explanation is essential to their goods! (A quick Google search of 'Mothercare complaint' backs this up- I wish I had thought to do such a search before buying from the store!) In summary.. AVOID!!