If you see me today, I'll be wearing black. I was informed today of a decision by Cybex to drop one of my favorite infant seats, the Cybex Aton, from the American market. Rest assured, this has NOTHING to do with the quality or safety of the product, but rather poor sales.
I am floored. This car seat was just starting to pick up steam. I know, for a fact, that it had tremendous buzz the past few weekends at BBB here in Manhattan. I don't know where to place the blame, so I'll start with one big pointed finger:
The Aton was designed to work with Maxi Cosi adapters. In fact, it actually works much better with those adapters than the Maxi Cosi seats do. I know for a fact several retailers denied to customers that the Aton was compatible, and for that I say “Shame on you.” That is probably going to be “controversial” and maybe people won't like me; however, if I were to sugar coat this, it would diminish how terrific this product is. Clearly, this doesn't hold true for ALL retailers. As a matter of fact, while I was in Chicago at Galt Baby recently, I applauded them for having the Aton on the Bugaboo Donkey. I believe my exact words were “Thank you for doing that, because no store in NYC has the balls to admit that it works.” The Gurocks at Magic Beans, both CPS Techs, have also been supporters of the Aton since its launch.
Lack of product training is also to blame. A client told me that at BuyBuyBaby in Manhattan this weekend the following was overheard: “There are four brands of car seats: Graco, Chicco, Maxi Cosi and Peg Perego.” Seriously? WHO is training your employees??? I know it's certainly no one who is a Child Passenger Safety Technician, because I've heard some crazy nonsense come out of employees' mouths. Employees aren't even educated about Internal Lock-offs (a pre-crash locking device that helps insure a snug install when using a seatbelt and base). THOSE ALONE are often the reason to go with a Graco 35 over a Graco Snugride. The Internal Lock-off on the Aton was very effective and easy to use, and very few associates I know knew anything about it. This is not just happening at BBB. It's a problem at many juvenile retailers–even a few of the more “educated” ones. Parents: confused about car seat information? Find a CPST in your area, or contact SafeKids.org for information about a car seat check in your city.
I am, of course, not completely blaming retailers for the demise of the Aton. Everyone in the industry needs to work together to really support and educate each other. These aren't picture frames we're selling. We are talking about supporting parents and helping them make INFORMED decisions regarding product, as well as teaching them how to safely use it. As a Child Passenger Safety Technician, I am beyond disappointed right now. The Cybex Aton could have blown many other infant seats out of the water. SUCH potential.
Before I get really mouthy, I'd just like to encourage all of you who need an infant seat to go give this AMAZING Aton a looksie. Trust me, it will be worth your time. I heart it. It is a gradual phase-out of the product. Once the inventory is gone, that's it folks! Get them while you can.
SIDENOTE: Manufacturers: worried about the way your product is presented at retailers? Shoot me an email…..