September 11, 2008

Breaking, Literally: Phil & Teds Dash Going Back To Starting Line?

pt_dash_nonrecall.jpg

9/12 UPDATE: I just got off the phone with a spokesman from Regal Lager, confirming that they are "asking consumers" not to use the Dash and to return it to the retailer. Details below.

Just got an email from DT reader John, one of the first parents to take delivery of the new Phil & Teds Dash, the latest model of the original e3. Seems the company is pulling the stroller back off the market because of some kind of "collapsing" issue. As in, "collapsing with a kid in it when it goes off a curb," as one local retailer I just called described it.

John's email mentioned a problem with the handle, so maybe it's not like the whole rig is collapsing; unlike the other original-style P&T's which have foot pedal brakes, the Dash's brake is set using the handle. So maybe that's the issue. [update: we have a mention of a "flopping" handle, which sounds less alarming than "collapsing."]

At this point, it's not at all clear, and from John's experience, it sounds like Regal Lager, the US distributor of Phil & Teds, is still trying to isolate the issue. The Dash was just launched a little over a month ago, so I'm sure there can't be more than a few hundred in the market. Still, John only stumbled across the "not a recall" when he called Regal Lager about a different issue; and his local retailer hadn't heard about it at all, but promptly gave him the option to upgrade to a Vibe, downgrade to a Sport, or wait for a fix. [He's waiting for the handbrake.]

So on the off chance that you're a Dash driver, you might want to give Regal Lager a call. Or if you already have, tell us what's going on; I'll update the post with Regal Lager's response to my inquiry when it arrives.

[update update: here's the handle collapse video John mentioned in the comments below:]

Regal Lager response update: I tried yesterday and today to find a live Regal Lager executive, not just the customer service reps. Most of them are en route from Las Vegas to the big Kind+Jugend expo in Germany, but I just got off the phone today [Friday] with an RL spokesman:

They are "asking" all Dash buyers to stop using the product, and to return it to the place of purchase. Customers can wait for a replacement from the next batch of Dashes to arrive "in September," or they can trade for a Sport or a Vibe. When I mentioned the YouTube video apparently from Germany, he confirmed that the problem was not just with Dashes in the US, and that Phil & Teds has identified and fixed the problem at their end. [This would seem to imply--though he didn't address it with any specifics--that there was a manufacturing defect; could a design defect related to locking mechanisms for either the handle or the entire stroller really be fixed so quickly? Stroller designers?]

He said he was "surprised" at the phrase "pulling from the market," even when I said it's the exact phrase both John and the retailer [not John's] I spoke with used. So apparently, RL is trying to treat this as a customer request, not a "pulling from the market" and most definitely not a recall. Because, as I pointed out, a recall would actually involve an announcement and the involvement of the CPSC [whose press representative, btw, has not returned repeated calls and emails over the last two days.]

So now we know: Regal Lager is NOT recalling the Phil & Teds Dash because of defects that cause it to collape. They are simply asking all buyers of the stroller to stop using it immediately and return it for a replacement.

13 Comments

I actually ran into a couple with a Dash last week..we were comparing it to my Vibe. Their stroller is one with the handlebar defect. It wouldn't stay in an upright position, it would flop down when you pushed on it.. So maybe that is what they meant by collapsing.

I'm the one returning the stroller. It's a bummer since the stroller is nice. Hope they fix it soon and get replacements out soon. Found this video, wonder if it's what the problem is. Looks from the video like the locks that keep the handle bar up can snap if you push down too hard.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNeHFxWcCpg

The handles of all the non-Vibe P&T strollers kind of suck. Even if they don't collapse like this they still wobble around like no handle on a $500 stroller should.

Yet another post with some bad P&T news. Regal Lager must have their hands full. I will say that they've been great handling my two problems, quickly sending me the hinge guards and replacement seats (where the shoulder strap adjustments actually work).

The P&T line does one thing better than most double strollers on the market. It fits two kids in a stroller with roughly the same footprint as a single three wheel all terrain stroller. That alone may be reason for many families to own one (mine included). BUT this is not a particularly well designed nor well built stroller. The complaints and regular recalls are evidence of that. (Spend ten minutes pushing a P&T loaded with one or two kids after time with a Mountain Buggy, MacLaren, etc. if you're looking for more.)

P&T has some good marketing people and a design that appears clever and well thought out from a distance but they don't get many of the details right. You can put lipstick on a ....

A stroller with this many flaws does not belong in the $500-1,000 range.

We have the Dash. It collapsed with our infant daughter in the bottom.

The entire stroller collapses and folds on itself; the handle falling is a separate issue. The stroller collapses and crashes down on the bottom child. Also the doubles seat doesn't stay on securely.

The problem is that the locking mechanism is defective and doesn't lock; the latch gets stuck inside the frame tube and doesn't engage the lock when the stroller is opened.

This is a MAJOR SAFETY ISSUE!

We had our Dash for two days before we sent it back -- for neither of the issues mentioned. Its front wheel did not rotate smoothly, causing it to have terrible steering issues. I brought the Bugaboo back out and am slinging my infant -- I think the Vibe looks too slick and the sport looks a little sloppy -- waiting for updates! Greg -- did you understand the replacement to be cost-for-cost or just upgrade/downgrade?

Not saying you shouldn't have returned it but there was nothing wrong with your Dash. That's the way these things steer. I don't know if the Vibe's steering is any better but the other models have shopping cart steering.

Well, we just returned our stroller and are awaiting its replacement 'in about 4 weeks'. The initial reason and desire to return our stroller was that it pulled to the right, rather strongly. While pushing it, if you put equal pressure and walked, the stroller would try to do a circle to the right. you had to basically try to steer it to the left all the time if you wanted to go in a straight line. single handed pushing of the stroller was about out of the question, unless you had some freaky strong wrists. letting go of the stroller made it swing around and do a J-turn pretty quick, so no letting go for a second to do anything. Our steering problem was rather dramatic. If all these drive like this one and you think that is normal, then you've got to push a maclaren or bugaboo or something because compared to those, ours steered like a boat with its rudder jammed to one side. Most likely it was a problem with a bent frame or something, the box was a little banged up when we got it. I hope the replacement is nicer.

I'm another person who got a faulty stroller - mine was a latch defect, where the frame did not properly lock into place, and the entire stroller did collapse (about as bad as it gets.) it *is* a major safetly issue and I am shocked and disappointed that phil and teds has not made a formal announcement to the public in order to prevent further accidents. I filed a claim to the CPSC and urge others to do the same.

I'm sorry to keep piling on here but my biggest problem with the P&T line is how difficult they are to steer. I think there are two design factors that contribute to this. First is that they have to position more weight over the front wheel than other strollers in order to fit 2 kids. I'll give them a pass on this because the 2nd seat is this stroller raison detre. The second is that the front wheel pivots from a point that is not too far ahead of its axle. If you look at just about any stroller, the front wheel(s) pivots from a point as far ahead of the axle as possible. This gives the stroller (and the person pushing it) leverage over the front wheel.

I happen to have some strollers here on my desk and took a tape measure to them. (Please forgive the engineer for a few minutes.) The P&T Sport pivots from a point 3" ahead of the axle. The Mountain Buggy Urban pivots from a point 5" ahead of the axle. All things being equal (I know they're not and there are other frame geometry factors that come into play) the P&T requires 67% more force to make it go where you want. This is a huge difference and explains how I can steer the MBUS just about anywhere with one hand or even a couple fingers. The P&T (as John mentioned above) requires a lot more attention, force and, most of the time, 2 hands to get keep it going in the right direction. For another reference, our MacLaren has pivot points 3" ahead of the front axles. That's the same leverage as the P&T on a much lighter stroller. This would explain why the MacLaren is easier to steer as well. (I haven't tried pushing a Vibe with kids in it but the front wheel pivot appears to be a similar design so I expect it isn't any easier to steer than the older design.)

As I mentioned above, every stroller has pros and cons. It's just that pushing a stroller as pricey as the P&T should be a more pleasant experience.


Here are two photos to see what I'm getting at. Note how the Mountain Buggy's axle is set further back from the pivot point.

http://www.pushchairs.co.uk/images/specs/mountainbuggy_urbanspec01.jpg
http://www.babywhiz.com/images/xs/phil_&_teds_e3_toddler.jpg

We have a P&T Sport v2 and steering is not an issue for us.I am actually thinking of upgrading to the Vibe. For those of you who have the Vibe, what are the pros and cons.

Thanks

I have had a P&T for a year, and didn't have any steering issues at all until last month. It started being noticibly much more dificult to turn when the tires weren't totally inflated. Now it is pretty much all the time.

I think it is either due to too much play in the bushing for the pivot wheel, or overall deflection (sag) of the stroller between the front and rear axles. Both of which put the axis of the pivot out of vertical. It's likely a combination of these. For me its probably from wear and tear, for others with this problem on a new stroller it may be just assembled out of tolerance.

I was going to experiment with trying to tighten up the clearance in the bushing with teflon tape. Otherwise, I could go to a machine shop to have it line bored out and re-bushed, but that seems over the top for now.

Yep, bought one in september, it was a disaster. Was talking to the reseller in Switzerland where I bought it and was told that there are 3 known major issues (and I experienced all of them on mine, after the last problem appeared last week, that was the last drop). Apparently I am getting a whole new base free of charge, just need to fit all the cushions onto the new base. I've been even told that I dont even need to bother sending the old thing back.

At least they have a pragmatic customer service :)

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