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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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UOKiK for pupils

< previous | next > 24.08.2020

UOKiK for pupils
  • How to choose a schoolbag? What to pay attention to when purchasing a desk and an armchair for a pupil? What parameters should the reflectors meet?
  • The school year is approaching, so are the parent’s important purchase decisions.
  • UOKiK advises on what to check in the store to provide your child with the comfort of use, healthy spine and safety.

Once the holidays are over, the children will come back to schools. Even if - due to the epidemic - schooling is to take place remotely for some time, it still involves buying textbooks, school supplies, paying tuition fees, etc. According to last year’s CBOS (Centre for Public Opinion Research) study titled “Parents’ schooling expenses for children in the school year 2019/2020”, the average expenses amounted to PLN 1120. Here, the government has lent a helping hand, as under the “Good Start” programme it has allocated PLN 300 to a school starter kit for every pupil. Also the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection would like to support parents with useful hints and tips on purchases related to the beginning of the school year.

- We have prepared some hints that will be helpful when choosing furniture for learning, schoolbags and reflectors. Pupils’ health and safety is of key importance. We recommend, inter alia, how to make sure that kids do not strain their spines too much when doing their homework sitting at the desk or going to school with a backpack, or how to make them visible to drivers from a distance. In our guide, we also pay attention to the comfort of use and the quality of products designed for pupils. I sincerely encourage you to go through it and make wise decisions – says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of UOKiK.

Schoolbags and backpacks

As announced by the Minister of Education, pupils are to return to their school benches in September. So they will need a schoolbag or a backpack for sure. Ideally, it should have a rigid construction - as it is healthier for the spine and helps the child to straighten up. This design also protects kid’s back against pinching, even if things are not arranged neatly inside it.

The recommended weight of a packed schoolbag which is considered harmless to the child’s spine is 10% of the pupil’s weight, i.e. a child weighing 20 kg should carry no more than 2 kg. So when you buy a schoolbag, choose the lightest one, adjust it to the pupil’s height and adapt to stuff carried inside it. Remember that apart from notebooks and textbooks, there must be some room for water or a second breakfast. Regularly check the weight and content of the schoolbag, as younger pupils in particular often throw things in the bag that are not necessary in school, and significantly increase the load on their backs.

Make sure that the schoolbag has a contoured frame, preferably with lumbar pad(s) to fit close to the kid’s back. Hip or chest straps (adjusted to the child’s height) will also be useful to relieve strain on the back and shoulders and stabilise the load. Choose wide and soft shoulder straps so that they do not bite through your kid’s shoulders. Make sure they have strap adjusters to prevent the backpack from sliding off the shoulders.

If your kid’s way to school is long and the road is even, think about a wheeled schoolbag. Remember, however, that such models are heavier, which can be quite a nuisance if classes take place on different floors. Wheels should be large and durable, preferably rubber lined.

Comfort of use is also extremely important. Ideally, the main compartment should have partitions. Then, you can arrange the things inside properly - large books closer to your back, with notebooks, pencil case, etc. at the front - so that the schoolbag is well balanced. A small inner zipper pocket will also be useful, so that your child can put there pocket money, keys or school ID card. A separate food pocket will also come in handy, preferably padded with heat insulating foil, and side pockets to hold bottles with beverages.

Finally, pay attention to the quality of manufacture and robustness. Check seams for stretching, if threads do not come out, pockets are well fixed and zippers open easily.

Furniture for learning

Depending on the progress of the epidemic, classes - at least in some schools - can take place remotely. In such a situation it is critical to provide pupils with comfortable and functional environment to study at home. Naturally, the most important are a desk or a computer table and a chair - preferably a swivel chair, but cabinets or bookcases will also come in handy.

Adjust the furniture to the pupil’s height. This will prevent postural defects. A good solution is furniture with regulated height adjustment. Ideally, you should choose the furniture together with your child. When choosing a table or a desk, make sure that your kid’s elbows rest on the table at such a height that he/she does not have to lean over the notebooks, thus causing excessive spine bending. The child’s thighs should not touch the bottom of the tabletop.

When buying a chair or armchair, pay attention to the backrest profile, height (or adjustment option) and depth of the seat. The seat height adjustment ensures that the feet are resting on the floor, and the backrest can be adjusted to the natural spinal curvature. A good chair protects the lumbar section of the spine and back, at least to the height of your kid’s shoulders. Armrests provide additional support to hands. The wheels, in turn, make it easier to move back and forth from your desk or table and allow access to other furniture in the vicinity without having to stand up , although they can damage the flooring.

In addition, check the furniture for stability and sharp edges and corners. As regards drawers, keyboard shelves and other pull-out elements, make sure that they have safety stops against sliding out.

Reflectors

Safety reflectors will make the children’s journey to school safer. They are necessary if the child moves outside built-up areas. Thanks to the reflectors, kids will be visible to drivers from a distance even on grey winter days. Ideally, the schoolbag or backpack should have reflectors on the back, sides and on shoulder straps. They can also be stitched on clothes or worn on the arm, for example.

Before purchasing, check the product for the CE marking. It is the manufacturer’s proof that the reflector meets all technical and legal requirements. It is then presumed to be noticeable to drivers.

Pay attention to dimensions. The size of a free-hanging reflector should be between 15 and 50 cm2. If the reflecting surface is placed on both sides, it may be maximum 1 cm thick. The reflective surface of both detachable and fixed reflectors should exceed 15 cm2.

How to wear reflectors? The lower they are placed, the faster the vehicle’s headlights illuminate them, so the driver will notice the child earlier on. Before your child goes to school, make sure that the reflector is not obscured by, for example, a bag or scarf. Occasionally, also check if reflective strips stitched permanently to your kid’s clothes have not worn off, and if so, replace them. Plastic and prismatic film reflectors that have been penetrated by water also lose their functional properties.

When buying a school starter kit, remember about consumer rights:

  • If the desk, schoolbag or crayons prove to be defective, lodge a complaint. You have got two years from the purchase to do that. You can demand the product to be repaired, replaced, sold at a lower price, and if the defect is significant, you can claim your money back.
  • You can also lodge a complaint on goods bought on sale-off. An exception is if an item was discounted due to a specific defect that you were made aware of, e.g. there was a defective zipper in the backpack. In such a situation, you cannot lodge a complaint; however, if another defect occurs, e.g. your pocket will be chipped off - then you can.
  • If you buy a school starter kit on-line, you have the right to withdraw from the contract within 14 days. You do not need to state any reason, all you have to do is send a relevant statement. Within the next 14 days you should send the item (e.g. a uniform that is too tight) back, at your own cost. Returned goods should have no signs of use, otherwise the seller may deduct the cost of bringing the item to its original state, i.e. laundry, when returning the money.
  • When shopping in a regular shop, you should think over your choice carefully, as the return option of a full value product depends on the clerk’s goodwill and it is him/her who sets the conditions, e.g. they may require the original packaging and reimburse money only to the gift card. Before the purchase, please check the locally applicable store rules.

For more hints and tips, please read the UOKiK guide.

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your city/town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl
Provincial Trade Inspection Authority Offices

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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