The spacious bedroom area of Beijing’s IKEA features MALM drawers are prominently displayed. The sign above them is even more eye-catching: “Attach to the wall firmly!”
Sales agents remind each customer that “drawers with more than three levels need to be attached to the wall, and that connecting parts are free.”
Since 1989, falling of MALM drawers killed six children and injured 36. Since then, IKEA began a long battle with American consumer organizations about whether to recall the drawers.
In April, IKEA refused to recall MALM drawers because “if the drawers are attached to the wall firmly as instructed, there would be no fatal injury to children.” In June, at the insistence of American customer organizations, IKEA Sweden agreed to follow North American standard ASTM F2057-014 and recalled 36 million shelves.
But the decision not to issue a similar recall in China has started a firestorm of consumer protest.
The Chinese market has brought IKEA considerable profits. According to IKEA China’s 2015 report, the company’s sales in the China market reached 10.5 billion yuan, accounting for a third of IKEA’s worldwide sales. In the five years since 2010, IKEA’s growth rate in China has been 5.1 times their global growth rate.
Although IKEA insisted its MALM drawers are qualified products, they decided to compromise.
On July 7, IKEA Club notified Chinese members that they would provide free in-home service to fix MALM drawers. “If your wall is not able to support the drawers, IKEA will accept a return,” IKEA said in a statement.
According to Beijing Youth Daily’s report, IKEA Sweden explained on July 6 that it was not discriminating against its Chinese customers by refusing a recall.
“IKEA sincerely asks you to use the connecting parts in the drawers’ packing bag, and attach the drawers firmly to the wall. If the parts are lost or you have questions, please call the IKEA customer service to replace them for free. We will also provide free in-home service to fix them,” the company said in a statement.
IKEA told Beijing Youth Daily that non-bearing walls cannot support the drawers. She suggested owners consult their residential managers first in order to confirm the location of their home’s bearing walls before negotiating a return with IKEA.