Dan­ger­ous de­signs

Woman sues Ikea, claim­ing ex­plod­ing glass left her dis­fig­ured

Global Times - - Front Page - By Liu Caiyu

The case of a Bei­jing woman who al­leged she was dis­fig­ured by an ex­plod­ing glass she bought from Ikea, the Swedish fur­ni­ture re­tailer, be­gan in court on Mon­day.

Wang ap­peared in the court in Dax­ing district, Bei­jing with her face fully cov­ered with sun­glasses and a black mask.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia, the glass dis­in­te­grated and caused her to faint when she tried to drink cool wa­ter from it on the morn­ing of June 20, 2016. She al­leged that one of her front teeth was shat­tered and her lip was left bleed­ing.

She claimed she bought the glass from the Ikea store in Bei­jing’s Xi­hong­men branch. She sued Ikea for 1 mil­lion yuan ($159,124), claim­ing costs for med­i­cal fees, dis­abil­ity and emo­tional

dam­age. The claim was re­jected by Ikea. The case was un­de­cided on Mon­day.

Wang was the only Chi­nese per­son who claims to have been in­jured from Ikea’s Stelna se­ries of glasses. There have been three in­ci­dents re­lated to this prod­uct so far, Ikea had said on its Weibo in 2017, ac­cord­ing to Kanfa News, a news plat­form af­fil­i­ated with Le­gal Mir­ror.

The glass was still on sale in Ikea web­sites and stores as of press time. An Ikea rep­re­sen­ta­tive who was in court on Mon­day said Wang is de­mand­ing an ou­tra­geous price, Kanfa News re­ported.

There was no ev­i­dence to show that Wang bought the glass from the Xi­hong­men branch in Bei­jing and no ob­vi­ous proof that showed Wang’s in­jury was caused by the Ikea glass, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

When the Global Times con­tacted Ikea on Mon­day, the press staff said the Stelna glass meets na­tional stan­dards, since it passed Ikea’s in­te­rior qual­ity as­sess­ment and tests from a third or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Apart from Wang, no cus­tomers have com­plained about the glass since it started go­ing on sale in Oc­to­ber 2014. More than 610,000 Stelna glasses have been sold in China so far, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive ar­gued in court.

Ikea ex­plained that tem­pered glass might break hours or even days af­ter re­ceiv­ing an im­pact from ex­ter­nal forces.

Test of loy­alty

A Bei­jing-based cit­i­zen sur­named Meng told the Global Times that he is now a lit­tle bit wor­ried about Ikea prod­ucts, since he pur­chased whole set of fur­ni­ture in­clud­ing din­ing bowls and chop­sticks from Ikea when he dec­o­rated his new apart­ment in Jan­uary.

“I hope Ikea will give an ap­pro­pri­ate an­swer to the is­sue. I wish that it is a re­li­able com­pany with a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he said.

News and posts about Ikea’s ex­plod­ing glass were wide­spread, Wang ar­gued. About 130 net users on Sina Weibo and Zhihu.com claimed that Ikea glasses dis­in­te­grated when they were used, Kanfa News re­ported. Ikea told the Global Times that they can­not com­ment on the case as the

trial is still un­der­way.

Lone fight

Re­gard­less that news of Ikea’s prod­ucts hav­ing qual­ity prob­lems are com­mon, cus­tomers have not found it easy to safe­guard their rights.

In 2016, Ikea was forced to re­call its “Malm” draw­ers in North Amer­ica af­ter they were found to have caused the deaths of six chil­dren.

Un­der the pres­sure from Chi­nese qual­ity of­fi­cials, the Swe­den-based com­pany pro­fessed to a re­call later of 1.66 mil­lion chests and dressers in China. The com­pany will pro­vide equal treat­ment to con­sumers world­wide, Chi­nese con­sumers and ex­perts ar­gued.

How­ever, Ikea fails to de­liver their re­call prom­ises and con­tin­ues to sell the “Malm” draw­ers in China till these days, China Busi­ness Jour­nal re­ported in March.

“As an en­ter­prise that is al­ways driven by prof­its and the mar­ket, they are re­luc­tant to im­prove their com­plaints sys­tem,” Xu Bin, a lawyer, was quoted by China Busi­ness Jour­nal as say­ing.

The cost for in­di­vid­ual com­plaints is high, which has re­sulted in cus­tomers hav­ing to ex­press their com­plaints through me­dia or con­sumer as­so­ci­a­tions. Cus­tomers are fight­ing the bat­tle alone, Xu said.

The com­pany can eas­ily deal with cus­tomers by of­fer­ing com­pen­sa­tion and re­fund deals when in­di­vid­ual rights are vi­o­lated, ex­plained the

le­gal pro­fes­sional.

Photo: IC

Pic­tured is the front of an Ikea store in Bei­jing on Jan­uary 7, 2018.

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