Burned By A Defective IKEA Oven Mitt, I Seek Justice… But What Kind?

Scott tells Consumerist that he used some new oven mitts from IKEA last night, and found out that one of them is defective. Unfortunately, he learned this the hard way: by burning his thumb. Now, he’s not really sure what to do: the store is a few hours away, and he’s not really sure what he wants from the store in return for the incident. What would you do?

He writes:

My wife purchased oven mitts from Ikea, and I was the first to try them out. Taking a baking sheet out of the oven, I immediately felt searing pain in my thumb, and threw it on the stovetop. For the next 7 hours I put it in ice to help with the pain, and then had a pretty tough time falling asleep as I couldn’t keep in the ice.

Called Ikea, and was told to return the item to the store. I said that I live 2 hours away, and wasn’t taking a day off to do that. Then I was told to call the store the next day.

Upon inspecting the gloves, it’s apparent that one of them is thinner than the other and defective.

So I woke up today and have a blister forming, and am about to call the store. My question is: do you have any advice on how to go about getting some resolution to this? What can I expect? I don’t want to sue them, but I want … something. And of course they need to be aware of a faulty product. I got the sense that I may receive a runaround.

It sounds like the defective mitt had the wrong type of batting, or its maker omitted the batting altogether. Bad move.

As for dealing with the company, ask yourself: what would be an acceptable resolution? Suing for pain and suffering is too much, but is a replacement oven mitt not enough?

Comments

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I get that he wants some kind of restitution but he comes off a little whiny, IMO. He’s already getting something – Ikea is offering a replacement. It’s just that he happens to be two hours away. He should just ask whether Ikea would be willing to send him replacements on good faith, given that a set of defective ones would get thrown out anyway. How much can these possibly be? $5? Chances are, since Ikea told him to call back, it might offer to do that anyway.

    • FatLynn says:

      Agreed. See if they can mail you a new one, and return postage for the defective one.

      Also, are we talking just first-degree burns here? He doesn’t mention any blistering, and while a first-degree burn can be annoying, I’m not sure it requires compensation.

      • axhandler1 says:

        “So I woke up today and have a blister forming, and am about to call the store.”

        He mentions that he has a blister the next morning, so it sounds like a mild burn, like one would get from touching a hot stove for too long.

        • FatLynn says:

          Right, right, reading comprehension. I don’t know if it is still considered second-degree if the blister forms later on.

          • DarthCoven says:

            He probably got the blister from applying ice directly to the wound and not cool running water. The ice can do tissue damage.

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            Blisters on form on second degree burns, and it is often well after the burn occurs. A first degree burn should not blister. It would only be red and hurt like a bad sunburn.

      • Talisker says:

        $5? They have some that at 99 cents and some that are $2.99.

        Buying the least expensive kitchen safety equipment you can find is probably ill-advised.

        • jessjj347 says:

          Maybe he accidentally picked up one of the .99 cent versions with the $5 version, and now thinks the $.99 one is defective when in fact, it’s just super thin and cheap.

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      I don’t understand why he didn’t call IKEA and ask if he had any other options (besides driving to the store) BEFORE writing to the Consumerist.
      “but I want … something.” What DO you want? Why are you asking us what you want?
      “I got the sense that I may receive a runaround.” What runaround?
      Also, when you buy something far away, you keep in mind that if it doesn’t work out, or it;s broken (and it happens), you have to drive back to the store. Then you decide if it’s worth it to swallow the price of the item, or take the time and gas to drive back to the store.

  2. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    The first and foremost concern shouldn’t be “how should Ikea compensate me for my admittedly minor injury.” The more important issue is making sure that nobody else gets hurt, which would require Ikea to inspect its existing stock of oven mitts and improve its manufacturing quality-control.

    It’s disappointing that Ikea seems to have just gone into a legal defensive crouch on this issue, rather than pro-actively investigating the safety problem with their product.

    I would think a nice letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission would get their attention.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      But you’re assuming that the people at the Ikea store have an idea of what to look for. The OP’s description of “it’s thinner than the other” is hardly scientific. What would you do, touch every oven mitt and ask yourself whether this one is thinner than the other one? It makes sense that Ikea wants the oven mitt back if it’s looking to see whether it actually is defective.

      If there is a safety problem, the OP is the only one with the information in his mitts (literally). He should provide that to Ikea if what we’re talking about is a larger problem than one or two mitts that happen to be defective. One defective mitt (that Ikea has not been able to examine) doesn’t mean a huge recall is in order.

      • Draygonia says:

        Not only that, but what if both are thin and you buy it thinking they are good? PSST PSST! You just burned both your thumbs!

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        Absolutely. One of the first things I thought about here was the question at the end: ” what would be an acceptable resolution? Suing for pain and suffering is too much, but is a replacement oven mitt not enough?”

        I’ve burned myself a million times with my stove/oven- it hurts, but it heals. My first concern would be to make sure NO ONE ELSE got hurt, and return the mitt to IKEA AND contact corporate. Sure, he should get a replacement but that question just wreaks of “What should he get out of this?” Maybe it’s just me, but for a simple oven burn I wouldn’t ask for anything but a replacement, just that they made sure the rest of their stock wasn’t defective as well.

        *And I would also cut a piece of the mitt/ tag off to preserve a sample of the lining in case more burn stories jump up in a few months from an Ikea mitt LOL.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I cook a lot, and it’s rare for me to not get burned in any fashion when I cook. It’s just the way it is; a combination of my own klutziness and a hot stove. I’m not going to blame Calphalon for making metal pans that get hot when heated, you know?

    • nbs2 says:

      Perhaps not compensate, but in a case like this, I would certainly prefer to be reimbursed for burn creams, any doctor visits, and the four hour round trip to the store. After all, those things are expensive. Getting reimbursement for those things when a defective product is involved would be the polite thing to do.

    • Sir Winston Thriller says:

      There’s even a form you can use online to report the injury and item. http://www.cpsc.gov/talk.html

    • FatLynn says:

      I’m not certain that IKEA has a specific liability, here, as the mitt was not what burned him. Do they advertise or label the oven mitts as rated to a certain temperature? If not, they are probably in the clear.

      • DangerMouth says:

        Do you think he saw a pair of snow gloves and thought Hey, these would make great oven mitts”?

        I think there is an reasonable expectation that anything sold an an “oven mitt” would allow you to handle oven temperature items safely. Every oven I’ve seen goes up to 500 degrees, so I would expect that to be the minumum rating. As to liability, retailers are routinely included manufacturers in product liabilty lawsuits.

        Your comments seems a bit bizarre, as the hot pan in the hot oven is what actually burned him, but niether the pan manufacturer nor the oven manufacturerer would be liable for an injury, unless they were in some way defective. The gloves, which should have protected him, were the defective item in this case.

        Not that I’m saying that a lawsuit (or anything over a replacement mitt) is called for here, but your line of reasoning is faulty.

        • FatLynn says:

          Legally, I do not know if there is a “reasonable man” standard in this case, or if products are only required to perform as labeled.

          • DangerMouth says:

            If they are labelled “oven mitts” (and I’m having a hard time imagining what other type of gloves a home furnishing and housewares store would even carry) then yes, I, and every reasonable person would expect them to be used for removing hot items from a hot oven.

            This isn’t some super technical item with a narrow range of specific tolerances. It’s pretty simple: oven + mitt.

            • Javin says:

              I’m with DangerMouth on this one. The man purchased an item that has exactly ONE function in life: To protect your hands when removing something from an oven. In this ONE task, it failed, resulting in physical injury. I think a lawsuit is going overboard, but IKEA should have to do considerably more than just replace the mit. For the guy’s pain due to their lousy product, he should get SOME compensation, and for future customers they should be going through every mitt made by this manufacturer and inspecting them for the same defect.

            • FatLynn says:

              I am talking about what the law says, not what it should say.

        • unpolloloco says:

          Actaully, a good pair of snow gloves work pretty well. However, they’re much less convenient.

  3. Southern says:

    Chuck ‘em in the garbage and go on with your day.

    • Griking says:

      Agreed.

      Anything else really isn’t worth the time and energy it would take.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      But that would negate his feeling of entitlement…

      • Southern says:

        I know.. as soon as I saw “I don’t want to sue, but I want… something”, I literally *Sighed* out loud.

        So many people seem to be hung up on “entitlements” these days, and they refuse to take personal responsibility for ANYTHING.

        • kujospam says:

          You are being a hypocrite. “So many people seem to be hung up on “entitlements” these days, and they refuse to take personal responsibility for ANYTHING.”

          You are implying that the company has no responsibility and only the person themselves need have it. The problem is companies generally don’t have a standard policy on what happens when the product fails. You kept your end of the bargain, you bought it, and used it in the correct way. They didn’t, make sure item can perform in it’s advertised duties, and in other cases services. If companies would have standard polices then they can avoid this time of situation.

          On an off note, I hope you don’t feel entitled to a raise ever because you work hard, you should be doing that anyways. You should be thankful for everything you own because you didn’t work for them, you were not entitled for them, they were given out of pity to you. This even thing that people should feel entitled to things when things happen to them.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Well…the product he purchased was defective, so technically he should be able to get a replacement or get his money back (as with any defective product)…after he takes care of that he can go about his day, thats really all there is to do haha

    • LuckyLady says:

      This.

      Also, ibuprofen or aspirin work well to ameliorate the pain of a very small burn.

  4. axhandler1 says:

    Same thing happened to me with an OXO oven mitt. After two years of regular use(these mitts are supposed to last much longer) the joint at the thumb wore out and I burned myself slightly. I sent the company an email telling them what happened, and within a few hours a representative called me on the phone to see how they could make it right. I told them i just wanted a new oven mitt to replace the one that had worn out and for them to look into how mine wore out so early. The new one got there in a few days, and they also emailed me a prepaid shipping label to return the defective one to them so they could look into the matter. I was pretty impressed with their customer service.

    • iggy21 says:

      Same exact thing happened to me (only i didnt call for a new one-too lazy). But, you did exactly what anyone should do, call and hope they have a decent customer service dept.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Nice! I’m a fan of Oxo products myself. I’ve never had a problem with any Oxo product I’ve ever bought but if I do, I’ll definitely contact them.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Yeah, I’ve been using their products for years and this was the first time I’ve ever had a problem with something. I was pleased to find that dealing with their customer service was exceedingly easy.

  5. DarthCoven says:

    I thought you’re supposed to treat burns like that with cool running water, not dunking the affected appendage in ice.

    *quick google search*

    In fact, the Mayo Clinic specifically says NOT to use ice.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-burns/fa00022

    • Link_Shinigami says:

      Depending on the burn, my understanding is that it’s actually lukewarm not cold or hot. The guys at the restaurant I worked at during high school did that if they got a burn on the grill. Of course, then the alovera was put on but the initial was the lukewarm water

      Frost bite treatment is the same kinda… You run your hands under cold/lukewarm water to draw the cold/heat/we out of your hands/appendages safely as to not cause that insane pain as blood tries to rush back into thinned veins due to the cold

  6. B* says:

    Ikea is pretty good about sending replacements for defective items despite what their web site says. Call and they’ll help you.

    As for what you “get,” you just got the knowledge that you should always test new oven mitts before use.

    • dg says:

      Ummm, he did test them. That’s how he discovered they didn’t work. How could he test them before use?

      The simple fact is that the items sold were defective, and not as advertised. He was injured as a result. Ikea needs to do this:

      1) Apologize for the problem.

      2) Replace the item with whatever other models they sell that he wants, OR refund the purchase price

      3) Tell him to go to a Dr. and send them the bills. He’s got a blister – that’s not a minor injury, it’s a 2nd/3rd degree burn. It needs to be treated properly so he doesn’t get a scar, so it doesn’t get infected and cause other problems, etc. That he was in pain all night leads me to think that it’s a 3rd degree burn.

      If they don’t want to do at least #2 and #3 – then sue them. Add on court costs, attorney’s fees, filing fees, transportation, time off of work, time to go to/from the doctor, time at the doctor, doctor’s bills, Rx costs (and the time to go to/from the pharmacy to pick that stuff up), and ask for punitive damages so other people aren’t adversely affected by the defective product. Subpoena records of the number of reported injuries they’ve had for ANY glove, and what they did about it.

      Once they get the lawsuit, and the subpoenas – someone will want to negotiate a settlement out of court.

  7. Ben says:

    Why do people whine so much in these letters?! Had trouble getting to sleep? Maybe you needed your diaper changed or a new pacifier! Or maybe just take some frickin Tylenol (but not the kind that smell like poop)!

    • jmurphy42 says:

      Have you ever had a second degree burn, Ben? I’ve burned myself on a hot pan from the oven before, and I couldn’t fall asleep that night either. It’s freaking painful, Tylenol and Advil won’t cut it, and the pain doesn’t get any better for at least 24-48 hours.

      • npage148 says:

        I’ve been the crap out of myself several times resulting in 2nd degree burns. Including a burn 3inches in diameter on my stomach. Never once has the pain been so bad I was unable to sleep. If the pain of a little burn on his thumb resulted in lost sleep he needs to find his big boy pants immediately.

  8. ClaudeKabobbing says:

    Hire the lawyer who sued McDonalds for hot coffee.

    • Bye says:

      If you’re so lazy as to perpetuate the faux outrage regarding that lawsuit, I’m not even going to point you to the myriad pages that explain exactly what happened in that case.

  9. semidazed says:

    I don’t think any of Ikea’s kitchen accessories are available online, which is probably why the store asked him to come in. I fall into the the “It’s $3.99, chuck it and move on” category overall but I think the store should offer to ship him a new one in good faith and look into it.

    Let’s face it, for all of the stupid things people sue and win money over, he’s being pretty reasonable over purchasing a faulty product that caused him to get burned. Also, if it affects a lot of the oven mitts, they should be recalled. I’d call the store again as well as pursue it through corporate channels.

    • Link_Shinigami says:

      Agree’d. He doesn’t want to sue them, honestly, he probably could get an out of court settlement if he tried.

      He just wants to know what to expect, he should probably just do a carpet bombing to the higher-ups to get the gloves pulled. If he has any medical bills? I’d take it up with them and if they played hard ball on the medical bills their faulty product costs, then I’d small claim(Or sue if, god forbid, the bill went that high… Which is probably would in America without the health care like in Canada).

      First and foremost should be making sure they pull/recall the mitts to avoid further injury, they’ll probably reward him too since he didn’t flinch respond with a lawsuit, haha. Second, if he does require medical attention at some point because of the burn, then he should take it up with them as the burn was entirely due to the product.

      If anyone tries to blame him for this somehow as well, smarten up. You don’t use an oven mitt going “Oh I hope it doesn’t fail miserably and not do what it’s supposed to do”. This is in no way his fault for trusting a product designed for what he was doing. In my mind, it’s the same as Toyota and the… Well, everything about them, it’s not the drivers faults when they had those unfortunate issues coming up.

      • Southern says:

        I get blisters just from raking my yard (because I don’t do it very often and my hands don’t have calluses). I don’t go whining to the rake manufacturer because their product gave me a blister. Yeah, it hurts. Sometimes I’ll get a blister on TOP of a blister. That REALLY hurts. I put burn cream on it and push on.

        It’s a stove. It’s HOT. Be CAFEFUL. If you’re testing a new pair of gloves, don’t set ‘em on a 400 degree pan and say “Gee, I hope these new gloves that I’ve never used before don’t have a hole or a thin spot in them”.

        I’m sorry he burned himself. It hurts. We get that. But accept some personal responsibility, dammit.

    • Talisker says:
  10. Daverson says:

    OP should call a waaaaaaambulance for his boo-boo.

  11. jvanbrecht says:

    It’s an oven mitt for crying out loud.. Here is the deal, just like anything else out there that could result in injury (I have alot of wood working power tools, table and freestanding, each one of them has what my wife likes to call, “spinny blades of doom/death [she alternates between the last words] )

    When you first try something out, you test it first on something less dangerous, for an oven mitt, I recommend using a cast iron pan, put it on the stove, turn it on, and hold the handle till it becomes uncomfortable. Determine if the device provided sufficient protection, than go about with regular use.

    Might seem extreme to test everything, but with todays quality control, its a must.

  12. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Most cheap oven mitts are like this. I learned that the hard way because I am cheap.
    My grandmother recently gave me a pair of her more bulky/expensive kind and I haven’t had a problem since.

  13. humphrmi says:

    Maybe he can go to Ikea and run around like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74Obm6bEH80

  14. HannahK says:

    To whoever wrote the headline, no, the OP was burned by the hot pan, not by the oven mitt. You have to take a second to touch the pan and make sure heat isn’t coming through- especially with a product you haven’t used before. If you cooked at a friend’s house for the first time would you just assume their oven mitt is good enough for you to charge in grab on to a 450 degree pan? (If you did that at my apartment you’d get burned, because the thumb of my oven mitt is completely worn away.)

    If you put a mild burn in ice water for too long, it hurts to take it out, that’s common knowledge. Take a tylenol and be more careful next time.

  15. Shmoodog says:

    Nice of most of you to completely miss the point here, and just use the opportunity to be jerks.

    The man bought a safety product that failed and he got harmed. He simply wanted advice on the best way to handle this.

    Apparently 95% of you didn’t understand the question.

    Anyway, the best you could hope for is a small amount of store credit, but I’m not sure that would really ameliorate the pain and suffering of the actual injury. Be nice if someone else had a better idea…

    • bhr says:

      ameliorate the pain and suffering

      Its that line of thinking that has completely screwed up product liability case law in this country.. Its a minor household injury. The type that most of us get 5-6 times a year, suffer for a day or two, and move on.

      He bought an item from a store two hours away (not their fault) and now wants to return it because it didnt perform to his expectation (he claims defect). Point blank, he should call up the 800 customer service number, ask for either replacements or a refund and move on. He shouldnt be looking for a windfall of any sort, as he isnt out anything.

      And the first person to use “make him whole” needs to be kicked.

  16. Talisker says:

    It’s going to cost you more to drive to the store or to send the mitt through the mail than it’s worth. Ask them for a $5 or $10 gift card to cover your pain and suffering.

    Or just stop buying stuff there.

  17. jmurphy42 says:

    I just emailed Ikea through their web page last week about an issue I had, and though I didn’t expect them to take it seriously, my issue got bumped up to a high ranking customer relations person who resolved it quickly and happily. I suspect they’ll try to resolve the OP’s problem reasonably.

  18. Dallas_shopper says:

    Get them to mail them to you…and don’t buy oven mitts at Ikea anymore. Those are something that it might be worth spending a bit extra on to ensure safety and non-burned hands.

  19. brinks says:

    I once worked for a retailer that only had a few brick-and-mortar locations (it was primarily a catalog and internet business). The store I worked at was at a popular tourist location, so we often got people from all over. If someone called saying they had a problem with something they bought but they were too far away to return it, we could help them. If they used their credit card, we’d instruct them to mail the product back to us and include their phone number. Then we’d call them when it arrived and process the return over the phone, manually entering their credit card information with them on the line (so we didn’t have to write it down). If they didn’t use a credit card, we’d offer to put the money on a gift card and mail it back, since the gift cards could be used online. Our catalog/internet division handled returns this way, so we just did what they did.

    None of this was company policy for the retail locations, but sometimes you have to bend the rules when there’s no other way to be fair to the customer. Ask Ikea’s management team if they can do a refund this way for you, or come up with a similar response. Knowing that people often travel hours to get to their stores, I’d imagine they’ve had to come up with similar solutions before.

  20. Scuba Steve says:

    Well, If you think that you need medical attention for the thumb, go to the doctor, and then worry about getting IKEA to foot the bill for it. If you want to return the defective item for a refund, go for it, but pain and suffering is usually not a thing that’s easily compensated out by the average store worker.

    If you want restitution, you’ll need to write a letter or email. Know what you want. A Gift card for your trouble? Perhaps. Action, on behalf of the company, to make sure that these defective oven mitts weren’t being sold? A more noble goal, but much harder to achieve. An Apology? Easily done. But might not be so fulfilling down the line.

    In the end, I’d recommend a nice letter asking for whatever you feel is fair for a burned thumb. If its bad enough you should have gone to the doctor. If it’ll be ok, than just ask for maybe $25 dollars in restitution from the corporate offices.

  21. Scorps1 says:

    Contact Ikea an request they fill out a product liablity accident report. Every retailer I have worked for has such a mechanism to report customers harmed by products directly to the manufacturer. As part of the process Ikea should either replace or refund the mits, by mail if necessary to collect the “evidence” for analysis. The manufacturer usually is usually much more concerned about the issue than the store is.

    Should the store not wish to co-operate to your level of satisfaction, ask for the phone number to the district manager and explain the situation to them keeping the drama to a minimum. This is actually probably the best way of getting the item replaced and a gift card. District Managers in companies that value customer service typically hate dealing with customer issues. They want them resolved and resolved quickly so they can get on with their day. Saying you bought oven mits, one of which was defective, and caused a blistering burn on your hand and you can’t drive 4 hours round trip to exchange a $5 oven mit as the store suggested should be enough to get the ball rolling. Be prepared to tell him what you want but if it isn’t reasonable you will be shut down (exchange the mits, a $20 gift card and sign a libility release).

    Another option if you can’t find traction anywhere else would be to call the corporate legal department. That is actually where the accident report would hit as risk management usually works for them. Again, no drama- just tell them you would like to resolve the issue at the lowest level possible.

    Just keep it short and simple- No drama, no wanting to save humanity from defective oven mitts, no lawsuit threats (while silently implied, they know there is little there).

  22. nkash001 says:

    Suing is too much for what appears to be fairly minor injury. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a refund and possibly some kind of credit and/or gift card from IKEA? Just be persistent if you feel they are giving you the runaround.

  23. NumberSix says:

    You seek THUNDERDOME!

  24. peebozi says:

    No need for regulating this. The market will work itself out.

  25. MercuryPDX says:

    What would I do? I’d invest more than bargain basement prices on something meant to protect me from burning myself when taking a pan out of the oven. Pain is a great teacher, and the reason why I use a real oven mitt instead of a dish towel when cooking.

    “Something” is a bit vague. If it’s not a refund or another (potentially defective) replacement mitt, then I have no idea what you “should get” because those are the only two things I can see you’d actually be entitled to.

  26. watch me boogie says:

    Honestly? I’d throw away the defective mitt, curse Ikea’s name, and then make sure everyone was nice to me because I burned my thumb. Actually, I’d probably also call or email the store just to warn them that this mitt could burn people and they might want to look into it, so other people don’t get burned too. I wouldn’t drive all the way back to return it unless it was expensive enough to justify the gas/time required.

    • watch me boogie says:

      And, sorry you burned your thumb, that’s really painful. Next time, though, look up the first-aid for a burn, because sticking it in ice for 7 hours ain’t it.

  27. dilbert69 says:

    Hire a lawyer and sue them for every penny I could get.

  28. Caffinehog says:

    Try calling/e-mailing them and explaining that you were dissatisfied with their product. Many companies understand that you have a choice in where you shop, and don’t want to give you subpar products. Some will send you a gift certificate worth more than the item you had a problem with. On the other hand, if you whine about the injury and demand compensation, they’ll probably refer you to their legal department. Then you’ll get nothing except a letter asking who your lawyer is.
    Source: Experience with both situations.

  29. clickable says:

    Everyone who’s suggesting that he sue Ikea, especially the ones who sound like ambulance-chasers (subpoenas, court costs, punitive damages, and whatnot), might want to know that the only claim Ikea makes about their oven mitts (at least online) is that the “Interliner of felt like polyester provides very good heat insulation.”

    Also, that description is only on the product page for the two cheaper styles – the 99¢ and the $2.99 ones. The ones for $3.99 don’t even have that much.

    IAdefinitelyNAL, but I wouldn’t suggest spending too much time building up a case for anything but a refund or credit. Also, OP might want to ask his doc about some Silvadene cream (available in generic form).