Massive IKEA Dresser Recall Means Long Phone Queues, Illegal Resales Online

Image courtesy of Håkan Dahlström

IKEA is finally offering a fairly consumer-friendly recall on furniture that has tragically killed six children in the last three decades. Unfortunately, the massive recall effort is not exactly going as planned to keep the dangerous dressers out of consumers’ homes.

There are two big problems going on with the recall right now. One is actually getting your recalled dresser handled: IKEA will happily come to your house, take away your old one, and give you the money to replace it… if you can actually reach anyone to talk to, that is.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has been following this story closely for many years, heard complaints from IKEA customers that getting through on the phone hotline was proving nigh impossible. To find out how bad it was, the Inquirer sat down and started dialing. Their results were dispiriting to say the least.

It took them 35 attempts to actually get through to a live human they could talk to. Calls were straight-up disconnected 27 times before making it into the queue. Another seven calls were disconnected in the queue. Just once did someone from IKEA actually answer… and that was after an hour and twenty minutes on hold.

Still, the phone queue problems will probably ease up naturally over time, when millions of customers aren’t all trying to call at the exact same time. A week from now, consumers should have an easier time calling than they do right now. But another problem is going to be much harder to stomp out, and is much more dangerous.

Now that you can’t grab the Malm furniture at your local IKEA, anyone who really wants a piece is taking to the big world of secondhand furniture, on sites like Craigslist or Facebook. And that’s a problem: reselling recalled items is illegal, even for individuals.

The Chicago Tribune had a look online in their metro area and found more than 15 of the recalled dressers turning up for sale just since Tuesday. A cursory, two-second search of Craigslist in other major cities (Boston, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York) unsurprisingly reveals dozens more of the recalled dressers for sale, and there are likely hundreds more being sold right now in yard sales, secondhand shops, and online forums around the nation.

A spokesperson for the CPSC told the Tribune that the commission works with online resale platforms to monitor and remove postings for recalled products. Still, it takes time… and with an estimated 29 million individual products on the recall list

If you see a listing for recalled furniture online, please don’t buy it. It’s not safe. You can, however, take a minute to flag the post as problematic on whatever site you’re using, and give the CPSC a boost in their frankly Sisyphean task.

Can’t get through on Ikea’s recall hotline? We tried 35 times. Here’s what happened. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Recalled Ikea dressers show up for sale on Craigslist, Facebook [Chicago Tribune]