Ikea’s policy violates basic rights, says FTC

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Ikea’s policy violates basic rights, says FTC

Last month, a Korean consumer purchased a piece of furniture at the Ikea store in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi. The item was to be delivered to his apartment one week later, on March 16, but he decided to cancel the order two days after placing it. Ikea Korea agreed to refund the purchase, but sent a message notifying him that he would not be refunded for the delivery cost, citing their delivery service contract.

The Sweden-based furniture and accessories supplier, which is known worldwide for its affordable prices and minimalist style, became the focus of much discussion when it opened its first shop in Korea in November 2014, as some of its prices were high compared to those of Ikea stores outside Korea.

This time, however, the furniture retailer is accused of violating local standards regarding delivery and assembly services. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on Wednesday that it told Ikea Korea last month to change its contract, which forbids refunds on delivery.

The fundamental sales concept of Ikea is that customers can purchase furniture or other home accessories, such as lamps, coat hangers or even faucets, then bring them home on their own and assemble them. In such cases, they are eligible to receive a full refund if the items they purchase and assemble are returned within 90 days.

But if the items are delivered by Ikea, a minimum charge ranging from 19,000 won ($16.50) to as much as 159,000 won, depending on the destination, is added to the bill. Ikea also offers assembly service for 40,000 won.

“These policies are violating commercial and civil laws in this country,” said Min Hae-young, a director at the FTC. “And Ikea agreed to make changes on the related policies.”

The FTC said it is unfair for the company to refuse refunds even if customers change their minds and cancel.

In Korea, he added, customers who order delivery service have the right to cancel that service and get their money back if no service has been given.

Ikea Korea said the company is following the company’s global policy and that its delivery is done by other shipping companies in Korea, which means that it cannot do much once the purchased goods are handed over to those companies for delivery.

“We hope Ikea’s decision will be to help customers enjoy basic rights from now on,” said Min at the FTC. “We at the FTC will continue to find any unfair policies that may affect citizens.”

Ikea earned 308 billion won last year.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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