Pictured is the front of an Ikea store in Beijing on January 7, 2018. (Photo: IC)
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.
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.