“It’s ok if you change your mind,” writes Ikea , “We want you to be happy.” That’s why shelves, armchairs or cabinets can still be returned one year after purchase. That sounds generous – but is probably too generous even for the Swedes. Ikea restricts the right of return in Germany: as of September, the furniture retailer only takes back purchased goods if they are “new and unused”. Although the furniture does not have to be in its original packaging, it must not show signs of wear. The billy shelf can be returned in the assembled state – but only if it has no scratches.
That sounds like a matter of course. But so far: Ikea does not ask questions and takes everything back. With these obliging rules, however, Ikea has gone a special way in Germany. In other countries, says a spokeswoman for the group, only goods that have no traces of use have always been taken back. Now, one might say that this change is understandable: why should customers still be able to exchange a table or chair if it is already worn? But that was Ikea’s strategy for a long time: the company wanted to make everything as easy as possible for the customer, even the withdrawal from the purchase. In 2014, Ikea even gave its customers a life-long right of exchange – but after two years they cashed again, because there was supposedly no need for it.
Customers should learn to appreciate the products more
The new restriction explains Ikea with respect for the environment: one wants to ensure “that customers do not dispose of furniture and furnishings after a short use,” says the spokeswoman. Rather, they should “value the value of the product in terms of resource use that was needed.” In other words: Ikea wants to drive away the disposable culture of its customers.
At the same time, the furniture retailer has fueled the same thing for a long time. With particularly low prices, Ikea has encouraged customers to buy more than they need and replace furniture with new ones faster. As with food, the waste has meanwhile also fallen into disrepute for furniture. That’s why Ikea has been working on a new image for some time , “These days, you can not build disposable products anymore”, Peter Agnefjäll, the former Ikea boss, quoted in 2016. “Anyone who buys a coffee table expects it to last a long time.”
Ikea wants to produce less waste
In addition, the Group has set itself the target of recycling by 2020 90 percent of its waste. It goes without saying that Ikea is considering adding furniture in the future as well. In Belgium you can already repair or re-paint defective cabinets. In Japan, Ikea takes old sofas in payment and recycles them.
How many customers in this country, the return policy exploited and even for scratched, broken or worn furniture have demanded their money back, the company does not want to betray. However, it should always have been the same customers who had brought demolished goods shortly before the end of the exchange period.
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A problem that other dealers know. Amazon, for example, recently hit the headlines, because the corporation destroys returned goods in a big way , Because they are no longer salable, functioning washing machines, tablets, mattresses and furniture are disposed of. The reason: The reprocessing is often more expensive than the new purchase. Ikea also partly disposes of furniture that can be returned and, even reduced, can no longer be resold.
Dealers pick out seven customers who return too much
Like the Swedish group, other traders restrict their return policy. The pioneers are the USA. There, for example, the outdoor retailer LL Bean has withdrawn its lifelong product warranty. The reason: too many customers wanted to return their worn hiking boots or dirty jackets after years of use. The underwear company Victoria’s Secret and the electronics retailer Best Buy are now said to have turned on extra data specialists: They are to locate those customers who give back a lot. Apart from that, the dealers allegedly have fraudsters They are supposed to fish receipts from rubbish bins in the parking lots of the shops, steal the goods in the shop and collect the money.
However, it is always a tightrope walk for retailers to restrict returns – both online and offline. So had the Berlin online retailer Zalando, for example times tested what happens if the returns slip is not included in the package. The customers were able to continue to return the goods, but had to print the sheet themselves. The result: They have returned less – but also rarely ordered a second time something.