We’re used to seeing news releases and fact-based recall announcements coming from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But it’s not every day that CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye issues a statement about a specific recall. Why is this a “there but for the grace of God, go” moment for the rest of the industry?
The Chairman’s statement certainly elevates the urgency and importance of this particular recall, but it also serves as a fresh warning to the furniture industry. We shouldn’t be surprised if additional product recalls follow and if consumers hear more from the agency’s AnchorIt! campaign, launched just over a year ago, to educate consumers and “prevent furniture and TV tip-overs from killing and seriously injuring children.”
So if the CPSC already had a focus on furniture safety, why is IKEA suddenly the CPSC’s soapbox?
The fact is that this safety issue is not new for IKEA. On July 22, 2015, CPSC and IKEA announced a “repair program” for MALM chests and dressers following tragic accidents that resulted in the death of two children. The program offered consumers a free wall-anchoring kit to prevent IKEA chests and dressers from tipping over. While CPSC and IKEA called on consumers to anchor the furniture to the wall, it’s unclear what percentage of consumers heeded the warnings.
That’s one of many product safety and recall challenges facing companies. It’s hard enough to try and reach every consumer affected by the recall. It’s even more difficult to ensure they take action. We’re all at least a little guilty of not heeding safety warnings from time to time—whether waiting weeks or months to take our car in for a recall repair or not reading every word of a warning label affixed to the products we buy. Certainly there is a degree of consumer responsibility, but that doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t try using every means possible rather than trying to brush it under the rug.
Nor does it mean that companies don’t do enough.
IKEA has communicated this recall through standard means—news releases, announcements on Twitter and Facebook posts, and website postings offering detailed instructions for how to participate in the recall program. But it hasn’t stopped there. The company is fully engaged in Twitter and Facebook conversations. They are offering free anchoring kits and refunds. And they are even willing to deploy a field force to go into consumers’ homes to remove the affected product upon request and free-of-charge.
IKEA is certainly in the spotlight at the moment, but has displayed the initiative to go above and beyond the typical recall process this time around. The real question: who’s next?