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Anguished parents say Ikea isn't doing enough to get deadly dressers out of homes

Recalled Ikea dressers still in homes
  • Consumer advocates are accusing Swedish furniture maker Ikea of not doing enough to get dangerous and recalled dressers out of U.S. homes.
  • Parents of children who died in furniture tip-over incidents are among those calling for more action by Ikea to warn consumers about the dangers posed by its recalled products.
  • Ikea, which recalled 17.3 million dressers, said it has offered refunds or fixes for 1.42 million bureaus sold in the U.S.

Consumer advocates, including parents of children fatally crushed in furniture tip-overs, want Ikea to do more to get dangerous and recalled dressers out of U.S. homes.

At a news conference at Ikea's planning studio in New York, parents-turned-activists called out the Swedish company and U.S. regulators for acting too little and too late in addressing an issue linked to the deaths of at least 10 children.

"The first known death from Ikea tipping furniture was in July 1989 — 30 years ago. Those deaths continue," Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger, said Thursday in a prepared statement. Ikea dressers are linked to at least 10 deaths, nine of which are linked to recalled dressers, due to tip-over incidents, according to advocates.

Ikea in 2016 offered full refunds or free anchoring repair kits for all 17.3 million chests, dressers or bureaus sold in the United States since 1985. The largest recall in the company's history followed a public information campaign by Ikea and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging consumers to anchor Ikea dressers to a wall.

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Parental despair

In the three years since the recall, "Ikea has done little to promote the recall or encourage consumers to remove the deadly dressers from homes. Instead, they continue their education campaign, reminding consumers to secure the unstable dressers to the wall," according to Cowles.

Ikea re-announced its 2016 recall after the death of another child in May 2017 by a recalled dresser that had not been returned or secured to a wall, as Ikea had suggested.

"If Ikea had taken action and recalled these dressers after the first reported incident, and industry had worked on a mandatory standard that takes into account real world use by a child with dynamic testing, my son would still be here," stated Crystal Ellis, whose son, Camden, died when a dresser tipped over on him. 

Ikea reaches $50 million settlement over toppled dressers

Since its 2016 recall, "IKEA has provided the recall remedy for 1.42 million dressers, by providing either a refund for returned dressers or a free wall-attachment kit. Ikea has distributed 1.02 million wall-attachment kits, and issued 400,000 refunds for returned dressers," the company told CBS MoneyWatch in an emailed statement.

Further, Ikea said it uses digital media, national ads and other outreach means to ensure that "customers have been and continue to be made aware of the recall and importance of securing chests and dressers to the wall. The millions of dressers that Ikea has sold for decades came with tip-over restraints and instructions to attach the dresser to the wall."

Repeating scenario

Ikea also recently introduced new products designed to curb tip-overs, with a new line called Glesvar scheduled to be available in U.S. stores in December.

The company is not alone is making furniture that too frequently tips over, according the the CPSC. Someone in the U.S. is injured or killed every 24 minutes when a piece of furniture, a television or an appliance tips over, according to the regulatory agency. The scenarios involve a child dying about every two weeks.

In addition to demanding that more be done to warn the public, advocates including those from the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports and Public Citizen urged passage of a bill in Congress that would require the CPSC to improve furniture stability.

"My son was the eighth child that we know of to be killed by an Ikea dresser in a 27-year-period of time before the company finally recalled their unstable dressers that did not meet the current safety standard," according to Janet McGee of Parents Against Tip-Overs, or PAT, whose son Ted's death led to the Ikea recall.

The legislation, introduced in April by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, would mandate a stronger safety standard and give the CPSC more power to hold companies accountable.

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