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Q: Done over by IKEA...

I took a trip to IKEA in Chengdu the other day, and got completely ripped off by them. I'm hoping for a bit of compassion here, so if your general response is "tough tookie", please keep it brief. It started out fun: we came to Chengdu to get our baby's pictures taken by a professional photographer. For some reason, he thought it would be fun to take pictures in showrooms with giant price tags everywhere - I'll never understand the Asian sense of style...
After going through the basement floor, we stumbled upon the food section, where I saw something that made me make a very bad decision: IMG 20140304 173836 European chocoloate!!! I went nuts. I got 2 big handfulls of chocolate, thinking this was my chance to get hold of some affordable, quality chocoloate. My family asked if it was a good idea, but I guaranteed them that this was a great decision. The 21 bars of chocolate I grabbed would last me for months if I ate them sparingly, and they would save me money too.
But as we proceeded to the cafe, I had a look at the chocolate bars I had just purchased. 100grammes for 8.9yuan - ouch! I honestly thought I was grabbing 200gramme bars. Not such good value for money after all. But I took the mistake in my stride - perhaps it wasn't cost-effective at all. But wait until my family tastes the goodness of imported chocolate; they'll appreciate it.
We ordered some food at the cafe, including cheesecake which I wanted to share with them. The tiny, overpriced slice didn't do cheesecake justice; it hardly tasted like cheesecake at all. Time to make everything right with some imported chocolate, I thought, as I distributed chunks among my family and the photographers. But I didn't expect to see sour faces!
First of all, the chocolate wasn't the high grade stuff I was expecting to taste. It was more like the bottom shelf, 0.19eurocent crapolate that only a few Dutch supermarkets are not too ashamed to have in their selection.
But there was something else...an aftertaste. It was bloody stale! I took a look at the sell-by date on the packaging: IMG 20140304 161418 It will expire in just over 2 months. Looks like IKEA ships its old stuff to China, I guess. I can't fault them for that, but the fact was that something had gone wrong with storage, and I was eating stale, cheap chocolate at a premium. There goes my plan to minimize the damage by stretching out my consumption over several months.IMG 20140305 120637 So, I go straight back down to the food shop where i got them. Receipt in hand, I politely ask for my money back. After 5 minutes of "please wait", a representative comes to talk with me in a quiet corner.
I tell him the chocolate tastes stale already, and that I want my money back. The expiry date alone is enough to warrant a money back in Europe - but This Is China! The salesperson starts to recite a customer service macro word for word: "Ah yes sir, but the strict food regulations in China require that the expiry date is very early, while in fact you can still eat it after it expires." {Since when are food regulations in China strict? And the expiry date is stamped on the IKEA package, meaning EU regulations were applied. Did this guy just tell me it's safe to eat expired goods?} "Unfortunately, due to food security concerns, we are unable to accept the chocolate back." {Does China truly have such strict food security laws, or will greedy merchants use any excuse they think they can pull off to screw customers over?} I told the guy this can only be applied to refrigerated wares, and that this chocolate was stacked out in the open. I also hadn't left the building, and was bringing the goods back an hour after purchase. The customer service macro probably didn't cover Q&A, so he couldn't reply to me.
I understood that it was their intention to apply Chinese rogue trading practices on me, so I let my wife talk to him on the phone. After she got the interactive, non-macro version of the 'piss off' talk, I lost my cool and called IKEA a bunch of thieves. That was Mr. Customer Service's cue to no longer have to give me face time, so he left in a hurry.
Later in the car back, I had to stop in a hurry too, for a bit of chocolatey explosive diarrhoea (I'll spare you the photo evidence - the mental image is bad enough). The bottom-shelf crapolate in Holland will usually only give me the runs if I have more than 2 whole bars, but I ate less than half a bar of this potent laxative. And to top things off, my wife suffered a toothache when she ate the last piece of it in the car. The high percentage of refined sugar seems to have leaked into my wife's temporary filling, so she had to go to the dentist for an earlier-than-planned root canal session. It's my fault for giving her chocolate while she's waiting for dental work, of course.
Is this what western businesses resort to in China? Selling their substandard merchandise to anyone stupid enough to trust them? I told the guy IKEA would suffer, but I'm not sure if I can make a dent in their reputation. I know that the only way Chinese can deal with big companies screwing with them is by going all over the internet. A big Beijing company once thought they could keep my wife's deposit investment when she asked for it back. She told everyone on the internet about the pathetic excuse the company used, and it suffered such a bad reputation from this, a representative had to travel all the way to my wife's hometown to smooth things over.
This issue is mainly one of principle, because the chocolate isn't a large sum of lost money (190yuan). But I feel that if western companies want to screw us over Chinese style, then I must make an effort to shame them for it Chinese style. This is what I'd appreciate everyone's help with. Tell your friends: send them this link. Put all your bad experiences with IKEA here as answers. Even multinationals depend on a good reputation for their profits, so please help me hurt them. I'd be equally pleased if a proper IKEA representative (not a macro-reciter) set things straight - I didn't get any real customer service.
IMG 20140305 120651 I saw that there were quite a few old expats and families walking around there, so we're a not insignificant part of their consumers, and IKEA looks really professional with all the laowai shopping there. If you care about good practices in a store you visit regularly, please help me criticise them. In the end, it should serve us all well, even if it merely results in expats getting preferential customer service treatment.

5 years 19 weeks ago in  Shopping - China

 
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Posts: 3501

Shifu

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You say it still had a couple of months before expiry, so no problem there.  You say it tasted stale, but that's surely subjective.

I'm no supermarket expert but I'm hardly surprised they wouldn't accept foodstuff being returned due to dissatisfaction of the taste.

Perhaps I'll ask my brother, he's recently bought himself a supermarket.

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 3263

Emperor

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Somehow, the association "Ikea/chocolate/China/poop" was stored somewhere in my mind, and your post triggered it. Googled it, bingo !

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/06/17208172-ikea-withdraws-chocolate-cake-after-tests-find-bacteria?lite
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/china-ikea-chocolate-cake_n_2810468.html

So it's seems Ikea in China have a shitty (pun !) supply chain and did not fix it.

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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Well see. Chocolate doesn't have to change color as it goes through the body, so it can do so much much faster than e.g. an apple. !!!

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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Sorry to hear.  That would piss me off too.  I am really starting to trust NO ONE with the sale of foodstuffs here.  I expect ....less.  My standards were lowered in Korea, and they continue to be low here. 

 

Makes going home a pure pleasure.  I usually get misty in the aisles of my hometown Safeway.  Especially the produce section.  Beautiful!!  Clean!  Safe!   no

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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Trust no-one!

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 116

Governor

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That sucks man, if it makes you feel better I've already decided to do my western stuff shopping at metro due to ikeas high prices for crap quality.

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 924

Governor

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Guess that the fact that there wasn't a tall blonde guy as CS in there would make a tad of difference in the service you might get.

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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First of all, I am sorry to read your sad story.

Anyway, My country, Kingdom of Czech, is for some special reason, called the "rubbish bin of Europe.

We have lines of old farts front of Spar, Tesco and others, just to buy " discounted 100% fresh Ham" , chocolate, imported beef and so on...

All from German, Dutch, French supermarkets where is out of shelf life, but somehow managed to have a trip in a truck to Czech supermarket and sell itself for "discount" ... ( If you go to neighbor store look for same item you may find it cheaper often ... )

 

As customers are more loudly about this, they probably find the way to China with their products ...

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 2535

Emperor

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Can't really find quality items in China, always have to import them. 

 

I find it hilarious when Chinese shop at those expensive clothes stores... don't they realize those clothes are the stuff they couldn't sell abroad. 

 

It's like rich Chinese are buying shabby clothes and feeling like they should get face for it lol. 

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 83

Governor

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2 months BEFORE the expiry date? Would that REALLY be enough for a refund in Europe, I mean, I can't see what's wrong with selling not-expired product no matter where you are. 

 

Also, if it tastes funky, stop eating it, you mentioned your wife's tooth hurting after she ate the LAST bar...

 

You bought 2kg of the stuff, not surprised it came back out the other end in a hurry.

 

Just a small tip, next time buy 100g or one bar or whatever, share it, and if you like it then you go back and buy as much as you want. I even do that here, with fruit, no way I'm gonna get caught out buying 1kg of floury apples. So this is especially important with chocolate or any other 'western' treat you think you are getting at a steal.

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 81

Governor

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Yes, you can eat stuff after it expires. How do you think they determine an expiry date? Not possible, it's just to be safe.
Want good quality chocolate? Buy Belgian chocolate.

Somewhere I heard the Dutch are cheap? Hmmm

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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Send that chocolate on over this way, my bowels will process it for ya.  I tried a bar of IKEA chocolate before, that stuff was like chocolatey heaven compared to Chiense chocolate.   PM me for my address!  

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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Well not had a bad experience with IKEA (as yet) but in Shenzhen the 'Metro' store is just a stones throw away and I won't be buying alcohol from there again. As we all know China is rife for fake alcohol, even in up-market bars, but I though Metro would be a pretty safe bet. After not having a decent bottle of plonk for a while I was really looking forward to getting home and have a few glasses from a new bottle of 'Captain Morgans'. However, after opening it the smell and the taste soon put me off... you could literally smell the chemicals. I'm no wine connoisseur with a high-sensed palette but this stuff was terrible. I took no time at all in throwing the glass away and the bottle is still sitting there, unfortunately I just haven't had the time or be bothered with the hassle to trek all the way back to sort it out. It's a shame that after a few drinks many of us (including myself) probably won't identify the difference which can lead to some pretty serious side effects... Long hours sitting on the throne being the primary one!!

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
Posts: 421

Governor

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Metro screwed me.  I bought some imported milk there, like always, and when I got home I noticed the seal on the caps had been broken.  I immediately took them back to the store and demanded my money back.  They basically told to me to "eff" myself.  They had the nerve to tell me that I did it.  Why would I do such a thing, because I like traveling to and fro?  I tried getting in touch with them through their archaic website, to no avail.  Customer service, I love you China!

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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We don't have IKEA in my home country so when I came to China I got the chance to go for the first time. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! 

 

Our first mistake was going on a public holiday. I think all of Beijing went that day. It was so full we couldn't move. And because of how it's set up you can't exit when you want, you have to go through the entire damn store to get out the other side. 

 

That's the day I realised that I have some sort of agoraphobia or claustrophobia because I really couldn't' stand it in there. I ended up running out and waiting for my friends outside while smoking a cigarette a minute to relax.

 

Oh and ya, sorry about the expired chocolate @Coin! 

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5 years 19 weeks ago
 
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