WASHINGTON • Swedish furniture giant Ikea has announced it has refunded for just a fraction of the millions of pieces of furniture recalled after toddlers were killed.
Over a year after its initial recall announcement, the firm disclosed on Tuesday that it had refunded for or provided service to secure about a million of the estimated 17 million pieces of furniture that it said were at risk of tipping over.
Ikea again offered to refund or provide wall-anchoring kits for the dressers or chests covered by the recall. It cautioned that it did not know how many customers had secured the dressers on their own, or how many exactly were still in use, the Washington Post reported.
The recall, which applies to customers in the United States and Canada, includes the company's Malm dressers and chests, as well as other furniture lines that were not compliant with the voluntary industry safety standard in the United States before the recall was announced last year.
A spokesman for Ikea Singapore told The Straits Times that there is currently no such recall here.
The disclosure last month that an eighth child, two-year-old Jozef Dudek, died from one of the recalled furniture pieces in May - nearly a year after the recall was announced - has raised questions about how effective the campaign has been.
Mr Alan Feldman, a lawyer who is representing Jozef's family, said that they never knew about the recall. "The recall is not only not effective, I don't think Ikea is even doing the minimum necessary to do an effective recall," he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
"This is too little, too late. They put an unsafe product in American homes."
Mr Feldman said the family was part of a buyer's programme and had received mailers about sales and promotions from the company, but they had never received notice of the recall. The family plans to sue.
Jozef's death mirrors those of three other boys, all about two years old, who died after being crushed by toppled Malm dressers.
The families of the three boys, who were also represented by Mr Feldman, won a US$50 million (S$67.6 million) settlement from the company late last year.
Ms Jackie Collas, the mother of one of the children included in the lawsuit, recounted the horror of finding her son, Curren, under an Ikea chest in February 2014.
"The only way that I can explain it was that my heart was being ripped out of my body," she described in a blog entry afterwards.
According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 97 children died from furniture that tipped over between 2000 and 2015.