2 Years in, Is IKEA's Furniture Recall Working?

Two years after the largest product recall in history, is the IKEA furniture recall working?

Four national safety groups say they wish they could answer that question, accusing IKEA of keeping them, and consumers, in the dark about the current numbers.

In Pennsylvania, 2-year-old Curren Collas was found by his mom crushed under an IKEA dresser.

In Washington state, Camden Ellis, 2, was pinned under a similar dresser.

Their two deaths are on a list of eight children killed by toppled IKEA furniture since 1989.

But it wasn't until the 2016 death of Minnesota toddler Teddy McGee that the retailer announced a voluntary recall of millions of IKEA dressers and chests due to a serious tip-over hazard, urging consumers to anchor the furniture to the wall or get a refund.

Two years later, safety advocates say more needs to be done to get the risk out of homes.

"We think they're spending a lot of marketing dollars on other things. They need to spend the same marketing dollars they use to sell products to get these products out of homes," said Nancy Cowles of Kids in Danger.

IKEA did re-announce the recall in November 2017 after another child died. At that time, IKEA reported a total of 299 tip-over incidents and 144 injuries.

Safety groups say they can't gauge how effective the recall has been since.

"We're asking for those numbers. We put in a request a year ago asking for the recall file to find out what was going on - we still have not gotten that data," said Cowles.

One part of the controversy: the math.

Ikea says it's provided service for and/or refunded more than one million dressers. But safety groups point out the actual refund numbers in that equation are low.

"About 175,000 people have gotten the refund out of some 17 million people at the least, probably more," Cowles explained.

In a statement to NBC Chicago, IKEA defended the effectiveness of its recall, pointing out there is no way to determine how many of the affected chests or drawers — some more than 30 years old — are still in use today.

And, consumers "who attached their chest to the wall at the time of purchase...would have no need to participate in the recall," IKEA said.

"But this is very unstable furniture that we know tips over, that we know has been involved in deaths, and we recommend that everyone return it for the refund," Cowles said.

Anyone with an IKEA dresser that is part of this recall is eligible for a refund or repair kit. Take the dresser in or the company will come pick it up. We have a full list of the items involved here.

ONLINE: IKEA recall information

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