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Ikea 'not wrong' to bar a 5-year-old from ball pit

Ikea 'not wrong' to bar a 5-year-old from ball pit

Published: 07 Mar 2012 13:58 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Mar 2012 13:58 GMT+01:00

Disabled five-year-old Filippa Nordin who was turned away from the ballpit in the Ikea playland has lost her case against the furniture giant after the district court in Helsingborg ruled that the company was right to deny her entry.

“It feels heavy. We hadn’t expected this. I certainly hope that Ikea will learn something from this and look over their routines for how they treat their customers,” said Filippa’s mother Annica Nordin.

The girl and her mother was visiting the Ikea store in Helsingborg, in southern Sweden, in May 2009, when the flabbergasted mother was told Filippa wasn’t allowed in the children’s area’s ballpit.

The playland staff had turned away the young girl, who suffers from a very unusual chromosome discrepancy, for “safety reasons”. They believed that it wasn’t possible to communicate with her despite the girl’s entreaties, saying “mummy, I am not handicapped”.

Filippa’s mother Annica offered to accompany the girl in but said her request was turned down by personnel on duty at the play area.

But according to Ikea, the staff on hand offered several alternatives for how Filippa could be kept under guard but that her mother had rejected them.

However, Ikea customer relations manager Hans Gårlin stressed that the company does not see itself as faultless in the matter.

“We see the whole situation as a failure,” said Hans Gårlin, customer relations manager at Ikea to news agency TT.

According to the company, the situation arose as a result as glitch in communication between the furniture giant staff and the family.

Early in the process they had offered a settlement of 10,000 kronor ($1,500) that the family had turned down, opting instead to report the matter to the Swedish equality watchdog Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (DO).

However, the agency dropped the investigation after three years, causing Nordin to take the matter to court.

Although the district court found that it may have been detrimental to 5-year-old Filippa to be turned down by the Ikea playland staff, the fact that her mother lost the case means the company doesn’t have to review its rules on who is allowed in the children’s area.

But according to Görlin, the company has apologized several times because “the family’s visit wasn’t a positive experience”.

“Everyone should be welcome at Ikea. But in this case communications have faltered, we need to look into that and be clearer. However, the verdict clearly shows that there is nothing wrong with our security routines,” Gårlin said to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The family was represented in court by lawyers from the Centre For Equal Rights (Byrån För Lika Rättigheter) which will now be liable to pay the legal costs of the trial.

However, instead of the 50,000 kronor Ikea had demanded, the court said the centre would have to pay 1,205 kronor in legal costs.

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Your comments about this article

14:42 March 7, 2012 by johan rebel
Greedy parents obviously trying to extort as much money as possible from Ikea.

Glad they got nothing, serves them right!
15:19 March 7, 2012 by lilsocks
#1 Couldn't agree more!
15:21 March 7, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
I find it beyond belief that this matter has gone to court
15:24 March 7, 2012 by Rishonim
#1 &2. The article only state the mum turned down the 10K SEK offer and not that she was interested in getting more money from IKEA. Therefore I don't see any greed here.
16:10 March 7, 2012 by DrMartin
Anyone who thinks one can sue for big sums on money in Sweden is dreaming. The courts simply don't work that way here. You have to prove what money you have lost or would stand to lose and you can only sue for that money.

The mother obviously was looking for social justice, especially after going through DO for 3 years and turning down 10.000 kr!
17:03 March 7, 2012 by skogsbo
I don't know why they offered her anything, it's a private facility, they can choose their own customer base.
18:57 March 7, 2012 by OUIJA
I fully agree with IKEA. IKEA is, as skogsbo pointed out, a private facility. They cn set its own rules. Children are not properly educated on how to behave (I not talking about the case in this story) and I have seen one more or less 6 year-old spoiled brat, breaking a very expensive (SEK 1500) vase in a jewelry shop. In the meantime the employee was sambling the pieces from the floor, the mother took his brat by the hand and left the store.

Question is: Why cannot a store prohibit the entrance of children, unless they are properly handled by their parents?

Is that agains the law? Which law allows a child to destroy someone elses property?
20:34 March 7, 2012 by stevo1
Another great decision by the Swedish Legal System.

The fact that several alternatives were made to the mother, and she refused all of them.

There was no discrimination, only a company and staff who had the safety interests of the child and all other children in mind.

I believe the mother should be responsible to pay IKEA for their lost time and lawyers salaries for such a bogus action to begin with.

Actually, IKEA need to lodge a civil action to this mother as she has lost the case to seek re-reimbursement of actual financial loss, as this would be lawful in Swedish law, and send a clear message, that if you don't agree does not make it discriminatory nor unlawful.
00:03 March 8, 2012 by insect
Chances might be that she turned down the 10k in hopes that the DO would help her get a larger amount
07:23 March 8, 2012 by skogsbo
in UK law if you turn down an out of court settlement, there are rules if the claimant just pushes on, then the judge finds there is no case to answer, the claimant - the mother in this case would be liable for all cost, regardless of circumstance. It was implemented in the hope of preventing a blame culture and people who just chase the money despite reasonable offers. - it failed!!

The only reason Ikea must have wanted to give her anything was to avoid the bad PR.
11:46 March 9, 2012 by flintis
They must be American
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