Sunday, August 12, 2012

Poorly Made In China

Poorly Made in China is a book written by Paul Midler about manufacturing and tactics the Chinese use to increase their own profits and eventually steal or ruin your business. I read the book a few years ago but this post is about some lamps I bought at IKEA.

A couple of months ago, I went to IKEA and bought two LED lamps. They were both called JANSJĂ–; the only difference was that one had a regular base ($10) and the other has a clip ($15).

When I found them near the checkout, there must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of boxed piled up. From the crappy cardboard, I knew that these were made in China. I hesitated, looked around for other lighting options, but ended up buying both since they were exactly what I was looking for (LED lights on flexible goose-necks).

They weren't expensive but not really cheap either ($25 total + tax). I brought them home, opened up the box, was was very disappointed with the manufacturing quality, especially the power adapter. I guess they had to make it universal since IKEA sells everywhere but the plug was really flimsy and I couldn't find the usual safely regulation markings (UL, CSA, etc). Also, the weight base for the normal lamp was an ugly piece of rock, but IKEA included a sticky piece of felt-like material to cover it. Anyway, they worked fine for about two months then the clip-on light started flickering; the on/off rocker switch on the power cord was bad. About a week later, the other light/lamp started flickering too... same power switch problem. Sigh... how hard is it to make a simple lamp or spend pennies more for a quality switch?

After reading Poorly Made in China, you can tell that the lamps were made with the same "cheap" mentality. I remember when IKEA opened its store in Toronto; there was a display with a test machine simulating thousands of stand-up/sit-down cycles to demonstrate the quality of IKEA furniture. I don't see that display anymore after IKEA (and everyone else) outsourced it's manufacturing to Chinese subcontractors.


Gedeyenite said...

Same thing happened to ours. Such a disappointment as we have always been happy with IKEA products. It doesn't move multiple time well (via moving vans and handlers) but is good for the price. Alas these lights, while bright and handy, do not last.

Ashley Nicholson said...


same here same lamp same problem from ikea in brisbane australia

Products made in china are crap, no standards

pcsnow said...

I have a similar lamp from IKEA. We love it but the existing push down switch makes use of
tamper proof screws that makes it impossible to open the switch an correct the problem.
Other pointed out on reddit that they used screws that also can not be drilled even wih
HSS bits. The switch uses a metal spring to make the connection without screw posts.

Ashley, I expect that IKEA does have standards and that they are probably enforced.
Perhaps, IKEA has not specified an appropriate standard.