Amid an uproar over alleged ‘racism’ at IKEA Hyderabad, the multinational company said on Monday that it ‘deeply regret’ the unpleasant experience of its customer.
The furniture retailer issued a clarification after a customer Nitin Sethi alleged that his wife faced racist treatment at its store in Hyderabad.
Sethi, a journalist, tweeted that that his wife from Manipur was frisked for goods she bought.
“Racist treatment at @IKEAIndia store in Hyderabad. Only my wife, from Manipur got frisked for goods she bought. No one else before us. And then all supervisory staff came to defend the racism. Great show from an ‘international store’. Cheers to another usual day. #racism,” he tweeted on Sunday night.
“The person who checked my wife’s shopping bags, even sniggered that we had bought everything, didn’t even care to reply why we were singled out. And the supervisors said, yeah call police if you want, we will deal. And it didn’t end there. Daily racism that our people face,” he wrote.
Telangana’s industry minister K. T. Rama Rao also termed the incident ‘appalling and absolutely unacceptable’. He asked the company to ensure a proper apology is issued and educate, sensitise and train their staff to respect all customers graciously.
A few hours after the minister’s tweet, IKEA India clarified that it condemns any form of discrimination.
“At IKEA, equality is at the heart of everything we do, and we condemn any form of discrimination. We strive hard each day to ensure our co-workers and customers are treated fairly. We deeply regret the unpleasant experience called out by our customer and this is never the kind of experience we wish for,” IKEA said in a statement.
“We take this matter seriously and conducted a thorough investigation. Without exception, we have followed the same process of checking the bill against articles for all customers who choose to self-scan and pay. This is to ensure there are no billing errors that might cause inconvenience to our customers,” it added.
The company also clarified that as part of safety and security protocol, they do not frisk customers in the store at any point of the shopping journey.
“We take all the learnings from this incident and will do our best to improve processes and communication towards creating a convenient, safe and inclusive shopping experience. We welcome everyone at IKEA,” it added.
Earlier, IKEA responded to Sethi’s tweet. “At IKEA, we believe that equality is a human right, and we condemn all forms of racism and prejudice. We regret the inconvenience caused to you while following the mandatory billing protocol.”
“As a process, customers who self-checkout are requested for a final check before leaving the store to ensure the billing is correct and customers do not face any problems regarding double charging, repeat scanning of products etc,” it added.