Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reasons we are not crazy for IKEA!


Higher quality furniture found at Tok & Stok, Brazil

There are many reasons, probably the main one is the fact that Ikea is UBBER cheap and sell a lot of crap made by semi slave labor in China.
I like quality and I will take quality over price anytime, even if I have to wait and go without something until I have the money to buy the good quality option rather than the Walmart/Ikea type of cheap made stuff.
We visited the Ikea store in the Boston area once, we bought a Made in Sweden "wooden cutting board" for U$7,00, which I thought was a great deal. There is not much you can go wrong with a piece of wood, to cut your fruits and vegetables so we took the plunge. We also bought a U$2,00 pair of plastic with a spring thingy that keeps the shapes of your shoes with pressure from the inside out, not bad, "Made in China", but in my defense, I had never seen that thing made or sold anywhere else, so for lack of options and to keep my shoes looking good, it was a no brainer :)
We also bought Norwegian Smoked Salmon, to eat with bagel, capers, onions and cream cheese on Sunday morning, that was it.
Oh, yes, and we walked about 10 miles in the maze of isles they carefully plan to make sure you buy all the "great" stuff they need to sell you.



Tok & Stok


Awesome sofa found at Tok & Stok in Sao Paulo, Brazil


In Brazil we are used to shop at Tok & Stok for our cool style stuff needs.
Tok & Stok has a style that is very similar to it's Scandinavian counterparts but it is an authetic PAULISTA store, founded in Sao Paulo in 1978.
Tok & Stok by the way is a completely different animal in many ways, most stuff in there have a sophisticated and modern style, but principally MADE IN BRAZIL, due to tought import regulation to protect the Brazilian industry, so of course, much more expensive and BETTER quality than Ikea for obvious reasons.
Tok & Stok also delivers and assemble furniture for you for a reasonable pricel, which in some cases brings a great advantage over Ikea stuff that you have to assemble yourself and pay a hefty delivery charge.
Tok & Stok is not as large as Ikea, the stores are smarter in my opinion, you don't have to walk for miles, and they have awesome stuff, plus they are in better locations withing the city. Your usual Ikea shopper drives an average of 50 miles because they built their stores in cheap land away from the cities.
I really miss Tok & Stok, wish we had one here.
We watched recently on the news that people are pissed with Ikea in Sweden as well, they closed a large factory over there where Swedish folks made U$19,00 per hour and open the same factory in South Carolina, were folks will gladly work for U$8,00. Shame on Ikea, again! :(
Despite my negative views on Ikea, I see that they have helped many people who are on a budget and need to furnish a small apartment quick and easy, but you should pay attention, there are some catches to avoid.
To back my strong feelings about Ikea, I found this interesting article today on "Shine" by Yahoo.
Take a look and let me know if you agree and what you think.

The text below was copied in full from Shine by Yahoo!

What Not to Buy at Ikea

offers sleek, modern design at such reasonable prices it’s no wonder that the average customer in the United States drives 50 miles round trip to shop the inspiration rooms (and inevitably dine at the equally impressive smorgasbord of cafeteria food). While we’re huge fans of the Scandinavian design behemoth's trendy home accents, wall art, graphic rugs, and highly functional accent furniture, there are certain things not worth the trip. Here are five items you’d be wise to re-think:


1.    Mattresses

When it comes to mattresses, the saying you get what you pay for rings true. And because getting consistent good nights’ sleeps is crucial for your health, opting for a quality mattress is a wise investment. Ikea offers mattresses at a price range from $80 for a simple, twin-sized spring mattress to $649 for a king-size foam mattress. While the latter promises pressure-relieving and temperature-stabilizing technology at a seemingly reasonable price, the price structure is a bit misleading. To walk away from Ikea with a complete bed set, you’d have to purchase three more items:  A bed base, foundation, and at least one mattress pad, adding almost $500 more to your total cost. What seems like a good deal on the surface, actually turns out to be what you’d be spend  for a full set at any other mattress retailer, such as Mancini’s Sleep World or Sleep Train. Furthermore, you don’t get the free delivery and set-up or the ability to negotiate payment plans like you would at most mattress-specific retailers, which are constantly offering promotions and deals in an effort to stay competitive.


2.    Imitation Wood Products You’ll Use Every Day
Ikea is full of products that look like wood but are actually made of laminate or pressed wood—or wood particles glued together. These pieces are generally of lower quality and won’t last as long as the real thing. While purchasing accent furniture or bookshelves in this material might serve you well, you might find yourself replacing that laminate coffee or dining table within a year as the daily use will cause the laminate to peal away at the edges or become stained or scratched.

Killer Furniture for Every Room



3.    Dinnerware

If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills dinner set, Ikea's $25 set of six plates, side plates, and bowls, might fit your needs. But you’d be able to find a similar set at Target or other retailers for the same price. And if you’d like your flatware to make a bit more of a statement, Ikea’s selection is lacking. While the Scandinavian purveyor offers more than enough ways to add flair to your pad at a reasonable price, their specialty is not stylish flatware. We recommend filling your Ikea cart with tabletop accents or wall art, but scooping up china flatware when department stores like Macy’s offer sales because you’ll have much more inventory to choose from.


4.    Quality Cutlery
Ikea offers will provide the ease, precision, longevity, or efficiency that a professional knife set promises.

Kitchen Gadgets That Make You Want to Cook!


5.    Things with Complicated Assembly Instructions

Unless you’re a natural handyman (or know someone who is) or simply must have that bookshelf that comes in a gazillion pieces, be wary of some of the items that require a huge amount of DIY assembly.  Purchasing a fully-formed bookshelf elsewhere for a bit more might be worth what you save in time and sanity.



Ikea

36 comments:

Meredith said...

My mom refers to furniture from IKEA as "disposable furniture" since it's not anything you'd pass on to your children. I'd have to agree with her and with you when you discuss what NOT to buy. I'd never want a "mattress" from there (if that's what you call it.
With that being said, we did by a nice coffee table and a bedside table from there that I am really happy with.

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Meredith,

I hear you, I am sure there are good finds at Ikea.
There are a few things you just can't go wrong. The Mattress is an important one in my opinion.
The problem I have with "fake" wood is that they use "formaldehyde" to glue the wood particles together which is a dangerous carcinogen and the Chinese are "trigger happy" with the stuff ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formaldehyde

The Reader said...

Just an FYI - the Tok & Stok in our city (Campinas) is currently arranged JUST LIKE an Ikea, with the whole maze set up leading you through every aisle, up and down, in and around, etc so you must walk through the whole darn place to get to what you want.

Quality, I'm not sure. We shop at a local (non-chain) furniture store, good quality stuff (except for the lousy sofa we just got rid of) and the prices at Tok & Stok are much higher for the same thing (same made in Brazil stuff). Still a great store, but higher priced and changed layout to mimic Ikea.....

Oh, and the local shop delivers & set-up for free rather than charge me a deliver/set-up fee like Tok & Stok does.

I will say that YES the majority of what we've furnished our home with, all made in Brazil stuff, is higher quality than Ikea stuff I've seen in other people's homes. But we've found a source even better than Tok & Stok :)

Nina said...

I like the Tok Stok in Campinas and they do have good prices, although it's a waiting game. Prices go down and up at certain times and you need to know when to buy here.

For example, my Mother's day present was bought in March for my MIL not April or May area. There are some sales during mother's day time but in general things just go up.

As far as labor, I think it is really sad globally. But you will see unfair wages paid to most workers of the world. Target, Walmart, Tok Stok, ikea and tons of places don't pay a fair wage.

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Reader,

Tok & Stok has always had this layout, at least at their Sao Paulo stores, since the 70's when they opened their first store in Sao Paulo.
I agree with you, they also make you walk around the entire store in a maze, but it's 10 times smaller than Ikeas miles and miles of maze ;)
I also think Tok & Stok is more cozy, smaller, but still carries a huge variety on their catalogs and online.
The fact that you found other great quality options just shows that you are no longer a beginner when it comes to Brazil ;)
I personally like to shop for furniture at Sao Bernardo do Campo stores, Sao Bernardo is Brazil's furniture capital, you shop at each factory store outlet, you definitely get better prices and better quality and selection, but not a lot of people know that...
Tok & Stok is not cheap, that is for sure.

Ray

Ray and Gil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray and Gil said...

Dear Nina,


I agree with you, wages are not fair at factories that make products for Ikea, Walmart and Target, but at least at Tok & Stok they have to follow Brazil's tough laws that protect workers, guaranteeing them 30 days paid vacations, paid pregnancy leave for the father and the mother, 13th salary, paid sick leave, etc, etc, etc...none of these rights are afforded to Chinese labors and many of these rights not even afforded to American workers either, such as guaranteed paid vacation, 13th salary, paid pregnancy leave, in these terms American workers are even less protected than Brazilian workers.
It is sad, but the US has had too many Republicans in power for way too long to allow for any decency to be afforded to the working class.
You are right about Tok & Stok, we always kept an eye out for their sales. I hardly ever bought anything regular price at Tok & Stok. ;)

Ray

Rachel said...

Tok & Stok in Rio is SUPER expensive. I bought my couch from them and the fabric ripped in under a year. I'm not that impressed and I don't really think it's super great quality. I mean, you can get worse but...

Oh, and our kitchen cabinets are from them. You'd think something made for the kitchen could handle a bit of water without peeling...

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Rachel,

You should totally complain to Tok & Stok, they have great customer service and awesome warranties, they will most likely do something to make you happy if you feel like their products didn't hold as well as it should.
They have been growing leaps and bounds mainly because they have a great reputation kept up by a great customer service department.
A friend of mine had her closed doors scratched, she complained, they send a carpenter to her home and had it repaired for free.
It should hurt to give them a call and tell them you are disapointed and ask them what are they planning to do about it!
I would most definitely complain, principally consider the premium price you paid with them ;)


Ray

Rachel said...

Really? Ikea def won't do that!

I wonder if they would come and fix our cabinet...

Ray and Gil said...

Rachel,

You have nothing to loose by complaining, be firm, calm and diplomatic.
Tell them you LOVE their store, if they think you are upset and won't come back there will no incentive to try to please you.
Tell them you are a loyal customer and you want to continue to shop with them but you are VERY disapointed with the quality of the cabinet you bought from them.
They may very likely send a carpenter to repair your cabinet, or have the manufacturer send one.
My friend in Sao Paulo complained that the finish on her closet doors were peeling off and they sent someone to repair it to her satisfaction.
You can go ahead and tell the manager you have a friend in Sao Paulo who had a similar situation and they sent someone to repair the problem for her, that will sure get the manager's attention.
Good customer service is expected but not a given. If your local Tok & Stok manager gives you no solution, make sure he/she knows you are VERY disapointed and will be writting their headquaters about the lack of action from the manager, make sure to always ask the name of everyone you are speking with and what is their title with the company.
In the case they offer no solution to solve your problem, ask them who you could write in their company to help you solve your problem, ask what is their bosse's name etc...
I guarantee you, you won't need to go that far.
They will make sure you are happy before you have to ask their boss's name. ;)

Ray

Fiona said...

One thing I like about Ikea is that when you assemble your own furniture, you learn about how it's made. I really enjoy assembling the stuff myself. But yes, all of the parts are made in China!
I wonder if the most ethical thing to do is in fact buy antiques. It seems that everything has a bad story these days.

AlexRj said...

Tok Stok is a ripoff!!
You re not paying for quality brazilian made products but just for the HUGE brazilian taxes, and import tarriffs (yes most a lot of stuff actually comes from china).

The same exact plate, shower curtain , you would find at Ikea cost 5 times the price!
Don t be fooled, you don't pay for quality but just for high taxes, logistic problems due to brazil (that requires 5 times more employees from the factory as well as in the outlet, and the lack of competition due to brazil's protectionism. CANT WAIT FOR THE REAL DEAL!
Just go on the respective websites and compare items, not only furnitures, but simple stuff that can only have low variability in quality, it speaks for itself. Ray and Gil say nice comments about tok & stok service, I wonder if they work there or just never bought a product from tok & stok.

Rumors say Ikea is coming to Brazil, (already bought land & stuff, and it will be brazilian made!!!)

Ray and Gil said...

Fiona,

I hear you, it is frustrating indeed!
Just as an example, our biggest problem nowadays is to find locally produced Garlic!
We love Garlic and we can only find Garlic from China! Which would be fine if it wasn't so strong and acid.
Hey, antiques do sound great! That is an awesome idea, we are in New England and people plan antiquing trips up here, this is the place for antiques ;)


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Dear AlexRJ,

I don't even know where to begin adressing your mistageted comment!!!
Oops, Ok, Ok, you caught us!
Yes, we work for Tok & Stok in Boston and that is why we are bashing poor angelical politically correct (NOT) Ikea.
Just go on their website and locate their branches, we live in New England and Tok & Stok is located in Brazil only. ;)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Ok, Alex, your comments need to be addressed!

Here we go:

You SAID:

"Tok Stok is a ripoff!!"

I say:

It depends on what is your idea of a ripoff!
If you think paying more money for higher quality and higher standards of service a "ripoff", you got it, it is a "ripoff".
I don't think it's a "ripoff" because you actually DO GET MORE FOR YOUR MONEY.

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ,

You Said:

"You re not paying for quality brazilian made products"

I say:

"Yes, AlexRJ, we are paying for higher quality Brazilian made products!
Unless we are talking about two different stores. Tok & Stok has traditionally only carried made in Brazil stuff, there are rare exceptions of imported crap in there stores, but I can't even remember one to give you as an example"


You also said:

"but just for the HUGE brazilian taxes, and import tarriffs (yes most a lot of stuff actually comes from china).

I say:

Huge Brazilian taxes, yes, correct, Brazilian taxes are a bitch! I have to agree with you on this one. But at least workers have 30 days paid vacation per year, decent 3 months maternity leave, transportation and meal vouchers to supplement their salaries, paid sick leave, and many, many more benefits that Chinese workers can't even dream to have, hell, not even American workers have similar level of work benefits.
"Most of the stuff comes from China?" Really, this must be a very new thing!
I have shopped at Tok & Stok since the 70's, and never found a plate or wooden children's toy made in China, it has all been Made in Brazil, if this is a new thing, it has to be happening in the last couple of years.


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ,

You Said:

The same exact plate, shower curtain , you would find at Ikea cost 5 times the price!

I say:

What is your point? Everything in Brazil is 5 times the price, not just Tok & Stok, but everything. I get agravated everytime I am buying anything in Brazil.



Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ:

You Said:

Don t be fooled, you don't pay for quality but just for high taxes, logistic problems due to brazil (that requires 5 times more employees from the factory as well as in the outlet, and the lack of competition due to brazil's protectionism.

I say:

Ok, thanks, I won't be fooled!
However, I completely disagree with you.
Have you ever purchased anything at Ikea or Tok & Stok?
I have purchased many things at both places, and let me tell you Tok & Stok is 10 times better quality and if you buy stuff on sale it's not a bad deal at all.
"Requires 5 times more people in their factories or stores?"
I have no idea what you are talking about here, sorry, can't respond to this one.


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ:

You Said:

CANT WAIT FOR THE REAL DEAL!

I SAY:

What do you mean by REAL DEAL?
Cheap and Crappy Imports from China filled with poisonous "mercury" and "formaldehyde"?

Thanks, but NO THANKS!

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ:

You Said:

"Just go on the respective websites and compare items, not only furnitures, but simple stuff that can only have low variability in quality, it speaks for itself."

I say:

I don't have to check websites, I know these stores from personal experience shopping in both of them and I can't tell when IKEA stuff falls apart quick and when Tok & Stok product lasts a long time.


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ:

You said:

"Ray and Gil say nice comments about tok & stok service, I wonder if they work there or just never bought a product from tok & stok."

I say:

Ha! Good try!
No, don't work at Tok & Stok, see, we live in Boston and unfortunately Tok & Stok doesn't have any branches over here, we should be so lucky! ;)

And yes, not only we have purchased many things at Tok & Stok but also have family and friends who have purchased things at both Ikea and Tok & Stok and they all LOVE Tok & Stok and are not really crazy for Ikea, just like we are not.
Who knows! Maybe we are wrong, our friends and family are wrong and you are correct! :)
Nah!! You are WRONG my friend! Sorry! ;)

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ:

You said:

"Rumors say Ikea is coming to Brazil, (already bought land & stuff, and it will be brazilian made!!!)"

I say:

GREAT! The best news we could hear!
I think competition is very healthy, the more the merrier ;)


Thanks for your comment!

Ray

AlexRj said...

Hi Ray,

Thanks for your response.
Well I have to disagree on some points.

Of course I am aware tok & stok is only located in brazil, (I think everybody knows the reason why)

When I mention a ripoff, I exactly mentioned a High price for a much, MUCH lower quality and service than we are used to in the US.

If you even compare to Argentina, (easy store for example) where products are at least 60 to 70% cheaper, and often much better quality.. Employees also have the same benefits, and products are made in Argentina...

But lets start showing some examples: so that people have a better understanding. Lets take a product with low variability in quality:
A very simple round ceiling lamp with aluminium reflector painted in black.

Exactly the same aspect, weight, dimension 10% bigger at tok stok

369 R$ at tok&stok (225 US$)
49 US$ at ikea.
!!?? Any explanation? Maybe the aluminium used in brazil so much better it justifies the extra 175 US$. Or the electric cable
Or is it their overly staffed fixed costs/taxes/no competition/ sellers, their
Actually the Ikea one have more accessories on this lamp to hide ceiling electricity connection, and connectors.

About the china product, I was mentioning plastic accessories, plates and small decoration objects. Well pretty much everything except their wooden furniture, (ie a sofa I bought last year and that turned out to be eaten by termites in 1 season...)

Let's face it, the only reason they are doing good in brazil is because there is no competition (except etna which is even worst).


I m not saying Tok&Stok is really bad, if it was 4 times cheaper I wouldn't mind, but every expat I know, who moved to brazil has the exact same opinion about tok & stok and brazilian product in general.

Google "ikea brazil" and look at how many people are craaaaaving for it..

Neven said...

Ray&Gil, sorry big mistake... you are comparing IKEA to Tok&Stok, which is like comparing a Mercedes to a Fiat. The correct comparison of IKEA would be ETNA in Brazil which is seems to be the same thing, with three major differences:

1. The prices are at least three times those of IKEA
2. The quality is at most half of IKEA
3. The food in the cafeteria is better than at IKEA

Tok&Stok would have to be compared vs Habitat or the like in Europe...

Ray and Gil said...

Neven,

You are correct!
Apples to oranges, my bad for creating the confusion.
I drove by an Etna store near Morumbi Mall last year but never had a chance to check it out. I left Sao Paulo in 1998, before they were around.
I like your comparison, Mercedez to a Fiat, simple and it says it all.
I enjoy reading your blog by the way.
Thanks for your comment.

Ray

Ray and Gil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray and Gil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ,

Ok, I get it, you think Brazilian products are crap!
You clearly don't speak for any other Expat, just for yourself.
I have one thing to say about that, tell me your budget and I will tell you how much you will like Brazilian products, QUALITY WILL COST YOU! That goes to the US as well.
Have you heard the expression "Brazil is not for beginners", that is very true.
If you buy furniture at Casas Bahia or clothes at Lojas Americanas, you will hate the quality of stuff.
In the US, if you shop Ikea or Walmart, same thing.
Sorry, I don't know enough about Argentina to understand your comment.
I can tell you I am proud to see great quality Brazilian MADE products at Tok & Stok.
I am also proud to see many Arlines around the US and Europe replacing their fleets with great solid built EMBRAER Airplanes, their are outbitting the competition in price and quality time after time, 100% Brazilian baby, super proud of EMBRAER.
Brazilian shoes also have a great reputation around the world for high quality, have you heard of "Cole Haan", in case you are wondering, they are not cheap.
Brazilian products are great if you know where to shop, but again, that goes for every country, right!


Ray

Ray and Gil said...

AlexRJ,

You said you bought a certain wood furniture and it had "termites" in one season.
All Tok & Stok products have a 2 Year Warranty, so all you need to do is call them and return the defective product to the store, they will gladly take it back.
All wood furniture is pre-treated to prevent termites and if your wood piece has termites, it is a factory defect of the anti termite treatment.
Please find below Tok & Stok's detailed 2 year warranty:

;)

Garantia

Os produtos Tok&Stok possuem um prazo de garantia de 2 anos, incluídos os 90 dias determinados pelo Código de Defesa do Consumidor. Alguns produtos ou componentes específicos contam com prazos de garantia diferenciados que são identificados no próprio produto.

A garantia é valida para defeitos de fabricação ou mau funcionamento do produto que são detectados após o recebimento dos mesmos. Não contempla defeitos com origem em uso ou manuseio indevido do produto tais como limpeza, manutenção, exposição à intempérie, sobrecarga de peso, esforço excessivo, ou seja, toda e qualquer circunstância de emprego diferente daquelas para as quais o produto foi concebido e/ou que esteja em desacordo com as orientações de uso específicas do produto.

Born Again Brazilian said...

This is great advice. To the untrained eye, IKEA might be very alluring. And their catalogs are amazing in terms of super mod room design. But we've bought a couple decoration type things here and there and they didn't last very long. (We definitely don't still own the items, so that says something.)
Plus, the company itself is a bit shady. It's divided itself up into separate privately owned entities to avoid taxes. Didn't know about the Chinese slave labor, because the company likes to market itself as providing for the people. Good info.

Ray and Gil said...

Born Again Brazilian,

Yes, Ikea does some pretty shady stuff, anything for a profit.
I love the Sweedish and Sweeden, but Ikea is in my black list of BIG BAD GUYS to avoid boycot!


Ray

Anonymous said...

I came to this thread late, but feel compelled to comment. Tok&Stok is horribly expensive, like most Brasilian stores. Their quality is nothing special. I find the discussion about mattresses astonishing, since that is certainly one thing that is terribly expensive in Brasil relative to North America and much of the world. There are no bargains in Brasil, including at Tok&Stok, regardless of the level of quality one seeks.

Anonymous said...

I have bought things in IKEA and they are affordable at a good price. Some things are better, some could be better.Tok&Stok: the prices are waaay above the salary limit of 70% of the population. Even for a plastic plug they ask a whopping 10 reais: "adaptador elet. p/tomada 2p 15a"
The normal price would be 2-3 reais, and generally sold for 4-5. Thats 200-300% extra. The good sofas have prices of a small motorcycle (1000 euro!). They just aim for the RICH people, and there are more than 10.000 millionaires in SP. The cheap BR sofas all look like my grandma's version: uncomfy and hard a a brick. Big big shame on the greed of tok&stok. conclusion: Ikea would be able to 100 million people a decent interior.

JadeBCWright said...

Do you guys get paid by Tok & Stok or something?! xD Also, I think it's a little rich for anyone Brazilians or Americans to bring up near slave culture, I have lots of native friends living in Brazil who study law, and it's very common practise. For the American system I have one word... "prison?" Maybe it's good to earn your keep, pay back society, but for how many people are in jail and the system of rewards for labour, one could argue paying back society has become big business in America. For all the students I know living at home in Brazil who would like some basic cutlery they'd otherwise pay 4x as much for, or even really cheap furniture (granted, it may not last long, you still like those clothes you wore in the 90s?!) I say IKEA SHOULD open in Brazil!

Anonymous said...

hey guys, having some experience with both IKEA and tok&stok, i would say, that the price - benefit relation at tok&stok is simply not ok. the prices are much too high for goods on a rathercheap level. competition would surely help to improve the customers benefits. insofar i'm looking forward to see IKEA opening