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Aside from the sheer scale and mazelike construction of its stores, Ikea generally seems like an nonthreatening corporation. They sell strange little meatballs, they've got funny names for sofas and their catalogs are very nice to flip through. The furniture behemoth has a dark side, however—an affinity for spying on both employees and customers. The New York Times Times reports that the Swedish retailer dug into the travel records and bank accounts of a 12-year employee in France when she went on medical leave because they, "suspected she was not as sick as she had said." Ikea has a history of hiring private detectives and in this case, gave one the employee's social security number, cell number, bank info and other identifying details. The employee, Virginie Paulin, was subsequently fired.
The details of Ikea's spy operations came to light after internal emails leaked to the French press last year. One chain regarding Paulin bore the subject line, "dirty scam."
Ikea, it turns out, also dug into the personal lives of its customers. Such was the case with a couple that ordered about $13,740 work of Ikea furniture for a new vacation home. When it was never delivered, the couple tried complaining to the company and canceling their order, to no effect.
Ikea eventually delivered the purchases and offered the couple a check to compensate them for the poor service. But before they issued the money, the corporation emailed a private investigator to look into its customers. According to a leaked correspondence, it read, "Could you run a check for me on this address and tell me who the official owner (or tenant) is?" adding, "Is this person known to the police?"
· Revelations That Ikea Spied on Its Employees Stir Outrage in France [NYT]
· Ikea's Investigations Not Limited to Employees [NYT]
· The Japanese Version of Ikea Is Taking Over Southern Cali [Racked]
· The History of the Ikea Meatball [Racked]
· Ikea Breakthrough Lets You Test Furniture Before You Buy [Racked]