How good is cheap furniture? Ikea, Roller and Co. on test

ZDF tested furniture from Ikea, Roller, and Höffner. All furniture dealers have deficits, but there is a clear winner.
Berlin. In the ZDFzeit documentary “Ikea, Roller & Co – Who is the best furniture discounter?”, the TV station tested the three major furniture stores on the German market. In the categories price, quality, service and transparency, ZDF let the dealers compete. In the end, there is a clear winner and numerous surprises.
The filmmakers Franziska Boeing and Kristin Siebert are entering difficult terrain. The market for furniture is huge. Ikea alone turned over 4.5 billion euros in Germany last year. Höffner’s turnover was 2.1 billion euros, Roller’s 1.5 billion.

How good is cheap furniture? Ikea, Roller and Co. on test
How good is cheap furniture? Ikea, Roller and Co. on test

But hardly any other branch of industry is considered by observers to be as intransparent as the furniture market. Thus the respective furniture models of the manufacturers are hardly comparable. The fact that high discounts are always granted on products leaves the customer with the question: “How much is the model really worth? However, the ZDF provides test results with its documentary, which makes these circumstances almost forgotten.
Potential customers and experts such as carpenters, Dekra testers and employees of moving companies were available for the test. Even laymen set up and take down beds and shelves. One winner in terms of quality quickly emerged: Ikea. The furniture can withstand a lot and is relatively easy to assemble. The only drawback is the quality of the decorative items from Ikea, which ZDF had tested. In addition, a carpenter attested that the Ikea furniture – as well as that of all other dealers – has too thin back walls.
The testers reached their limits when assembling the furniture from Ikea, Roller and Höffner.
When assembling the furniture of Ikea, Roller and Höffner the testers reach their limits.photo: Franziska Boeing / ZDF
The negative outlier is a product from the roll. The Tempra KR01 from Roller cannot withstand weights of just over five kilograms. The shelves are not fixed and can easily fall out – risk of injury, especially for small children. The dealer has reacted. The product is disappearing “both from the online area and from our stores”, as the managing director of Roller, Marcus Droste, told ZDF.

In the test shopping cart for the documentation, a bed, a chest of drawers and a shelf of comparable size and quality have ended up in the test. All products taken together cost 303 Euros at Ikea, 393 Euros at Höffner and 478 Euros at Roller. Thus Ikea presents itself as the test winner in this case.
Service winner: Scooter

For a service test, ZDF sent three couples to branches of the three furniture stores. There, the testers were asked to recommend a lamp and a carpet for a budget of 100 euros. While the staff at Ikea seemed stressed and could hardly help, at Roller there was “impeccable advice”, as one tester said.
At Höffner, on the other hand, they recommended products that were far outside the budget, and in the lamp department, a staff member recommended just “any” lamp.
Ikea, on the other hand, scored points with its telephone service. At Höffner there was no help from the hotline at the weekend, at Scooter orders could not be placed reliably. The good service on-site nevertheless scored one point for Scooter.
Transparency winner: still wanted

The furniture industry is repeatedly criticized for opaque discount campaigns. When it comes to Höffner’s catalogs, Elvira Schade, a lawyer for the competition headquarters on TV, makes a clear judgment: “It is misleading and unfair advertising”. The competition authorities are also investigating scooters.
When it comes to the origin of the products and the sustainability of the production, according to ZDF, all retailers still have some catching up to do. Only one retailer at Roller was able to recommend furniture from sustainable wood to test customers. Although Ikea officially speaks of 50 percent sustainable wood, furniture made from such wood is not to be found in the stores. Against this background, ZDF does not award any points in the transparency category.

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