Ikea’s buy back scheme: How it works

You can get paid to return old furniture to Ikea – if you can fit in the car.

Ikea wants your old Billy bookcases, Poang armchair frames and Malm beds – as long as they’re in good nick. It’s part of the Swedish furniture giant’s much-delayed buy back scheme, finally launching across the UK in May 2021.

The idea is your old items will then be resold at lower prices, encouraging us to recycle and buy second hand rather than throw away and buy brand new.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What can you return?

There are a few basics, the most important being it must be an Ikea piece of furniture. So that rules out items from other retailers and other popular Ikea products like lights.

It also has to be fully assembled (to Ikea’s satisfaction) and not “hacked” (where people adapt and modify items). There are also exclusions based on the type of product, such as those with glass or textiles.

Here’s the full list of what you can’t return as part of the scheme.

  • Non-Ikea items
  • Non-assembled items
  • Hacked or modified items
  • Non-furniture items
  • Furniture used outside
  • Furniture containing glass
  • Sofas or armchairs
  • Kitchens
  • PAX wardrobes
  • Baby furniture
  • Textile, upholstered or leather items

It also has to be clean!

However, even if it meets those criteria, it doesn’t mean it’ll be listed when you search. For example, a Poang armchair frame (which doesn’t have any fabric) wasn’t listed. But bizarrely, a Poang cushion was. And that is very much textiles!

How to sell your furniture to Ikea

You need to use a buy back tool on the Ikea website to start the process. It’s a very simple tool., which will also give you an estimate of how much you’ll get.

You search for the item you have, choosing the colour you have. Next you’ll be asked about the condition and there are three options:

  • As new (no scratches)
  • Very good (minor scratches)
  • Well used (several scratches)

You then select your store and the date you want to return it. Do this and you’ll get your estimate and a QR code and reference number to show at store. The estimate is valid for 30 days.

Once you’ve got the product back to the customer returns section of the store (which for some larger items could be an issue!), it’ll be inspected by Ikea staff.

Hopefully all is ok and you’ll get your money. But if they reject it, you will have to take it home.

How much will you get?

You won’t know for certain the amount you’ll receive until you’ve returned the items, but the estimation tool will give you a good idea.

Broadly you’re meant to get:

  • As new – 50% of the original price
  • Very good – 40% of the original price
  • Well used – 30% of the original price

That all sounds pretty reasonable, but when I checked it was roughly correct

For a white Billy bookcase (80x40x202) in “very good” I was quoted £24. It jumped up to £30 for “as new”, but fell to £18 for “well used”. Full price brand new was £65.

A standard double Malm bedframe in “as new” was estimated at £64, compared to £129 brand new.

How you get paid by Ikea

Sadly you don’t get cash for your old furniture. Ikea want you to spend with the again meaning you’ll get a voucher. Of course if you’re upgrading you don’t need to get new furniture with this refund card. You could always stock up on those lint rollers and those handy clips.

But you can’t use them for meatballs – they won’t work in food markets, Bistros or restaurants. There’s no expiry date on this card – but don’t forget about it or lose it.

Is it worth it?

Andy’s analysis: There’s a catch!

I think this is a great idea. Even if you don’t get paid much it’s better than seeing perfectly good pieces of furniture heading to landfill.

But the really clear flaw here is that items need to be returned fully assembled. So unless you want to take something apart and rebuild it in the Ikea carpark is going to rule out anything that’s bigger than the average car boot, even with the back seats folded down.

You could hire a van, but the cost of that will eat into the money you make. And though you can spend a decent amount in Ikea, I’m sure most people will be looking at faded products that didn’t cost much to start.

I also worry that if people go to that effort but find their item rejected that we might see people choosing to fly tip products on their way home.

Saying that, all in all, it’s well worth looking at. But you might be better off listing it on Facebook Marketplace (and making it the problem of whoever is collecting it), or checking with your local charity shops and shelters to see if they’d like it.

Can you buy returned furniture?

Yes! Once an Ikea store as processed any returned items they’ll put them for sale in-store over in the bargain corner, now renamed as a “Circular Hub”.

Where you can return old Ikea furniture

All the main Ikea stores will accept returns, though Belfast and Reading won’t start until 17th May 2021.. Smaller collection points stores (such as the one on Tottenham Court Road in London and others in Norwich and Aberdeen) aren’t taking part.

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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