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article imageIKEA matching lonely strangers for Christmas via online profile

By Natty Walker     Dec 13, 2013 in Business
Will there be any extra chairs at your dinner table this Christmas Eve? IKEA wants to change that with their new "No Empty Chairs" campaign in Switzerland.
The "No Empty Chairs" website allows people to register as either a host or guest. On Christmas Eve, a host will invite the stranger (guest) they were matched with into their home to join the family's festivities. It is meant to be an effective, convenient way for people who have extra room in their home to find people not wanting to be alone on Christmas.
As stated on the campaign's website, "At IKEA, we believe that no one should be lonely over Christmas if they don't want to be." With this thought in mind, IKEA created a social networking platform that connects people looking for a friend or friends on Christmas because "[...] somewhere there is a place for you and people who would love to celebrate with you."
After registering, people interested in the program can set up a profile. Similar to what is found on any social media website, participants share information about their career, hobbies, personality traits, relationship status, etc. The "No Empty Chairs" website uses these details to generate suggested matches of guests to hosts. However, there are no background checks. None of the information is verified; anyone can sign up. Thus, it is possible to list fake information in the guest profile, just as in "catfish" profiles on social media and dating websites. IKEA even states in their terms and conditions, "[...] it provides no guarantee of the correctness of the content or of the good character of the users."
Furthering on the above terms and conditions, "Communication among hosts and their guests, as well as any contact and direct meetings between users will take place on a purely private, non-commercial basis, without any involvement by IKEA." Some of the personal requirements include being an adult, being a resident of Switzerland, and being of sound judgment.
Basically, if anything goes amiss, such as a host ends up on the next episode of 48 hours, IKEA claims no legal responsibility. The company's disclaimer includes, "IKEA will stay in the background [...] and not act as an organizer or intermediary; instead, it will simply make the platform available for the above purpose free of any charges or obligations.."
This venture could have multiple results for the people who agree to participate. Their holiday could be a heartwarming Christmas classic, hilarious Christmas comedy, or solemn Christmas tragedy.
More about Ikea, no empty chair, Christmas, Strangers
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