The column for anyone fed up with bureaucracy, frustrated with delays or furious with poor service. Tell us your complaint and we'll try to fix it ... Ms Homma of Repulse Bay is a loyal customer of IKEA. But her good opinion of the brand was ruined by cardboard boxes she bought from the shop last month, which gave off a very strong and unpleasant smell. 'I have been a regular customer of IKEA since I arrived in Hong Kong in 1988. I like their products quite a lot, although many of them have a rather short useful lifespan. 'On March 22, I bought four packs of IKEA storage boxes called Lyckeby, at the IKEA shop in Causeway Bay to store my children's winter clothes. 'After I assembled them, I immediately noticed that the boxes had a very strong unpleasant odour, smelling like the outer layers of gingko nuts after they drop from the tree. I let one of the boxes stand in my living room overnight, and the whole flat was filled with the smell of the box the next morning. 'Later on, the smell became even stronger in the corridor, the dining room and the living room. So I opened other IKEA boxes to see if they had the same problem, and in fact they did. 'The next morning, I had my domestic helper go to IKEA to return the boxes. I am aware of IKEA's product-return policy, which requires the goods to remain unwrapped and unassembled. But in this case, I thought they should accept the boxes, since I had no means to know about the smell other than by opening them up. 'This turned out to be wishful thinking on my part. Two IKEA staff refused to exchange or refund them, as the original package was opened and one box was assembled. They also said the material always had this particular smell, and said I could complain to the Consumer Council if I didn't believe them. 'But I also bought other types of IKEA boxes - Kasset and Lyckeby - at the same time. They were made of the same material but they didn't have that smell. I have brought the case to the Consumer Council. I want to invite the persons in charge of product quality at IKEA to try my boxes and store their garments in them.' A customer service officer said they checked Ms Homma's boxes right after her helper sent them back, but they believe the smell comes from the paperboard material of the boxes, rather than any chemical. 'We have displayed this type of box in our shop for a long time. Neither our staff nor any customers have discovered the smell Ms Homma complained of,' he said. 'Smell is a very subjective issue. We would like to make an apology to Ms Homma for the inconvenience caused to her, but we are afraid that we cannot exchange or refund the boxes for her in this circumstance.' A reader from Mid-Levels said the business practices of Fortress were misleading after he saw promotional placards saying 'Powered by Windows Vista' placed next to laptop computers installed with Windows XP at the chain's Hopewell Centre location. 'Just the other day I went to Fortress to check out the laptop computers and saw a whole row of them accompanied by placards saying 'Powered by Windows Vista'. Another row of machines had no placards behind them, but they were more expensive. 'I asked the salesman why the machines that were equipped with the latest operating system would cost less, and the answer was shocking: The machines with the placards were, in fact, not equipped with Windows Vista. Those without the placards were equipped with the new operating system. Those placards were placed there because Microsoft paid to have them there, I was told. 'Wouldn't Fortress and Microsoft worry that this practice would confuse customers into buying machines equipped with outdated Windows XP, while thinking they were actually getting Windows Vista? 'Fortress, is another business of Li Ka-shing, who just last week lamented that he had been singled out for the oilfish debacle. He emphasised that his ParknShop was a responsible business. What do you say to these confusing placards, Mr Li?' A Fortress spokeswoman said the placards were to remind customers of the notebook brands capable of supporting Windows Vista, not to indicate they had been installed with the new system. 'After hearing from Ms Ho, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, we immediately informed our stores to only showcase notebooks in the 'Windows Vista Zone' that are pre-installed with Windows Vista,' she said.