Sunday, August 5, 2012

An, um, interesting shopping trip at IKEA.

I'm a big fan of IKEA.  
It seems to me that IKEA tends to be somewhat polarizing.  I've found that either people love it or they hate it- there doesn't seem to be very much in between.  I am one of those people who love the store.  We have entire rooms full of furniture from IKEA, including our dining room, which you can see in the two pictures below.
Chairs, sideboard, table, and glass-front cabinet at far right all from IKEA.

Sideboard from IKEA, mirrors from Crate & Barrel

I tend to change my mind, a LOT.  I'll start off with one style in mind, and then want to switch it up later.  IKEA's prices allow me to do just that.  Also, we're a growing family.  I'm not looking for heirloom quality furniture right now.  I'm looking for the 'let's get us through a couple of rowdy kids' type of furniture- items that I won't cry over or mind too much if they get knicked, dinged, or damaged in any way.  I'm looking for things that are easy to install, easy to use, and easy to clean.  For example: the parsons chairs you see above all have chair covers that velcro to the bottom of the chair.  Someone spills something offensive on the chair? Off comes the cover and into the wash it goes.  It's that easy.

However, more recently, IKEA and I had a little run in.  

My pregnant self, my toddler, my pregnant friend (due in September), and her toddler drove up to IKEA the last time I was visiting their family.  (The nearest IKEA to me is 3+ hours away)  The main goal was to get toddler room furniture for little man as it just recently dawned on me that I am almost halfway through this pregnancy.  (Really??? Already!?!?  Okay, deep breaths, I still have time to get ready.)  I was specifically looking for a toddler bed, dresser, and table/chairs set for his toddler room.  

There were several issues with our trip.  The first was that we were not able to find anyone to help us move the boxes from the warehouse area down onto our cart.  We actually had to have another customer help us reach items we couldn't.  Because, you know, it's normal to have two pregnant women with their older babies just climbing up into the racks to reach things.  

The next issue was that while their website listed the toddler bed as being in stock, when we reached that aisle, it was not, in fact, in stock.  There were two boxes to the set, and only one of the boxes was left.  My pregnant mama friend took the cart and her ready-to-be-done toddler up to the front to wait in the long line while I checked with the salesperson about finding out if they had any in the back.  They did not.  I asked if they could ship the item to me for free since I had driven 3+ hours to get to their store when it said the item was in stock and he said no.  

While all that was happening, my friend did reach the front of the line with my items.  She proceeded to ask the male clerk at the register to please either scan the items in the cart or help her unload them, so that her very pregnant self (again with toddler present) would not have to lift all of the heavy boxes in and out of the cart.  

He refused.  

Unknowingly to me, while I was speaking with the salesperson, the clerk was making my extremely pregnant friend lift every single item out of the cart onto the belt and then put them all back in the cart by herself while he watched and refused to help her.  

Wait, what?

By the time I reached the front of the store, she had already finished the transaction of the items I did buy and we were out to the car.  Where there was again, NO ONE to help us move the items to my car.  And, actually, several IKEA workers passed us while both of us (obviously pregnant) were loading my car and did not stop or offer to help.  

I was pretty much appalled by the treatment of two pregnant women with their children, especially since IKEA claims to be a very young-family friendly store.  So, after talking to the salesperson at the store who would do nothing for us, I went home and called their customer service.

I spent over ONE HOUR just waiting on the line to speak with a representative.  (Mamas, can you imagine, out of all the stuff we have to do in our day, spending a full hour away from cleaning, making meals, reading stories, doing laundry, etc. sitting on hold on the phone?  Ugh.)  Once I finally was connected to a person, while she apologized for our treatment, the only consolation she offered was an apology.  At this point, after spending an hour waiting, I was steaming mad and not willing to take a measly "I'm sorry" and walk away.  I asked to speak to her manager.

She in turn connected me with a 'senior advisor' in their 'escalations' department.  (The third IKEA representative I'd spoken with thus far.)  This representative was much more willing to listen than the previous two and passed along my information to the store manager at the store where the problems took place.  This woman was to call me within 72 hours.  

A week passed.

I emailed back again to the escalations advisor I'd spoken with previously.  She did not respond back, but then a day or two later I received a phone call from the manager of the specific store.

Thankfully, this woman was EXTREMELY apologetic about the entire situation, discussed what was being done to remedy the problems we had while we were there, and discussed what she could do personally for me to make up for the poor experience we had there.  She reported that she was unable to ship the item to me for free as they do only their own local shipping, but that she would send me a $150 store credit for whenever I returned or if I'd like my friend to go back and pick up a few items for me.  

I am thankful that I finally got through to someone, and that they did respond with some service recovery.  I do really like IKEA products, and wanted so much NOT to have to swear off their store/brand forever.  I think the moral of this story is, for me, don't give up.  If I would have walked away from the situation after 1) having the problem, 2) talking to the in-store salesperson, 3) sitting on hold for an hour, 4) speaking with the telephone customer service rep, 5) speaking with the escalations advisor, or 6) never hearing back during well past the specified time range, I'd have just sworn off the store and the terrible customer service and poor service recovery I'd experienced up to that point.  Toward the end of the ordeal, I didn't care if I had to talk to the CEO, someone was going to hear me and respond regarding the situation that occurred.  

Thankfully, they finally did.  And we'll be going back up sometime soon to pick up that toddler bed.  And maybe a toy or two to make little man feel better for the long drive.  And maybe some meatballs.

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  1. I hate it when I have a bad experience in a store that I love. I'm glad the store manager apologized and that you aren't swearing off IKEA forever. :) The nearest one to us is about 2 hours away, and I can easily spend all day there!

  2. Glad it worked out okay for you. We have a ton of Ikea stuff at our house also, and I have had mixed experiences with them. Last year they gave us the wrong color kitchen table and it was a nightmare to get it replaced (they did let us return it without a receipt, but we had to drive it back to the store 6 hours away to swap it). But, I was there last week and everyone was great about helping my pregnant self get my heavy boxes loaded.

  3. We love IKEA...and lucky for us it's only 15minutes up the road! (bad for my wallet!) I can't believe the customer service you received though, I would be beyond pregnancy hormones couldn't handle that ha! Glad you at least got a response and some compensation. now go by yourself some cinnamon rolls ;)


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