Friday, 11 May 2012

Ikea - Swedish for 'Frustration'?

Trying to focus on my love for Scandinavia after a disappointing experience with Ikea.
The love began..well I'm not absolutely sure actually, but I have always loved tales of cold lands, candlelit windows; and I especially love the beginning of The Witches (by Roald Dahl) film - although not the ending because that's just plain wrong, but that's a whole other gripe.

Anyhoo, my love deepened following a trip to Copenhagen with the Best Beloved.  Oh my sweet lord, I actually cried on the train leaving the city - not big ol' heaving sobs, but tears nonetheless. 

Total, total love...(sigh).

But listen to me!  Digressing all over the place!

Ikea - man I love that shop - the choice, the style, the fact that it can be as cheap as chips...
but... is soooooo vexing when you take a day off specially to make the trip and it ends up fruitless.
(We seem to be just over an hour's drive from EVERY Ikea the country - if England was a bicycle wheel, and at the end of every spoke was an Ikea - we'd live on the blimmin' hub.)

An excuse to post another pic of the Hound
Our children are school age - so we have a relatively limited window in which to make these trips, Best Beloved does not have unlimited Annual Holiday, and our Dog is a bit poorly so I don't like leaving her for very long. 
Not an insignificant amount of planning is involved in these little ventures.

So, as I make my shopping list the day before,  I am thrilled to note that the Ikea website offers a Product Availablity Facility! 

Great Hammer of Thor, this is convenient with a capital C.

A quick check tells me that our 'local' store has plenty of 'Inserts with Door - White' in stock.  Hooray!
Or 'Hooray!' as Google Translate informs me it is in Swedish. (In fact, I urge you to try this out -there is a listen icon so you can hear the word.  The English 'hooray' sounds entirely sarcastic and bored, and the Swedish one has 4 syllables!  Unless that's just my could just be my computer...)
But again, I digress...

So, off we pootle to our nearest (ha!) store and are thrilled to see our IwD - W displayed just about everywhere. 
On reflection this may have been a bad sign.  Methinks they may have put ALL of their stock of  'Inserts with Door - White' on display - for the warehouse, like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, was completely bare.

What the?!?  What about the Product Availability Facility? It said there was loads!

BB, who knows about these things, went in search of a 'Co-Worker' (what is that about?) to find out if the IwD-W were on their way to the warehouse. 
The very helpful chap disappeared for 10 minutes and came back with the information . . .

'They are on a pallet somewhere, it's just nobody knows where'.

Oh, that's okay then.  We just did AN HOUR AND A BIT'S DRIVE on the basis that the stuff was IN STOCK, when it turns out it's just ON A 'PALLET SOMEWHERE'!

Of course, I didn't say this.  I am English. 
I simply said, 'Thank you'.

There was nothing else to be done, so we queued up to pay for the few bits we did get - FOR AGES.

Then the lady on the till (bless her, it wasn't her fault) held up the selection of fabric flowers I had carefully...selected...for my daughter and said,

'I can't sell you these.  They are from our display.  You can tell because they have shorter stems.'

I admit, I was already grouchy, but I'm never a big fan of, 'You can tell because...' type statements -
because you can only tell if you're privy to the store's Fabric Flower Stem Policy. 
As far as I could tell, these particular ones had been laid out in such a way to enable the customer to choose the ones they wanted.  (Although I do feel a bit bad about wrecking their display, now I've calmed down a bit).

So, the lack of stock, the queue, and now the flowers with incorrect stemmage left me feeling somewhat grouchy.

At this point the lady on the till (bless her, it wasn't her fault) asked me,
'Do you have an Ikea Family Card?'
'No,' I grumbled, 'I've disowned it'.

She looked shocked - and rightly so.  She had done nothing to warrant my waspish tongue.  She was just the unfortunate Ikea Co-Worker-shaped final straw.

I felt bad for snapping and made a feeble attempt to joke my way out of the situation.  She, to her credit, accepted my weedy little olive branch.

When I got home I went online to try and order the same Inserts with Door only in a different colour (white being 'not currently available to buy online').  On their website I noticed there was a plea from Ian Duffy - Country Manager - to 'help us improve'.  

Well, I thought, it would be rude not to.

So I sent an email detailing my disappointment with the Product Availability Facility and our wasted day, and fully expected to hear nothing back.

Well, I did hear back - I had a call from a young lady in the Call Centre who told me she would like to apologise for our experience.
I waited for the apology but apparently that was it. 

She then went on to inform me that the IwD-W had been DISCONTINUED!!!!!!

Odin's Meatballs!

Apparently there were some now in stock in our 'local' store but 'it's best not to hang around'.
I explained we were not in a position to just down tools and hike up to Ikea, so could they perhaps send us some, please? 
Could they then maybe reserve us some, pretty please?
She helpfully suggested that if we couldn't come that day, we should check the stock levels before travelling, to avoid disappointment.
When I mentioned that we were entirely misled by the last Product Availability check we'd done she said (and sounded tres amused by my silliness) that the online stock check is not meant to show actual levels of stock, but is just a representation.
So it's just a Flapdoodle Generator? 
(Now that's a job I could do.  I could colour in little blocks and type in meaningless numbers all day.  And I'd probably get a staff discount...)
Then she said we should ring up and get a physical stock check before we make the trip. 
'What a brilliant idea!' I said.  'Except when we did that before (for my daughter's bed) and made a special trip for that item only, we arrived to find there actually wasn't any in stock'.
'Hmm.  If you ring us at the call centre, we can ring the store and get them to do a physical stock check,' she said.  'We can get them to check the location - that's where you find the goods you want to buy [really, she actually said that] - and they will tell us exactly how many there are.'
'Do you have a lie detector attached to your phones then?'  I asked.  I admit I was feeling a bit punchy.
'No we don't have lie detectors,' she sniffed, in a tone I recognised from exchanges with my teenage son.
'I just wondered why the store would tell you the truth, when they'd clearly just given us a representation.'  I said.
'You rang the store.  You need to come through the Call Centre.'
By now I am quite weary and no closer to obtaining the IwDs - in any colour. 
I ask her for the Call Centre number, thank her for trying to help and go off to weep gently into my laptop. 

By some quirk of fate BB is in another area on business today and, quite by chance, it is an area serviced by an Ikea store! Hooray.  (Or, Ho-oo-ra-ay.)
So, to save him a wasted trip, I rang the Call Centre number to ask them to get the stock physically checked for us.
Guess what?

"The number you have dialled has not been recognised.  Please check and try again."

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

But such is Ikea's hold over me, I am not yet put off shopping there again.  And I don't suppose I am alone. 
And maybe that's why they get away with such poor service and ineffective 'Customer Relations'.  But can that last forever?  Surely at some point people are going to get fed up with it?
Or perhaps I just chose a bad day.  It was a hiccup, a blip - everybody has them.
Who knows?

All I know is . . . I sure do love their meatballs.


  1. Oh my goodness! Can I have something from IKEA for my birthday - I don't care what, as long as it's a pain to buy. Why do they make it so hard? I actually wonder if they assume we have nothing better to do than spend the day in their stores. I haven't been in one for ages but, last time, I had to follow a yellow line through the whole (enormous) experience that is an IKEA store, just to buy a glass pot. I ended up wanting to scream in Swedish - not that I know how to - IKEA probably have a book to sell on that called ANGSTU. Perhaps it's next to their meatballs? Online is easier, though the choice seems more limited.

  2. I'm sure you can have something from Ikea for your birthday...just not from me xxx

    1. Is IKEA online a whole new brain frying ball game or worth a try? Remember Habitat stores? I loved Habitat.