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July 9th, 2006

Why Ikea Is Annoying But Also Kind of Not

A couple weeks ago, we made a trip to Ikea and spent some money (OK, a lot of money). We’re not really “Ikea people” since the store is a good hour and 20 minute drive, so the whole Ikea shopping experience is kind of weird. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating.

For instance, the demo set-ups of the different furniture collections are nice. But to actually walk around the store? It’s an infuriatingly confusing maze.

A nice thing: being able to write down what you like and then pick it up in the warehouse after you’re done shopping. Trying to carry a large desk through the store wouldn’t be fun, so it’s nice to get it at the end. What’s not so nice? Trying to figure out exactly how to buy any given item.

There are basically four ways to buy an item from Ikea. For certain small items, you can put them right in your cart or basket. For larger items, you write down an aisle and bin number and pick it up in the warehouse area. For some other larger items (and it seems to be arbitrary which ones) you pay for all your items first and then go to a customer pick up area and they bring it out to you. It’s strange because a bookcase we bought was in the warehouse for us to pick up, but the exact color we wanted had to be picked up at customer service. No rhyme or reason. The fourth way is to have something shipped to you. But they don’t necessarily make that an obvious option in all cases.

One of the desks we bought was in stock (though their web site for weeks said that this location said it wasn’t) except for one small part of the frame. So we were told in 3-4 weeks we’d get a call when the frame came in and we could come pick it up. It took a bit of discussion and finagling before the sales rep told us, “Well, since it’s a small item, you could probably call us and we’d ship it to you.” One day later (!) they mailed (!!) a notification that the item was in and what aisle and bin number we could pick it up at. Huyen called Ikea to ask if they could ship it, but she got the main Ikea number and the woman acted like it was the most impossible request she had ever received. Once she transferred Huyen to the local Ikea, the woman there said, “No problem” and shipped it off.

I won’t even get into the wordless instruction booklets.

So, all-in-all, this point of this mess of a Ping is that Ikea is kind of nice in that they offer halfway decent furniture with clean designs and make certain parts of the shopping experience helpful, but at times are very inconsistent and strange with their policies and shopping process.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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