To IKEA or NOT to IKEA
UNITED STATES -- Have you noticed that there is no section or counter in any IKEA store that claims to be "guestsâ services" or the "courtesy counter" or "Customer Service"? There is not a single sign or direction anywhere in the store that directs anyone to such a location to have their questions answered, just small towers with an âiâ icon at the top placed at various locations throughout the maze. You might be lucky to find a coworker within a few hundred feet of each of those âiâ towers.
If you do find someone, hopefully you will get a well rehearsed quote from the Yellow Shirt People that customer service is throughout the store. They claim that all coworkers are trained to answer your questions (and solve your problems) at the point of contact. I find this difficult to digest but have been surprised with how much the coworkers know about their immediate areas.
I found that any coworker was able to assist me and if there were honest issues that IKEA was at fault for, those issues were corrected. They have simple solutions for just about every situation. However, the issues that I have learned from are âContempt of conceptâ. Some of us just donât fit into the IKEA customer profile and the rest of us just do not find the concept an easy way to shop. Maybe we're stubborn or spoiled. Maybe we think that because we are spending our money we should have service on a silver platter. Unfortunately, IKEA does not sell silver. That does not stop one from wanting to vent to the manager about something he has no control of or to threaten to call "Corporate" when we don't get what we want.
There is no real reason to ask for corporate or for the manager. Donât even bother. You can ask for a manager five times during one trip to the store and get five different managers with five different approaches to you as a customer. There is no one true manager that can be found. If there is a general manager, they must be traveling the world or be securely guarded inside their ivory tower somewhere. I know of no one who has heard from the offices in Sweden. Iâd like to meet someone who actually has spoken to a âregional or district managerâ. Those donât exist. IKEA is not that type of retail. It is not North American retail where anyone with a complaint used to be able to get in touch with the managerâs manager, etc. Anyway, how would anyone get anything done if they have to sound complaints or comments every working hour? Your comment or concern is most likely nothing they never heard before. Of course, it feels good to get it off your chest. But understand that it is their concept. We choose to accept it when we enter their locations.
Someone with a real problem or issue that needs to be solved needs to know were to go to get that issue solved. At IKEA one just wonders around aimlessly looking for "Customer Service" or a coworker that looks like they can be interrupted.
Some problems that need to be solved are found to be âUser Errorâ. You may have lost that screw. You should not have used a power driver to tighten that cam lock. You could have thrown the hardware away. You just might be an idiot for buying this stuff in the first place. You do get what you pay for and sometimes you deserve what you get. Not too many larger retail or big box stores are worried about you; there are plenty of other customers going through their check outs to make up for what you donât spend. IKEA coworkers and managers are there to protect the companyâs policies which protect the profit, alienating a customer is not a loss to them. Their âCult Likeâ following only replaces that lost customer two to one.
If you ever get an audience with a supervisory figure, speak in a rational way. You might be surprised as to how far kind words go. Be careful, never pull the âIâm a good customerâ or âIâve spent $$$ here â¦â because the only dollar that is important to them is the dollar that they are protecting at that moment. Playing the âIâm a Good Customer cardâ gets you a brick wall almost immediately, if not the brick upside your head. Who cares how much money you spent? The issue is with this one item here and now.
So what makes shopping at an IKEA successful? KNOW WHAT YOUâRE DOING! My first few trips to IKEA were so frustrating I am shocked that I continued to return. I could not figure out how to buy anything if I wanted too.
You must do your homework before you go. Donât get half way through the store before you decide you have no clue how to shop there. Do NOT come into the 'exit' if you have not been to the store before. You will only frustrate yourself and annoy every customer and coworker you interrupt trying to find your way upstream. Do stop in the ENTRY lobby, study the shopping tools, and study the maps. Read the price tags. Walk the store the first time without picking up something. Get your bearings. Learn the shortcuts. Read the over head directional signs and follow the arrows on the floor. Take a break and breathe. Sit on the furniture and get a visual of where you came from and where you want to go. You are inside of a walled in amusement park for shoppers and it is far too easy to get overwhelmed.
DONâT buy anything at all on your first visit! NEVER! Just get a catalog, pick up the little paper forms that describe the items in detail. Measure the displays, measure your boxes and by all means, MEASURE YOUR CAR, TRUNK or BACK SEAT if you are going to transport the items yourself. Do not expect any coworker anywhere in the store to know if a certain item will fit in your car. The store is IKEA not KIA, they donât know one type of car from another and are far too busy to worry about how youâre going to get your crap home.
GO HOME, figure out where that new item is going to fit, measure your space and know that the item you are going to purchase will be what you want. Yeah, there is a âNo Nonsenseâ return policy. But that is the storeâs description not the customersâ translation. The return policy is straightforward. YOU MUST HAVE A VALID RECEIPT! Do not read between the lines or assume anything. Your merchandise can be returned if it is still in the original packaging as it was when purchased, not opened, never assembled, never built and then taken apart. And what ever you do, never open bedding products for any reason if there is any doubt that you will be keeping it. DONâT even open bedding just to see if it will match your style. Oh, and there is no exchange vs. return. It is a return, period. You can not âexchangeâ your unwanted item unless it meets the actual return policy and you have your receipt. You must have a receipt for all transactions! There is no reason for IKEA to even have the word âExchangeâ posted. You are not allowed to go shop for the replacement item to bring it back to the return counter for exchange. Your return is done first and then you are sent off to go through the entire shopping process again, either with a refund or a new gift card.
If you have âFight Clubâ syndrome and you just can not live without shopping at IKEA; BRING HELP! Do NOT expect to enter the store, provide a list or point a finger to a yellow shirt and expect eager coworkers to gather your purchase up for you. Do not be the only adult in your group with a bunch of rowdy children. Do NOT expect to push your baby stroller and your merchandise cart at the same time and do not expect someone else to push either one for you. Do NOT expect to have help loading the items in the self serve warehouse. Do NOT expect to get to the cash lanes and ask a cashier to go get an item for you or to have a sales person bring an item up to you. Do NOT expect to have help loading your vehicle.
Now have fun. Drive to IKEA, park in a large parking lot, loose your car in that lot. Enter the store, get lost in that store, study your price tags, follow the map, and write down the name, price and location of your item. Follow the direction tags on the bottom of your price tags. If it says to see a coworker, FIND A COWORKER. If says to continue to the warehouse then make your notes and move on. Locate the larger trolley carts in the warehouse, get your cart and head to your aisle. Load your item, check the number for the correct size and color then head to the cash counter. And heaven forbid the item be out of stock. You can not pre-pay, order or arrange to have the item held for you when it does come into stock. And when it does, you have to start your shopping trip all over again.
Now, have your entire product selection ready to check out and all of your questions answered by the time you get to the cash lanes. Once there, it's too late. The lines will be long and coworkers will be doing what they can to get everyone cashed out and on their way. Pay at self check out, and forget about bagging your merchandise. IKEA is âgreenâ and will not provide disposable bags. You can buy reusable bags like at your grocery store.
Truck your purchase out to the loading zone and load your car, drive home and build your new item. Be happy with the process. If you get home and find that you made a mistake, you have no one to blame. Donât expect sympathy from the store because you picked up a red table but wanted a blue one. Donât even try to play the card âBut that is what your coworker put on my cartâ. Youâre an adult, be responsible for your actions and cut your losses. You shopped from a SELF SERVE WAREHOUSE. Whatever help you got (if any) was just courtesy assistance. Donât expect the store to come to your home and exchange the items you donât want just because it is furniture. If you expect that service; buy your furniture from a high line, high quality, and high price service center... and pay for it. No one made you make the choice you made. No one made you drive out of your way to get to the store. You made those choices so you have to live with them. No one made you promises.
You can have fun at IKEA but you have to do your part. Youâre paying for soft pine, cardboard and plastic; expect to get what you pay for.
But again, DOES IT REALLY MATTER?