Ikea Informative - My First IKEA Experience: The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy.
I was in the market for a new dining room table and chairs. I had spent the last two months ogling a particular table and chair from IKEA on their website. I was toying with the idea of buying online, but after reading reviews here about their IKEA shipping nightmares and the realization that the cost of sales tax PLUS shipping would be way more than the 10% sales tax in Cook Co., I opted to make the trip to my local IKEA, shopping list in hand. Below is my review of the experience.
Parking: A-. Pretty standard for a large store. To my surprise, I actually got a space just across from the loading area, which would prove useful as you will see below.
Finding what I wanted in the showroom: C+. While the chair I was looking for was displayed, the table was not. I was feeling slightly panicked until an employee informed me that the table was available, just not on display in the showroom. Once I got the table reserved in the warehouse, all I had to do was pick up my chairs and make for the checkout. Simple, right?
Getting what I wanted from the self-serve bins: D. The bin that contained my chairs was behind a pillar. That, combined with the fact that I was constantly being bumped into by a group of people and the low lighting in the area, made my job more difficult than it should have been. Fortunately, the chairs were light (only 12 lbs each) and I was able to get them with a little body contortion. The other issue was finding a box that wasn't partially opened. I don't know about you, but I equate a damaged box with potentially damaged or missing items.
The carts: B+. Loved the flatbed trucks maneuverability while in the store. Liked it a little less when it came time to unload things from the cart.
Checkout: D-. The only words to describe this was total Bedlam. People were weaving in and out of lines and there were people crossing lanes by cutting around people already in line. This was a total mess. The one thing I did like was the fact that the stylus for signing the screen was on the left-hand side. A rarity for a southpaw like myself.
Getting my table from the warehouse: A-. There were no problems with this. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes.
Loading the stuff: D+. The only thing that saves this category from total failure is the fact that the chairs were light and I was able to put two in the front seat and two in the back seat on the floor. The hard part was just getting the things to my car in the first place. Remember that I said that my parking space came in handy? Since there were no ramps allowing me to push my chairs to the car on the hand truck, I had to leave the cart on the loading dock, race to my car and pull it up to the loading dock. All the while keeping one eye on my chairs and the other on the lookout for people who wanted to walk behind my car as I was backing out. Loading the table was the worst part of all. It weighed 99 lbs and since I refuse to back my car into a parking space (I'm terrible at it), I had to slide the table off the hand truck (this is where that easy maneuverability was more of a curse than a blessing), off the loading dock and around the back to my car. I then had to use my 5 years of nursing experience with moving large people and equipment to lift the box and slide it into the car. It fit--almost. The last 3-4 inches was hanging out of the trunk and I couldn't get the lid to close. Thank goodness I prepared for this and brought a bungee cord to secure the lid for the ride home.
IKEA staff's willingness to help a person with their loading issues: F. When I picked up my table, no one asked if I needed help loading. I know they emphasize customers doing most of the work, but come on! I am a relatively small woman. Not weak-looking by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm only 5'4" for crying out loud. An offer of help would not have been rejected. There were staff milling around all over the loading area. Did any one of them step up and offer a hand? No, of course not. They like to say "you do a little, we do a little." What they should say is, "you do most of it, we'll do the bare minimum." As I said, thank goodness I've moved far bigger things on my own.
Returns: C-. When I got home, I realized that one of the chairs I had bought was the wrong color. So, I had to return to the store the next day and exchange it. The wait for returns was about average. I had number 78 and they were at 61 when I arrived, but I still got up to the counter within 15 minutes. Thank goodness there were places to sit. The low score comes from the fact that they would not let me do an even exchange because I was not exchanging for an item in the same color. Never mind the fact that it was the same style of chair, same price, just stained a different color. They had to do a return, credit my card (I'm still waiting for the money to hit) and I had to go and purchase the correct chair. So, I had to walk back into the madness that was an IKEA store on a weekend, return to the bin behind the pillar, find a box that wasn't damaged (an even bigger challenge than it was the day before) check that I had the correct color (I checked 3 times) and return to the insanity of the checkout lane. This time, however, I used the self-checkout. Much better.
My overall experience with IKEA: C. I'll probably give the store another try at some point in the future, but next time I'll try it during the week.