IKEA's Customer Service Is Awful, What Should I Ask For As Compensation?

Here’s a question that never gets any easier to answer. When a company’s customer service drives you into a blinding rage or otherwise severely inconveniences you but doesn’t actually cost you any money… what, if anything, should you expect as compensation?

Reader Amara was trying to buy a couch. The couch was out of stock. IKEA said they’d order the couch from another store. So Amara waited. And waited. And waited.

Amara writes:

Question: What recourse do you ask for in a formal written complaint when you have not had a monetary loss? We’re going through a customer service ordeal with IKEA and – had we gotten the correct information at the time – we would have just gone to the Target down the street to get our couch.

Should we return the couch in protest? Keep the couch and demand a discount? Demand store credit? Or is an apology all we can hope for?

The Story: During the 4th of July weekend, my husband and I went to IKEA to buy our long-awaited couch. We had sold our old one when we moved apartments and went to North Africa before we could get around to buying another one. Back from our globe-trotting, we though the Saturday holiday would be a great time to go our normally packed South Philly store.

We picked out the Mysinge loveseat ($340 frame + cover) and then went to the customer service island to place our order. In hindsight, I should’ve known it was all a bad idea. The guy was young and looked as if he wished he were down at the shore.

He woke up enough to tell us our couch was out of stock but we could place an order and have it shipped to the store. He told us it would arrive by the 19th at the latest. We decided we could handle sitting on the floor of our living room for 12 days or less. He said they would give us a call when the couch arrived and asked for day and evening contact information. We paid for everything and left.

By the 17th, sitting on the floor was starting to feel not so Zen anymore so I called IKEA South Philly. The woman happily assured me, without feeling the need to check the order, the couch would be there by the 19th but they might need a day or two to sort out the shipment. And then she hung up.

By the 21st, our collective backsides were killing us so I called IKEA South Philly and asked why I hadn’t gotten a call yet about our couch. This time the woman looked up my order and said it wasn’t there. Then she told me that the 19th was just the estimated delivery date and that the original customer service guy should have told us that our order could take two to three weeks OR MORE. Had we known that, we wouldn’t have bought the couch there.

I escalated to the manager who was apologetic but explained that there was nothing they could do. They were shipping our couch all the way from New Jersey! He reassured me that I would get a call when it did arrive.

On the 27th, I wanted to find out if we would spend yet another weekend on the floor waiting for THE CALL. The IKEA South Philly guy checked my order and told me our couch was, in fact, at their location. I asked 1) how long it had been there and 2) why I hadn’t been called. He checked with the South Philly store manager and replied 1) they had no idea and 2) because they don’t call people unless the customer specifically asks them to on the order form and our order form had no such notation. The order form does have my phone numbers on it but that’s apparently beside the point.

I escalated to the store manager who told me that calling a customer was “just a courtesy” and since I didn’t request be called I wasn’t called. I explained again that the original customer service person said we were going to get our couch in 12 day and they would call us when it arrrived.

I expressed my frustration that I’d had four different interactions with four different explanations. During the second call, both a representative and a manager looked at the account and told me I was going to be called when the couch eventually arrived. Why didn’t they notice I didn’t have the apparently necessary “call me” note if it’s so important? The store manager was apologetic and seemed genuinely surprised when I asked for the address to make a formal complaint.

IKEA Attn: Customer Service Department 9930 Franklin Square Drive Baltimore, MD 21236

Now what? What form of recourse should I ask for in my complaint? What can I reasonably expect from this kind of situation?

There are (at least) two schools of thought on this one.

Philosophy #1) By buying from discount places, you take the risk of getting crappy customer service. Sometimes you will save money and you will be happy. Other times you will be annoyed and mad. This is the price you pay for being a cheapskate and shopping at places that don’t give a crap about you, don’t offer health care to their workers, cut costs at every opportunity, and/or otherwise do not offer “customer service.” This is also known as the “Greater Walmart F*ckwad Theory.”

Philosophy #2) IKEA should compensate you because they save boatloads of money by cutting customer service costs. If they screw up really badly, they should be able to throw you a gift card or something after they’re done rolling in their ill-gotten gains.

Here’s what you’re guaranteed to get from writing a complaint letter—peace of mind. You’ll feel a lot better.

And you just might get something more out of it. Maybe a gift card. We think it’s not a wasted effort to write a letter just because you’re mad.

All you can lose is the cost of paper and a stamp. Ask IKEA what they are willing to do to keep you as a customer. If the answer is “nothing,” then you’ll know to take your business elsewhere.

What do you think would be fair compensation for Amara’s troubles?

(Photo:scentzilla)

Comments

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  1. falconree says:

    Annoying CS. Just so happens I filed a complaint this a.m. with the BBB (on a different business). Just so you know, there is a ‘category’ of choices on-line filing w/BBB, simply poor CS with no monetary loss.

    footnote: I, personally, find it annoying when posters, somehow, feel compelled to not so subtly slip where they just happen to be ‘globe trotting.’
    Not equally as annoying as poor CS, but hey, count your blessings.
    You have money to SPEND. Some of us have really horrific stories AND ARE out the money too.

    You got your couch and a globe trotting trip.
    Chin up, life’s rough

  2. obbie says:

    send her a bottle of painkiller and say, “sorry for all the head and back aches we have caused you”

  3. Sudonum says:

    The first rule of service recovery is to fix the problem for your customer. Since that doesn’t seem possible here, count it as a lesson learned about doing business with Ikea and move on. I guess the question is would you do business with them again, and if not what, if anything, could they do to make you change your mind?

  4. LAGirl says:

    @falconree:

    “I, personally, find it annoying when posters, somehow, feel compelled to not so subtly slip where they just happen to be ‘globe trotting.'”

    haha!

    i had a couple of problems with Lowe’s when we bought our refrigerator. called + talked to the manager. he offered to send me a $50 gift card. felt that was fair.

  5. Kbomb says:

    I think philosophy #1 applies here. A good manager will hook her up with a gift card, but they are under no compulsion to reparate you. That’s volume based businesses.

  6. hoo_foot says:

    From the letter: “The guy was young”

    Was this really necessary? Amara has a legitimate complaint, but making petty remarks about an employee’s age is only going to hurt her case. Why would the IKEA CSR who has to read and process this be inclined to go out of their way to take care of the problem after reading through the snarky insults?

  7. fireshaper says:

    I would ask for what you believe is a good enough compensation for your troubles. You were given a date that it would be delivered on, whether that date was correct or not isn’t your problem that’s the store’s, and it wasn’t which caused you grief (and a sore backside).

    I recently had a problem with Alltel’s service, it wasn’t something I would cancel over but it was a background noise in some calls that bugged me. After 8 months Alltel finally got it fixed and I asked for them to pay a month’s bill (which they did). I figured that was good enough compensation for what I experienced.

  8. falconree says:

    @hoo_foot:

    I would go so far as to say I found the entire letter from her ‘snarky’

    I think what got to me was the combination of the fact that I filed a BBB complaint this morning, I have read far worse and real valuable complaints on Consumerist,
    then to come across this one where she actually got her couch (seemed to arrive fine she didn’t mention any defects on top of her ordeal) but she just had to put up with some flaky attitude, boo hoo
    and she just ‘had’ to slip in her correspondance that they took a trip to Africa – that had absolutely not one stinkin-snarky thing to do with her CS experience.

    Suffice to say, no sympathy over here.

    Some years ago, I received a couch by delivery that showed up with a stain on one of the cushions.
    Looked at it, thought about it a second, immediately computed in my noggin, “Hey, I got it on sale anyway and there are worse things to worry about.” flipped over the cushion and carried on with life.

    OK, now I’m gunna get it ;-)

  9. webwbr says:

    Wow… it seems there are a few IKEA “fan-boys” responding to this post. Bottom line IKEA is not the store it used to be, their growth has turned them into just another big box retailer trying to post sales growth.

    I think writing “the guy was young” was in fact quite kind. I would have typed “…the ignorant snot-nosed kid with an exposed eyebrow piercing…”

    Anyway, I’ve grown tired of IKEA’s god-like status in retial America and the declining quality of service they have been dishing out lately will be their downfall.

    As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap. -Galatians 6:7

    Or not.

  10. Esquire99 says:

    I think that it’s pretty ridiculous that you expect to be compensated when you suffered no injury, no monetary loss, no property damage, nothing measurable. You were frustrated by your effort to purchase cheap furniture from a major discount company, who doesn’t care about you or your frustration. If you can afford to travel to North Africa, you should be able to afford to buy a couch from an actual furniture store if you expect to be treated like a customer. The idea that you deserve compensation is unreasonable. Expect an Apology and move on.

  11. falconree says:

    @bradg33:

    You ROCK.

  12. Esquire99 says:

    @webwbr: think writing “the guy was young” was in fact quite kind. I would have typed “…the ignorant snot-nosed kid with an exposed eyebrow piercing…”

    That’s an incredibly arrogant comment. What does the employees age or “eyebrow ring” have to do with how he treated the person? What if it had been an overweight black woman? Would you have some sort of politically incorrect description for her? What if it had been a person with a disability?

  13. seanSF says:

    That’s it? That’s her troubles? It’s IKEA. You get what you pay for. And, honestly, a little miscommunication and a couple apologetic managers does not poor customer service make.

  14. mrmysterious says:

    You don’t deserve compensation you do reserve the right to never do business with that company again though.

  15. Andrew says:

    Just thought I’d throw in here that IKEA does, in fact, offer healthcare to all their workers.

  16. Johann says:

    So you thought it would be at most 12 days and it ended up being 20? At least once I’ve tried to make a purchase at my local furniture warehouse and abruptly changed my mind when I discovered the item wasn’t in stock at the moment. Now you’ve learned your lesson: if you really want the furniture now, don’t trust that it will necessarily be there when the salesdrone says it will.

    If you’re having problems deciding what to ask for in compensation it’s probably because it’s not reasonable to expect much in compensation for 8 extra days of waiting. Go ahead and write them and tell them how cheesed of you are. I know that one of the rules of complaining is to say how you want to be compensated, but, if I were you I don’t know that I could bring myself to actually ask for anything.

    If sitting on the floor for so long was a hardship, don’t complicate matters more by returning the sofa. File a couple complaints if it makes you feel better, tell people when it comes up that you had problems getting your sofa from IKEA, but, other than that, let it go and enjoy your new sofa.

  17. Shaggy says:

    Compensation? It amazes me when people think they are entitled to somethting for free because of poor service.

    If you are that upset then compensate your ass out the door and never do business with them again.

    But you won’t do that, because one day soon you will need a Stoopedbazturd or Schmakenzediken and you will go right back to IKEA and buy one.

    Compensation…… My Ass.

  18. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Sigh.

    “I find this person’s attitude slightly objectionable, so she deserves bad service.”

    “I think IKEA sells cheap crap, so she deserves bad service.”

    “I hate people who mention things about themselves, so she deserves bad service.”

    Okay, no matter how you feel about this woman’s letter — at this point I think I could get shot in the face by an employee and someone would find fault with the complaint letter I wrote (too melodramatic?) — there are two major things wrong with this:

    1) The employees communicated poorly, both with the customer and with each other.

    2) The policy of not calling unless there’s a note to call doesn’t make much sense (why no, I’d rather not know when my sofa comes in, thanks) and should be changed.

    These are issues that have nothing to do with North Africa, or eyebrow rings, or ageism, or IKEA’s healthcare policy, or whatever. No, it’s not disastrously bad service, but I don’t see why someone has to lose a limb before they get to complain.

    Here’s the thing about compensation: When you go to write a formal complaint letter, it feels odd not to ask for the company to do something for you. Generally I think you should only ask for compensation directly related to your problem: if you lost money, ask for money. If you’re trying to get something fixed, make them fix it for free. In this case, there’s nothing to ask for — but I understand the impulse to say “well, I should ask for something, or else why bother writing?”

  19. deweydecimated says:

    Instead of asking for compensation, why not treat the letter as a chance to make a policy suggestion? “This was our experience, we found it frustrating that the store employees seemed to have different ideas about whether or not we’d be called upon the sofa’s arrival at the store, could this please be standardized so it is less confusing for staff and customers?”

  20. dbeahn says:

    @falconree: They don’t say where in North Africa they went, but “North Africa” is generally not what *I* think of as a “touristy” destination.

    I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt on “having money to spend” given they live in an “apartment” and are shopping at Ikea and Target for furniture…

  21. blkhrt1 says:

    To quote a rather well-known movie:

    “I should get a free hat…and a keychain…and some gift certificates…and some sundaes.”
    “I’ll get your information and have our corporate office send those out to you.”
    “You’re gonna mail me a sundae? I want it now goddammit!”

    Just as long as you weren’t those people…you should be ok.

  22. catskyfire says:

    I think she pointed out going to North Africa to help answer the questions “Why didn’t you have a couch already? Why would you sell your couch if you didn’t have another one ready to put in its place?”

    Mentioning the youthful customer service guy. Well, it is one of those things that tends to come to mind. He’s young and acting like he doesn’t want to be there. For good or ill, we had a bit of a mental picture from him.

    As for the letter, were it me, I would detail my dissatisfaction, and leave it for IKEA to respond. At the minimum, she should receive a letter of apology. If IKEA is wise, they will give some sort of gift card, to ensure her continued business. Just an apology would be good, a card would be ‘more than right.’

    Her complaints about the service are justified. No calls tied with delays. One wonders, if she had waited for the call, and it didn’t come, if they’d have shipped the couch back away again.

  23. MotownMan says:

    As an American now living in Europe I find it a bit odd that IKEA service is actually as bad as described. Perhaps it’s just that store.

    In Sweden, home of IKEA, it’s quite different. I had a problem with a kitchen faucet that started dripping after 9 months of use (and couldn’t be repaired as the ‘packing’ was sealed). And I couldn’t take it off and return it for a new one as most Swedish homes do not have individual water shutoff valves in bathrooms and kitchens like we have in many American homes. So I drove back to the store where I bought it, which is an hour and a half away and went to customer service. They gave me a new one after I showed them the receipt for the defective one, completely understood my problem, and even gave me the equivalent of $12 for my drive (as gas is over $6 a gallon there). Two weeks later another new faucet arrived in the mail!!!

    So I think the person in the article had an unfortunate, but rare, experience. As another reader commented, one has to understand that when dealing with discount outlets you have to have a level of shopper’s patience and understanding.

  24. Benny Gesserit says:

    How about a good kick in the *ss? Jebus, do you think store staff (IKEA or no) are your personal shoppers?

    Get over yourself – it was a $400 couch.

  25. davidaegger says:

    So with philosophy number 2, are the companies that 99%+ of the time provide a fantastic customer service experience are just excused for the times they foul up? After all – they spent a lot of money making sure everyone else was happy. Consumerist doesn’t seem to give them any breaks.

  26. m.ravian says:

    i used to live 10 minutes away from the South Philly IKEA. i went there all the time, even just to get lunch. i’m known to all my friends as a super big IKEA nerd. i’ve never had a bad experience there, but then i’ve never bought a large piece of furniture, just smaller things.

    also, if the poster lived in Philly and wasn’t able to find the sofa at the IKEA in South Philly, there’s also the one in Conshohocken (across town) or if they’re willing to drive an hour or two, IKEAS in Elizabeth and Paramus, NJ too. i would’ve checked those out first before considering waiting that long.

    one other piece of advice to the poster: next time you’re looking for a large piece of furniture, try craigslist. it’s a great resource, things are cheaper and you’re recycling rather than having something new enter the waste stream. i just purchased a like-new futon bed that retails for $400 for $150. as long as you’re not squicked by the idea of pre-owned furniture.

  27. The letter is not so much snarky as well-written, which, for a customer service complaint, is a greater sin these days. How dare she use proper grammar and correct spelling when addressing us? What is she trying to say, that she’s better than us, with her fancy multisyllabicism and such?

    I kid, of course :)

  28. beyond says:

    Shop elsewhere. Problem solved.

  29. AT203 says:

    Yeah, this post did not compel me to outrage either. I’m with DEWEYDECIMATED, a satisfactory resolution to me would be that the appropriate persons were notified of the policy failure and given an opportunity to fix things.

    If the company decides to send you a gift card for your troubles, I think that counts as good customer service. It is appreciated, but not expected.

    I also think the headline was a little extreme.

  30. wiz561 says:

    Unfortunately, I think that this is typical of customer service in America. I think it partly has to do with the fact that people don’t want to pay a lot for products here in the US. In order to cut costs, you also cut customer service and quality of the product.

    It makes me sad to hear the disaster stories at Ikea. I’m looking at redoing my kitchen and I really like how Ikea helped me with everything so far. I’ve heard horror stories from others as well as this…so it makes me wonder if I should take my business elsewhere.

    The one story I have that shocked me is The Great Indoors. I bought a Kitchenaid Pro-Line coffee grinder from them a few months ago. After having it for a month and throwing the box it came with out, I bought an espresso machine. It wasn’t grinding the coffee fine enough and wasn’t working out for me. I took it back to the store I bought it from and had the receipt with me. To my surprise, The Great Indoors took it back without asking ANY questions and gave me a FULL REFUND! I was absolutely shocked. I thought they would for sure deduct 10% off my check for not returning it in the original packaging. But they didn’t.

    I suppose I just take it as when a store does something right and tries to make you happy, it just sticks in your head and surprises you.

    And for some reason, we keep buying product from Best Buy, Ikea, Home Depot…everywhere else…even though they have lousy customer service.

  31. FeralKoala says:

    “This is the price you pay for being a cheapskate and shopping at places that don’t give a crap about you, don’t offer health care to their workers…”

    Thanks for the laugh, Meg! Only in Gawkerland could anyone’s ideology be so far over-the-top that they can’t even get through a post about customer service without interjecting irrelevant political snipes.

    Oh, by the way, IKEA does offer health care to its employees. Sorry to interrupt with facts and all, but:

    [knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu]

  32. ribex says:

    Not to mention that there is in fact a SECOND IKEA store less than 20 miles away. I really don’t understand why Amara wouldn’t have called the Conshohocken store after returning home from the South Philly store to see if they sold the same sofa. In my opinion, she barely has a case. And I agree with AT203 – the headline is exaggerated and uncalled for. “Lacking” in this particular case, yes, but awful? Not a chance.

  33. MMD says:

    I’m really surprised that so many comments on a consumer-oriented site are so anti-consumer. We should just roll over and accept bad service just because it comes from Ikea and the couch only cost $400?

    I believe the complaint is justified. I also believe that, sadly, the only way to get the attention of the company is to hit them in the pocketbook. Just shopping elsewhere isn’t enough – that’s untraceable. But getting asking for a gift card – even if you don’t get one – is a something that gets at the bottom line. If it happens enough, maybe they’ll do something about basic customer service.

  34. crapple says:

    So all of you people saying she was being demeaning when using the word ‘young’ – check yourself. It could be a compliment. There are 2 totally different ways to read that sentence. Since YOU read it as being negative, that was YOUR choice and that makes YOU the ageist, NOT her.

  35. getjustin says:

    So you’re basically complaining over an extra week’s wait? If you didn’t have a couch, it might have been best to just buy one that’s in stock. “All the way from New Jersey”? You’re in the northeast, assuming you have a car, or can rent one for the day, you’ve got about 5 different IKEAs within a 4 hour drive. When the wife and I lived in Texas, the closest IKEA was a 7 hour drive and on a few occasions we had to buy different things than we wanted because what we wanted was out of stock. Yes, IKEA made a mistake and for it you were inconvenienced for about a week longer than you thought you’d be, but in the grand scheme of bad CS this is merely a paper cut.

  36. smarty says:

    @ribex: But that’s the Consumerists “MO”. If one person has a bad experience with Consumerist’s favorite airline, Southwest, they will title it the “Southwest Airlines Has Worst Service”. It’s a given.

    As for North Africa, there are many tourist spots, almost all of Egypt, Red Sea resorts, Morroco, etc. But if they went to Libya or something, that’s different.

    What should the person who had a bad experience ask for in compensation? Ask for nothing, but write a factual, professional, non-emotional email to IKEA. I had a bad experience with Orvis a year ago, and wrote a simple email to them. I received a reply within 2 days asking me to call the store and ask for “John the manager” (forgot the guys name). “John” apologized for my experience and asked me to come back to buy the product I was looking for and he’d give me $100 off.
    Done. Simple. Saved $100 off something I was going to buy anyway.

  37. voodoodle says:

    I hate to be judgemental, but i’m going to anyway. There are people out there who, when dealing with a service oriented industry or when in a situation like this, want everybody to win. You can hear it in the tone of their voice and you can tell by the words they use. Those types of people generally come out on top, with very few complaints, because everybody wants to help them.

    This was not IKEA’s best CS moment, but how much worse did the woman make this situation by having an attitude? She started judging the first person there, who she claims, looked like they didn’t want to be there. Did she give him a hard time? Did he “forget” to put ‘call her’ on the slip?

    IKEA is as fault here, i’m just wondering if she made a bad situation worse by acting entitled to high quality customer service from a big box retailer.

    p.s. – while she did have to wait and was given constantly changing information, it doesn’t seem like the attitude of the workers was AWFUL and I don’t think she deserves any compensation. Being published here should be enough.

  38. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Ho hum, more of the same crap after the call for better comments. What did we have here:
    1. If they can afford to go to North Africa, they have more money than me so they suck. (Maybe they saved for a loooooooong time to go on the trip)
    2. You bought something from xxxx store that sells cheap crap and you expect service, so you suck.
    3. Other people don’t agree with my insightful and witty banter, so they suck.
    Why no post about, the Ikea rep said they would call when the couch got to the store and they didn’t so they suck. Or do most people here go down to their local store, order something and pay for it and then go home and wait until they feel like going back to the store to pick it up. “Call me when it comes in? P’shaw. I have no time for that.”
    “Snarky”?? Look in the mirror, genius.

  39. mammalpants says:

    you should have just picked up your cöuch while you were “globetrotting” in n. africa. it’s probably made there anyways to keep the retail price under $35.

    also, the ikea employee probably WOULD rather be down by the shore. WHO THE EFF WOULD RATHER BE AT WORK IN A CRAPPY WÄREHÖUSE THAN BE DOWN BY THE SHORE? DUH. in fact, i bet he’d rather be in n.africa with some whiny globetrotters than be there. id rather cry sand than work there.

    your sense of entitlement is sickening. you deserve every bit of MDF you will eventually sit on. Enjöy!

  40. Orchid64 says:

    It’s small wonder that the rest of the world sees the U.S. as litigious if people feel they deserve “compensation” for every negative (but non-damaging) experience they have in life. It’s absurd to believe the company owes you something because of a one-week delay in delivery, particularly when you knew the item wasn’t in stock and there was a risk that it wouldn’t be delivered as quickly as you may have liked.

    People need to stop thinking of themselves as kings and queens whose every wish must be fulfilled in full every time they plunk down their money and adopt a more reasonable and patient attitude. The person who wrote this should consider whether or not she has always acted in accord with her stated intentions and has ever let anyone down or left them waiting in a personal or professional situation and extend the same level of tolerance and understanding to IKEA that she wish for herself in such a situation.

    By all means, write a polite letter of complaint but don’t expect anything more than catharsis.

  41. falconree says:

    I wonder if Amara will chime in again.

    This has turned into more of attempting to read eachother’s tone
    (vs) consumer support.

    Am curious to get the new angle Amara sees on all this now.

  42. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I think a polite letter is the way to go. I’ve been in frustrating situations like this myself…go to a store..you want to purchase something..it’s not in stock..they order it..supposed to be at the store by a certain date…you waste a trip to the store..it’s not in…you wait again..and wait..still not in…you call three different customer service numbers and go around and around just to get what you ordered.

    Honestly though, as bad as that sounds, I’d say that kind of thing is more common than not. I do think that’s the price that we as consumers pay for dealing with big-box stores. If you want and expect better service, you’re going to have to pay for it.

    I think Amara should write the letter and just tell the story without pointing any fingers, and then close with a couple of paragraphs about how she’s very frustrated and was really disappointed with IKEA’s service. As for compensation, I think all she can do is hint toward it.

    As for being “owed” something for her troubles, I don’t think anyone is “owed” anything for being made to wait. She wasn’t harmed or deprived of anything (except maybe a good sleep), so I just don’t think she deserves anything. Of course, if IKEA wants to make the customer happy and wants the customer to return, they might choose to do something.

    I generally like IKEA, but yes, when I’ve been there, the service has generally been lousy and more often than not, what I came for is out of stock. IKEA is generally a self-service place, and there’s usually 10,000 people there along with you fighting for what little customer-service resources they have and there are huge lines for everything, so I wouldn’t expect much to begin with except for a lot of waiting.

    It’s IKEA…it’s like a safari. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk out of there with your sanity, a belly full of meatballs and some cheap furniture. But if you’re not up to having an IKEA “adventure”, I would definitely go somewhere else, especially since IKEA couches aren’t that comfortable to begin with (IMHO).

  43. joemono says:

    Two things: 1) Why do people type things like “F*ckwad”? 2) Does IKEA offer health care for their employees? If so, Meg, are you going to correct the post?

  44. nealio says:

    It was good to read MOTOWNMAN’s post about IKEA in Sweden, becuase I was going to say that I get a ridgid, almost socialist feeling about IKEA’s service here in the USA. They don’t seem to have compassion or ability to look at individual situations especially when it comes to service, and yes, service expectations are different in the US. Amara’s story about them not making it standard paractice to call a customer is a prime example. Sure they try to portray themselves as high-design, liberal & kid friendly store, but how about being a CONSUMER friendly operation? That means putting price signs next to items on display or what about scanners so we can find out how much things cost? Because like Amara said, the employees are hard to find. I love to hate IKEA.

  45. Hydrargyri says:

    In my opinion, there isn’t much use or purpose to ask for compensation. The only problems in the story as I see it are these:

    1) The lack of a confirmation phone call when the CS rep said that they would call.

    2) The magically appearing couch and mysteriously disappearing order form.

    3) The various managers and reps, when a problem was found, broke their promise to call you back.

    In my mind, only the 3rd point is a really powerful complaint.

    Point one, that the form was never marked with a “Call Me” check, was probably due to the CS incompetence. And while it would be wonderful if we floor drones did everything perfectly (I work at Staples), we do mess up. That’s why we should double-check everything. However, if the floor guy was asleep (as you described him), that may have lead to his mistake.

    Point two, that the couch appeared “sometime” and the form disappeared by the 21st, seems to indicate a sort of database problem. Obviously the form was submitted successfully. A reasonable hypothesis seems to be that they received the couch the 19th or 20th, so that the form’s status was changed so that a search for pending orders would not return it, hence the disappearance.

    Point three is a legitimate problem. It is understandable if one lazy person made a mistake (see point one), but if multiple people — including a manager — don’t get back to you, then that shows they aren’t on top of the customer service ball.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of compensation for which to ask. People screw up. You were lucky in a sense that the forms of screwing-up simply led to sore backsides, rather than serious problems. If you want to write a letter, it would be best to simply state the trouble and inconvenience you had, and provide suggestions to improve (make the whole “call me” check clearer, etc.), and inform the HQ that the particular store seems to have a bit of trouble keeping promises.

  46. ribex says:

    @nealio: You don’t think they put prices on things? Seems to me that 99.9% of the items I’ve seen there are clearly marked. AND the last trip I took (a month ago) there were indeed price scanners in-store which was very nice. I also disagree with your statement about employees being hard to find. My IKEA experience is limited to the Northeast (PA and MA) – are the stores worse in NY or CA or wherever you’re writing from?

  47. hyperlexis says:

    Well if you paid for the couch and it never never came in, and was so delayed that a reasonable person would not be able to wait any longer, give the store a final ultimatum, deliver the couch within X days or I will take legal action. You may be able to then go on and buy a similar couch from a more reputable company and file a small claims lawsuit to recover your “cover damages,” which would include any sums you had to pay over what you otherwise were originally charged, plus any court filing costs — i.e. the Ikea couch was $400, but the similar couch you had to buy from X furniture store was $500, you could sue for the $100. In some states, there are treble damage allowances, meaning you could claim the matter amounted to consumer fraud, and claim three times the actual damages. Ikea simply just giving you back your money after they failed to perform is NOT sufficient redress. I say sue them. They screw their customers over and over with this BS. “Oh we X, in order to keep our prices down.” What crap! I was told by a salesgirl that an elderlt couple drove to the Illinois store from Florida to be told that over 50% of the furniture they wanted was out of stock, and that Ikea wouldn’t even ship it to them. Sounds like Macy’s service to me!

  48. Gloria says:

    I can’t possibly imagine wanting any IKEA furniture so much that I’d drive from Florida to Illinois.

  49. LWQuestie says:

    Particularly since there is an IKEA in Atlanta.

  50. MadDog23 says:

    First comment on Consumerist, and wow am I surprised by all of the hostile replys to a reasonable comment about bad customer service. Isn’t that why we are all here on this site, to discuss these problems?

    Anyway, in regards to “compensation” .. it is not ethical to make promises to a customer and not meet them over and over again, until finally, when you have been pressured, you meet the commitment and say in effect “see, we DID do what we said, so you should have no beef with us now”.

    Also, in these situations, businesses force consumers to spend a lot of time and frustration following up repeatedly until the business honors their end of the agreement. That time and frustration DOES have a value, and a good business will recognize that. I think because she took delivery of the furniture, she can’t really ask for much, but I think a request asking them to atone for their poor CS is very reasonable

  51. mastrap says:

    Just as a side note, IKEA does offer healthcare to all of it’s workers. Equally importantly, at least to an old hippy like myself, is the fact that IKEA does not use any flame retardants that mimic estrogen when entering the human body, like many other furniture manufacturers. All IKEA furniture is manufactured according to Swedish health and safety laws which are quite a bit more stringent than anything we have in North America.

    And finally, what does have a trip to North Africa to do with an entitlement to decent service? Seems to be a lot of envy around on this board.

  52. luckybob343 says:

    I slogged through retail for several years, and came away with this notion. You can have things good, fast and cheap: pick two. The writer of the letter chose good and cheap (Ikea) so she should have expected some delays and been more on top of things.

  53. smallestmills says:

    I am a retail manager for a smaller big-box company that sells furniture, and when this happens we of course take care of the customer. If IKEA really cared about customer service, they would offer her free delivery to make up for the crossed communication and a $50 g/c to ensure she comes back to the store as a customer. I’d recommend her being polite in her letter and just state the facts. Any more detail just gives them more info to make fun of you with later. She can either be “The couch bitch” customer or “The bitch who went to N. Africa and expects us to be so impressed we give her a free couch.”

  54. winnabago says:

    A lot of Ikea’s problems could be solved with better supply chain management. How hard is it to figure out when a couch, a lamp, anything is actually sitting on the floor in the building (or being delivered)?

    Here in Boston, they sell so much crap daily that your chances of finding something in stock is pretty low. And checking the website or calling will always give you the wrong info. 9 in stock? Actually, that means none. Sorry you had to drive 90 minutes in heavy traffic to find that out.

  55. unoit99 says:

    I think the Ikea stores are suffering from cutting corners on staffing. At an Ikea in Burbank, CA recently, I attempted to allow my three-year-old son to play in the little playground they have on the ground floor only after reading that they had a 37 inch minimum height requirement. He had just measured 37 inches at a recent checkup.

    The attendants doubted his height and brought out a painted stick – not a ruler, of which they have an abundance all over the store. My son leaned back on the stick and the so-called 37-inch mark lay less than 1/8″ above his head. They wouldn’t let him in because he was slouching and desperate to play.

    I understand they are a big-box discount store, but if they’re going to offer the types of amenities that attract customers, they could at least hire people who know how to deal with them. How else can a consumer let a company know it is slipping except by hitting them in the only place it matters to them, namely, the margins?

  56. sciencegeek says:

    Amara,

    Welcome to South Philly. Next time, I’d go with the store in Conshy. As for recompense, I think that a gift card and/or free shipping would be about right. Looking at this situation, I can see pretty easily how this sort of thing happened, so, while I feel your sitting on the floor pain, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I were in your shoes.

  57. ianmac47 says:

    Once you knew the couch was coming from New Jersey, you should have just taken a short road trip up and bought the item directly from the New Jersey store. The $7 in tolls would have been outweighed by the fact that the Elizabeth, NJ Ikea only charges 3.5% sales tax.

  58. LauraSanny says:

    Comment on IKEA’s Customer Service Is Awful, What Should I Ask For As Compensation? I’m in the UK, but IKEA’s policy of Customer dis-Service seems to apply
    worldwide.

    I bought a complete kitchen including expensive induction hob; they took
    around four months to deliver all the items. Two boxes containing
    kitchen units were obviously damaged, which they eventually replaced;
    unfortunately the hob was also smashed inside its box, which didn’t look
    damaged but must have been dropped. Sadly, by the time I discovered this
    it was more than six months from the date of purchase – and under the
    UK’s Sale of Goods Act you only have six months to examine the goods.
    Ikea are now saying I must have broken it myself, and are refusing to
    help whatsoever.

    MY only compensation is to vent my spleen in forums like this, and do my
    best to cost them some sales.

    Avoid this bunch of careless, uncaring thieves like the plague.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Just to assure you that two years later IKEA customer service in South Philly is just as bad in 2009 as you experienced in 2007. We live 1.5 hours round trip to the nearest IKEA. We had purchased a $20 shelf; and after returning home and opening the box, we realized that two important parts were missing (1) shelf brackets and (2) screws.

    IKEA advertises itself as being “green.” Not wanting to make the 100-mile RT, I contacted customer service via email requesting that the missing parts (which most likely would cost less than $1 to mail) be sent to me. They couldn’t help but told me to call the store, which I did.

    I spoke with four different people. The first “customer” rep was clueless and just wanted to get me off the phone. Next, I spoke to a woman on the floor, who tried to transfer me back to customer service. When I asked for a manager, she became much more helpful. She assured me that she knew exactly what parts I needed and would personally see to it that the correct parts were sent out.

    Four IKEA employees and nearly two weeks later, I finally received my package–containing only the screws that were shipped in a zip-lock bag, which looked like it was leftover from someone’s lunch.

    It seems as if IKEA employees cannot think outside of the “box.” If I return the item to the store, there is no problem, as I have done this before. But don’t ask for something that isn’t in the script. IKEA employees appear to have little supervision and most certainly no customer service training. The department should be renamed “No-Customer Service.”