Executive E-Mail Carpet Bomb Scores Direct Hit On IKEA

IKEA waived the shipping costs on two Hemnes bedside tables after reader Inderjit loaded the dreaded Executive E-Mail Carpet Bomb with the names of 16 IKEA executives. Inderjit’s repeated attempts to purchase the tables at IKEA stores over the past two months were unsuccessful, but within thirty minutes of launching the EECB, he received responses from three IKEA execs who promised to ship the tables free of charge. Read Inderjit’s complaint letter, after the jump.

Dear IKEA:

I would like to preface this letter by saying that I am normally not a difficult customer. Having worked in retail and customer service for several years, and now being employed as a professional marketer for a multi-national manufacturing company, I understand the challenges that face stores and staff when dealing with the public.

However, the customer service that I have received of late from IKEA has warranted this unfortunate letter.

I have almost entirely furnished my house with IKEA products. My wife and I enjoy them very much. On top of the high quality and great look of your furniture, we find it to be a fun and bonding experience every time we assemble a set of drawers or a shelf. Our bedroom set is all Hemnes. The only thing we are missing are two bedside tables, which is the purpose of this letter. The ones we have not been able to get are the black-brown tables which cost $69.99.

About two months ago, my wife and I went to the North York store to browse for a bedroom set. Having settled on Hemnes, we were told that the entire bedroom set was available, except for the two bedside tables. We were told they would be in stock in “about two weeks”. So we decided to wait on everything and come back with a friend’s truck to buy the entire set.

When we came back a month later, on July 6, we were again told that the bedside tables were not in stock. They would be here next week, we were told. We took everything else, except for the set of six drawers, which also suddenly were not in stock.

We returned to the store on July 13 to buy the bedside tables and set of six drawers. Again, the bedside tables were not in stock, but the set of six drawers was. However, the store staff would not sell us the drawers, because they were “too high” – meaning the staff refused to get the product down from a shelf for us to buy them. (I know that this is either a safety precaution, or the drawers were simply not in inventory yet. Regardless, we should have been sold the drawers.) We were told to come back the next day. We did, and though we were allowed to purchase the drawers, the tables were still out of stock. We were told, after expressing slight displeasure to one of the store staff, that we shouldn’t worry; the tables will be in stock in a few days.

Now, I’m not sure why we were being told incorrect information about the bedside tables. The internet indicated that the stores did not have them in stock, but we assumed that the store staff would have accurate information, even if it contradicted the inventory finder on the website. Perhaps we should have checked further, but I gave the store staff the benefit of the doubt. I decided to call before coming into the store again, on July 20, and I was told that the tables were not in stock, and I should keep waiting.

On July 23, I decided to call IKEA customer service. My feeling was, and still is, that we have tried several times to purchase the bedside tables in the store, and since we have been unable to do so, we should be exempt from paying the shipping charges, especially considering the amount of aggravation we have experienced so far. I waited on hold for nearly fifteen minutes before I was transferred to a real person. Obviously, the front-line staff are not able to discount shipping, so I asked to speak with a manager. I waited five additional minutes, and when the person came back, I was told that a manager would call me back within 24 hours. I left my phone number and waited.

I did not get a call back. I called again on July 26 and was put on hold without speaking to anyone. I waited on hold for twelve minutes and hung up – I had another matter to attend.

I called on July 31 and waited to speak with someone. When a person did answer the phone after about ten minutes, I was told a manager would call me back. I told the person that I had already waited, but I was reassured that this time, someone would call me back. No one did.

I called again today. I waited for another fifteen minutes to speak to someone. I immediately asked to speak with a manager, and the person on the phone said that someone would call me back in 24-48 hours. I refused this, and demanded to speak to a manager immediately. The person did argue, to try to get me off the phone, but I was insistent that I speak to someone today. Finally a “manager” picked up the phone, however, she began the conversation by indicating that she is a “customer service” manager and not a “sales” manager. I’m sure this is a significant distinction in your organization, but when I ask to speak with a manager, I assume that the person would be able to affect change. This was not the case.

The “customer service” manager – I’m sorry, I did not get her name – reiterated company policy as if reading from a book. I now know that you do not negotiate on shipping. I know that the store inventory has nothing to do with the phone/internet inventory. I was also told that I should have checked the internet for stock status, and when I told her that I did, I was told that I should call to confirm, and when I told her that I did, she said that the internet was not always 100% accurate. I was so confused by this, I dropped that line of conversation – it just didn’t make any sense.

As far as I am concerned, I know that the bedside tables are in Canada, though not in the stores. As far as I am concerned, I have traveled to the stores and checked the website more than enough times. As far as I am concerned, IKEA is IKEA whether ordering in the store or by phone or internet.

I’m not asking for a lot. I’m asking that you send me the two bedside tables, to my house, without charging me shipping. It’s the only fair thing to do. I would like the escalation of this situation to end here.

I would like to receive a phone call by Tuesday, August 7. I will provide you with my credit card number for the total retail price of the two tables ($69.99 x 2 plus taxes), and you will ship them to me, excluding the shipping charges.

With all of the business that my wife and I have given IKEA over the years, I do expect this matter to be resolved to my satisfaction in a timely fashion. I estimate that we have spent in excess of $10,000 on IKEA products over the years. This is a small amount of money to you; it is significant to us.

You are welcome to phone me or email me for additional information. However, my request to have the two products delivered to me without shipping charges will stand.

Please do what’s right.

Kind regards,

Inderjit

….
Within thirty minutes of sending that email, three people phoned me back from IKEA:

  • Debbie, the Corporate Communications Manager and Assistant to the President. She also emailed me to follow up on her phone call
  • Renata, the Customer Service Manager at the Call Centre in Montreal.
  • Marlon, the Assistant Manager of Customer Service at the local store at which I normally shop.
  • After speaking to Debbie, Renata, and Marlon, a resolution has been found. I will be receiving the products in question on Sunday, and I was not charged for shipping. It’s all I’ve asked for all along. Also, my wife and I will continue shopping at IKEA.

    Inderjit’s EECB was a success because he:

  • Wrote clearly and directly
  • Exhausted normal avenues of resolution
  • Made specific, reasonable, demands linked to specific service deficiencies
  • Set a deadline for action
  • For a bomb, the EECB is remarkably simple to construct and launch. Directions can be found in our handy guide, How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb.
    (Photo: Getty)

    Comments

    Edit Your Comment

    1. gibsonic says:

      bravo inderjit and bravo IKEA.

    2. Yogambo says:

      The only problem with a letter like this — and I write ‘em like this as well — is that they are so bloody long. There’s something about writing this stuff that brings out the Hemmingway in the best of us. I can’t imagine these corporate suits are reading the whole thing. I think I, and all those like me, imagine that somehow my words are really helping them see the logic in doing what I want. The reality, — and I’m not just betting here, I know it’s true — is that they just want the basics: Who are you, what’s the problem, what can we do to solve it. The dance might be cathartic for the writer, but to those just doing their jobs, I think we’ve got to get out of this “read my story” mindset and just give them the basics. They have other unsatisfied customers to placate.

    3. MalcoveMagnesia says:

      Standard rule of thumb for EECB’s (and I haven’t read that article yet, so it might already be in there) should be that the letter should be less than one page. Any longer than that and it’s likely to get tossed into the circular file.

      Either way, kudos to Ikea for handling this so quickly and in such a satisfactory way.

    4. JRuiz47 says:

      My parents are going through hell with Conn’s right now over a washer and dryer. I’ve been looking for e-mail information, but to no avail.

      We’ve crafted a letter that they’re mailing out today and I’ve told them to send it to the BBB, the state attorney general and The Consumerist.

    5. breny says:

      I think the fact inderjit received THREE responses from his EECB within 30 minutes of sending illustrates that a long letter is not necessarily bad. His letter was long because he was explaining the facts. There was not a lot of fluff and commentary, just facts explaining what he did, what IKEA did and what he would like to correct the situation.

      I think his letter was fabulous.

    6. rrapynot says:

      I know that if someone calls the CEO where I work he will be all over the manager that allowed his day to be interupted by a disgruntled customer.

    7. jonstovall says:

      Great job. We’ll be saving this as a word-processing template.

    8. chrispiss says:

      I’m interested to know what the email subject was. I’d imagine you need to word it in a way so that the exec doesn’t just delete it or send it to the spam box.

    9. Kryndis says:

      The stories I have about Ikea and their ungodly poor service when it comes to stocking phantom items could fill a book. Honestly, it would help the consumer immensely if they’d just allow their stores to ship stuff in between each other on the delivery trucks. Or in one unbelievable case, it would have helped if they’d forbid stores from swiping inventory items meant for other stores off the delivery truck.

      Seriously, you’re rule of thumb should be that if it’s not in stock at Ikea, assume it never will be and either find something else or go to some other store.

    10. stpauliegirl says:

      Awesome letter. The stern but not threatening tone throughout is impressive. I agree with other commenters that it’s long, but I read every word of it with rapt attention, as did at least three people at IKEA.

    11. rbcat says:

      @JRuiz47: Check out this link for Conns e-mail address info:

      [www.natmcorp.com]

      Just in case they pull it, the copy/paste is:

      Conn Appliances, Inc.
      3295 College Street, Suite A
      Beaumont, Texas 77704
      Phone: 409-832-1696 Fax: 409-832-2271

      http://www.conns.com

      Chairman/CEO: Tom Frank
      President: Bill Nylin
      Sr. V.P. Merchandising: David Trahan

      Key Contacts:
      Sr. V.P. Merchandising: David Trahan x3288 david.trahan[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      V.P. Merchandising: Barry Crutchfield x3411 barry.cruthfield[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Appliances: Jim Etchison x3406 jim.etchison[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Joshua Bundy x3728 joshua.bundy[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Electronics: Paul Crevelli x3616 paul.crevelli[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Home Office/Furniture: Scott Traylor x3615 scott.traylor[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Outdoor: Aaron Trahan x3423 aaron.trahan[ at ]conns[ dot ] com
      Advertising: Mary Harris x3426 mary.harris[ at ]conns[ dot ] com

    12. Buran says:

      @Yogambo: Boo hoo. They have to do actual work to make people happy. Boo hoo.

      They should have thought of that before they decided to not get their acts together.

    13. JRuiz47 says:

      @wesmills:

      Many thanks, wesmills!

    14. zingbot says:

      @chrispiss1186: I once used “Doesn’t anybody want my money?” as a subject to the GAP and got a response quicker than lightning.

    15. Consumer007 says:

      Hats off to this very direct approach. I wish EVERY consumer thought this way (as I do). When confronted with absolute nonsense, most people just wimpily walk away losing, instead of using their brain and spines, refusing to move aside in line, and becoming collective pieces of work until a real employee with authority and common sense fixes it. When businesses get so STOOPID and incompetent that they can’t even handle their own business, every single solitary manager and employee who made contributions to such a state need to be firmly and instantly FIRED. Maybe that’s a utopian dream, but that’s the way it oughta be, instead of making consumers everywhere lose their sanity. Why can’t we sue for money damages with things like this? That would quickly change things…

    16. theretailguy says:

      It just amazes me at the lack of any decent infrastructure when it comes to shipping details in large companies. No way to track shipments or see order logs. Makes you wonder how some companies stay in business when they give their employees so little information. Something so simple as the ability to track shipments and inventory in main warehouses would save a lot of headache. Also, the ability to special order items would be nice.

    17. Merkin says:

      Ugh. I’m currently dealing with Ikea to get a shelf that was missing from a bookcase. First, I used their customer service e-mail form. Despite their promise to “make every attempt to respond to [my] e-mail within 24 hours,” it was about 60 hours later that I get the blandly pleasant form response that I should contact the store where I bought the item. I just did that (whittling off cellphone minutes as I listen to pre-recorded messages–about what a great store they are–because the store doesn’t have a toll-free number) and was told that I should go drive all the way back to the store “to see what customer service could do” for me. As if I want to drive an hour each way only to have some listless college student shrug her shoulders at me. Anyway, I now have a reference number and a promise that someone will call me in the next 72 hours, which is more than I had a few days ago. What I don’t have is a damn shelf that Ikea could easily have drop-shipped to me and which should have been in the box in the first place.

    18. Anonymous says:

      I myself have had a difficult time with IKEA. The Etobicoke store in particular. I have a long story and letter to send, but I’m having trouble finding a list of executives to send it to. Could anyone help me out? Thanks