Man Fights IKEA Customer Service Over Defective LILLBERG Couch, Loses

A week after we moved and put the new covers on, our IKEA LILLBERG sofa broke. Right in half. The main support beam gave out right at the dovetail joint, and even split a board in the process. We were devastated, but figured that we’d be able to wrangle something out of it. Standard customer service would replace the couch, right?

brokelllilberg.jpg

My fianc

e and I purchased a sofa from IKEA in August of 2006 for our new apartment in Bloomington, IN. We purchased it from the Bolingbrook, IL store because it was near her parents house, where she was staying until the move. It’s a wood frame model with separate cushions, almost like a futon, but we appreciated it’s minimalistic design and size – long and deep. The cushions also had removable covers, which was a feature that we liked. Fast forward to a year later, after we decide to move across town to a rental house. There’s no way we can get the couch out of the door and we’re afraid of damaging it, so I take it apart using the instructions that came with it. We assembled it in our new living room according to the same instructions and decided that when we took a trip back to Chicago that weekend, we’d spend all the IKEA giftcards we’d been saving up. We blew all $300 we had in giftcards on new furniture and then decided that as a treat we’d buy $60 worth of new covers for our sofa. Which was a mistake.

After calling about a bad zipper in a sofa cushion, I learned that IKEA’s policy for returns and exchanges relies on going back to the original store that you bought the item from. So I called the Bolingbrook store and spoke with a standard customer service representative. This girl said that we’d have to bring it into the store, no other way to go about it, and once in the store, they’d be able to do a quality inspection of the item to make sure it wasn’t just regular wear and tear. It was a bit frustrating, but prospects looked good. The main hurdle seemed to be to convince IKEA to ship us a replacement so that we wouldn’t spend $150 in gas money to replace what is a $150 sofa frame – money that we didn’t have to begin with.

I called back the next day and after getting the same spiel, I asked to speak with a supervisor. I told the supervisor the issue that we had, and how it was a near impossibility for us to get to the store. She agreed to let us send in photographs of the break, and asked us for the receipt information while informing us that the warranty was only good for thirty or ninety days (I don’t remember which one it was). Which was our first problem. We didn’t have the receipt. We’re not sure if we threw it out after keeping it for a year, or if it just got mixed up in the move. We’re assuming the latter since we’re normally really responsible for this sort of thing.

I sent the supervisor photographs of the couch, and she responded asking for the receipt information. I asked her if she’d be able to look up the receipt information based on the credit card we used to purchase it and the date of the purchase – we had the bank statement since it was purchased with a debit/check card and we were able to see that information. She responded that she was unable to do this and would not be able to help us along any further without this information.

I should mention that throughout this whole process, I was formulating a Plan B. An Executive Email Carpet Bomb. With the help of countless Instant Messenger conversations with Ben Popken, I was getting closer and closer to developing a list of executives who might hear my plea. I had the basic email formula from when I emailed the customer service representative and submitted it to the Consumerist – good thing I did, because it turns out that the formula isn’t used by higher ups. The day I decided to try and track down the names of IKEA executives was the day that The Consumerist broke the story of the corporate email addresses. So I formulated a letter and sent it off to the higher powers that be:

Dear IKEA,

I have been a very loyal customer. When I moved into my first apartment in Chicago, I spent four hundred dollars furnishing it with IKEA furniture. When I got engaged and my fianc

e and I decided to move to Bloomington, IN, we spent at least four hundred more. We asked only for IKEA giftcards as Christmas presents and saved up for a year, so when we finally took a trip back to Chicago to visit her parents, we bought three hundred more dollars of IKEA furniture and products to furnish the house we moved into.

In the last purchase, we bought $60 worth of new cushion covers for the Lillberg model sofa. We have loved this sofa and had it for just about a year, when about two weeks ago it cracked. The main support beam underneath the cushions along the front of the couch broke in half down the dovetail joint and split one of the main support boards in the process. I’ve included thumbnail pictures of this break from all angles. We purchased this couch at the Bolingbrook, IL store in August of 2006, and were distraught because it is the only couch we own and we loved it so much that we spent sixty more dollars on cushion covers in order to preserve the couch for years to come.

I have been in contact with customer service at Bolingbrook, and was recently told that the only solution would be to bring the couch into the store with the original receipt. After asking to speak with a supervisor and explaining that I do not live near the Bolingbrook store anymore, I was told that I would be able to send in photos of the couch in an email and she would try to help us out. But since we have just moved again, we haven’t been able to locate the original receipt. We contact the same customer service representative and asked if she would be able to look up our receipt information based on the card that we used to purchase it with, and she said that we had to have the original receipt or there was nothing that she could do for us.

By looking at the pictures, it’s fairly obvious that it was a basic structural failure of the product. We did not abuse the couch or engage in any rough use. I even took it apart and gingerly transported the pieces separately when we moved in order to avoid any breakage. We were hoping that we could get a replacement sofa frame shipped to us, but have been unable to contact anyone who could help us. A couch that is advertised for every day use should not break in just a year of every day use.

We would gladly try to bring the couch to the store if we lived in the area. But as it stands, our house is located 249 miles from the Bolinbrook store, and to transport it there we would be spending about two hundred dollars in gas for a round trip in order to replace a two hundred dollar couch. If we had the four hundred dollars to spare, we would have just tried to replace the sofa on our own dime.

I am very happy with the IKEA products that we have purchased. The quality and the value have allowed us to furnish a home for a fraction of the cost at a traditional furniture store. At the same time, we appreciate the values that IKEA holds. That is why we have been returning customers after all of these years. It makes me worried, though, that we have been able to get this situation rectified. One of the reasons we felt safe in buying only IKEA furniture has been the helpful customer service that we’ve received in the past. We simply cannot afford to replace this sofa on our own at this moment, and if this situation is not resolved, we will have to think twice about the next furniture purchase we make.

I have included many different photos of the break, but can provide larger images if you are interested. I would also like to be contacted about this issue by August 28th. It has been weeks now since we haven’t had a couch to sit on, and the sooner we can get this issue resolved, the better.

My phone number is _____________. I can also be contacted at jesse.raub@gmail.com.

Thank you for your patience and consideration,

Jesse Raub
____________
Bloomington, IN 47401
____________
jesse.raub@gmail.com

I tried to follow the basic tips I got from the last story about an IKEA EECB and from the posts about the book Unscrewed – I wanted to let them know that they’d be losing a lot of money from me as a customer. As I stated earlier, we spent $350 on our last trip, and at least $500-$800 in trips before that. Our tiny house resembles an IKEA shrine.

And a day later, I received a phone call from the Bolingbrook store manager. She asked me to recount my story and I did. And as soon as I had mentioned that I had moved to a new house in Bloomington, she insinuated that I may have damaged the couch in the move since they’ve never had any quality issues with the sofa before in the past. I reassured her that I took the couch apart and that I followed directions. She then implied that I must have put the couch together wrong and that it was my fault that it broke. She said that she would refuse to replace the couch, even if we took it into the store, even if we managed to dig up the receipt.

This was a shock. In our point of view, the entire time we were being told that the main issue was the distance from us and the store. We were fairly sure that replacement was inevitable, just not the free shipping. And to be honest, it was a bit insulting for her to tell me that it was my fault that the couch broke.

I was dejected, but got a letter from the IKEA corporate customer service branch a day later. This letter said that they would forward my information on to Bolingbrook and someone would contact me. The address was hand written, and the letter was personally signed. I thought, “Oh, this is great! These people actually care and will definitely care about how rudely I was treated!” I even had a documented case number and everything. On the letter was a phone number, 610- 834-0180 – the line that will connect you the IKEA corporate Customer Relations Managers.

Again, wrong. From what I’ve discovered, IKEA operates mainly as a franchise. All the stores function individually and almost independently from IKEA corporate, especially when it comes to customer service. I talked with one of the managers who pulled up my case information. I was ready to spew my whole story at her when she was able to re-cap it to me. All of my information was stored in the case and documented, and she was well briefed. She told me exactly what the Bolingbrook manager told me – they wouldn’t replace the couch, however this lady was much sweeter in telling me so. She explained that it was basically up to the stores discretion on whether or not they would replace the couch, and how there was nothing she could do. She also explained that there have never been similar complaints about the couch, and that if there ever were, they’d open up my case again and contact me. I asked if we could purchase a new couch and get free shipping. She informed me that the store could not ship this far, and that IKEA corporate wouldn’t be able to ship anything out either. And thus I was defeated. But not after spending 30 minutes on the phone repeating myself and trying to get her to budge an inch.

So what came out of this whole event? My advice to you if you ever need to contact IKEA customer service:

- Try calling the basic store. Start out easy – it might work

- Ask to speak to a supervisor. The supervisors are trained to be helpful – in fact, the call center supervisor was the only one who treated me with any sort of sympathy and attempted to help me.

- Try speaking to the Customer Relations manager.

- If none of that works, use the EECB. It will get their attention and somebody will contact you. At least you can get your case heard.

- ONLY TELL THEM THE BASIC FACTS. If I never said that I moved, they wouldn’t be able to blame it on the move. However, I do believe they would have tried to blame it on something else, but I didn’t need to offer that information before I was asked.

- If none of that works, try calling US Customer Relations and speak to an IKEA Corporate Customer Relations Manager, reached at 610-834-0180. They will create a case file for you, and it’s their job to make sure that all customer service inquiries are resolved in some way, shape, or form.

- Be persistent. It might not work in the end, but at least you can’t say that you never tried. I went all the way to the top and was denied. At least I know there was more than likely nothing else I could do.

After this debacle, I highly doubt I will be purchasing any other IKEA furniture. I’ve never had serious quality issues with the stuff in the past, but now I know that if I do, I’ll be screwed out of my money and left couchless. As for the broken frame? My dad’s coming down to visit us this Friday, and he’s bringing a power drill. Let’s see what sort of furniture hacking we can do.

Jesse did almost everything right, but In telling IKEA about his move, he gave them an excuse to deny his claim. Captured POWs need only give name, rank and serial number. The same principle applies in doing battle with customer service. Anything extra you give them can and will be used against you.

Also, he failed to at any point make it more costly for the original store to ignore you than to solve your problem. Consider the technique behind Company Ignoring You? Fax ‘Em To Death, or How To Kick A Scammy Car Dealer In The Nuts. They work by making a simple argument any business owner can understand.

Then again, perhaps Jesse’s next idea, getting a powerdrill and bolting the brace back together (bracing the brace is also an option), is the best, and one most in the IKEA spirit he enjoys so much.

Comments

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  1. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    Based upon the horror stories that keep coming up involving Ikea, I don’t think I will be shopping there.

  2. BurbankBurt says:

    Nice try, but really… the couch cost $150 and you had good use of it for a year or more. I agree that you’d expect that it wouldn’t break, but we’re not talking about high-end furniture here (although I’ll say that my Ikea futon couch/bed has held up well for at least ten years!).

    The “I’ll fix it with a brace” idea is the way to go. A couple pieces of wood from the fix-it center and a few long wood screws should do the trick.

    And IMHO, deciding not to shop at Ikea (which you like so much) just because of this is “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

  3. OKH says:

    So, you paid $150 bucks on a sofa and it broke after a year, now you want your money back? IKEA is disposable furniture – you get what you pay for.

  4. OKH says:

    BTW, you can probably get Jackson braces at the local Lowes Depot. Just glue and clamp the joints first for 24 hours.

  5. sonichghog says:

    Its a year old. I would expect them to do nothing. If it was 30 days old, then sure.

  6. agb says:

    Does your debit card offer an automatic extended warranty program? You may be able to see if they will refund your money.

  7. forrester says:

    while it sucks you didn’t get a replacement, judging by the pictures it looks like a fairly easy fix.

    Get some wood glue and if you don’t have clamps, you can always wrap some duct tape around it tightly.

    As a fat guy and experience with ikea furniture, fixing it is inevitable :)

  8. Eilonwynn says:

    The damage is fixable to even the least capable among us, you’re *well* outside of the return policy, and the furniture never had a warranty to begin with. Frustration is understandable, but I don’t really see how Ikea “has” to fix it – you yourself mentioned “wrangling something out of it”

  9. hills says:

    If you want a couch with a year+ warranty, you have to pay for a couch with a year+ warranty – It’s not cool that the couch broke, but I agree with other posters – IKEA has no responsibility to give you a new one. Sorry!

  10. kidwei says:

    I had the same exact couch and it broke the same exact way.. except, it was only a month or two after I got it. IKEA replaced it and it was quick and pleasant. I’m not sure what their warranty policy is though. But if it’s past a year, I wouldn’t hold my breath. It is a crappy, uncomfortable couch from IKEA, after all.

  11. btipling says:

    I have the same product from Ikea, mine broke within the first few weeks too. I didn’t try to return it though because I weigh well over 200lbs.

  12. 2Legit2Quit says:

    You go to Ikea because you don’t want to spend a lot. Not cause of quality.

    My room is decked out in Ikea stuff. Futon, desk, speaker stands, dresser, picture, etc.

    And I have never anything break on me. I truly love IKEA for their prices and as a broke college kid, wouldn’t shop anywhere else.

  13. thepounder says:

    I know that this is not the point here, but in the time it took me to read the whole post I could have had the couch repaired and ready for people to sit on without fear of falling thru.

    Why go to the hassle when it’s so easy to fix on your own? Personally, the closest Ikea is just over an hour away & while I do enjoy shopping there I would not put the couch in the back of my truck and lug it down there… I’d just fix it and be done with it.

    I’ve built furniture and this is a glaring design flaw (come on, finger-jointed wood on a load-bearing member?)… it still sucks Ikea wouldn’t do anything for you though, but personally I wouldn’t have expected it I suppose.

    @caholla: Just remember, you typically only hear the bad news on the Interwebs… I’ve never had a bad experience with Ikea and I’ve been going to ours almost two years now, typically once every two weeks or so. Of course, avoid Ikea if you wish… I’m just saying they aren’t all bad.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    $150 for a couch?!? How the heck are they even making it for that little? I’d say take the pictures down to the local hardware store and ask ‘em how to fix it. I’ve had to fix several friends’ futons over the years (non-Ikea) due to cheap construction & materials. In one case, we just built a whole new frame, probably took 4 hrs with the limited tools we had.

    FWIW, when/if you go looking for REAL furniture, expect a shock. A decent sofa runs $2-5k, high-end runs $10k+.

  15. workingman says:

    Having worked for IKEA for several years, there is a commonly known fact, you get what you pay for. Nothing will last of ever and when you pay that little, you will not get much sympathy. Customer service was correct. The return policy is clearly stated on the receipt. 30 days (now 90 days), with original receipt and packaging. No store will offer free shipping to the distance that you are from the store since all stores have contacts with carriers and don’t ship themselves. Each store does work on an individual basis as far as customer service is involved, but are not franchised. Each store is allowed to work on there own, but still have to maintain to the IKEA standards worldwide. Some do it better than others.

  16. winnabago says:

    Mine broke in the same exact way, and it is fairly straightforward to fix. First, take the frame apart so you can get the rail out and work on it alone. Put a lot of wood glue on the zig zag joint (called a finger joint) and everywhere else you can reach. It’s important to keep the bottom of the rail from pulling apart. Then get some clamps and push it all together. Let it sit overnight and reassemble.
    Worked for me, and it doesn’t really require any special knowledge.
    For $150, ours have lasted much longer than I thought, and even after this broke, I’ve gotten a few more months out of it.

  17. aujahlisa says:

    The point of Ikea is CHEAP.
    You do have my sympathies that $400 ($200 plus the same for gas…) is a major budget hit, but I feel that the Ikea folks to whom you spoke correctly addressed your issue. Their people skills probably need improving, but that’s a different issue.

    To expect a refund or exchange more than a year after purchase – for ANY company – is pushing it. Add to that the fact that you did not have your receipt? Accomplishing that would just about need divine intervention, and would be a candidate for a can’t-top-this “above and beyond” award.

  18. AlisonAshleigh says:

    Throw it out, sit on the floor, and save up all the money you would have spent on tissues to dry your ikea-induced tears so you can buy a real couch.

  19. Bill says:

    This is funny because I have the same couch and had the exact same thing happen to me. Somehow, it seems unlikely that this is an isolated incident.

    I figured it was just that I got lucky and had a poorly constructed beam, so I glued it back together and rotated it with the back beam. There isn’t really much load on the rear beam, so this actually turns out to work pretty well and the second beam handles the load just fine.

  20. Sudonum says:

    I bought IKEA furniture once. I bought a dresser, the drawer bottoms were made from something not far removed from cardboard. They kept on sagging and eventually falling out. I took every drawer apart, glued the bottoms in and added slats across the middle and sides as reinforcement. Yet another example of getting exactly what you pay for.

  21. joshieca says:

    I agree; you had the couch for over a year and all is good. You took it apart and moved it 250+ miles and then it breaks…sounds like you did something somewhere and you’re just not telling the truth…deal with it Jesse!

  22. ivieso says:

    That is alot of time and work spent for this whole $150 fiasco. Just fix it or buy a new one. It was one year ago! and I am sure if you brought it back to the original ikea, you would have received a replacement. Too bad you move away though and could not get your way. I stand with Ikea on this one. This almost qualify as another whining consumer.

  23. Buran says:

    @BurbankBurt: Not really. Why should one continue to shop somewhere that didn’t help you when you felt you should have gotten help? Different people have different expectations but still, no one should ever have to shop somewhere they don’t feel good about, and certainly shouldn’t be jeered at for it.

  24. SybilDisobedience says:

    Well, not to play blame the victim, but it IS ikea we’re talking about here. Sure, you deserve to get your money’s worth, but when you pay so little for a couch – one that ships flat and gets put together in your home! – it’s probably not top-notch quality.
    We have lots of ikea furniture ourselves. No major malfunctions yet, but I know we’ve already resigned ourself to the notion that when it inevitably cracks, warps, stains, tears or falls apart, we only paid a pittance for it. Now, if we’d been dumb/rich enough to buy a $2000 sofa…we’d be a lot more pissed.

  25. Graciela says:

    Ikea doesn’t have to give a full refund or exchange in this case, but they could have tried to appease him by offering a partial refund or offering to send a replacement for the broken part. It probably won’t be 100% satisfactory, but at least it probably would have kept him from contacting the Consumerist and there would be no chorus of “Ikea sucks!” in the comments.

    Even after a year of use, it doesn’t hurt to contact the company and ask for a refund/exchange. Some actually stand behind their products and will make good, but you won’t know until you ask.

  26. HungryGrrl says:

    I have that couch! Currently it’s disassembled in my parents basement. Not the best couch on earth, the cushions slide right off unless you put anti-slip rug stuff under them. I bought it because it was the only non-futon couch option that would fit in my compact car. It was a total nightmare buying it- stocked in the wrong part of the warehouse and thus no one in the store could find it or retreive it, even though I had checked online and saw it was in stock. Had to go back a month later… 6 hours total driving for a couch, but it seemed the best fit for my needs and budget.

    Anyways, IKEA should replace the part. Don’t they have a 1-800 number in the assembly instructions for broken or missing pieces?

    Personally if this happened to my couch, I’d just get a metal brace and some wood glue and fix it myself rather than even bother calling the unhelpful store staff.

  27. CaligulaHamSandwich says:

    One point that I wanted to reiterate (aside from “you get what you pay for when you pay for a $150 couch”) is that I don’t think you should punish yourself by refusing to shop at IKEA anymore. If you haven’t had any problems with any other items, consider this a fluke–or, at the worst, the first of three strikes. No one’s perfect all the time, and IKEA furniture is far better quality, generally, than Target (which is actually a bit more expensive and worse).

    Also, “devastated” is a very strong word for a broken $150 couch frame. I know it sucks for something to break, but it’s really beneficial, in customer service interactions, to put a lid on your emotions.

  28. MickeyMoo says:

    Agree with the posters suggesting a DIY fix – I would recommend Gorilla Glue (a polyurethane based adhesive – wear gloves! it’s not terribly hazardous but if you get it on your fingers it will take a week to wear off) spray the wood with warm tap water in a spritzer bottle and let it soak in for a while – then apply a thin layer of glue to both surfaces and clamp immediately. Give it 24 hours to cure – then you can scrape off the dried goop that oozed out and sand it down where it shows if you’re extra particular about how the joint will work. You can then repeat the process on the back with a brace and screw it down with some drywall or deck type screws (I think they’re better than wood screws because the threads are thinner and less likely to split the wood – remember to pre-drill holes)

  29. MercuryPDX says:

    I’d be uncomfortable about the permanence of a DIY fix, although Gorilla Glue would be the way to go.

    If Ikea still makes the couch, and you still have the instructions, is it possible to get just that bar replaced? I know that they can send the smaller replacement parts that get accidentally left out of the box. After all, the ENTIRE futon is not trashed, just the bar. If available, maybe that would be an easier cost for them to swallow?

  30. darkclawsofchaos says:

    Looks flimsy, for $150, you shouldn’t be complaining, thats really cheap, in fact if do know how to work a power drill, buy some 2×4 and make one similar to that, infact, 2×4 is stronger, be glad you didn’t fall through that thing you call a couch, building it yourself would probably take 3hrs, 6hrs at most if you’re gonna sand the rough edges, varnish, and wax the thing, will be a fun weekend project, the materials should cost you $50-80 depending if you choose to get varnish and wax

  31. scooby2 says:

    Ikea for the most part is complete crap. I like to call it furniture that you can look at but not use. Unfortunately you generally get what you pay for these days. The best solution is to fix it yourself and make a mental note to not shop there anymore. Save up some cash next time and order from North Carolina. Best prices and quality guaranteed.

  32. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Is this a record? Only had to wait for posts #2 & #3 for “stupid consumer it’s YOUR fault” posts :)
    I’ve gotten good and bad stuff at IKEA, and you do get what you pay for. YMMV

  33. ProConsumer says:

    If it was me, and Ikea had refused to stand behind their product, I’d either use the extended warranty from my credit card issuer if possible, or, purchase a new sample of the defective couch, take it home (or to the parking lot), swap out the broken parts, and return the new one for a refund. This assumes that the same model couch is still being sold, and there’s an Ikea store within a reasonable distance. This gets around their stupid requirement that only the selling store will honor the warranty, and gets around the lost receipt.

  34. acambras says:

    DEVASTATED
    DISTRAUGHT
    DEJECTED

  35. thepounder says:

    @MercuryPDX: Why bother replacing the front support piece when it seems quite likely to fail again? (I have no idea what they’d charge for it, but I bet it’d be too much considering there’s many people with scrap wood at home and a little DIY knowledge who could make it good as new for nearly free).
    Don’t get me wrong… not disagreeing necessarily… just saying that the home remedy is not only near-free or free, but it’s going to be stronger than the original if done properly. And no headaches dealing with some CSR. bonus.

    A simple fix with Gorilla Glue or Titebond applied to the joint and properly clamped, then glue and screw a long piece of 1×4 oak to the back of the busted area… Poof, it’s fixed and more structurally sound than a new replacement support piece.

  36. MercuryPDX says:

    @thepounder: I wasn’t thinking that the OP buy the piece, I was suggesting that they try to get Ikea to make good and replace it. I hadn’t consider the chance that the piece would fail again.

  37. BlackOpsAgent says:

    So wait, he pays for $150 couch, uses it for a year and then wants his money back? To top it off, he contradicts himself. Did he use your debit card or gift cards?

    While I am a consumer and all for the consumer, something about this story is just wrong. Someone just trying to “pull one over” on the man.

  38. Televiper says:

    This whole post screams: how to milk a company through customer service complaints. The person was obviously well outside their right to receive any compensation from Ikea. No receipt, and far outside the return policy. It’s sort of obvious why the representatives at Ikea were a bit curt with them.

    Besides, the environmental thing to do is just fix it. 4 screws, a 2×4, and screw driver would do that just fine. What kind of useless hoser must you be if you can’t operate a screw driver?

  39. gusgus says:

    Same thing happened to a couple of similar futons by a different manufacture. And it wasn’t glued wood. This is simply a design fault. All the manufactures are trying to skim on a decent support beam. It fails far too often.

  40. erratapage says:

    Anyone up for a class action on the Lilleborg sofa? Sounds like most of you who bought it have had to make repairs! I think IKEA should issue a recall.

    I agree that you get what you pay for, but this sounds like a structural failure that is endemic with the product. Maybe it’s even a safety issue.

    Here’s the real deal. I think that products that people purchase should meet minimum standards and they should cost what it costs to make them to meet those minimum standards.

    I bought a $200 sofa from Sears a few years back. It was indestructable. I know, because we tried to abuse it in so many ways. It ultimately took axes and a firepit to destroy it.

  41. artaxias says:

    The customer is mistaken in this case. IKEA is entirely justified in telling him to go fly a kite.

    First, it’s IKEA. You can’t possibly expect everlasting furniture from a (tasteful) discount store. These products are mass-produced and intended for fast consumption and disposal. Notice how Craigslist is flooded with IKEA products at bottom of the barrel prices. People don’t buy large items such as couches or tables for $100-300 to develop a lasting relationship with inanimate objects.

    Secondly, it appears that the customer overused the furniture. “Favorite couch” implies it has substantial mileage. I have seen LILLBERG couches at the store and these appear flimsy and not the kind that would support heavy use over a long period of time. 2 people + couple of hours per day for 1 year = End of Life. These are summer/patio couches, if you could describe them as a couch in the first place.

    Lastly, if you’re a loyal customer who is happy with the store in general and has built an “IKEA Shrine,” then one product failure still leaves you with lots of products that did not fail. To say that you won’t shop at the store again is just bad economics and unfamiliarity with basic statistics.

  42. Extended-Warranty says:

    Wow you know you’re in the wrong when the consumerist doesn’t agree with you.

  43. thepounder says:

    @MercuryPDX: Oh… gotcha now. That’d be much better of Ikea to do. Maybe a little show of “hey, we know it’s a design flaw, so please accept our gift of a new front brace.”

    Damn that Lilleborg sofa. ;)

  44. Keldar says:

    I too had a pretty troubling issue with the exact same Ikea (Bolingbrook). They have a display of the Galant series computer desk that they have built in a configuration that is not in the instruction manual!

    I saw the desk, decided it was the one I wanted to buy, so I followed the info tag when it said “Please ask for help in purchasing this item”.

    An Ikea associate tallied up all the parts I would need and printed me a shopping list. I gathered up all the pieces and took them home (2 hours south of the store). A week later when I was done unpacking I decided to build the desk. Needless to say it was very frustrating since the manual listed a million of possible configurations – none of which I had purchased.

    I attempted to call the store and ask for help. I was told countless times that one of their desk specialists would call me back and explain to me what I needed to do to build the desk in the way that they had displayed it.

    I ended up figuring it out myself, after hours of frustration. It turns out they sold me two things I did not need and another that I had to cannibalize parts from in order to match their configuration.

    Needless to say I was not impressed with the Bolingbrook stores customer service.

  45. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Look on the bright side, at least your couch wasn’t featured under the Chinese Poison Train heading…

  46. lockdog says:

    I don’t want to repeat what other posters have already mentioned, so just a couple of things. That is definitely not a dovetail joint. At best its the world’s largest finger joint, I’d be more likely to call it a beveled lap joint. Now this isn’t just pedantry. Here’s wikipedia’s page on wood joints . Learning these is really useful because you can then look at a piece of furniture and quickly assess a piece’s overall quality. Splice lap joints are inherently weak, and like fingers joints, are just another sign of manufacturers trying to squeeze a few extra nickels out of you. Growing long, solid wood for load bearing beams in furniture like this (or even for the walls of your house) takes time and money. They just don’t grow trees like that anymore!
    If you want to repair, like other posters have said, use a clamp and wood glue. Clamped tightly that should be as good as new. I’d avoid Gorila glue because if you haven’t used a poly glue before you’re likely to make a foaming, sticky mess all over the place. If you want stronger, glue a thin piece of plywood (find some 3/8″ scrap if you can) along the entire length of the beam on the inside, reinforcing it with the staggering drywall or wood screws ( from the back) every 6″ or so. You won’t need a lot, and if you soap the screw and go slow you probably could skip the pre-drilled holes.
    Now, the next time you need furniture, go used. People richer than you buy new furniture all the time and are always giving it away to various charities. Shop around and be persistent. You won’t get stuck with Grandma’s 1970 green sleeper sofa. Modern pieces, new stuff (yes even Ikea) show up all the time. And when buying something with drawers, definitely look for dovetail joints. With care it will outlast us both. I’m pretty sure my chest of drawers is a circa 1850′s Shaker piece. It’s all hand scraped and planed, the most precise dovetails I’ve ever seen and built with slabs of cherry that could only have been virgin growth. I paid fifty bucks. I could build a damn good reproduction of this if someone asked me too, but I’d probably charge three grand for it. Double that if I were to go totally natural and use no power tools.

  47. SilverStar95 says:

    I say it’s time to fix it up, and maybe even try to make it better. The design looks like you could try building some storage cabinets under it. Add some more function to the style and increase the personal value dramatically. Maybe even see if you can find some front cushions to bolt onto the front of the cabinet doors, and perhaps work something on the side panels to give it a more high class, refined look.

  48. retech says:

    So just buy another couch, replace the defective part from that new one and take the “new one” back as defective. If they like treating you in this way there’s nothing wrong with letting them deal with the problem in that manner.

  49. SilverStar95 says:

    @lockdog: And I have to agree with the idea of shopping around to find used stuff.

    For $50CAD, I managed to nab a pair of Mikael computer desks, with glass tops, plus the standing hutch for one, AND 2 matching CPU towers with drawers.

    For those who don’t know, these are HUGE desks. They may not be able to handle more than 2 medium-sized CRT monitors, but they could easily handle 3 or 4 LCD monitors without breaking a sweat, if you wanted to have a really big rig running. And the desk space is big enough to handle so many monitors, if you go right to the edges.

    The desks are $70 each, the hutch is another $80, the stands are $40 each, and I’d guess the glass tops, would be 80-90 bucks a piece. And all are in great condition. Buying used doesn’t mean buying crap.

  50. humphrmi says:

    I once bought a couch from Sam’s Club for $150. It was one of those end-recliner / center fold-down table affairs that a newly married couple of couch potatoes really love. Also, it was built cheap. It lasted eight years, until we actually had to chop it up with a hatchet because it was involved in a flooded basement and had to be discarded. My wife cried.

    After that, we bought another couch, this time since we have kids and a pet and a flood-prone basement we popped for a $1000 couch with a fairly subtantial warrantee (ten years on the leather, to start with, plus some additional workmanship coverage)

    That one has lasted about five years (so far, still in good shape) but the point is, if that one goes pear-shaped I got someone I can call to fix it.

    When my kids move out, I’ll suggest that they buy some cheap furniture at Ikea or some other cheap furniture store. Then, later, when they want real furniture that will last, I’ll advise them to go to a real furniture store.

  51. watchout5 says:

    In all that time you spent desperately trying to make them replace it for you, you could have gone to a hardware store…bought a few 2 by 4′s and fixed it yourself for less time when it would have taken to go through all this. Almost a year ago and you can’t even find the receipt. If it was such an important purchase you should have saved your receipt, and even on there it would have told you how many days you had to replace it. This should be a lesson in saving your receipt and I honestly don’t think IKEA has done anything wrong. It’s also only $150 for a couch…what the hell did you expect? Yes it sucks, but most of the things I have after a year aren’t what they were a year ago and I don’t expect the company that made it to give a crap unless they specifically state otherwise.

  52. RumorsDaily says:

    My Lilliberg couch had the exact same problem. I fixed it with screws and some books to hold up the broken point. Nobody should buy these couches, they don’t work.

  53. Roundonbothends says:

    Can anyone explain why a joint HAS to be there on such a span? Seems to be one piece of wood. Was it necessary to get it in a package that would fit it a compact car? Or just to allow them to use cheaper peices of wood?

  54. solipsistnation says:

    $200 in gas to drive about 500 miles round-trip? At current Bay Area pricing (3.15/gallon), that’s 63 gallons, or roughly 7.9 miles per gallon.

    Maybe you should trade in your gas-guzzling vehicle for something that doesn’t cost a fortune to drive and use the savings to buy a sturdier couch.

  55. SpaceCowgirl01 says:

    I have the same couch as well for years, and have dis-assembled, moved and re-assembled it three times. It’s broken in many other ways, though. One of the wooden slats (running perpendicular to the beam) broke a bit and the dowel keeping it actually attached to the beam is broken and stuck in there, and one of the little wooden knobs that holds the back piece up falls out occasionally, AND the part that keeps the bottom cushion part attached to the sides in the back corner has fallen completely out of place half a dozen times when people sit on it too hard (making them feel really, really fat when the couch caves in beneath them).

    But I’m still sitting on it as I write this, three years later, with the help of some Gorilla glue to prevent future major mishaps, and it was damn cheap.

  56. shades_of_blue says:

    IF those pictures are of the couth, I could build something more durable from HomeDepot. Just one look the thing, and I can honestly say that I’m not surprised it failed to hold up. Just take a piece of scrap metal, some screws and bolts and mount it behind the board. Not perfect, but cheaper than buying a new couch.

  57. Yodler says:

    I, too, work at IKEA. We sell everything from junk to fairly decent quality furniture. We do not sell heirloom furniture. When you shop at IKEA you will get what you pay for. Spend more and get more. No matter what, nothing lasts forever. If your car had some maintenance need after a year or two, you would just suck up and pay for it. That is what this is. All it needs is some glue, a clamp for a day, and it will be better than new. Easy. Cheap. Practical. IKEA is perfect for what it is, and not for what it isn’t.

  58. IKEA = cheap, disposable furniture. ‘Nuff said.

  59. BurbankBurt says:

    @Buran:
    I’m not jeering, but rather pointing out that I happen to feel that refusing to shop at Ikea as a whole (rather than at a particular franchise store — say the one that they feel slighted by) is childish . . . IMHO.

  60. M3wThr33 says:

    I know that couch. It’s broken a LOT in the exact same spot. It’s currently duct-taped together and seems to be fine now.

  61. ascara says:

    I have to say that making a support beam out of joined pieces of wood instead of one solid piece seems rather obviously destined to fail. That being said, however, you also get what you pay for. A couch made of MDF and purchased for $150 is simply not destined to have a long life. No matter how this couch had been treated, it was well past its warranty point. If it is such a beloved part of your life, look to repair it and learn from your error. Next time, either spend a bit more for quality, or at least better inspect the craftsmanship.

    Also, a comment for those that seem to think purchasing a new kit and swapping out the broken part is acceptable. Maybe you think no harm is being done or you are “just getting what is due”. No matter how you slice it, that behavior is dishonest. You would not buy an orange from the grocery store, let it go bad on your counter and then think you are entitled to take a replacement from the store without paying. Then again, maybe you would. Badly made products are one thing, but everything has a life. For a $150 couch, I would hve given it about six months. Caveat emptor.

  62. Orchid64 says:

    One of the reasons people who have legitimate claims and issues get treated shoddily and that customer service people grow bitter and rude is people like Mr. Raub who are completely outside of warranty who pursue these sorts of claims well past the point of reason. The message that seems to be contained in this story is to be a squeaky wheel even when you aren’t the least bit entitled to any grease and maybe you’ll annoy someone into giving you what you want even when you do not deserve it.

    I can’t imagine what was going through Mr. Raub’s mind when he decided to go on this crusade but he certainly had no respect for the people who he was badgering with this spurious claim. He completely wasted their time (and therefore their money) and patience and then has the audacity to come on the Consumerist and bad-mouth IKEA (which I have never shopped at, incidentally, and have no loyalty to whatsoever) and proclaim that he’ll never shop there again. Given this claim, I’m not sure they’d want you as a customer!

  63. ian937262 says:

    1st off.. 150 dollars is not high end as everyone else has said.

    2n You mean to tell me you can’t throw some screws or nails into that to get a temp fix to last another year or so?

  64. JohnnyJoeJoe says:

    @ BURBANKBURT

    So, Paul, shopping at a store that consistently sells defective merchandise is the “adult” way to go?

    How’s that work and how does that save one’s nose?

  65. Mary says:

    That’s funny, we have the exact same couch. We’ve had it for three years, and we’ve moved twice with it. Both times we’ve taken it apart completely and reassembled it at the new home. The only problem we’ve had is something spilled on one of the cushions last time, and we’ve replaced it already.

    I love how the customer describes the way he moved the pieces, as though he lovingly hand carried them to their new destination. You’d had the couch a year, you moved, THEN it breaks.

    And you say IKEA is crazy for saying maybe something happened to it in the move? If the couch was defective or something was going to break, it was going to happen when you had it for that year. Somewhere in the disassembling and the moving, something happened and it’s not the companies fault.

    Was it under warranty? No? Then why do they owe you anything? I couldn’t imagine calling them up after a year and a half and insisting on a new couch frame for free if something remotely like this situation happened to me.

  66. Trackback says:

    We have mixed feelings about fashion week. On one hand, it makes it feel better about ourselves because come on, these models don’t look that great. I have nicer eyebrows than that betch.

  67. BugMeNot2 says:

    From the photos, it looks like ONE SCREW would repair the “broken” slat pair, and make it even stronger.

    Sorry, this looks like wear and tear from the photos, and a very simple home repair.

    No, standard customer service would not replace the couch. If it was
    within a week or two of original purchase I would send someone over to
    put the one screw in with gluing, as a courtesy ONLY, not for any legal
    obligation.

    Ikea doesn’t need this complainant as a customer and neither would I.

  68. jesseraub says:

    Wow, I’ve set off a hotbed here.

    Update: my father brought his drill down and we screwed a board the entire length behind it after wood gluing it back together and we added two short legs in the middle to offset the pressure.

    Regardless of whether or not IKEA owed me a replacement couch, I think that it should have been replaced regardless. It’s just good customer service.

    If you have a broken Lillberg couch, I suggest contact IKEA corporate and letting them know. The more cases that they have on file, the better chance we all have for getting a new one shipped to us. A new one that we can return to a store for credit that we can use to buy something that’s not going to break.

  69. Yodler says:

    @jesseraub:

    Jesse! Get real! No company that I know of does not draw a line that ends the terms of a warranty. It HAS to end at some point in time. IKEA already told you, and you knew it from the day you purchased the couch.

    Sure it would be nice if this couch would last longer, but it had a relatively minor issue that had a minor and inexpensive fix. That was not too much to ask of you, to do minor repairs in time. So stop your badgering IKEA. Your issue is, to every reasonable reader here, YOUR issue. It is not IKEA’s problem to fix. It is YOURS.

    I work for IKEA, and all I can say about this “article” is if that is the worst you can say about IKEA, then we are doing pretty darn good at generally provided decent products for a darn good price. I challenge you to find any other moderate quality furnishings provider that does a better job for you and still pay meaningful attention to the environment.

    (However, there is an issue with IKEA that does merit complaint, they pay their employees an indecently low wage. Sorry IKEA management, most of us who work here have difficulty selling IKEA goods because we ourselves can’t afford to shop IKEA.)

  70. hyperlexis says:

    Ikea has the worst repair/return policy of any store I have ever dealt with, so I can totally relate. Once you put something together and the item breaks, you have to bring the whole thing in to get it looked at or replaced. I would NEVER buy one of their couches — their other items are cheap and fragile enough, but a couch, that’s just asking for trouble. Even so, no one deserves such shoddy, inflexible customer service.

  71. Televiper says:

    @jesseraub: No… it would be customer service going the extra mile if you got a replacement. After reading this statement I can see why the CSR manager quietly told you where to go.

  72. Phuturephunk says:

    Ikea furniture is known to do this. My ex’s futon broke at about the year mark (and coincidentally after a move as well). Ikea furniture also seems to have one or at most 2 stress points on each piece that are bound to fail.

    I usually recommend that people just mod the fuck out of the furniture to make it last longer. In this case, if you know someone who does metal work, just have them make you a steel bracket with holes in it to go over the crack, then bolt it in with high strength steel bolts, should last forever after that.

    Then again, it is a piece of Ikea furniture, so its easily replaceable.

  73. hyperlexis says:

    YODLER — If this is what you think qualifies as “good” customer service, then I suggest you take a nice job at Macy’s also. You’ll fit right in. Listen, it’s a cheap couch that probably cost Ikea pennies to make. It’s a bit out of warranty, so what. For Gd sakes, ship him a new one! Is it worth losing a potential life-long customer over a few shekels to Ikea? Dickering over terms of a warranty contract is really the best way to seriously tick off a customer like this. Target will be waiting with warm and open arms.

  74. Mary says:

    @jesseraub: “Regardless of whether or not IKEA owed me a replacement couch, I think that it should have been replaced regardless. It’s just good customer service.”

    This sentence makes absolutely no sense. You say if they owe you a new couch or not they should give you one anyway?

    Because it’s good customer service?

    That’s what those of us who work in customer service call “entitlement” and it is part of the downward spiral. You call in acting entitled to something you don’t deserve because it’s “good customer service” (it is not, getting what you deserve is, getting what you don’t deserve is bad business and is you screwing the company over).

    Then the people who give the customer service get sick of the attitude, and start behaving badly to other people, people who deserve nice treatment. Or they mistrust those people and think they’re being screwed over.

    Then those people get cranky and start acting badly, thinking they deserve even more, and then the service employees get angrier.

    You should ask for and receive what you deserve. That’s it. IKEA gave you a $150 couch that served you well. That’s what you deserved. That is customer service.

    Asking for anything more is contributing to the problem.

  75. pyloff says:

    Assuming gas is 3 dollars a gallon and it will cost you 200 bucks to get there you plan on burning 66 gallons of gas at a grand total of 7.5 miles per gallon. Nice!

  76. mrearly2 says:

    Just repair the damned thing and go on. You oughta know that Ikea doesn’t sell high-end stuff. I consider it a junk-store.

  77. ducksauce says:

    IKEA is one step above a yard sale. I’ve bought stuff there and later found that the box did not even include all of the parts listed in the instructions (partial return?).

  78. disinherited says:

    I have the same couch and the exact same problem. I had it for three weeks, and have been unsuccessful at navigating the maze of customer service purgatory. I am taking the DIY to heart, and can’t justify any more of my life to dealing with Ikea. I will never buy from them again and I will say bad things about their mother.

  79. mmccarley says:

    I purchased a “Hopen” bed from Ikea in Frisco, TX Sept 06, for my son. Within 6 mos of my purchase the side rail began to split in the middle starting from the bottom going up. When I called Ikea, they told me to bring it in to the store, because they guarantee their furniture. When I explained to them I was not able to find the receipt because we moved shortly after purchase. They said there was nothing they could do about it. They had to have the receipt.
    I spent over $1200.00 that day. I purchased the bed, side table, chest among other things.

    Two weeks later, I called back, and that cust. service rep told me to bring in a copy of my bank statement and they would go off that along with purchase date they could find it in their system.

    Boy, I thought I was really going somewhere now.

    But, they also told me they would still have to inspect the bed rail to see if its faulty or just abuse of the bed. Of course, they just couldn’t see how it could be faulty.
    I said to them, “you mean I still may be denied replacement of the rails? She said, “yes”.
    I told her that my drive one way is 1 hr and 45 minutes and I still can be denied?
    I said how about if I just purchase the side rails
    and they told me I couldn’t do that either.

    “Whaaaaaaaat! I am just floored at this time.
    Now I have a side table and chest that I’m not sure what to do with as well as buy a new bed and
    chest from a REAL FURNITURE STORE that will actually GURANTEE ITS QUALITY.

    IKEA! YOU HAVE LOST ME AS A CUSTOMER!

    Does anyone know the phone numbers to The Room Store, Rooms to Go, Havertys? I really don’t care anyone but IKEA.

    I own a business myself, and if I treated any of my customers that way, they would be gone in a heart beat

    Sincerely,
    Lost Me In Texas

  80. AwesomeJerkface says:

    @jesseraub:

    Hahaha. Oh lord. You’re precisely the kind of customer that people don’t mind losing and don’t mind ranting on the internet, because as the comments clearly indicate, you’re just not right in the head when it comes to what you should get with purchase.

    “Regardless of whether or not IKEA owed me a replacement couch, I think that it should have been replaced regardless. It’s just good customer service.”

    What a laugh. . . good customer service isn’t spoiling the customer senseless with policies that’ll run you out of business.

  81. akede2001 says:

    Old thread but I have this couch and it broke in the exact same spot. Glad I found this, I was about to go through all the hassle of trying to get it replaced.