IKEA Charges $60 Restocking Fee On Defective Bookcase

If IKEA has a 30% restocking fee on defective items that you tried in vain to assemble (twice) only to decide that you just didn’t want the stupid thing anymore, we couldn’t find any evidence of it on their website. Nevertheless, reader Drew says buying and returning (rather than exchanging) a defective bookcase cost him $60 and a sore back.

Drew writes:

My wife and I were very excited that a new IKEA store opened near our house. After a lot of planning, measuring, and consideration, we decided to purchase several bookshelves (from the Buddy line) and a large bookcase (from the Expedit line) for our home. We purchased nearly $600 worth of shelves, $200 of which was the Expedit bookcase.

I’ve assembled knock-down furniture before — Sauder, IKEA, etc — and I know from experience that it is important to carefully inventory (to make sure nothing is missing) and read the directions (to make sure you’re using the right piece at the right time) before starting assembly, which I did.

It wasn’t until one of the last steps in the (long) assembly process that it became clear that there was a problem with the materials — the pieces simply did not line up to allow finishing of the assembly. The top piece and side piece simply did not match up in one of the final steps. So, I carefully UN-assembled everything, re-read the directions, and verified that I was using the pieces appropriately. I was, so we started to re-assemble the bookcase. Near the end of the SECOND assembly, the problem was still there. It was apparent that this particular bookcase was defective. We also decided that it was too large for the space we’d intended (we’d measured the space and the model bookcase before purchasing it). While it FIT, it didn’t look right to us, so we decided we wanted to get our money back.

My wife & I unassembled the piece (again) and loaded it into her car with the original boxes. This evening (1 day after purchasing the item), I drove to IKEA to return the item.

That’s when the trouble started.

I loaded the pieces of the bookcase onto one of their carts and wheeled it into the returns department. I told them the piece was defective. They asked if I wanted an exchange. I said no, that it was larger than we wanted; we’d just like our money back.

They said that because the piece had been assembled (I’d left the little wooden connection pegs installed), and that the piece wasn’t IN the original boxes (it was ON the original boxes — I was not interested in using my time to repack it in the boxes), and that the hardware (screws and stuff) were in a ziplock baggie and not their original packaging that they would have to charge me a 30% restocking fee. I asked if that held true even though the piece was defective and the clerk at the counter indicated that it was. I asked to speak with the manager on duty, and shortly, Marcie came over.

I explained that the piece was defective, that we didn’t want it anymore, and that we wanted our money back. She looked at the piece and said that because I’d built it, they had to charge me the restocking fee because “they couldn’t sell it like that”. I asked her what other way besides building it she suggested to determine that the item was defective, and she had no good answer for that. I suggested that they assemble the piece there in the returns department, but she said no. They held their line firmly — I walked out with $140 of the $200 item we’d purchased.

So, I spent lots of time building this thing (twice) only to find out it was defective, and for my patience, sore back, and time spent loading and unloading it in our car, I am rewarded with a $60 charge.

The refund policy (the one featuring the graphic of the heart-shaped red pillow with outstretched arms) doesn’t specify anything about defective merchandise nor does it indicate the restocking fee.

I feel like IKEA should at least refund my $60 since their product was defective. I’d like to do a corporate email carpet bomb. Any tips for locating IKEA management’s email addresses?

We sure do, Drew. Here’s the contact information for IKEA.

A 30% restocking fee on a defective item seems like the sort of thing that should be disclosed in big bold letters.

What do you think? Should IKEA have waived the fee because the item was defective? Or was the fee fair because Drew didn’t want the bookcase anyway?

(Photo:Sun Dazed)

Comments

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  1. Bladefist says:

    well thats a load of bull hockey

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    He should have been charged the restocking fee in my opinion. Whether or not the bookcase was defective is irrelevant because ultimately his reason for returning it was that it didn’t fit the space as he hoped.

  3. gvadcfl says:

    Here’s the rub – they charge a restocking fee, but than sell the item in ASIS – even if it is broken or missing items it still goes to ASIS. Either way IKEA makes money!!!

  4. BrockBrockman says:

    Depends. Was the reason her returned it because it was defective? Or because he was retail renting?

    Seems that, because he refused a replacement, it was really because he decided that he didn’t want it anymore.

    IKEA, it seems, takes a bigger hit on open-box items than, say, Best Buy; that stuff all ends up in their “As-Is” section. Not to mention, there is actual work involved in putting those huge boxes away. The expidit is pretty heavy. So, if he returned it because he just no longer liked it, then I empathize with Ikea.

    But 30% is a HUGE amount to have to pay to restock.

    As for three expidits, man, how do you fit that anywhere? Those things are pretty huge.

  5. choinski says:

    I once purchased a closet shelving system from them. As the project went on we had to improvise a few changes. In the ended up purchasing about 30% too many parts and shelves because of the changes. But because the parts we ended up using had so many defects (mostly screws that ended up too short or ill-fitting) we ended up cannibaizing the remaining set. I’m amazed the thing has lasted two years.

  6. newlywed says:

    that sux – next time, just do an exchange, and then take the unopened box back the next day!

  7. ironchef says:

    he could have returned the single defective part for the exchange. They did that for me. Instead of lugging the Billy bookcase back, I told them one of the shelves had an unscrewed hole.

    It’s amazing what a phone call will clear up before you try to bring anything back. All I did was to bring back a single plank and the receipt.

  8. madanthony says:

    He was offered an exchange for a non-defective item. He declined it because he didn’t like the item – he would have returned it even if it hadn’t been defective. While a 30% restocking fee is high, it seems fair given the circumstances.

  9. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Like most stores, if you don’t return the item in “new and re-sellable” condition, they can deduct a restocking fee. But I think 30% is a little steep, especially for cheap-o Ikea furniture.

  10. EricaKane says:

    The guy changed his mind and decided he didn’t want it..the fact that it is defective is irrelevant.

  11. He should have just said it was solely defective, taken the exchange and then returned it unopened. You can’t do that at Best Buy because they open the packaging on the exchange, but IKEA can’t possibly expect someone take home a 100 pound bookshelf with the box opened and flapping around, right?

  12. DoctorVenkman says:

    I am not surprised. I worked at IKEA for 2 years, and this kind of thing happened daily when I was there. A huge amount of people left the store incredibly angry on a daily basis, even after talking to a manager.

    IKEA’s reputation is very important to them. I would email them through their website, and maybe even tell them you posted your experience on this website. I hope it helps.

  13. CarlR says:

    I think this situation does in fact justify the application of a restocking fee.

    The key here is if IKEA adequately disclosed the restocking fee when the product was purchased. If they didn’t disclose it at the time of sale then they are SOL.

  14. @MonkeyMonk: Roger that! If it’s defective, say it’s defective and you wasted an entire day trying to put it together and you don’t WANT the damn piece anymore, the quality is bad, too hard to assemble, whatever. No, no exchange, but could I get the full $200 to find something else in your store? Don’t say that it didn’t fit… they’ll just assume you changed your mind, got to fondle their merchandise for 24 hours, and return it for a full wallet again. Makes you feel dirty, like stealin from a hooker. It sucks, but suck it up and make a wiser choice the next time you jump into remodeling.

  15. Hanke says:

    If the policy is not in writing, I believe in NY at least, you are entitled to a full refund.

  16. Copper says:

    If I had been the manager, I would’ve charged the customer a restocking fee if he told me he was returning the defective one (instead of exchanging) because it’s too big. The defect is no longer relevant because he no longer want the product. If he’d said he just wanted to return it because it was too much work to try putting another one together, I would’ve waived the fee.

    In any case, he should’ve accepted the exchange and returned that one the next day without a restocking fee.

  17. bobpence says:

    Too many reasons spoil a return, some customer service staff will latch on to any reason to deny full credit. I would have taken it back with the expressed attitude “this is defective and, no, I don’t want another possibly defective piece, I want my money back.”

  18. JeffMc says:

    Reading between the lines here doesn’t it sound like IKEA intends to rebox and resell that defective shelf? I don’t have a lot of respect for IKEA’s furniture to begin with but if they’re charging this guy 60 bucks so that they can sell a known defective unit to the next person that’s pretty low.

  19. wolfjoat says:

    Could someone explain to me why it’s okay to charge a restocking fee on something that you’re not going to restock. The general consensus is that while the fee seems high, it was okay for them to charge it because he didn’t want the exchange. However if the equipment is defective to begin with why would they turn around and resell it to some other poor schmuck as an open box item?

  20. Don’t have IKEA’s in FL. Went to one on business south of Seattle. Got lost. Very afraid of IKEA.

  21. loganmo says:

    “No, sorry, you said spite-so…”

  22. ThomFabian says:

    “While it FIT, it didn’t look right to us, so we decided we wanted to get our money back.”

    You certainly have the right to what you purchased, which is a non-defective shelving unit. They can make you whole with a replacement bookshelf. However, you yourself said the reason you decided to return it entirely was that you decided you didn’t want it, not that it was defective.

  23. ThomFabian says:

    @wolfjoat:
    At least in the Houston store, the item will be put together and sold in the As-Is clearance section, or the parts will be inspected and the ones which are good will be used as exchange parts.

  24. SOhp101 says:

    Actually their return policy DOES say that their ‘worry free guarantee’ only applies to non-assembled furniture. I’ve come to realize this is common practice in the retail industry now–the only company I know with hassle free exchanges/refunds are luxury high end retailers (saks, neiman marcus) or Costco. Sam’s Club has a decent one also but returns seem to be a PITA last time I tried.

    Perhaps this would be not so ethical but why not just exchange it, hold onto it for a few days, and then return the unused furniture? I guess it’s too late now though.

  25. highmodulus says:

    Open box returns are getting harder across the board. I agree with the other posters in the the “defective” claim is a bit of a red herring, and that the real issue is the open box return/restocking fee. 30% does seem a bit stiff.

    Does Ikea have a good reputation otherwise? I do not have one close to me, and heartily dislike build it yourself furniture as a concept.

    Heard they had tasty meatballs though. . .

  26. BStu says:

    First off, we’re assuming that the person in question was right and the product was defective. When examining it for restocking, IKEA may well discover that its perfectly fine and he was assembling it wrong. How often have each of us cursed a “defective” product only to later realize we were screwing up. Its the price of do-it-yourself furniture.

    Aside from that, I’m still not inclined to be that sympathetic here. For all we know, replacing a single defective part might be relatively easy for IKEA. But because this customer didn’t even full disassemble the item or even put it back in its box, there will be extra work involved in swapping that out. Heck, there would be extra work just preparing it to be returned to whereever IKEA sends defective merch if that’s what they do. I’m sorry, but the customer was pissed off and acted accordingly. Whether he had a right to be pissed off doesn’t reflect on his right to act accordingly. If merchandise is defective, you go back for an exchange. You don’t just dump half-constructed, unboxed parts on a counter and demand your money back. That doesn’t quite sit well with me. I wouldn’t have been upset if they cut him a break, but I’m also not upset that they didn’t.

  27. Jubilance22 says:

    @opinionismine:
    Actually there are Ikea stores in Orlando and Sunrise, and I believe they are opening one in Tampa as well.

    If its not in writing and they aren’t actually boxing it back up and selling it again, then there shouldn’t have been a restocking fee.

  28. smallestmills says:

    @wolfjoat:

    They’re charging a restocking fee because he didn’t exchange it, he returned it. They’re out the original money for the piece plus they can’t sell it at full price, they have to take a hit. They can still sell the item “as is” to some schmuck that is willing to try and repair it.

  29. Asvetic says:

    @Copper: You fail sir. What’s it matter if the item is to big/small or to difficult/easy to assemble, in the end they are both returned.

    Anyway, I’m surprised that Drew took they’re argument for a restocking fee policy at face value, instead of asking for written proof of it’s existence.

  30. davere says:

    @opinionismine: Miami and Orlando have IKEAs. I think one may be opening in Tampa as well but I’m not sure about that.

  31. officeboy says:

    Hey, is there a change he’s just confused? Ikea.com has the “EXPEDIT” listed for $140.

    [www.ikea.com]

    Maybe he’s just assuming some sort of restocking fee and staff was just confused about why he wanted more back then he paid?

  32. I don’t think there is much that you can do now since you accecpted the 140, but in the future, you could have jsut left the item there, and processed a chargeback. this happened to me once at a computer store I worked at when a customer decided he did not wat the PC, he simply left it in front of our door and called the CC company. in that instance the only reason we were able to charge the restocking fee was because it was printed on the CC reciept, within 1″ of the signature line. or at least so stated the lady from the bank who was process the issue. like i said, i don’t think there is much that you could about it since you accecpted their 140, but for future reference (at least as far as the CC company is concerned) posession is all that matters. does the store have the item? then it was returned. store doesn’t accecpt returns? not the CC company’s problem.

  33. officeboy says:

    hmm yeah so never mind. goggling for things on ikea.com maybe not lead to a clear understanding of all available options. [www.ikea.com]

  34. joshthephenom says:

    @Asvetic: You fail for poor grammar, sir.

  35. mikepimpollo says:

    I side with the customer here. If the item is defective IKEA should not charge a restocking fee, period. The should eat the fee for producing a defective item. I put myself in the position of the customer and imagine that if the item was not defective to begin with, he probably would have kept the bookcase even if it didn’t fit perfectly. Ikea had the chance to verify the customer’s claim that the item was defective, but they didn’t, the did not assemble the piece as he requested to verify his claim. In addition, they didn’t seem to post, clearly, their restocking fee policy for defective items.

  36. iwantansi says:

    He could have just exchanged it. Gotten the new one, brought it back a day later NIB and get a full refund

  37. RINO-Marty says:

    I’m afraid I’ll have to pull the lever for IKEA on this one. He didn’t exchange it for a non-faulty unit, he returned it because he decided he didn’t want it because it was too big. I think the restocking fee was appropriate, and I think the headline is inappropriate.

  38. Valhawk says:

    People who are saying the restocking fee is appropriate are missing the point. The item is defective, it shouldn’t need to be restocked. Either way they would have had to open the package to verify it was defective and replace the defective piece. So why should he have to pay 30% for Ikea to do something it would have to do even if he reboxed it.

    The question he should have asked when they asked him to pay the restocking fee is, “Your going to sell this defective piece of merchandise to another person? Is that ethical?”

  39. TPS Reporter says:

    I would say that once it was found defective by him, he probably changed his mind about wanting it anyway. I know it says he thought it was too big for the space, but if it hadn’t been defective he probably would have either a. kept it or b. returned it and took the restock fee hit and kept quiet. It’s not like they could re-sell it as it was defective. And I doubt he could have just gotten them to replace the defective piece as most items like that the store doesn’t keep extra pieces in stock, unless it is specifically made by Ikea. I bought something at a Sauder store once and it was missing the little plastic pieces that snap into place to take the threads on the screw. I called them and drove over there and they gave me a big bag full of them. But I would have just kept my mouth shut about not wanting it, got another one and returned it the next day.

  40. Parting says:

    @MonkeyMonk: 30% of item value as restocking fee??? It’s not disclosed anywhere in store. That’s ripoff, whatever was your reason in the first place.

    Hey Worst Buy charges only 15%!

  41. Parting says:

    @BStu: I’ve had problems with Ikea before. Crooked doors, missing set of bolts. In every case Ikea, exchanged/gave me missing parts. So cheap furniture comes at a price of your own time and a lot of cussing when you understand that you’ve got another defective piece, that you’ll have to exchange AGAIN.

  42. ThomFabian says:

    @MrBill38:
    “I doubt he could have just gotten them to replace the defective piece”

    This is actually exactly what they would’ve done. Bring the defective piece in and they’d switch it out.

  43. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Wow, 30%? That’s probably the dead cost of each item.

  44. milk says:

    i bought a dining table and four chairs from target. all the chair seats were labeled “front” at what was actually the back. i was almost at the point of giving up when i realized it. :(

  45. rellog says:

    For those saying the defect is irrelevant, you’re 1000% incorrect. The purpose of the “restocking fee” is to recoup the loss of an opened item, that they now cannot sell as new.
    In this case, no matter whether the OP accepted the exchange or not, the item was DEFECTIVE and the store would incur the loss either way.

    The item was broken, the dissatisfaction with the placement was secondary. The defect trumps the decision not to simply exchange…

  46. chrisjames says:

    @Valhawk: “Restocking fee” is a bit misleading. It’s really a you’re-costing-us-money-by-buying-and-returning -fee, or you-just-wanted-to-rent-this-didn’t-you fee.

    Anyway, fee fairness aside, I don’t see how this guy thinks he can dodge the fee? The fact that the one he bought is defective doesn’t negate the return fee, it only activates the exchange service. From the store’s perspective, should he return it, he is simultaneously receiving a replacement item and returning the replacement, which activates the restocking fee. If you buy from them, then decide to return it, you pay the restocking fee as per your agreement with the store. There’s nothing unfair about that. You’re not sure you want it, then don’t buy it in the first place when there’s a restocking fee. Practice restraint.

    Of course, the fee itself is unfair, and it would be best to try customer service or an EECB to get it refunded.

  47. Asvetic says:

    @joshthephenom: True, that was horrendously poor on my part. I’ll be more thorough before submitting next time.

  48. Invisobel says:

    @opinionismine: One in Orlando now and building one in Sarasota. DUM DUM DUUUUUUUUUUUHHHH!!!

  49. rellog says:

    @BStu: You know absolutely nothing of retail, do you?

    Some background on my experience…
    I assembled RTA furniture back in college. I did it for over 5 years. I was pretty danged good at it too. Since I was paid by the piece, the faster the better. I could do a full on wall unit in less than 30 minutes and get $30 for it.
    I also have worked in several retail environments as stock, sales and security. I am well versed in retail.

    Stores RARELY (if ever) return defect products to the manufacturer (other than high end stuff.) In this case, RTA furniture may sit and wait on a piece to arrive, or they will be told to simply trash it (more common.)

    Also… IKEA, doesn’t deal with other vendors. They carry their own stuff, they simply place the stuff in the “AS IS” area and wait for somone to buy it…

  50. rellog says:

    @chrisjames: Again… the store sustains NO LOSS. So they are then made “better” than they should have been. They would have had the loss no matter what, since the item IS DEFECTIVE!!!!
    Also, there is NO ADVERTISED restocking fee listed (according to this article) so how was the OP to know there would be a 30% fee?

    Finally, there is no general restocking fee. This charge was due only to the condition of the return, (i.e. out of the box, partially assembled) not because all returned furniture gets hit with a fee…

  51. annab says:

    @officeboy: Look closer. There are several different sizes of Expedit pieces and (yet another joy of Ikea) some colors are more expensive than others. I bought the piece in your photo but in a different color for $150.

  52. FLConsumer says:

    @opinionismine: Don’t have IKEAs in Florida? Which rock are you living under? There’s one in Sunrise, FL and one in Orlando, FL. There’s also one currently under construction in Tampa, FL.

  53. Eilonwynn says:

    Having done tons of ikea stuff over the years (one five minutes away from my work), I’ve only ever once had a problem with their furniture, and even that was resolved. I’ve never ever EVER heard of ANYONE paying a restocking fee. Sounds more like an asshole tax.

  54. ironchef says:

    My understanding is that all assembled or restocked furniture goes straight to the AS-IS room for liquidation.

    The 30% is the typical markdown they are forced to take.

    Nobody wins really.

  55. Cliff_Donner says:

    The return policy as stated on the Ikea website does not reference a restocking fee.

    It does say that the unused item is to be returned “in its original packaging.”

    Link to return policy page:
    [www.ikea.com]

  56. imcoffeegirl says:

    Just a tip…if you buy an Ikea product that needs assembly I’d recommend having a large meal beforehand and a 48 hour window of time to assemble it…
    My experience with any product from them is it either has extra parts or is missing something!

  57. Lambasted says:

    I see this from both sides and understand why IKEA would charge the restocking fee in this case. But if the policy is not clearly stated where a consumer can see it at the time of purchase then IKEA was wrong.

    I’ve put together furniture where either parts were missing or defective. Most items come with a customer service number to call to request replacement parts. It’s easier than lugging the item back to the store or shipping it back if ordered online.

    Customer service is very helpful with newly purchased furniture with defects. I purchased a $800 dining table for my parents that was delivered scraped on top. The scrape could be covered with a placemat but a brand new table shouldn’t have any defects so I contacted the company. Not only did the company deliver a new table, but didn’t bother to pick up the damaged one. The freight company said they weren’t instructed to retrieve the damaged table and did not want to be responsible for it. (I suspect it was more cost effective for the furniture company to write off the damaged table than to pay the freight charge to have it shipped back to them in CA from VA.)

    Since my parents ended up with two dining tables, they didn’t even bother having the deliverymen set up the replacement table. It was easier to just leave it boxed to store in the garage. As for the damaged table, they covered the scrape with a placemat and went on about their business.

  58. luckybob343 says:

    We have two Expedit pieces in our home. A 5×5 bookshelf against the wall which we actually use for books and a 2×4 bookshelf which we’ve placed on its side and use for an entertainment center.

    In removing both from their boxes, it is clear that no defective pieces can be included, as they destroy the flat-packed shape. I’m almost sure about what he did that he now thinks it’s “defective”.

    It’s likely not defective. More than likely, he’s clumsy and is lashing out at Ikea because “it CAN’T possibly be HIS fault”. Understandable, I do the same thing sometimes.

    That IKEA charged him 30% to restock it is fair, since he probably destroyed any value the item may have in the clumsy construction.

  59. How do you think IKEA maintains their low, low prices? Certainly it isn’t just by clever tax avoidance.

    Aside from the merits of the restocking fee (which doesn’t sound justifiable if it’s not visibly in writing somewhere) I’m suddenly very confused by “If you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, simply return the unused item in its original packaging.”

    How can you be unsatisfied with something you’ve never used? What, something like “I just, really didn’t like the look of the box in my garage. It didn’t fit in with the decor.”

  60. StevieD says:

    The claims of “defective” are becoming all too common by consumers as a means to avoid restocking fees and the manufacturers and stores are figuring it out.

    I got some Sauder furniture a while back. The instructions included a letter stating to call Sauder if I found shortages, defects etc…. no returns to the store for defects.

    My Dad just bought a shelf unit (was an off brand cheap crap). Similar letter. Well one of the shelves was drilled goofy. Called the company and a replacement shelf was UPS’d out to fix the situation.

    Restocking fees seem appropriate even when claiming “defective”.

  61. robotprom says:

    @opinionismine:
    say what? There’s an Ikea in Orlando and Miami.

  62. rellog says:

    @luckybob343: Isn’t just lovely that you’re able to see through the internet and see that his furniture was not defective… holes may have been drilled wrong, how can you say so definitively that the OP is wrong? Here’s the answer… YOU CAN’T! God these blame the OP trolls are so obnoxious…

    Sooooo…… give it a rest troll, since no one has ANY evidence to the contrary, then we cannot assume that the OP is at fault. Holes may have been drilled wrong for all you know.

  63. Lets see I don’t live in Orlando or Miami nor do I see a reason to drive to either of these cities to buy cheap particle board and tin-can furniture.

  64. hills says:

    30% restocking fee is only fair if the store tells you about it before you purchase – so whether people think it’s fair or not because he actually decided it didn’t fit doesn’t matter – ikea didn’t make him aware of their fee & that needs to be disclosed.

  65. mariospants says:

    DANG. Consumerist jumps the gun again? I too agree that the consumer here should have taken the exchange. Regardless of whether or not the product was defective, he opened the box, played with the product and tried to return it for a full refund.

    I believe that if he looked at the BACK of his RECEIPT he’d see the restocking fee and other return policies printed in blue ink. Caveat emptor.

  66. Black Bellamy says:

    No, not caveat emptor.

    Try more like unfair trade practices. Damn, so far not one lawyer above?

    To the OP:

    Send a registered letter to the store and cc the corporate office. Tell them you are rejecting the item because of a substantial defect. Tell them this defect cancels the sale and you demand your entire payment back in full. Describe the item, list the defect, tell them you notified the store in person in a timely manner that the item was defective and they would not return the entire payment. Tell them this letter constitutes a formal request for your payment back in full.

    Bonus points if you can actually look up the relevant statute from your particular state. Look for Unfair Trade Practices Act, or search the AG site for consumer law and defective items.

    Tell them that you intend to get your money back, and you will be asking for attorneys fees.

    To recap: When you buy something you are entering into a contract. Contracts are bound by law, not by store policies, managerial whims, or surly clerks. When contracts are litigated, they are frequently held to the ‘reasonable man’ standard.

    A reasonable man expects his stuff to work. A reasonable man sometimes has to put things together in order to find out it’s defective. A reasonable man tears open packaging and plastic bags.

    I can hear the laughter in court already. But judge, he brought back the screws in a ziploc bag! A ZIPLOC!

  67. metaled says:

    “(I’d left the little wooden connection pegs installed)”

    Those are called Dowels, more precisely.. They are glue dowels. They are supposed to be glued in place on most furniture. But this is Ikea…The Rubic’s Cube of Furniture!

    I don’t think the guys who draw the diagrams for this furniture have ever been in the same room as the finished project (outsourced?). Usually there is a way for these pieces to go together, but they aren’t covered in the instructions or match the diagrams. That also don’t require a drillpress and duct-tape.
    You really should not have agreed to their return policy… You accepted it.. that’s the end. Personally I would have taken it back out to the parking lot, assembled it, Tell the manager if they can find someone to put the final piece on (as it’s supposed to be done), you would accept their 30% restocking fee.. Otherwise you were returning a defective product that “COULD NOT BE ASSEMBLED”, so their 30% restocking fee is null and void. They don’t accept it, Charge-Back and let them figure out how to pick up the piece! If Ikea can’t assemble Ikea’s Furniture, then it is not furniture and you are entitled to a refund!

  68. rellog says:

    Better yet, make a big sign that says “IKEA charges a 30% restocking fee for defective products” and walk through their parking lot…
    I’m guessing you’ll get the attention of someone willing to fork over that $60…

  69. I helped to put two sets of these shelves together for my niece and nephew. With one of them we were sure it was defective, the holes didn’t match up… after some frustration we figured out the top just needed to be spun around… we were matching up the wrong holes, it wasn’t about using the right tool at the right time.


    (… – I was not interested in using my time to repack it in the boxes) “

    That part irks me. If you had taken the time to repack the boxes you wouldn’t have been charged the restocking fee.

  70. madrigal says:

    @opinionismine: They opened one in Orlando.

  71. chrisjames says:

    @rellog: Of course the store sustains loss. They sustain loss for the people they need to pay to stock the item in the first place, to advertise and sell the item, to process the returns and exchanges for it, to repackage it (all items need repacking), to restock it, and to resell it–and likely exchange it again, knowing IKEA. They sustain loss for all the space and equipment that’s used in the process. What about insurance, compensation in case of injury, and employee theft? They intend to recoup that, to an extent, in the original sale. With a return, it’s all wasted money, plus the extra expense of doing it all over again. Returns cost stores money. In the past they’d eat the cost, but that’s changing.

    I don’t really take this guys word that the store doesn’t advertise a restocking fee. It may not be where the “heart-shaped red pillow” is. Not every piece of signage in a store has to include all store policy affecting the customers, nor is it the store’s fault if any customer misses any posted policy in the store because they don’t want to bother to read the labyrinthine rules on purchases (I certainly don’t). I can’t say if this store does or does not clearly advertise a restocking fee, but it’s not made any clearer by the article.

    The restocking fee is typically applied to all returns, defective or not. It’s a blanket rule on returns to, like I said, recoup general losses from the original sale. A lot of the places I’ve seen will waive it if the package hasn’t been opened, but some don’t. If he had a nice manager and, hopefully, was nice back, he might have had it waived as a courtesy, but looks like he got unlucky here.

    I still say this fee is ridiculous, even if it was posted clearly. No fee should be a percentage of the purchase price, that’s just BS, and he should make an attempt at a refund.

  72. Toof_75_75 says:

    I would have rebuilt the thing right there in the middle of the return department…Silly IKEA…

  73. vogelap says:

    It doesn’t matter that I didn’t want it. While I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it, customer service dictates that since they’ve got to take the *defective* item back anyway, they should go ahead and give me credit.

    I didn’t want to exchange the defective item for a new-in-box replacement, load that new one in my car, drive it around for a day (gas prices being what they are), drive it BACK to IKEA, and return the exchanged item. I don’t have the time or inclination for such shenanigans.

    In hind-sight, I probably should have done that (and not mentioned that we ended up not wanting it). I guess a $60 charge is “tuition” for the lesson that I learned — don’t be honest at IKEA.

    The larger issue is that their restocking/return policy is not apparent. Even the manager could not point it out in writing to me, and we were standing in the returns department with my receipt and all the printed signs around us!

  74. motojen says:

    30% seems a little steep to me. In any case the signage should make it quite clear from the start and it should be on the receipt as well. I’ve always liked Ikea but this reminds me too much of Target. How disappointing.

  75. luckybob343 says:

    @rellog

    Let’s think things through.

    - Mass produced furniture must, by nature, conform to specific guidelines
    - Flat-packed furniture must, by design, conform to a specific tolerance

    If the holes were drilled incorrectly, the product would appear defective from the outset, as it would have slid into the press incorrectly and there would be signs of distress. It isn’t as if there’s ONE guy walking around with an 18v Makita in his hands drilling all the holes of Ikea. If it was a miscalibration of the machines, we’d see more reports on this. If the piece was otherwise malformed, it would not have fit into the flat-pack box correctly.

    None of these apply. He did not notice any visible damage. There are no reports of massive Expedit flaws and there was no evidence that the box was out of shape or any other error when he opened the box.

    It is all but certain that this is a case of user error.

  76. metaled says:

    @luckybob343: It is all but certain that this is a case of user error.

    I agree 100% !!!! First he returned it with the glue dowels still installed (little wooden things). They would have fallen out unless they were glued in place just moving the pieces, With them glued in place they could not possibly fit back in the box.
    Also since these pieces are mass produced, they are drilled on a custom jig for each piece(automated?) The jigs will only hold one size of board so that it can be drilled.(unskilled monkeys?) If the piece was under/oversized it wouldn’t fit the jig, couldn’t be drilled, wouldn’t fit in the packaging, wouldn’t have made it to the store.
    But I still blame the instructions for not defineing the top/bottom/front and back of each and every piece. A lot of assemblies can be confusing, following their directions (especially for people that don’t work on furniture.) Be sure to do a DRY FIT assembly before you glue things up to make sure you know how it goes together! Otherwise you will need a drill, duct-tape (NOT) and more wood to assemble it correctly.
    I bet 99% of their defective returns are from glue-ups before the customer knew how the parts actually are supposed to go together (manuals fault, no mention of DRY ASSEMBLY!) That’s why they offer replacement parts.

  77. vogelap says:

    There was *no* glue involved with the “little wooden things”. None.

    I “read” (in quotes because it’s all pictures) the instructions carefully before beginning (EACH!) assembly (of two), even going so far as to use post-it notes on various pieces indicating the top, front, and back.

    When I noticed trouble, I asked my wife to look over the materials to see if I was making a mistake. Between the two of us and SEVERAL reads of the instructions, I am certain we were doing things correctly.

    The RETURN POLICY, as stated on the back of my receipt:

    “If you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, simply return the unused item in its original packaging within 90 days unless noted below. A receipt is required for all returns and exchanges.

    Mattresses: “Love it or Exchange it”. You may exchange your matress once within 90 days if you don’t love it. Return your mattress with your receipt to the store and select your new mattress. We are unable to exchange your mattress if your merchandise is found to be dirty, stained, damaged, or abused.

    Sorry, we cannot accept returns on used bedding (linens, quilts, pillows, and mattress pads), cut fabric, products from the As-Is department, and custom countertops.”

  78. themossie says:

    All of this sounds quite in line with my past IKEA experience. I like their furniture, but not their customer service when it comes to anything involving money. They’re great for free replacement parts, though.

    That said, IKEA’s return policy doesn’t say anything about restocking fees. [www.ikea.com]

    @metaled:
    The dowels on the IKEA Expedit (and all other IKEA furniture I’ve assembled, which is a houseload-full) do not need to be glued.

    @luckybob343:
    There certainly are a noticeable amount of defects in IKEA furniture. I have returned several pieces (not the whole furniture) due to undrilled or misdrilled holes.)

  79. fjordtjie says:

    @officeboy: i’ve got the expedit. it comes in 2 sizes. the 4×4 model is smaller and less expensive. the 5×5 is larger, and is the $200 model.

    it is HUGE, so i understand not realizing how it will look until it’s assembled. at the store, it’s in a warehouse ceiling’d room, but having a 6x6x1′ bookcase in a (even large) room with 7 or 8′ foot ceilings can be daunting. i love mine, but i also have a huge great room with vaulted ceilings. i can’t imagine it assembled in a regular room!

    @luckybob343: i once bought a smaller bookcase with misdrilled holes for the shelf supports, but just drilled some new ones in the correct location (they had been ~1 inch higher on the other side of the bookcase). May have been drilled, but not all 8 at one time…