IKEA Ships Broken Merchandise, Won't Send Replacement Parts

Ikea refused to ship Oz the parts he needed to complete his $2,200 order. The order was placed in early September; when it finally arrived in late October, so many parts were missing that several items could not be assembled.

I hired a guy off of craigslist to help me assemble all of the furniture, given the fact that we had 3 rooms to assemble. This turns into a 2 day ordeal, with a ton of missing parts and us having to document it to call Ikea later. We get to several items such as the desk, which is missing so many parts it’s un-assemblable.

We have 8 foot tall cabinets that are a bit rickety and missing hinges, 3 solid bookshelves and a number of missing parts for the desk, kitchen table and sofa.

We all know Ikea is from Sweden, where everyone has healthcare and hex-bolts grow on trees. Oz didn’t have hex-bolt trees in his backyard, so he asked Ikea to ship the missing parts. Small things, like the legs for his desk.

December brought several parts, but still no legs for the desk. Oz’s girlfriend also noticed that the curved desk, which sat unassembled, was not the right-handed desk they had ordered, but a left-handed desk.

Oz again called Ikea, and was told the correct tabletop would be shipped, along with the legs. January rolled around and Oz still hadn’t received the tabletop or the legs. He called again, and was told that because more than 30 days had elapsed since the original order was placed, Ikea can’t help.

Oz’s email, below.

My girlfriend and I placed a sizable order for Ikea furniture in Early September 2005. I’m not sure if you’re aware of how this works, but typically you spend 30 – 50 minutes on the phone with a somewhat lingustically challenged sales representative to file your order. After selecting a desk, 3 large clothes cabinets, a sofa, kitchen tables, chairs, bookshelves, organizational stuff and some kitchen items we are given a total of ~$1800 with $400 in shipping. Satisfied, we are told that a delivery company will call us within 2 – 3 weeks to schedule. I ask for a fax of the order which doesn’t come through. Salesperson: Belinda

The next day I call again for a fax of the order – which I am assured will be sent in 15 – 30 minutes of my call. When I arrive home – it’s not there. I assume they’re a bit backwards and chalk it up to corporate ineptitude.

Two weeks later we call to check on the order, since we haven’t heard from the delivery company.. Ikea cannot find the order and we are passed through a series of beligerent CSRs who actually yell at me and tell me I’m lying (about the order).We finally get to a supervisor after 15 minutes on the phone, at which point my girlfriend is in tears (and still without furniture).

The supervisor “finds” the original order but says it cannot be reprocessed and has to be resubmitted. We spend another 25 minutes on the phone going through each piece, continually asking to confirm if we need hinge kits, assembly screws, etc. At several points we are reassured that their “system” adds the required assembly hardware and adds it to the cost. After completing the order and waiting on the phone for a total call time of 65 minutes we get a credit card confirmation and order number. “All of your pieces are in stock except for the kitchen chairs” we’re then told – which requires a seperate order number and additional wait. We figure all is well.

Mind you – delivery time is 2 – 3 weeks from the date of order. 3 weeks later we get a call and the furniture is delivered in late October.

I hired a guy off of craigslist to help me assemble all of the furniture, given the fact that we had 3 rooms to assemble. This turns into a 2 day ordeal, with a ton of missing parts and us having to document it to call Ikea later. We get to several items such as the desk, which is missing so many parts it’s un-assemblable.

We have 8 foot tall cabinets that are a bit rickety and missing hinges, 3 solid bookshelves and a number of missing parts for the desk, kitchen table and sofa.

I call Ikea and lodge a complaint. I’m transferred to aftersales and they ensure me all parts will be fedexed within a week. A shipment arrives in mid-november, however I’m still missing assembly parts for the desk and kitchen table.

I call again the third week in November and Ikea assures us that the legs and other parts will be shipped. A curt apology is given.

Early December: the parts arrive – but I am still missing the proper number of legs required to assemble the desk. My girlfriend also notices (she wasn’t party to assembly anytime prior) that the desk curves the wrong way – basically Ikea shipped us a left hand desk when we needed a right hand desk.

I call Ikea the following Monday ( I should mention that aftersales is only open Monday through Friday) and spoke with a man in aftersales who said that the proper tabletop would be shipped out in 2 – 3 weeks. He also re-entered the legs as missing and noted that the legs would be shipped UPS and the tabletop would come freight ( 2 – 3 weeks).

Jan 5, 2007: I called Ikea to inquire about the tabletop. I am transferred to 2 departments (35 minute hold) before being transferred to Adrian in aftersales. I explain my situation to her and she cannot find any record of the re-order. I am given a lecture on Ikeas 30 day response policy on damaged and missing parts. I inform her that the table wasn’t shipped and get a second lecture where I’m yelled at about their policies and procedures. Unable to get a word in edgewise, I ask if the legs were shipped. Adrian confirms a UPS shipment for which I ask for a signature confirmation. (we never recieved the legs) She starts to belittle me and again yells. I tell her to calm down and ask for a supervisor. She responds that she “is” a supervisor, so I ask for an escalation point. She responds that I have to write a letter to corporate and puts me on hold to get the address.

I am on hold for 10 minutes, during which I google Ikea; find the CEO’s information in Sweden; locate their customer relations address and sit and wait…

Adrian comes back apologizing for the wait and says that the offices have just “moved” and gives me the same addresss I found online.

I ask if there is an ombudsman in the US, to which Adrian responds “what’s his name”. I explain what an ombudsman is and she says no – not here….

I ask again about the legs and get a loud rhetoric on what ikeas policies are, she also informs me that since it’s past 30 days from the original order they will not exchange the tabletop. I tell her to calm down, which gets her into a tirade – unable to ask anything I say can you give me the UPS number.. she continues to evade, yells at me and hangs up.

I now have to write a letter and try and reverse charges with my credit card company,


Oz should have noticed the incorrect tabletop much sooner, but that doesn’t excuse Ikea’s abysmal service. Ikea promised to ship the proper tabletop and legs. There’s no reason they shouldn’t do exactly that. What else should Oz do? Share your ideas in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER


Edit Your Comment

  1. nweaver says:

    Only deal with physical IKEAs, their return policy is really good in store, and they can’t argue as much about missing parts etc.

    I’d NEVER mail-order flat-pack stuf, only get it in a store, no matter the source.

  2. misskaz says:

    They probably would have noticed it was the wrong desktop right away had they been able to assemble it.

  3. facted says:

    This is a pretty unfortunate story. Where do you live? Is it possible to go to an IKEA store near you with all your documentation and ask to speak to someone? I always tend to think speaking to people in person gets more accomplished than over a phone. If you’re not able to do to that, I’d escalate by writing to IKEA’s consumer relations address with a CC to the CEO. Good luck with this mess.

  4. mopar_man says:

    So who can get the direct line to Anders Dahlvig?

  5. Blue says:

    My experience has always been good with Ikea, specifically on how competently the products are packaged.

    I have bought and assembled about 8 or 9 pieces and have been short parts only once(1 fastener).

    However you shouldnt be expected to come into a store to get missing parts if you made a catalog purchase.

  6. ironchef says:

    ikea keeps free parts at the stores near the customer service centers. You just need visit a store to pick up all the parts you need.

    The more drastic solution is to reorder the product, take parts out and return it.

    Personally, I never had problems with Ikea.

  7. timmus says:

    Holy cow. Just… wow.

    That is horrible customer service.

  8. philbert says:

    I’ve been dealing with Ikea about seven years and have never had a problem or been treated discourteously. I even broke a part once while assembling a chair and Ikea exchanged it anyway. I gotta believe your dealings with Ikea were the exception and not the norm. Perhaps it was the language barrier or your tone dealing with the people on the phone. I worked in customer service for almost thirty years and people got from me exactly what they gave me. Phrases like “I assume they’re a bit backwards and chalk it up to corporate ineptitude” make me think you may not have been the easiest person to deal with.

    Ikea still has my vote as one of the best companies to deal with!

  9. not_seth_brundle says:

    @ironchef: Not everyone lives within a convenient distance from an IKEA.

  10. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I also have had good experiences with Ikea. No problems returning or exchanging broken or defective parts.

    Maybe Oz should try calling the “nearest” store to him. Perhaps they can workaround the corporate red tape and get the parts to him?

  11. chrispa says:

    I had the exact same experience when ordering from Ikea. I ordered several pieces (a desk, some bookshelves, etc.) in september and finally received the last shipment (I believe there were 4 in total) in february. I likely could have gone to a “local” ikea except that the nearest one is an hour drive away and I don’t have a car and, after having spent money on delivery, didn’t think that I should have to rent a car too.

    Each time we phoned Ikea were were told that first we hadn’t ordered or at least they had no record of any communication with us, secondly that it was probably our fault anyways for not clearly identifying what was missing, and finally, that we would receive our order within 2 weeks. For whatever reason, even though I live in Toronto and there are Ikeas in Toronto, each time we ordered the shipment was sent from Edmonton. For Americans, this is a really, really long ways away. After two weeks we would phone again and go through the same process (yes we ordered this stuff, no I am not making this up, this is who we talked to last time, etc.) When the last piece we received was water damaged we gave up and just counted our blessings that we had at least and at last gotten everything.

    Generally, we at least found the people we talked to friendly if entirely incompetent. We wrote a letter to ikea explaining how ridiculous the situation was and never heard anything back.

  12. dbeahn says:

    There was a time that Ikea was one of the best companies around to deal with, but over the past few years I’ve heard enough complaints from friends and family about trying to order from them if you don’t have an Ikea store in your city that I won’t deal with them via mail order. Missing parts, 2 and 3 months to get parts replaced, language challenged sales and service people, etc. etc. etc.

    It almost seems like companies don’t believe or don’t care that consumers will vote with their wallets.

    Reminds me of the old joke: “If we don’t take care of the customer, maybe they’ll stop bugging us…”

  13. zl9600 says:

    Maybe there’s a good samaritan out in the Consumerist world who lives near an IKEA and can get the parts you need? I wish we had one in Denver but to date there is no giant blue building stocked with meatballs and melamine. As I once looked to order something online, the shipping costs way outstripped the cost of the item. Their site being so horrible, I can only guess you’re not kidding about your bad experience here.

    So no, not everyone lives near an IKEA, but I bet someone on here (how about the IKEA fanboys that are writing above?) would offer to help so you won’t berate their favorite company any longer.

    As for the wrong-way tabletop, if you’ve had such a bad experience, take some revenge. Order the correct one. Then unpack the correct one, then pack up the old one in the box and return it to IKEA. I know, not the most savory way to do it (and you could be risking the box being unable to fit the tabletop), but they clearly f*cked up here. I say, play their own game (deny, lie, cheat).

    Good luck.

  14. waffffffle says:

    I’ve had bad luck with Ikea in the past. About 18 months ago I bought a desk, chest of drawers, armoire and nightstand. I purchased the items in store and paid for delivery, which Ikea outsources. I had to take a day off of work to be home to receive the furniture. When it arrived the delivery men told me that one of the peices was damaged (the armoire frame) and that I would need to call to have that re-sent.

    Needless to say I was not satisfied since I was expecting to only have to take off one day of work to receive the furniture and I was planning on assembling everything the first day. When I called the Ikea number they were not very helpful. They told me that since the delivery company was not Ikea I would have to wait at least a day before they could even verify that they owe me the part. I was told I would have better luck in the store so I drove out to the store (an hour away). At the store they told me the same story that it would take another 2 days minimum to get this sorted out, which would require me to schedule another delivery and take another day off of work.

    It took three weeks to finally get the part. In the interim the armoire sat in peices in my room. Because of the issues I was able to complain in the store a few weeks later and get a $30 credit. I reqested a $70 credit since that was the cost of the part but I didn’t want to pursue that any further. I took my $30 upstairs and bought a coffee table. I got home and assembled the table to find a hole punched in the side of it. I had enough of Ikea and I decided to keep the coffee table damaged and forget about it.

    Overall I am very disappointed with Ikea customer service and I will avoid purchasing from them again.

  15. zolielo says:

    @ironchef: Also if one is honest the “free parts bin” can be used for random part purchases at a few dollars a pound. For example stainless steel wall hooks or wood screws can be had from the bin cheaper than from a home building store. (More of a lifehacker tip…)

  16. Jabes says:

    My one experience having to return something to Ikea came about when I bought a number of things in-store. While assembling everything, I discovered that a cabinet door had a hole punched in it.

    I had no problem getting them to send me a new door, picking up the old door at the same time, but during this process I noticed that the original box looked as though it had been opened and closed once before, leading me to believe that the defective product had been returned before and put back on the shelf for resale.

    So I wrote “broken door” all over the box before I put it out to be picked up so that they would at least have to make an effort if they planned on putting the broken door out for sale again! And now I look at the boxes more carefully when I shop there.

  17. spryte says:

    It always amazes me to read these stories where someone is told by a CSR that they “can’t find” their order, or something along those lines. WTF?? Right there that would tell me a lot about the horrific state of this person’s company, because either one person was pretending to take the order (and was probably playing Mario Kart DS instead or something) or another person is pretending to look for it…or just doesn’t even know what they’re doing, literally.

    I can’t remember the last time I did any kind of order over the phone, though, for the exact reason that people in customer service usually suck.

  18. Teapotfox says:

    I have had similar issues with Ikea mail order… I ordered a desk, hutch and bookcase for my office at work, putting the charges on our corporate AMEX account. I processed the order via email and was told that we would receive an email verification of the order shortly after it was placed. The email never arrived (although I know the address was typed in correctly), never got tangled in our spam filter, nothing. I had printed the ‘order completed’ confirmation screen just in case, so I filed that and waited for delivery in 2-3 weeks as instructed (just like Oz, I was told a local delivery company would phone to arrange the delivery).

    Three weeks came and went and I’m still limping along with craptacular office furniture, no Ikea delivery. I phone customer service and I am informed that my order was CANCELLED two days after I placed it, but they would be happy to place it again. I ask how that could be possible, since the charges ($600 or so) appeared as processed on our AMEX bill, and they couldn’t say. It took me over an hour on the phone with them (at one point, I was holding without anyone ever coming back on the line to tell me I hadn’t been forgotten for TWENTY MINUTES STRAIGHT), but they reordered everything and told me to expect the delivery company’s call in 2-3 weeks (again). They also promised I would definitely receive a confirmation email and made me spell my email address at least three times to two different people.

    No email. Three weeks later? No furniture. When I called Ikea this time, I was told that the furniture had already been delivered… I let them know it certainly hadn’t been delivered to OUR business, and perhaps they should check with the local delivery company. They simply gave me the name and number of the local delivery company, saying their records showed the furniture was in my possession. I call the delivery company and I’m told they do not have and have NEVER had a delivery pending for us in the past six months.

    I call Ikea again, and I’m informed that the order will be ‘shipping soon.’ The CSR I got this time could not explain why I was told the item had already been shipped.

    About a week later, the delivery company phones and the furniture is delivered. The hutch hardware kit is missing three pieces, which means one of the shelves is basically useless. I can’t even bear the idea of phoning Ikea again, so I simply look up the American corporate office address on the web and write a letter that documents the whole travesty, along with dates, times, CSR names and a copy of our AMEX bill showing the charges and the date they were applied. The ONLY thing I request is a reply–I state clearly that I am not seeking money and I am not even seeking the missing parts. ALL I want is for anyone at all to acknowledge that my letter was received and read. I leave all possible contact information–address, phone, email, fax.

    That was six months ago, and to date, I have received no response from Ikea.

    I live an hour and a half from the nearest store, but I will never, EVER deal with Ikea mail order again. I love their products and we would have happily spent thousands more dollars with them as we are redoing our offices… but this experience means we have had to take our business elsewhere.

  19. AcilletaM says:

    I bought two bookcases at Ikea once and one came with 2 top shelves (the ones with the cutouts for bolt locks) instead of the correct ones. I can’t put them side by side without taking a shelf out. My point being, what do expect for paying $10.

    Also, hex bolts actually grow on tall ornamental bushes that are often confused with trees. It’s an easy mistake.

  20. Matthew says:

    I echo other posters’ frustration with Ikea mail order. I had similarly irritating experiences on a much smaller scale.

    A storage unit I use in my workroom lost a tiny plastic connecting part when we moved. I emailed Ikea (with photos to indicate the unit I owned and the part that was missing) and asked if they could send me a replacement. I fully expected to pay an obnoxiously inflated price for it. I didn’t expect the CSR to tell me I’d have to come & git it. And, in fact, I wouldn’t even be making the three-hour round-trip to pick this stupid piece up — I’d be trekking out there just to SEE IF THEY HAD IT.

    This little plastic pin was a third the size of a Micro Machine. Shipping it would cost 39 cents. Lame!

    If you can pop in to one of their stores, do, but their mail-order service ranges from nonexistent to terrible.

  21. camas22 says:

    any place with worse quality than wal-mart is bound to have terrible customer service. it’s just not built into the pricing.

    and like any great corporation the real money goes to the ceo. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/200