EECB Cures Ikea Phone Loop, Induces Mass Customer Service

All reader Scott wanted to do was get his daughter a ‘Big Girl Bed’. After a nearly 6-hour trek to a nearly empty Ikea, Scott had to grab the name of the bed and attempt to pick it up himself at the ‘furniture pick-up’. However, when he arrived home, he was not happy to learn that it didn’t come with all the pieces he needed to build it. Stuck in a robot-phone loop, Scott turned to the tried-and-true EECB. See Scott’s letter, as well as Ikea’s response, inside.

Scott’s letter to Ikea


This weekend I drove 5.5 hours from Green Bay, WI to your Schaumburg, IL store to buy my 3 year old daughter her first big girl bed. We picked out the Tromsnes day bed and bought a princess canopy and a comforter and bedding and a stuffed tiger. Oh and a box of double chocolate crisps and two sodas. Aren’t I the PERFECT Ikea customer?

I brought the name of the bed to your info center, they ordered our bed and I was told to pick it up at furniture pick-up.

I picked it up, packed it up and drove back home. Tonight, I broke open the box to put my daughter’s new bed together only to discover I don’t have all the parts necessary to assemble it. Well, I should say, I have all the parts that were suppose to be in the box, but I need ANOTHER box of parts (Part number 85698810) in order for my daughter to have a sleepable bed.

Why wouldn’t your floor person tell me that? Why wouldn’t the guy at the info center tell me that? Why wouldn’t the girl at the pick up desk tell me that?

Tonight, I spent 45 minutes in a phone loop where I called the Schaumburg store and kept pressing the same series of 1, 3, 3, 2, 2 only to come back around to press 1, again.

So here I sit frustrated and I’m wondering if you have something I can tell my daughter as to why she can’t sleep in her big girl bed…

Do I really have to drive another 11 hours to get the bed I thought I bought on Sunday?

Your prompt response would be very much appreciated.

And Ikea’s response? Good, Great, not so good, and then Awesome:

The next day I got an email from CustRel saying they’d take care of me (Cool!). Then I got an email from the Schaumburg Ikea asking for more details so they could help (Yay!). Then I got an email from Ikea U.S. CustRel saying I was crap out of luck. That the pieces I was missing are an extra purchase and not available via phone orders. I would, in fact, have to drive back down to Chicago to buy the part (Booo!). THEN I got another email and phone call from the Schaumburg customer relations guy who took my receipt information and mailing address and he assured me that they’d be shipping out the parts via UPS (cautious Woot!). Today: The parts came!!

Another successful EECB, and a just response from Ikea. Glad we could help, Scott.


Edit Your Comment

  1. qcgallus says:

    I don’t know about the IKEA in IL, but the one here in Minneapolis tells you exactly what you need for the bed. I made the same mistake when I bought my bed from IKEA, but it was entirely my fault. I’m guessing that a lack of paying attention to the little hanging signs cost him most of this. I would not expect to get to the counter of a liquor store and have them tell me I need tequila for the margarita mix.

    Phone loop, however: inexcusable. The very incarnation of Purgatory!

    • Necroscope says:

      @qcgallus: the liquor store analogy does not work here. It is reasonable to assume a customer buying margarita mix knows he needs tequila and has some at home and only needs the mix. What are the chances that an individual has a speciallty set of parts made for a particular peice of furniture just lying around the house?

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @Necroscope: Because when you go to pick up your boxes after viewing them on the floor there are signs hanging above the boxes that say “you need this box too, located on this aisle, go get it”

        The furniture pickup people should’ve had it ready for him, I agree, however its totally the OP’s fault for not realizing what he needed for his furniture to begin with.

        And driving 11 hours for IKEA crap (their shipping rates are horrendous too)? Come on, I’m sure there was a bed store in his hometown?

  2. Murph1908 says:

    Ok, not blaming the consumer here. But I am puzzled.

    Green Bay to Schaumburg is a 200 mile drive. 400 miles round trip. There’s no furniture store with a cheap bed closer than that?

    I am thinking he was going to Chicago anyway, and the Ikea was just a stop on the trip. Kinda takes some of the fire from the story.

    Not that he isn’t correct, and it was sad the store employees didn’t inform him of the additional part. He had to make the purchase by telling them the item and the store rang it up. It wasn’t like a quick scan-and-pay-and-walk transaction.

    And ignorant that someone would at first tell him they can’t send him the part.

    • weakdome says:

      @Murph1908: My guess?
      1: kid’s bed = something you don’t hang on to very long, quality not that important vs. price
      2: huge, fun, showroom = something your kid will enjoy
      3: decent prices
      4: huge selection
      5: excuse to spend some fun time with your kid
      6: worth the trip.

      • juri squared says:

        @weakdome: Not to mention that Schaumburg is the shopping mecca of the region. I’m actually gonna be hauling my butt up there today (it’s about an hour away from me). Seriously – if there’s a store with local locations, there’s one in Schaumburg. IKEA is worth the trip if you can also take your kid to the LEGO store and other fun places.

      • Anonymous says:

        @weakdome: 7. Swedish meatballs!

    • HFC says:

      @Murph1908: How dare you question a member of the Ikea cult?! From all of the purchases he made at the store, it’s obvious he went specifically for Ikea.

      Gag, Ikea cult is barely a step above Mac cult.

    • calquist says:

      @Murph1908: Clearly you do not understand the awesomeness of Ikea.

      • Murph1908 says:

        I lived in Indiana most of my life. I have been to THAT Ikea….after a Cubs game when I was on the North Side already.

        I’ll admit, I must not understand the awesomeness.

        And like I said, I bet I could find a pretty cheap bed in Green Bay, and save myself 11 hours and a tank of gas.

        All I am saying is if there were other reasons to go to Chicago, it takes the distance issue out of the argument. This still leaves plenty to post on Consumerist about.

    • HaddenAcarnan says:

      @Murph1908: Dude, I live one town over from Schaumburg and there are BUSLOADS of people from the boonies who come for “shopping tours” of Woodfield and Ikea and all of the other outlets aroud the mall. It’s INSANE

  3. Spaceman Bill Leah needs a full-length puffy coat says:

    Why would pieces necessary to make the bed sleep-able be considered a separate purchase? I just looked up the bed on the website and it says it comes in two packages. Ikea U.S. CustRel, I am confused by your assyness.

    • qcgallus says:

      @Spaceman Bill Leah needs a full-length puffy coat: Because IKEA beds are customizable. My bed, for example, is 3 separate purchases: the frame, the mid bar, and the slats. You can get different slats for a different comfort level, and I assume all their beds larger than twin require the mid bar.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Spaceman Bill Leah needs a full-length puffy coat: Many Ikea pieces are like this. I was looking to buy a desk and would’ve had to purchase two seperate “flat-packs” to fully assemble my total desk.

      That’s just how Ikea works.

    • jeebussez says:

      @Spaceman Bill Leah needs a full-length puffy coat: IKEA Co-worker here. All beds use the same midbeam, which cuts down on manufacturing costs (same midbeam vs different ones for each bed). When you buy it online, they ship it together (since the guys at the central DC can gather everything) and then charge you an arm and a leg, but when it’s shipped to the store, it’s cheaper to ship the midbeams all in one gigantic truck and beds in several different truck and then have you gather the parts yourself. Packaging the midbeam and the bed in one package means a) they have to be put together at the DC and b) they have to come on the same truck, which usually means they can’t fit as much merchandise over the same amount of trucks. It’s a cost-saving technique that is very easy to gloss over.

  4. VA_White says:

    We have driven over 100 miles JUST to go to Ikea.

  5. plj says:

    I’d drive 100 miles out of the way not to go to one

    • acrobaticrabbit says:

      @plj: seconded. their stuff is way overpriced for what you get and with all their customer service problems of not including parts with items, or shipping couches with missing cushions, or shipping the wrong item altogether, it amazes me that people still pay top dollar for their shit.

      • CountryJustice says:

        @acrobaticrabbit: You’ve either redefined “top dollar” or you’re just trolling.

        I defy you to show me a place that either
        a) sells comparably fashionable furniture at a more competitive price, or
        b) sells more fashionable/durable furniture at a comparable price

      • Meltingemail says:

        @acrobaticrabbit: Seconded to CountryJustice. I got four chairs at Ikea a month ago and they were cheaper than somewhere like Target could offer, and they feel much more durable. Of the four, every single box had exactly the right number of parts. I also managed to find the PERFECT utility cart for an awkward 10″ space in my kitchen, which nearly reduced me to tears of joy in the middle of the “It’s our 780 square foot home!” display.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          @Meltingemail: I found a shelf in the exact same way.. its actually one of their table leg setups, but its an a-frame thing with a wide flat top, and its PERFECT for the space I wanted to fill.

    • Charmander says:

      @plj: Me too!

  6. CaffiendCA says:

    1/2 the furniture in my house is IKEA. They have bookcases that are easily built, virtually idiot proof, and function exceptionally well. They’re pretty good in the showroom at writing exaclty what you need for a particular build.

    Good on them for fixing this, bad on them for the stupid CS rep’s can’t ship response.

  7. yikz says:

    I had been to an Ikea in 1998. I flew 1500 miles for work, then when I had time off, I drove 60 miles around the DC Beltway to get to Quantico. I spent 5 hours there. I’ve been to the Newark store, Oakland, and many others. When they built one in Minneapolis, I went on opening day. We lived 5 minutes from there, and would visit about once every 2 weeks. Most of my kids’ furniture is from Ikea. Half of our kitchen is stuff from Ikea. I’ve worked at jobs where the all of the office furniture was from Ikea. It’s inexpensive yet nice. I’ve never had a problem with them. However, they do run out of stuff. I called and did go through the circular call system, trying to find out whether something arrived or not.

  8. DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    Wow. 5.5 hours. And I complain about having to drive from L.A. to Burbank to go there.

  9. TheWraithL98 says:

    ikea is about 45-50 minutes from me, and i’d still make ABSOLUTELY sure everything i needed is there before i left the parking lot.

    i certainly feel the guy’s pain, because it’s really easy to miss something, like a second box for a single piece, or that something you assume is included isn’t, etc. i have 2 sets of bookcases with doors, a 3 piece closet set, 4 dressers, 3 or 4 wall shelves and two large cube shelving units in my house from there and i’ve been lucky so far. my brother got all his kitchen cabinets from there and had to do a second trip over it one time because something was overlooked.

    but i sure hope the guy had to pay shipping for the other part, because it’s not ikea’s fault that he drove all that way.

    • fjordtjie says:

      @TheWraithL98: maybe slightly their fault. like he said, noone along the way mentioned he was missing any parts. it’s crazy that they refused to send him whatever the stupid thing he was missing initially. i don’t recall him saying he was unwilling to pay for it and shipping…

      and an hour and a half total drive is nothing like 11 hours.

      getting a big kid bed is a special thing. i’m willing to bet a bunch of his anger comes from making this giant effort for his little girl and then having to tell her she can’t sleep on it because he missed a part, and he doesn’t know when he can get the part, and just continue sleeping in the little girl bed indefinitely. To a young kid, it’ll seem like he’s withholding…she can see the bed right there! all after an 11 hour drive psyching it up. What a frustrating and disappointing day, especially after the endless loop phone call.

      your compassion is enviable.

      • oneandone says:

        @fjordtjie: Someone should have mentioned it to him – I’ve made a couple Ikea purchases that required multiple boxes, and usually the info kiosk person and the furniture pick up person mention it. It’s rarer that they mention that something requires multiple *products* (like a bed midbeam, or the slats), but sometimes they will. It’s a shame they didn’t in his case.

        I agree that part of the frustration must have been tied to the excitement of the big girl bed. I’ve nearly hit the roof for relatively minor things (shipping delays, etc) when they were a gift for someone else I wanted on a certain day; to feel like you’re disappointing your child must be even worse.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Five years ago, before the Dallas store opened, we visited the Houston store to pick up, of all things, a bed. We returned from the five hour drive to discover that we were in fact.. missing a box of parts. We attempted to deal with the Houston store over the phone but to no avail. When the dallas store opened, we presented out case to their customer service department along with our receipt, and were given the box of parts we needed. We dug the bed out of storage and two years later, final slept in it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    For those of you who do not understand the Ikea shopping process, it is basically all up to the customer. The customer picks out what they want from the showroom and it is up to the customer to write down what is needed in order to pick it up in Ikea’s warehouse.
    This sounds like it is entirely the customer’s fault. Obviously it was a mistake, but this is in no way Ikea’s fault, since their methods have worked for the million other cutomers they have served.

  12. kryptonn says:

    that is one crazy long drive. kudos to you- you really love your daughter. and that is awesomeness.

  13. wallspray says:

    What “WE”? Consumerist? Glad we could help? Did I miss something that implied you told him what to do to solve his problem?

  14. Mr_D says:

    I almost bought a bed from Ikea, but after seeing the multiple pamphlets that contradicted each other on what packages were needed, packages not being in the locations specified, and no floor worker able to tell me exactly what I needed, I decided to skip it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I just want to say that if you drove to Chicago from Green Bay for a bed, I hope you stopped in Kenosha at the White Castle on the way back.

    Also, no, there is no closer place to buy a bed unless you can find one on craigslist or something.

  16. dakotad555 says:

    “After a nearly 6-hour trek to a nearly empty Ikea, Scott had to grab the name of the bed and attempt to pick it up himself at the ‘furniture pick-up’.”

    Consumerist is unnecessarily sensationalizing stories:
    Since when is the Schaumburg Ikea “nearly empty?” I was there a week ago and it is, as always, jam packed with people and merchandise, so much so that my wife will not even step foot in the place.

    Also, anyone who’s ever purchased a larger piece of furniture at Ikea knows that you have to pick it up at the furniture pick-up area after paying for it at the cashiers. At the Schaumburg store, it’s just around the corner from the check out, and is not a hardship on the customer (except standing in line sucks). This is just the way Ikea does business.

    Honestly, it takes away from the credibility of the story when details that do not illustrate any deficiency on the part of the company are pointed out as if they are faults that contributed to an epic fail on Ikea’s part.

    In this instance, the OP has two legitimate complaints: 1. No parts to build the bed & 2. Black hole phone tree. Those should be enough in and of themselves to make a blog post, without unfair bashing, or misrepresentation of facts.

  17. Bye says:

    @HFC: Somebody sounds bitter and jealous that he can’t type on a MacPro sitting at a Fjodulicious desk.

  18. mizj says:

    A little off-topic: I always wondered why Ikea didn’t put PDFs of all the instruction manuals online. There have been times where I haven’t gotten the assembly instructions and have had to either figure it out on my own, or exchange the item entirely and get a new one with them included.

    That, and I’m co-signing on the phone tree/IM mess. Either option is totally useless.

    • narf says:

      @mizj: They do. Look under assembly instructions.

      Additional source –

    • jeebussez says:

      @mizj: They have been up for awhile.


      I wish they made them more visible. You can also go to any IKEA and ask the customer service desk for instructions. Or any info tower, really. The instructions are stored on the intranet, and if the customer service desk isn’t willing to print you out a copy, someone somewhere will eventually.

  19. Anonymous says:

    At an earlier point in my life when I was legally blind for the purposes of driving (but not for many other purposes), I got a ride down to IKEA one day to buy some stuff and one of the boxes that I got at the furniture pickup was wrong.

    I got through to the service department at the store, and they had the right box brought out to me by ‘messenger,’ which I think might have been one of their employees dropping by on the way home from work.

    They’ve always been really good about stuff like this, in the event that you can actually make it through to them. I’d guess the phone loop is more the problem than any lack of dedication to service.

  20. shifuimam says:

    I bought a $14 product at the Cincinnati IKEA a few months ago. It was missing a small part. I called IKEA corporate, who told me to call the store I’d visited. I explained to them that I lived roughly four hours away, so driving to get the part would be quite difficult. They mailed me the part, and I had it in my hands three days later. They definitely know what good customer service is, IMO.

  21. Mary says:

    These overly-familiar cutesy EECBs are so nauseating. I mean, “Aren’t I the PERFECT Ikea customer?”? Excuse me? Keep it professional, these people aren’t your friends. Just present the facts.

  22. Triborough says:

    The key to shopping at Ikea is not to buy things that you have to put together.

    • admiral_stabbin says:

      @Triborough: I appreciate your sense of humor. The only things you don’t have to put together yourself are rugs and spatulas. ;-)

      • narf says:

        @admiral_stabbin: One still has to detach the tag on the spatula, though, so there’s still some work involved. ;-)

        Seriously, though, a couple months ago, there was one woman who was complaining to customer service about how she had to assemble a table herself. CS response was “did it not occur to you that this table was packed inside a flat box and it’s nowhere near as big as what the built table would have been?”

        (For the record, she was complaining about a Lack coffee table.)

  23. ajlei says:

    I have bought products from IKEA Portland before, never giant appliances, but I bought a specialty mirror that required nine screws and it didn’t come with them or offer any extra product in store. It was only when I opened up the package and saw the instructions that it said to see an “authorized” carpenter or something similar for proper screws. I ended up going to Fred Meyer with the wall attachments and got something that might work; I won’t be finding out anytime soon because I accidentally bought too few and after nine months, have yet to hang it up.

    It would’ve been a whole lot more convenient if Ikea had a package of screws nearby or referenced to purchase with the mirror, or at least said what size screw was necessary.

  24. Swearengen says:

    I’m not buying what this guy is selling. Unless you actually ask for help from an employee they don’t ask you if you need help. And if he walked through the showroom, it lists all of the parts that are needed for the product and where they can be picked up on the lower level. And then when you are at that spot in the warehouse, there are signs telling you what pieces belong to the product, and the product boxes will tell you which box of what number of boxes it is. So, at every level of the process he should know what he needs to pick up. He either ignored all of this, or he was stupid.

    • oneandone says:

      @TancredoHelmer: Not neccessarily. If your item is in the ‘furniture pick up’ area the tag in the showroom tells you to go to the information kiosk in the warehouse floor. There, an employee prints out a sheet with your item and a barcode on it. You get that scanned and pay for it (and usually they stamp it or sign it) and then you take that to the furniture pick up area. They go in the back and get your items for you. It’s kind of like getting a sandwich at WaWa.

      So there’s contact with 3 employees, maybe – unless you do self check-out. But you will definitely have 2.

  25. nerdychaz says:

    I live in SE Wisconsin, and this story just boggles my mind. Who the “F” drives from Green Bay to Schaumburg for Ikea (197 miles)? I don’t understand it. Plus, where is this guys Wisconsin Pride? Why buy Ikea crap made overseas when there is a perfectly good Ashley Furniture in Green Bay? Ashley Furniture is made in Wisconsin! Yes, what he bought cost only $200, but it will last about just as many days. You will pay more at Ashley, but you will have the satisfaction that it was made in designed and made in Wisconsin, and it will last FOREVER! This is the same reason I bought a Trek bike (Waterloo, WI), Dodge car (engine made in Kenosha by my UNCLE in Kenosha, WI), spotted cow beer (new glarus, WI), Merkt’s Cheese (Bristol, WI). I could keep ranting, but I am dumbfounded. Keep it local!

  26. shufflemoomin says:

    It’s times like this I’m glad I’m in the UK and not US. F**k driving 5.5 hours to a store. If the traffic was good I could drive from Scotland to London in that time. And anyone who did that for a bed would be considered bat-shit insane.

  27. nerdychaz says:

    Oh, did any body else realize that to get to schaumburg from Green Bay, you have to drive through Milwaukee? He couldn’t find a cheap bed anywhere in Milwaukee?

    He must have spent $100 in gas to make that drive! A round trip from my house to o’hare and back is about 50 miles and in Chicago traffic during business hours it takes almost 7 gallons of gas in a dodge neon.

    So, did the trip to Ikea really save him that much money?

  28. Tony Roberts says:

    I feel for the guy. Ikea are simply a bunch of crooks who basically take your money and run.

    I bought a bathroom cupboard from them. Certain items in the showroom area (customizable ones, including my cupboard and probably the children’s bed) instruct to you talk to an associate rather than just go straight to get your stuff from the warehouse.

    I followed the instruction, (eventually) found a staff member and explained what kind of cupboard I needed. They keyed some info into a terminal which spat out a “shopping list” of the 3 or 4 things I needed to fetch from the warehouse, which I followed to the letter.

    Got home and – lo and behold – no hinges. They were a separate pay-for item (I learned later), but the fault here was 100% Ikea’s as I had relied upon the system they put in place to make sure I had everything I needed.

    The store was some distance away from home, so I tried to resolve this over the phone. The call center would not help me in the slightest, and also refused to give me the phone number for the store (which also didn’t seem to be listed anywhere else). They also refused to allow me to speak to a supervisor. I also tried e-mailing, and it also turns out that their e-mails are handled somewhere else again and the phone people can’t tell what you’ve e-mailed about – and vice versa – and neither of them are prepered to talk to the stores, even to try to rectify an issue where Ikea is at fault.

    So buyer beware – if everything goes smoothly and you get everything you need then you might be satisfied with their cheap and cheerful products. But if they get it wrong for you in any way expect to have to get it dealt with on their terms, not yours. While you should expect to get what you pay for, some basic level of customer service should be expected from all retailers.

    Personally – I wouldn’t trust them with anything more complicated than a meatball.