Why Does IKEA Need To See My ID To Exchange A Defective Bed?

Pity those of us who live in the hinterlands, far from any IKEA stores. When we do manage a trip into civilization to buy cheap furniture with strange names, we take a risk. We risk buying a defective item and having to drag it hundreds of miles back to the store it came from. Jason tells Consumerist that’s what happened to him when he bought a set of bunk beds with a manufacturing defect. But that’s not his main concern. What he wants to know is: is it unreasonable for a store to scan your driver’s license when exchanging an item that is obviously defective?

We recently moved and promised our four year old son a new bunk bed as part of this activity. After not finding anything we liked locally, my wife drove to the nearest Ikea 1.5 hours away and bought a bed for him while I was traveling on business. She’s pretty handy and set up the bed herself, but when putting down the grates that make up the platform for the mattress noticed that the holes on each were drilled about three quarters of an inch off – a clear manufacturing defect. She, and my son, were very frustrated and upset. She was worried that all her work would have to be dismantled and returned to the store.

Upon my return, I told her I would take a half-day off from work to remedy the situation. The first issue was do I dismantle the whole bed and bring it down two flights of stairs so I could return it in the event they couldn’t just swap the defective parts, or would I just take a chance and bring the defective parts. I chose the latter which luckily turned out to be the right decision.

When I got to Ikea, the woman at the returns desk confirmed the manufacturing defect and asked for my receipt, which I had left in the car. I ran out to the car to get it but didn’t feel like I should have needed it for a straight exchange of defective parts. Upon presentation of my receipt, I was asked to provide my driver’s license so she could enter some data to process my exchange. I protested, saying that I didn’t want them to have any information from my license, and we quickly reached an impasse so I asked for a manager. The manager came and assured me that none of my information would be retained but I still was reluctant to share this information. He told me they only needed my address, which I informed him was not current on my license due to my move. After threats of further escalation, I was told they would only capture my name so I eventually conceded and showed them my license with only my picture and name visible – info which still seems unnecessary for a straight defective item return with a receipt.

In the end, the defective parts cost me five hours of vacation time, six gallons of gas, and my wife significant stress as the bed sat unusable in my disappointed son’s room. I’ve shopped with Ikea many times over the years but I lost a bunch of respect for them on this visit. I took pictures of their return and exchange policy signs which do indicate that ID is required for all returns, and that they intend, in fact, to store my information. However, it seems like this policy is unreasonable for clearly defective items. Does swapping a defective item for the same item qualify as an exchange? What do reader’s think?

It’s an exchange, even if for the same item, but not due to consumer choice like most returns. What do you think?


Edit Your Comment

  1. bonzombiekitty says:

    I guess it makes sense if they have people who are chronically damaging the items they bought and blaming it on a defect. Might help target the idiots who can’t put the furniture together or misuse it.

    But I bet it’s more of a asking for IDs to help prevent people from abusing the policy by returning things they didn’t buy, but the system doesn’t differentiate between a return for a refund and an exchange.

    • Alvis says:

      Pretty easy to tell damage from a defect.

      • MMD says:

        Exactly. How about training employees to recognize the difference and deny returns of damaged goods? That’s a far more rational policy than storing driver’s license information and leaving it ripe for the picking on some corporate hard drive.

      • domcolosi says:

        Well, there are two issues with that:

        1. Sometimes it’s *not* easy to tell. Particleboard can sometimes be a bit weaker in spots and break. Tough to tell the difference between that a a spot where somebody broke it through misuse. Likewise, sometimes something breaks in shipping, and you don’t notice until you open the box. Again, there’s no way to tell whether it broke in shipping or after it was opened.

        2. Pikea often takes stuff back without giving a lot of grief to make it easier. I’ve been happily served new parts or items quickly by staff at the New Haven Pikea without a check. They never checked my ID there, but I would understand it if they had people gaming the system with too many returns.

  2. SomeoneGNU says:

    I’d prefer the question not “if the should” but rather is it a problem “if they do.” I don’t think they should need to, but I also understand why they do and it’s hardly an issue to me.

    • osiris73 says:

      I agree that the question verbiage needs to be more clear. I don’t think they SHOULD ask for my ID, but it they do, I understand why and think its okay.

  3. jessjj347 says:

    I thought that usually taking a driver’s license can be a default way of accepting a return at a store, but that the cashier can bypass it. After all, not everyone has a license.

    • woahmelly says:

      No, not everyone has a license. Most states (maybe all?) allow a person to get a State ID. Similar in form and function to a drivers license less the ability to legally drive with it.

      • coren says:

        Yes, but not everyone has one of those, either – and when I got one last year, believe me, it was next to impossible. They wanted stuff like a high school yearbook…and I’m coming up on my ten year reunion.

  4. satoru says:

    You’d be surprised how many people claim ‘defective’ as a way to do returns to a store in general. Asking for ID is mostly just a deterrent since if you’re trying to scam the system, you’ll be reluctant to give your ID. I don’t think it’s too unreasonable, since most store already do this for returns and such.

    • MMD says:

      I’m reluctant to show my ID because I want to keep my information private. This does not meam that I or others like me are running a scam.

    • Dover says:

      It’s understandable for loss prevention purposes, especially if the customer does not have a receipt. But if you’ve got the receipt and you’re asking for a like exchange, it should not be required. In fact, the store could easily bypass the hassle of dealing with the computer by handing the consumer the correct product and dealing with the defective one as if the defect was noticed before it was sold, which other stores have done for me and what the manager should’ve done when the OP protested.

  5. Velifer says:

    I make my own basic wooden furniture at home. Seriously. And when I’ve made several hundred bunkbeds, my wood shop will have paid for itself!

    I see this policy everywhere. I want to know what it’s really for, and if it does actually stop abuse in any substantive and economically justifiable way. There are costs to collecting this info.

    Also, why does everyone assume I have a driver’s license or some photo ID? That’s not a prerequisite of citizenship around here, I don’t think it should be a prerequisite for most kinds of commerce either.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Here here! I didn’t need my ID to purchase the product, why do I need an ID to return it?

      • msbask says:

        Oh my, you sound EXACTLY like me!

      • fantomesq says:

        Returning a product is a privilege and Ikea is absolutely in their right to require ID to process the return. This is a fraud prevention issue.

        • MMD says:

          Who protects the information stored by IKEA?

          And given how easy it is to get a fake driver’s license, anyone who really wants to commit fraud is not going to have much trouble getting around this policy…

          And what kind of fraud are we talking about? Requiring an original receipt should take care of most of that. Employee training takes care of those who are trying to return something they damaged themselves. What does that leave? Frequent returners? That’s not fraud, that’s just a behavior stores would prefer not to see.

        • Dover says:

          I agree with this except for a like exchange of a clearly defective product, since it’s IKEA’s responsibility to provide the customer with the correct and fully-functional product purchased.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If it doesn’t state they will/can do that on the receipt or online rules regarding returns/exchanges, then they should not be able to.

    Sorry, retailers, none of us trust that the data you scan from my ID will not be retained and will not be used for ill-begotten purposes by either you, or others who buy or steal that data from you.

    • JMILLER says:

      And we as retailers do not trust that you did not steal the product and just grab a receipt out of the parking lot. I as a retailer have zero obligation to do a return once you leave the store, unless of course I post my RETURN POLICY, which by virtue of you buying the product you agreed to.
      Here is IKEA’s return policy

      Purchased in Store:
      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. Refunds will be issued in the same method of payment as the original payment.

      For transactions with an original receipt*: Purchase made with cash: a cash refund will be issued. Purchase made with a credit card: a credit will be issued to the original card. Original card must be present at time of return. Mattresses may be exchanged one time within 90 days of purchase for a store credit towards the purchase of another mattress. No refund will be issued. Please refer to the Love it or Exchange It Mattress Return Policy.

      *A driver’s license may be required for identification purposes only. This is required for all returns and exchanges made in store. Information from your ID will be retained in a company-wide database to be used only for authorizing returns.

      *We reserve the right to refuse a refund without a receipt.

      As for superfolous information in the post, who cares how long it took you to drive there? Did Ikea hold a gun to your head? Your child wanting it so you HAD to get it? I am sorry, but you made a decision to buy a product. The retailer agreed to return it under specific criteria. Where you live or your child’s love of the product is not relevant.

  7. jasonq says:

    Had Cabela’s do this very thing to me a while back, but on a simple return – bought some batteries that were the wrong size. Got to the car, and realized what I’d done, and walked back in to return them. They insisted on taking my DL info. I actually called Cabela’s corporate HQ to complain – the person I spoke to couldn’t give any real explanation other than “that’s our policy.”

  8. cmdr.sass says:

    Did anyone bother to, you know, ask IKEA why they needed the info?

  9. smo0 says:

    I hate to break it to the readers… but requiring ID’s for refunds and even exchanges are the way of the future.

    Blame the people who abuse this system.

    The bf works for an auto parts store… since the two he’s at is usually only 2-manned, sometimes he doesn’t have time to keep an eye out for “shady” characters if it gets busy… but when you’re in retail for a long time, you can usually spot the people who are about to defraud the system.
    A nice trick they’ve come up with, is to swipe something off of the shelf and turn it in for a refund… especially if it’s store-branded on the logo… can’t really deny that – and despite what people think, you CAN get refunds and/or exchanges without a receipt… sometimes – there’s not much he can do but just go with it…. especially if he didn’t CLEARLY see the swipe.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      They can change their policy to not accept refunds without receipts.

      • smo0 says:

        Yeah, what I’m saying is… despite policies, stores have been known to do this – generally to avoid an incident….

      • It'sRexManningDay! says:

        You can still work the scam even with a receipt. Buy some items, get a legitimate receipt, leave the store, come back a few days later and swipe those same items off the shelf and return them. Presto–you just got all your stuff for free.

        • MMD says:

          So we should store all of the DL information of everyone who returns everything because a few people might try this? Seems like overkill to me.

        • msbask says:

          But how does asking for someone’s license prevent this scenario from happening?

      • Martha Gail says:

        @Lola, but then how many letters would we see on here from people who are mad that they can’t return something without a receipt.

        I work retail, we’ve busted several local theft rings simply from swiping IDs. Our policy is to only ask for it from people who don’t keep their receipts. That would solve a lot of people’s problems if they’d just keep them.

  10. Dallas_shopper says:

    I’ve never handed my DL over to return *anything* and so far I haven’t run into this issue, but if/when it happens I will definitely stand my ground.

  11. Traveshamockery says:

    A lot of retailers are starting to do this because they’re trying to defend against “serial returners”, people who cost companies tons of money by buying and returning merchandise.

    This is particularly common among clothing retailers who are trying to discourage “retail renting”.

    • woahmelly says:

      Heh, we have a serial returner who always comes to my store. The guy always returns ridiculously expensive clothes his girlfriend gets for him and purchases more ridiculously expensive clothes for her. And so the cycle repeats. It’s actually quite amusing.

  12. pantheonoutcast says:

    “…and asked for my receipt, which I had left in the car. I ran out to the car to get it but didn’t feel like I should have needed it for a straight exchange of defective parts.”

    Their policy on showing a driver’s license is questionable, the one on showing a receipt is not. Whether or not you “feel like” doing showing your purchase receipt, it is SOP for a store to ask for one for returns or exchanges. And, quite frankly, your initial refusal to show it might have led to the ensuing confrontation. I’m not saying its your fault, but I’m sure there was some sort of conversation between you and the CS rep involving the receipt; if you made sure to include your hesitation to show it here in your letter, chances are you voiced it to her as well.

    Many moons ago, I had to return one piece of a “Billy” bookcase that had improperly drilled holes. I brought it in, showed them my receipt, flirted with the customer service rep as a stockboy brought me a new piece and then left without any other interaction. It took ten minutes.

    • Putaro says:

      Most companies ask for the receipt because you could have bought the product somewhere else. Where else can you buy Ikea furniture other than Ikea?

  13. Silica says:

    You don’t hear the phrase “making a mountain out of a mole hill” very often any more, but it still often applies. This is an inconvenience at worst.

    • MMD says:

      No, actually, at worst it is an example of a data-storage policy that can lead to wide-scale identity theft at the hands of a hacker or a disgruntled employee.

  14. Amy Alkon says:

    As a victim of identity theft (thanks, Bank of America, for teller window security that’s basically “We hope it’s you!”), I urge you to never give out your license except to a cop who stops you and demands it. Certainly never let them copy it. If you have to, ask to talk to a manager.

    Also, if you aren’t buying and flipping houses, consider putting a security freeze on your credit. It’s $10 per credit bureau (do all three) unless you’ve been a victim of identity theft, in which case it’s free. The thieves got me through B of A, but thanks to the freeze I put on my credit, they weren’t able to get instant credit in my name at Target and other stores.

    More on security freezes here:



    • sirwired says:

      What can somebody do with your driver’s license? The DL number isn’t used to obtain financial products of any kind (except Auto Insurance, I suppose), and your name and address is not exactly Top Secret information. (It’s usually in public records of all sorts; voter registration, property tax, etc.)

      Also, good luck trying to buy Sudafed without handing over your DL.

      • MMD says:

        The DL number is a unique piece of identifying information. But if it’s no big deal, would you mind posting yours?

        • Dover says:

          And your DOB and full name, please!

        • jackbishop says:

          Incidentally, in many states your DL number isn’t even terribly secret if someone has access to some fairly mundane information about you. Joe Gallian of UMN-Duluth conducted a thorough survey of state-by-state procedures for assigning driver’s license numbers in 1991.

          In Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Washingon, and Wisconsin, driver’s license numbers are (or were) assigned based solely on full name, birthdate, and sex. 14 other states use social security numbers, although eight of them provide alternative arbitrary-assignment schemes. Montana uses a hashing scheme making use of both social security number and name/birthdate/sex. The other 24 states use schemes which rely in part on arbitrary or sequential assignment, although South Dakota and Maine use personal data in addition to sequential assignment to produce the numbers.

          In high school, I gathered a fair bit of data on Maryland’s scheme. It’s actually extremely easy with the right data on hand to determine the DL number of someone from Maryland, Minnesota, or Michigan (all of which use the same L-lna-fna-mna-dob scheme, where L is the first letter of your last name, lna a modified soundex encoding of your last name, and fna,mna,dob are fairly naive three-digit-codes corresponding to first name, middle name, and birthday).

        • Marshmelly says:

          Okay…so tell us what you can do with a DL number then? I’m curious.

  15. sirwired says:

    1) Yes, a defective item you are swapping is an exchange; what else would it be? Why else would you be exchanging?
    2) An ID is necessary to prevent sadly common returns fraud.

    Product defects happen, it’s a fact of life. The complaints about the five hours, six gallons of gas, stressed wife and disappointed son are a little over the top.

    • MMD says:

      A. So now the OP’s information is on file (I don’t believe for a second that IKEA didn’t store it) for returning a product that was defective. So what if he buys more furniture later and encounters another defect and needs to make another return. Does the system ding him for fraud for being a repeat returner? Lots of unanswered questions about how this data is being used.

      B. Because many people travel significant distances to shop at IKEA, the company would do well to understand the extra inconvenience that a defective products and return hassles cause. So the details about the drive and the resulting frustration are entirely appropriate here.

      IKEA deliberately creates a mystique about their brand by having so few stores that getting to one becomes a day trip for a significant percentage of their shoppers – but that will eventually backfire if the experience is negative.

  16. GGV says:

    I get why the OP is upset/unhappy, but how easy is his wife’s life that this caused her “significant stress”? This seems more like one of those “This sucks, but it happened and while driving to the store will be a headache, the piece will likely get replaced.” I don’t get it – did she call IKEA and get the runaround or some other indication that this wouldn’t be a simple.

    • MMD says:

      Yeah, the only way this could be considered inconvenient is if the wife’s life is easy.

      Usually we don’t get this kind of misogyny when the OP is a man, but you really went out of your way!

      • GGV says:

        FYI, I’m female. I said the wife’s life must be easy because the OP said it caused his wife significant stress. If he had said it cost him significant stress, I would have said “how easy is the OP’s life”. Calm down. Not every insult towards a woman is misogyny. We’re not immune to criticism just because we have vaginas.

      • GGV says:

        BTW, you say that I claim this wouldn’t be inconvenient to a person whose life isn’t easy. If you reread my post, you’ll see that I CLEARLY acknowledge that it is inconvenient. I say specifically “This sucks” and “driving to the store will be a headache”. If you took the first phrase (“I get why the OP is upset/unhappy”) to mean his feelings are acceptable but the wife’s aren’t, then here’s my clarification: I meant to say that I’m not saying his complaint is invalid, what I’m saying is that the situation should not cause a person “significant stress”. There’s a big difference between inconvenience and significant stress. Harassing a man who has a serious heart problem to pay his bills (see a Consumerist post from a couple of months ago) is a significant stress. Needing a to exchange a part of your child’s bunk bed is an inconvenience. Life isn’t always perfect and if minor hiccups cause significant stress, you’re barometer is off.

      • JMILLER says:

        I guess understanding the difference between “significant stress” and inconvenience is lost on you.

    • EllenRose says:

      Four-year-olds don’t have to be reasonable; and a kid raising a fuss over the bunk bed he was promised (which he can see, but not use) is enough to stress anyone.

      • GGV says:

        True, I stand corrected. Unlike most people on the internet, I’ll admit when I’m wrong and/or overlooked a detail. I can imagine a move coupled with an inconsolable child throwing a parent over the edge. To be fair to me, he called his child “disappointed”, so I imagined a “disappointed” child when I made my comment, not one throwing a temper tantrum. I worked in a daycare, raised my own children, helped raise several children that weren’t mine, dealt with my own struggles during all of that, and still haven’t been “significantly stressed” by their tantrums (and I truly don’t consider myself to have special zen master skills), so, frankly, I don’t have much sympathy for parents who are overwhelmed by their kids, but I’ll back off here and admit that I rushed to judgment.

  17. jeff_the_snake says:

    Just a thought, he probably could have saved a trip and just drilled new holes. Not to say he was in the wrong but it would probably be more painless than trekking back to the store

    • nsv says:

      Good idea. Take grates that will be supporting the weight of children and drill extra holes in them, thus further weakening the structure.

      Probably, nothing will happen. If it does, though, it could mean that the upper bunk would pancake on the lower bunk, or maybe the lower bunk will collapse, and then the frame might be unable to support the weight on the upper bunk without the stabilizing lower grate.

      It’s OK, though. Children are small and light, and they always get into bed quietly and lie there without moving all night.

    • Miz_Ivy says:

      That’s what I did when I has the same problem when I bought a fouton frame from Ikea. Some of the holes didn’t line up quite right or seemed too small for the pegs, but instead of dealing with the hassle of attempting to dissasemble it and bring it back (we’re talking a LOT of pieces here), I just pulled out the power drill and solved the problem myself.

  18. Kryndis says:

    I say once they’ve confirmed there’s a defect then no further ID should be necessary. As long as you have a good reason for exchanging the item (not just “I don’t want it anymore”) then that should be the end of it.

    Require a receipt, sure, but the chances of someone scamming the system by managing to swipe a defective blender or something off the shelf and trying to return it are exceedingly low.

    • Destron says:

      Not as low as you would think. It’s actually pretty common.

      • MMD says:


        • Destron says:

          Experience from working in a loss prevention position. It is a daily occurrence, usually multiple times a day.

          • nsv says:

            In this case, though, the OP brought only the defective parts and wanted only replacement parts. There was no cash refund.

            Every IKEA I’ve been in can manage this sort of thing simply with the layout of the store. Most of the product is inaccessible to someone walking in the door and going straight to the returns desk. You don’t go anywhere near the flat pack self service area to get to returns.

      • Kryndis says:

        You didn’t read what I wrote. I said if you’re exchanging something defective AND you’ve confirmed the defect no ID should be necessary. Once you’ve confirmed that the item is defective in the way the customer said it is, the chance of some scam being perpetrated is extremely low. Unless, as I said, the customer managed to swipe the one defective gadget off the shelf and also managed to guess at what the defect was.

  19. Microshock says:

    I’ve had to show my ID just to return games to Gamestop before. It was a rated M game but it makes no sense why I can’t return it without anything but the receipt.

    Their reasoning was that I’m getting cash back.

    Someone explain this to me?

    • coren says:

      Ok, that one I can see. If the original purchase was on a card, Gamestop will still give you cash back – so having ID will help them cover their ass in case you aren’t the person who bought it or something.

  20. coren says:

    I think he gets a little over dramatic with the “cost”, but I agree with him in general – if the bed is confirmed as defective, he shouldn’t need ID. Receipt, yes (not that stealing a bed is all that plausible, but who knows), but not ID

  21. Destron says:

    I worked for loss prevention at Walmart for a while, and they won’t ask for ID if you have a receipt, but if you do not have a receipt they will ask for ID and they can not bypass it, the system won’t let them, even a manager can’t get around it. They will also only allow 3 no receipt returns in a 12 month rolling period, the system keeps track and flags you when you have done 3, and yes, it’s all due to fraud. Just like someone said above it’s pretty common to steal stuff and return it for cash.

    Another common thing used to be to get baby formula with WIC then return it for cash, but now by law baby formula can’t be returned anymore, just exchaged.

    • coren says:

      It may have changed, but last I checked it was 3 in a 45 day period, and you got cut off for a year(or were flagged for a year)

      • Destron says:

        It’s been a while since I worked there, so what you stated may be the current policy. I hardly ever return stuff and im anal about keeping receipts in case i do so I have never had to do a no receipt return.

  22. brinks says:

    Pity me, but I’ve worked in retail since my first job in 1993. This is pretty common. The OP doesn’t have to agree with it, but the OP also needs to understand how the returns system works.

    Even when it’s an exchange for the same thing, a return needs to be completed through the register for inventory purposes. For companies with a good system, a reason for return is entered into the system at that time and then a company had a record of all of the items that have been returned due to the same defect. That info obviously may lead to a recall if it happens enough.

    During the process of the return, there are mandatory fields that pop up and the return can not be completed unless they are filled out. Pitch a fit all you want, but it’s neither the cashier’s nor manager’s fault that the company requires such information, and they can not bypass ANY of the mandatory fields, such as entering a driver’s license number. If they enter false information just to shut the customer up, trust me, Loss Prevention will investigate them. I’ve done it myself and gotten in trouble, as have fellow managers where I used to work. I was strictly instructed that, if the customer refused to give the information, then I refused the return. Period. And I WAS the manager.

    I am not defending this policy. I see no reason why they need an ID for a return with a receipt. However, the OP needs to chill out and realize that this is a company policy that all store-level employees must follow. They can’t bypass it in any way other than entering false information, which could get them fired. Call and complain to corporate, but don’t take things out on people that have no control over it.

    • Dover says:

      They could exchange the part for him, then mark the one they had in inventory as defective/damaged. I don’t know exactly how IKEA’s computers work, but it’d be pretty silly if the store couldn’t mark something as damaged without selling it. Of course, it only works if someone wants a like exchange due to defect such as, well, this case. No need for the consumer to have to bother with all this DL stuff and keeps the inventory correct.

      • brinks says:

        I agree that your solution is both easier and more customer-friendly. Corporate people make the rules without actually having any idea on how it will impact customer service, and I’m sure the rule is to ring everything through every time, no matter what…even if it’s a huge inconvenience.

  23. Aesha says:

    I made this exact comment a week or two ago… on the story about Ikea detaining the guy regarding the receipt. I went to the Ikea in Bolingbrook, IL, which is about an hour drive from me since I live on the north side of Chicago. We purchased a desk on June 26, spent 4.5 hours putting it together, and got to – seriously – the final piece, we found that one of the holes was drilled incorrectly and would have made the drawer go together crooked. It was annoying enough to have to jump through hoops to even be able to return this single piece; I hadn’t kept the receipt, knowing we were not going to be returning the desk and not thinking I may have to provide it for a single piece out of such a large thing, so that was my fault. But I couldn’t believe it when they required a DL for *exchanging* a single piece out of this entire piece of furniture, and as the OP said, it was clearly a manufacturing defect. It was a reminder that there’s a reason I don’t like Ikea and was hoping to purchase a more expensive desk. Hopefully I’ll remember this lesson and that I don’t want to bother with them anymore.

    • Destron says:

      Well, you also have to understand that they don’t just have extra pieces laying around, to give you that single piece they would have to break open another unit and take the piece out, destroying the ability to sell that unit, So yes, they have to do an exchange so that they can remove the one they just destroyed from inventory. Otherwise their inventory counts are messed up, and in larger chains this would affect the replenishment of that item as well.

      • Aesha says:

        That’s true, but I still don’t think it requires a drivers license to process a return or exchange. I did say that I bear some responsibility for not keeping the receipt. And I think this happens enough (seems we’ve heard three anecdotal stories just in these 40 comments or so) that they expect it to happen, and to ask for someone’s DL to exchange a single piece is over the top, in my opinion.

        • Destron says:

          I don’t know IKEA’s system, but I do know they don’t have a “part exchange” button on the register, a return is a return, and if they need an ID for a return then there probably is not a way around it for them.

  24. backinpgh says:

    I don’t care so much about the actual practice of taking my information, I can understand why they want it, but I DO care that so many retailers are flippantly careless with customer info and every other month some TJ Maxx or somesuch other store leaves a laptop full of social security numbers on a bus or some nonsense. If people were convinced that their information was safe and protected, I don’t think they would have such a problem giving it up.

  25. ModernDemagogue says:

    I’m sure its being fed into a giant returns tracking system: http://www.theretailequation.com/

    Just say no.

    If the merchandise is defective, they can either accept the return without identification, or accept a chargeback on your credit card, and or a lawsuit.

    They can’t force you to show ID — as a federal court showed yesterday, this isn’t Nazi Germany where one can be asked “papers please.”

    • brinks says:

      You can’t change what the returns system makes you enter. If it’s something the company requires for a return, you can’t bypass it. The highest ranking person in the store has no power over this.

      • Destron says:

        brinks is correct, there are some fields that are required and cannot be bypassed, and not even the store manager can over ride it. Also, I know from dealing with them, a credit card company will not do a charge back just because you failed to comply with a stores policies.

        People attempting credit card charge backs is also pretty common and are heavily scrutinized.

        • MMD says:

          If a store manager can’t manage the returns process, then something’s seriously wrong.

          And in my past retail experiences, I’ve seen plenty of instances where something that “can’t” be done gets done when push comes to shove. I never believe any manager who says they “can’t” do something like this. There’s *always* a work-around.

          • Destron says:

            Not always, as big box retailers are tightening their belts and managing record breaking shrink numbers, more and more things are headed in this direction.

            • brinks says:

              So very true.

              I mentioned this in a reply to someone else, but the traditional “workarounds” usually mean entering bogus info just to get to the next screen. Loss Prevention verifies everything these days, and if you do it, it’s your ass. I’ve been investigated by LP at a previous company because a customer refused to give me ID. I used my store’s address and phone number and my own ID #. I got written up and told I’d be forced if it happened again, despite it being the only way to resolve the customer issue at hand. The rule is no ID, no return…and I was literally powerless against it.

    • misterfuss says:

      Not Nazi Germany, but maybe it is Arizona.

  26. Deezul_AwT says:

    Next time you go to IKEA, read their return policy. It DOES say you will have to show ID to make a return. I was surprised when I returned something, but right behind the return area, and I believe it’s on the receipts as well, it states ID required. So shame on the OP for not reading beforehand.

  27. Willie Derp says:

    Most likely they processed the swap as a return because they had to give the buyer the correct part from another like item – rendering that item unsellable. So the “return” is to account for the item that they now have to write off, toss in their as-is section or whatever.

  28. Jonwain says:

    Like it has been stated a thousand times…the main issue is fraud. A secondary issue, at least at big box retailers, is people who will purchase item “a” in March, break part of it accidentally, go buy another item “a” in September, and return the old broken one as the recently purchased one using the new reciept. If they have your info attached to the return, they can possibly file charges/sue you for your crime. If they have nothing, they can do nothing.

  29. LightningUsagi says:

    The first thought I had was “why didn’t he just phone Ikea?” He made a point of saying that he hoped that just taking the defective part back would be enough…but he couldn’t be bothered to call to see? If the drive was so long, I would’ve picked up a phone first to see what I’d need to bring, and IF I even needed to go. Chances are, they would’ve mailed him the replacement parts if they knew it was an existing defect. Most kids don’t mind getting to camp out in the den for a night or two.

    Case in point, when I was pregnant, we had bought a crib, and as I was putting it together, I realized that one of the brackets to hold the matress on was missing from the box. I simply called the company, and they FedExed me a part that day with no charge. I received it two days later (good thing, as I went into labor that night).

    • brinks says:

      Staples will do that on their own branded products. Just call a toll-free number, give them some receipt info, and they’ll overnight the part. If you contact the manufacturer, they’ll often be just as helpful. There’s actually less that can be done at store level.

      • Destron says:

        There is not a single piece of furniture you can buy that the manufacturer wont give you free parts to. For most furniture, the first page of the books is a massive stop sign telling you NOT to take it back where you bought it.

        Sadly, people would rather just take it back to the store and let the store take the loss instead of waiting a day or two to get the replacement part in the mail.

    • nsv says:

      I bought a wine rack from IKEA, and it was missing one part I can only describe as a mounting sleeve. It’s a tiny part that probably costs a dime and doesn’t look like anything in the hardware section of my local hardware stores. I called, explained the situation, told them I live two hours from the nearest IKEA, and asked them to ship me one.

      Nope. “You’ll have to go back to the store.” I escalated twice. They explained that they simply don’t have the parts to ship.

      The wine rack is sitting in parts in my garage.

      • Destron says:

        Ikea didn’t manufacturer that Wine rack. You need to call the customer service number in the book not the store.

  30. sharkzfanz says:

    Everyone get over the ID thing sheeesh its not that big of a deal.. You wasted 6 hours of vacation time not the defective parts. They can mail them to you from the manufacturer. Think about that?

  31. HaydenGrace says:

    Where I work, you need an i.d. for the following return transactions: return w/o a receipt, return w/ a receipt that was paid with store credit that was obtained when you made a return w/o a receipt, and if your receipt is expired.

    in this person’s case i wouldn’t have needed his i.d. since it was an even exchange and he had a receipt.

    also, the i.d. must be valid/ not expired.

  32. doodlebug says:

    When it is a known defect then they should just exchange it. It isn’t a rip off scheme, the store knows there is an existing problem.

  33. gnubian says:

    From the OP –

    “I took pictures of their return and exchange policy signs which do indicate that ID is required for all returns, and that they intend, in fact, to store my information.”

    So why would you create a dispute over something that is obviously posted in plain sight? Now, if they were giving you grief about not showing ID for a CC purchase … ;>

  34. drnmr says:

    Never show your Drivers License to any one but a cop, and only when you absolutely have to.
    Use some other form of ID, such as your passport or similar. Your drivers license has your home address on it, your passport does not.

    If they get your home address they can sale your name to every junk mail list in the country.

  35. dragonpancakes says:

    I’ve never been to a store that didn’t require some form of photo ID for a return over $10. Unless that bed actually cost less than that, in which case I want an IKEA here!

  36. JonBoy470 says:

    Sadly, a few rotten apples ruin it for the rest of us. Many schemes exist:

      Returning stolen merchandise w/o a receipt for a refund.
      Using a “found” receipt to return items for a refund (You’d be amazed how many Walmart shoppers leave their receipt in the cart when they leave).
      Intentionally damaging an unwanted product prior to returning so it can be returned as “defective,” thus avoiding the re-stocking fee.
      Using a single receipt to remove the same items multiple times from the store (This is why Costco/Sam’s Club mark or punch your receipt, to indicate it has been “used”).
      Buying an item at store A, using it (thus possibly rendering it un-returnable. Think video games or DVD’s), then finding it cheaper at store B. Buy the same item again at store B, return it unopened to store A using the slip from store A (this last one, while very arguably ethical, is undesirable because to the store as it reduces net sales).

    The driver’s license serves as a de facto universal ID card in the US, and also, for retailers, as an additional, independent data point to recognize patterns associated with fraudulent returns, and thus stop them. Sadly, the consumer has the choice of accepting the risk of identity theft, or retaining unwanted/defective purchases.

  37. lawgirl502 says:

    I can’t even spend enough time reading the War and Peace of consumerist…
    Complainer: state problem and BRIEF description…broken bed, didn’t want to scan license. OK, then DON’T let them scan it. You are NOT required to. There is a little something people called WARRANTY. It comes with a manufacturer warranty which the store must honor and a fitness for purpose guarantee. (Please check UCC) The store just wants to seee if you return lots of their put-it-together-yourself-particleboard-crap.

  38. Marshmelly says:

    I’ll never understand this whole reluctance to show an ID. You show it to cops, to get on an airplane, to buy liquor, to buy cigs, to vote, probably some other things that have escaped me. Whats the big deal? Ikea’s policy already indicated that you needed an ID for the return…it wasn’t a surprise of any sort.

    Also, why the novel when the story is basically that he went to return an item, ikea asked for his ID, he didn’t want to provide that information. I don’t think that the fact that it caused his wife stress was really relevant.

  39. erinpac says:

    Why would exchanging a defective item not follow the exchange policy, which the OP doesn’t seem to have a problem with on its own?
    It’s still an exchange.

    Guess what… yes, defective items can be part of a fraud too.
    Many people will buy an item closer to them when theirs breaks or turns out defective – they don’t care about the price because they’re going to “return” that item, it’s convenient and an eternal (until they stop selling the item) free warranty source.
    Another one is picking up the defective garbage parts to switch for extras when you bought the item fine – now you have backups for the price of checking behind the store.

    Having a name can point out when you seem to say, buy a ton of defective stuff in January well after the holidays, and don’t seem to be connected to non-defective purchases.

  40. CapitalC says:

    It’s because they don’t want to get ripped off by Craigslisters.