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?

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.