IKEA Charges $60 Restocking Fee On Defective Bookcase

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

Drew writes:

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

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

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

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

That’s when the trouble started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo:Sun Dazed)