IKEA: a customer service tragedy in 4 Acts

ikea-logoSince I have genuinely tried to sort this out with IKEA and am getting nowhere and it’s costing me time and money, I will put this out there in the hope that someone up in the arcanes of the company will realise what a mess their system is when the “Computer Says No”…. It may even give you a laugh on a dreary Monday morning.

I hereby introduce my IKEA saga: “A customer service tragedy in 4 acts.”

ACT 1: I tried to purchase an IKEA conference table from the IKEA show floor in Dublin, ref number xxxxx. It was out of stock. I was told to call and check its availability as they were due a delivery between November 18 and 24. I called back on the 18th and was informed they had 13 in stock.

ACT 2: I went up to the store, taking time off work to do so one afternoon. At the show floor, the assistant informed me that the system was misleading and that they did NOT, in fact, have this item in stock. She informed me that I should head to customer services to inform them, which I did.

ACT 3: At customer services, I was told that they DID in fact have the item in stock. I proceeded to make the order there and then, pay with credit card and wait for the item to come out of storage so I could ship it. After around 40 minutes of waiting, I approached the staff at the delivery zone to ask where my table was. I was informed that they did NOT have it in stock… the fact that a pallet full of the tables was lost somewhere in the warehouse was also mentioned. Surreal.

So at that point I had phoned, spoken to three staff and actually PAID for the item and IKEA had changed its mind the equivalent number of times about its stock situation. I was awarded a refund on the credit card and sent away with promises that I would get a call as soon as the stock was in, that I could pay over the phone and that the item would be delivered to me for free.

ACT 4: Five days later, I received a missed call from the IKEA helpline, informing me that I had to call back to pay and receive my table. I called back this morning, fought with the automated voice response system, eventually was put on hold where I held on for dear life through 20 minutes of musical ADD before I gave up as the call was costing me a fortune at this point. So I came online, found this form and have been pre-warned that IKEA’s response time to these types of emails is 12 days…. 12 DAYS?!!?

Epilogue: My message to IKEA following this ‘Customer Service Tragedy in 4 Acts’ is thus: “I have been a customer of yours since I was a child. I played on your furniture, in your kids room, pretended your show floor was my house. I’ve bought bookshelves, tables, chairs… It works like clockwork until a glitch in the system appears. Then it’s chaos and you have no way of managing it.”

“Your staff was pleasant, courteous and polite and I commend them for it, but my interaction with them so far has been a series of pointless platitudes. Nobody seems to be in charge at the Dublin store! Please rectify this. If you are interested in my custom and you decide you have found the pallets or the secret stash of tables, you can give me a call. Please only do so if you have the item in stock as I have not another minute to waste on this. And to be honest, it’s more than likely that in the 12 days it takes you to get round to this, I’ll have long since bought another table and will be happily forgetting about you. Good day to you.”

UPDATE:

Ikea did finally get back to me – a couple of hours after I posted a link to this blog post to their Facebook page actually – and arranged for my table to be paid for over the phone and delivered for free. I then received 4 more phone calls from the UK call centre, well after the Irish operation had sorted my situation out, asking me to hand over my credit card details for a payment and delivery that they did not seem to know had been completed…

It turns out that my experience is the result of a wider supply chain disaster, linked to the fact that the Irish operation is simply a subset of the UK operation. The company is apparently working on solving this in 2014 but until that happens, Irish stock information is not handled separately from UK stock information, which leads to situations like my table saga. The answer here doesn’t seem to be a simple DIY job, unfortunately.

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About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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