My house is furnished by so much lovely Ikea furniture, our styles and budgets seem to match up, so it should be win/win right? Well frankly, no.
Their furniture is lovely, their store and customer service is not. Let’s talk about the store for a minute. My closest one is Ikea Warrington, iconic for a while as is was the only one in the North West. It’s on the Gemini Retail Park alongside a huge M&S and adjacent to your more standard Next, Boots & McDonalds.
It’s essentially a warehouse which makes for a VERY large, windowless shop. It’s on two levels starting with the showroom, leading eventually to the marketplace and till point. The store’s main issue for me is that once you are in, you can’t get out. No matter how hard you try, you have to walk through every single section to get to the till and exit. On Summer days they will prop open some doors which means you can bypass the odd section, but otherwise, every single time, you have to walk through everything. 🙈
Now for those familiar with the Warrington store, yes, I know you can go straight to the marketplace bit but often I am not sure where things are OR I want to look at the furniture to make sure it’s ok. So I invariably HAVE TO GO ROUND THE WHOLE BLOODY THING.
Over the last few years I have had consistently poor customer service from Ikea and I wanted to share with you why my relationship with Ikea is firmly in the category: “It’s complicated“.
Incident Number 1
A few years ago, my parents bought a bed from Ikea, which included bed frame, headboard and mattress. It was all supposed to be delivered together, but sadly it was not. In fact there were 3 attempted deliveries, some that included the bed frame, but no slats, one that included just the mattress, and one that had other bits missing. My parents refused the three deliveries as they didn’t want to have to store odd bits of bed without having everything. After the 3rd failed delivery, my parents had had enough and decided to cancel the order. But Ikea refused to give them a refund over the phone and we decided to go into the store to complain.
Ikea said they couldn’t give my parents a refund until their 3rd party delivery partner confirmed they had the bed back at their warehouse. They said this might take 2 weeks. They wouldn’t even try to sort it out sooner, refuding to make a simple call which would have done just that. I have to admit I got frustrated, might have raised my voice and was more or less asked to leave. I’m not proud of that, but I honestly felt, then and now, that they were wrong. My dad hadn’t paid the 3rd party delivery company for the bed, he had paid Ikea who had failed to deliver a bed. Why should he have had to wait so long for his money back?
I wrote to complain about their service, but they rebuked my complaint as I had raised my voice to their staff. I am by nature, a very calm person and not a person that ever really shouts, so you can only imagine how frustrated I was!
Incident Number 2
In 2017 we bought some PAX wardrobes from Ikea and as they do many different designs and configurations, we visited the store several times to make sure we were happy. As always, we had to trail around the whole store each and every time. Yawn. We did eventually make our decision and almost skipped to Ikea one last time, excited to make our purchase, I should have known better.
We schlepped around to the Wardrobey section and waited near the design area where there were usually Wardrobey peeps ready with their lukewarm advice. There was no-one there. So we waited for 5 minutes. Still no-one. I got fed up and M went to search. He couldn’t find anyone but eventually a young girl ambled towards me and proceeded to “assist” us in spending £1,200 on Ikea wardrobes. Her attitude and general manner was indifferent and if anything, irritated at our presence. We then asked about the fitting service, which was advertised on the Ikea website as 20% of the purchase price. Now this annoyed me, If I’m honest as I think this policy is very unfair. Why should how much I’ve paid for something impact on what it costs to fit? Anyway…as neither M or I can fit a thing, we had decided that we would just swallow the daft cost and get them to sort.
Turns out though, that Ikea DON’T fit, they employ a local company that we had to pay in cash on the day, which would be anything up to a week AFTER the wardrobe parts were delivered. The thing is, we had got gift cards to pay for our wardrobes and didn’t really WANT to pay CASH to a 3rd party company we didn’t know or have any choice of.
This whole transaction ended with the irritated Ikea peep asking, “So no fitting then?” with cocked head. “Noooo” I sighed. Awful.
Last WEEK, I went to Ikea with my best friend Karen to purchase a new Kitchen cabinet. I chose it before we went using the Ikea website and was expecting a short transaction. We arrived, found the kitcheny bit, checked out the cabinet, chose a colour, found an Ikea person to order from. So far so good. Cabinet ordering going well, until we reached the supplementary questions. “Do you need some feet?”, Me: “No I don’t think so”, Her: “Well you won’t be able to open the cupboard doors”. I gave Karen a look which I think accurately expressed “Well why did you fecking ask me then?”
So I agreed to feet, which she told us were around the corner, against the back wall in a variety of colours. Ok ace, we found the feet, picked a white pair, paid, picked the cupboard up from the off-site warehouse, loaded the car came home. Happy days…. I should have known better.
When we got home, M spent a fair old while putting the cupboard together, only to find I had the wrong feet and they didn’t fit. It was Sunday evening, so the next afternoon I went back to Ikea, found the Kitcheny bit and approached the Ikea Kitcheny peeps. I started to explain about the feet mis-match when she interrupted me
“Did you want Capita feet?”
Me: “No, I just wanted feet to go with the Matcha cupboard that I bought.”
Her: ” Well we have to order them.” Silence……
Me: “What does that mean?”
Her: “We have to order them and you have to pick them up from the off-site warehouse. I visibly sighed.
Me: “That’s really frustrating as I came yesterday and she told me that the feet were on the back wall — she told me that several times”.
Her: “No we have to order them, Would you like me to?”.
Her: “Ok that’s done for you, do you know where the offsite Warehouse is?”
Me (very pink in the face by this time) “YES BECAUSE I WENT THERE YESTERDAY!!”.
No apology, it was clearly their mistake, but she just didn’t seem that bothered.
So Ikea, I challenge you to do better. Things go wrong from time to time with customer based transactions, but good customer service is about how you deal with them that makes the real difference. How do you train your staff? What makes them so indifferent to customers and providing a good service? Maybe windows would help in your store? Who knows?
I have experienced all kinds of service from many many retailers in my life and Ikea ranks pretty low on the scale. So come on Ikea – do better, it’s not enough to make every home in the UK have a MALM set of drawers or a Billy bookcase, you need to make your customers feel valued. Because I certainly don’t.