Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Devil Wears Ikea

I hope it was my last time in Ikea.

It was necessary to return a mattress pad which didn't fit our bed. Our bed is Queen-sized; the mattress pad was Queen-sized as well. It should have fit. It didn't. I thought of just chucking it, but wasting something brand-new goes against my principles. I was in the neighborhood, so I took it back.

There were only two other people in the returning room. The ticker said #20. I got #52. I called out, "Are you using the numbers?"

A large, angry woman informed me that they were. She reached out and cranked all the numbers between 20 and 52. I'd be pissed off, too, if I had to wear those hideous bilious yellow and blue uniforms that shriek out for sunglasses.

"I have to return this because it didn't fit our bed," I said.

"You opened it," she snarled accusingly.

"That's how I know it didn't fit."

"You OPENED it," she repeated.

I ignored her lessons in logic. "The package says 'Queen' but it wasn't big enough. It must be marked wrong."

"We can't take back something you opened." She looked as if she wanted to punch me out. She was a lot bigger than I am, but I'm pretty brave.

"I wouldn't have returned it if it had fit. But it didn't."

She said, "Do you have an Ikea ----?"


"Do you have an Ikea ----?"

"I don't know what that is," I said. She was making sounds that were beyond mumbling. She was not foreign, just unintelligible.


Oh. Where's my damn conversion table? "No."

"Well, that's why it didn't fit. Our measurements are different."

"I've bought mattress pads before and if they're Queen-sized, they fit. This one didn't."

"You should have read it."

"It doesn't say anywhere that your measurements are different."

"I have to call my Supervisor," she said. Right in front of me, she yelled into the phone, "Got a Problem Customer here that don't agree with Our Policy."

Ten minutes later, another woman dressed for a hostile takeover in bilious yellow and blue arrived. I explained the situation. She glared at me.

"You opened it," she said.

"That's how I found out if wouldn't fit on my bed."

"Well, we can't sell it to another customer now. We don't know if you used it or not. It could be DIRTY." Watch it, sister. I'm twenty times cleaner than you are. And so are my germs.

"I had to OPEN it to try it on the bed. I didn't USE it because it didn't fit. If it HAD fit, I wouldn't have RETURNED it," I said.

"We have to charge you 30% for opening it," she snarled.

"It wouldn't work for another customer either Because It's The Wrong Size," I said. I did not add, "You miserable cow. You swine. You lowlife scumbag piece of shit stupidhead." I held my tongue. My mother would have been pleased. Also surprised.

Lucretia Borgia's face turned bright red and her wattles twitched like a turkey. You never want to make a turkey angry. I know we eat them and all, but they're really nasty animals.

"The dimensions are on the package. Right here. Did you measure the bed?"

"No. I don't know how many Inches it is. It's a Queen." (Fer Chrissakes.)

"You're saying The Package is WRONG?" Wattles waggling violently now. Cruella deVille was quivering with rage. A lot of misplaced emotion riding on this. Uh huh. Tell me about your childhood.

"It is not posted anywhere that Ikea sizes are different from normal sizes," I told her. I was right, of course. Not that it mattered.

I was really close to throwing it in her face. My misspent life was flashing before my eyes. Ikea makes me hyperventilate. I held out my arm so she could siphon all the blood out of it. I got my partial refund. I ran for the door.

As God is my witness, I will never set foot in Ikea again.


urban-urchin said...

This was hilarious. I'm sorry I am having a laugh at your expense.

What tremedous customer service.... I've encounter that at the Ikea in Emeryville, lovely folks.

If that had been me I'd be writing a letter to Ikea USA and letting them know I'm never setting foot in their store again and the reason why (I'm big on letter writing both good and bad)

Odat said...


djn said...

Geez... It's not like you were asking for your money back and then some. This post made my head hurt. I've never even heard of Ikea but it sounds counter productive to say it's a certain size all the while knowing your measurements are different than 100% of the other manufacturers of the same product. Dumb.

Glad you stood your ground but I think you should have gotten all of your money back -- and you should have had the opportunity to bitch slap the customer service reps.

mist1 said...

Every time I go to IKEA I need anti-anxiety meds.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Bingo! It WAS in Emeryville.

I intend to write to them. Last week, I wrote a letter in Flip's name to the president of Guitar Center and the president of Roland Corporation (mfr. of recording equipment) to complain about something. I haven't heard from either of them.

Customer Service is dead as a boot.


I've only been there 3 or 4 times, and got lost every one of them. Most of their merchandise is crummy besides.


Now you're talking. I would have liked to watch those two women bitch slap each other. Customer service my ass.


And a stiff drink or two would help. That place is a fertile field for nightmares.

Dan said...

I'm glad you were able to turn this into one of the funniest things I've read in a blog in some time!

Next time tell them that you feel a seizure coming on because they're giving you a hard time, then start drooling on the counter. That might speed them up. ;)

Flip said...

I didn't realize until yesterday that Ikea really is a slightly malevolent place.

It's good for people who like to shop in aircraft hangars.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I love your idea as long as I don't actually have to Have a seizure. Although that place could definitely induce one.


SLIGHTLY malevolent?

Christina_the_wench said...

IKEA IS the devil's sweatshop. Stay far, far away.

I did a post on this a few months back. We just got an IKEA here in the Detroit area. I'm still traumatized.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I missed that post. I'll check it out.

The devil IS in charge there. They have it arranged so you can't get out. Like a rat in a maze.

Or Deliverance in neon.

Cece said...

I LOVE the way you told that story! *clapping* I hate sucky ass customer service & their F*n restocking fees! Grrr

heartinsanfrancisco said...


The "restocking fee" is just plain scurvy robbery. In this case, they couldn't sell the item again, but it was their fault it was defective, not mine, so penalizing me doesn't make sense. They do it because they can.

And the ultimate indignity was having to go through all this with a store I hate anyway.

seventh sister said...

Yesterday I turned the radio on just intime to hear the end of a song that said "Jesus is coming, Let's welcome him with a sale."

Lex said...


I love IKEA. I'm willing to put up with a lot for a bargain, I guess.


Thailand Gal said...

Are they hiring androids these days? Seriously, I've never shopped there but your description sounds interesting. Amazing how much customer service people can take things personally. A little identity problem? (mwawk! :)



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Seventh Sister,

I LOVE it! What was the tacky commercial for?

Thanks for stopping by.


As long as I was there, I bought a set of plastic food storage containers for $4.99 which turned out to have about a gazillion of them in different sizes. A lifetime supply of tupperware w/o the hostess party.

It almost took away my pain from the customer svce insult.


Very low quality androids. They have much better ones in the department stores.

I'm sure you're right, that people who identify with their jobs so thoroughly have no real life. It's sad. But they were still quite nasty.

Goncalo Veiga said...

UFF! You really have to get that letter of complaint written down and sent to some headquarters, not there! They'll destroy the letter!!!

Whoa! I've been in places where they were rude but THAT! Did you check if they were HUMAN?!

GREAT BLOG by the way! ;) Found yours through Alchemy Anyone. If you want to exchange links stop by my blog and I'll link you. :)

Le Nightowl said...

You have my deepest sympathy :)
I have a friend in Wales (UK) who's has LOTS of trouble with I*** stuff too. Whatever the problem, their customers are always WRONG. Great company policy :)
No way I'll set foot in an I*** store... ever!
I'm sad you had to deal with such humourless people. The good side of this is your post :)

Pickled Olives said...

I love IKEA! I only had to return one thing once and they were awaesome! I got my sons bedroom stuff from them. He is pretty happy and it didn't break the bank.

As for your experience - damn! I think a big fat letter to HDQT is appropriate!!!!! They owe you a sincere appology!

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Whew. I've been warned. My daughter in Berlin was thinking of Ikea, now I'd better forward this to her. BTW, I love the Staten Island Ferry too. My last trip was days before that horrid crash.

heartinsanfrancisco said...



I would like to make a complaint. Your employees are not human. Please remedy this grievous situation immediately.

Thank you for your trouble.

Yours truly,
An Ex-Customer"

How's that?

Thank you for your visit. It's always exciting when I find a new blog.


Another New Person. Wow! Thanks for stopping by.

Apparently this is their company-wide policy, then. How awful. If they didn't have such low prices, they'd be out of business.


In your dreams (and mine) will I get an apology. But at least I got to besmirch their name in Blogville.

I'm glad you had a better experience. Their kid's stuff is cute.


The place is so vast, I guess it's almost a tourist attraction. Hard to avoid, anyway, as they're taking over the world.

Maybe when you're that big, you don't have to be nice to customers. I prefer to deal with companies that choose to be polite and if possible, reasonable.

katrice said...

Wow! I'm sorry this happened to you, and I agree. Customer service is a lost art. I have had nothing but good experiences with IKEA though. And they will rewrap that mattress pad and sell it in the As-Is section at a dirt-cheap price. I've gotten great bookcases from that section. The guys at our IKEA are so nice, they once threw in a $150 sofa cover for me for $10.

Send that exact letter to headquarters. It's dead-on.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If your Ikea people worked here, I'd probably go back. I happened to get the two women on earth who just had their birthdays stolen and were pms'ing besides. I'm lucky they didn't flay my hide.

Lex said...

I bought the same set last weekend. See what I mean?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


With blue lids. About a million of them. Does this make us Tupperware sisters?

zorak163 said...

I've been to Ikea once and it was exactly one time too many...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Couldn't agree more. Life's too short.

Thanks for your visit!

Liz said...

Oh, customer service and common sense are dead! I'm writing a letter to a business over how someone literally snarled at me when I asked a question and then told me that if I didn't like the answer, I could have his card and complain to management.

I try to tell myself that the lack of customer service is because folks are not earning a living wage and so they are angry at the world because they are barely making ends meet. I tell myself that the lack of common sense is due to number crunchers creating inane policies because they are focused on profits.

If they got to keep some of your money, they still made a partial profit and you'd better bet they'll sell that puppy on Ebay or in that part of the warehouse where they sell floor models.

The worst is definitely Macys where I was given shoe boxes with one shoe and then told to find the other ones "somewhere" in the shoe department.

BroLo said...

They probably base their sizes on European standards. Just like their customer service.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I don't think earning minimum wage is an excuse for being rude to those who are not responsible for it. It may be a Reason, but it is not an Excuse.

Bitterness only wastes energy that could be used to improve ones skills, including interacting with others, so that ones present job is not a dead end.

You have a great blog! Thanks for visiting mine.

Br. Lawrence,

Welcome! Your delightful blog disappeared, and I was so sorry as it was one of my favorites. I almost cried when I had to remove the link from my blogroll.

Your pithy comment makes me wonder ... how are things going in Rome?


Agh! I would not have been so nice. In fact if they didn't give me a full refund you probably would have heard about the ensuing scuffle on the evening news. ;)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Where were you when I needed you?

velvet girl said...

Is "Ikea" Swedish for "the company is always right"?

An Ikea opened somewhere around here a few years ago and I haven't been there yet. After hearing stories about it, I'm not exactly rushing out the door.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm sure it is, now that you mention it.

You could live a successful and happy life without ever going there. Unless your curiosity is of the feline persuasion. (And we all know how that one ended up.)