The IKEA Fiasco

I mentioned yesterday that one of the things I did in the past week was make a trip to IKEA. Actually, I did this just yesterday, and boy was it exciting.

This whole shopping trip came about as I was planning to take my Morgantown friends Anne and Emily back to the airport after they visited with us last week. My Fresno friends Gay and Grace volunteered to accompany me on this trip, and after discovering that there is an IKEA just 15 miles from the San Jose airport, we planned to go there after we dropped Anne and Emily off.

We never set an exact time frame about how long we were planning to stay, but I had mentioned to the girls that I needed to not linger too long, since Jason would be watching the boys and wouldn't get much work done if I was gone too long. I guess I thought we would zip up to IKEA, look around for an hour or so, and then head back to Fresno.

Of course, by the time that we looked around the whole store (and ate lunch), it was probably 1:00. However, before I paid for my things, I had to go to customer service to talk to them about getting some more spare parts that we needed for the bunk bed that we have at home.

And this is where the trouble began.

When I first walked up to customer service, I noticed a sign with two parts. The first part read, "Take a number for customer service". The second part read, "If you just need spare parts, you do not need a number. Please proceed on to the spare parts counter." I happily walked over to the spare parts counter and found this sign, "The spare parts counter is closed. Please take a number."

Oh, here we go, I thought. Strike #1 against Spare Parts Acquisition With Ease. I took number 448, and about 15 minutes later, they called number 436.

As I was waiting with the masses for my number to be called, I noticed a little wooden set of drawers attached to the wall by where the Spare Parts Employee was supposed to be working. The sign above that said, "Why wait for spare parts? Take what you need here." Alas, not only were my bunk bed pins not one of the selected parts glued to the drawers, but none of the little drawers had any parts in them anyway. (Strike 2.)

About 45 minutes later (I kid you not), they finally called my number. I went up to the counter and said, "We have a HEMNES bunk bed at home, and we're missing some of the parts. We need some of the plastic pins that hold the wooden slats to the metal bars that run along the side of the bed under the mattress."

Joe Customer Service Dude (JCSD): "Do you have a receipt?"
Me: "No, we bought this probably three years ago."

This confounds Joe C.S.D, and he has to call the manager type guy over.

JCSD: (to 20-year-old manager-type): She says she bought this bed three years ago and she doesn't have a receipt."

I restrained myself from pointing out that the people who have taken all the spare parts from yonder drawers didn't have to have a receipt to get their parts, so why should I? Instead, I watched Manager Guy (MG) scroll through all the HEMNES furniture pieces in the computer, and then heard this:

MG: Are you sure it was a HEMNES bed, because I've never seen a HEMNES bunk bed before.
Me: "Well, um, I just saw one upstairs about 20 minutes ago."
MG: Do you know the name of it?
Me: Well, I think it's the HEMNES bunk bed. Can't you just look it up in the catalog? Or even better, call up to the bed department?
MG: Oh, no. We can't do that.

So, off Gay and I went back through the store and up to the bed department, where I wrote down all the information. We then made the return trek back to Customer Service. Fortunately we didn't have to take another number.

MG: So, what's the name of the bed?
Me: (as sweetly as I can muster) The HEMNES bunk bed.

He enters the number I wrote down into the computer.

MG: Oh, it's not in here because it says it's been discontinued.
Me: It can't be that discontinued. I just saw one upstairs.

I pause and think a bit.

Me: Can I just go up there and take some of the pins off of that one?

This amused him a little bit, but he said that I could not.

Me: Can't you just look up the parts list for this bed and get the number for this part?
MG: Nope, can't do that.
Me: Okay, surely other beds use this same part. (This is IKEA, mass producers of uniform furniture here.) Can't you just pull up the parts list, get the part number, and then enter that part number to see what other furniture also uses it?
MG: Afraid not.

Gay (thankfully cutting in): We do have one of these parts in the car - would it help if we show it to you?
MG: Well, that might help.

So off I go, out of the store and down into the parking garage where I had left the part earlier, thinking that surely I wouldn't need it since I already knew all the important information. I rush back to the desk and hold it up for him to see.

MG: Ohhh, I have plenty of these. How many do you need?
Me: (after I finished banging my head on the counter) 15, please.

After about five minutes, he comes back with a veritable plethora of plastic pins.

MG: Okay, these will be a dollar apiece....dramatic pause.....just kidding. Ha ha ha. Actually, you can have them for free for all your trouble.

Finally, parts in my purse, Gay and I went back to where Grace had been waiting for us. She had made the most of her time by calling everyone she knows on her cell phone, but was very ready to be moving on.

We rolled our big and heavy boxes to the register (I was buying a large bookcase, and Grace was buying a rolling kitchen island) where we paid for them. While I paid for my things, I had another interesting dialogue with Register Girl.

Me: Can you please tell me where I can get some help loading these into my car?
RG: Um, well, um, you might check down in customer service - at Home Delivery.
Me: (thinking that she misunderstood me) You're telling me that I need to check in Home Delivery to get someone to help me put these boxes in the car?
RG: Well, they might could tell you where you could find someone.
Me: Hmmm. Okay, how about a catalogue. Is the new catalog out yet?
RG: Ummm, I'm not sure. You could ask someone over there (gesturing vaguely toward Customer Service). They could tell you, or you could just look for one.
Me: Ah ha.

I decided that no way was I going to venture back into Customer Service Land, even if I did have very heavy boxes, so while Gay wandered off to look for the illusive catalogs, Grace and I decided just to push our carts to the nearest exit, and I would bring my car up close to it. We got Gay's purchases from her cart, added them to ours, and pushed our carts out the door.

I hustled back downstairs to get the van, brought it up, and despite not finding any help (also illusive), managed to get our boxes in.

Finally, we were finished and ready to go. However, as Gay got in, she noticed that some of her purchases were not there:

Gay: Where are my other things?
Me: Well, everything that was in your shopping cart we added to ours and brought it out. Did you buy something else?
Gay: Yes, I bought a few more things...
Grace: Well, maybe you left them inside.

Grace and Gay got out of the van and ran back inside to check. They came out laughing hysterically, quite tickled that Gay had just gone off and left her purchases on the end of the cash register belt. They told me exactly where they found it as we pulled out of the parking spot.

Gay: At least I wasn't the only one. Someone else had left their stuff, too. There was a rug, and some shelf liner.
Me: (Gasping) Wait. Was it a blue rug?
Gay: Yes, I think so.
Me: That's MY rug and shelf liner!

At this point, Gay and Grace go back in the store to retrieve my things, laughing so hard they were staggering. I was a little afraid that they weren't going to make it, but they did, staggering back out and we were - finally- off and back to Fresno.

The Spare Parts drama took one hour and 45 minutes. The Checking Out/Loading process (along with the abandoned goods retrieval) took about thirty more. We left at 3:30. We got back to Fresno around 6:30, almost 11 hours after we started the day. We were tired, shopped out, but in good spirits......and full of good memories.

Anonymous –   – (8 July 2009 at 09:07)  

And to think we missed another great adventure!! What a bummer!

AnneS. –   – (8 July 2009 at 09:08)  

And to think we missed another great adventure! What a bummer!

Grace –   – (8 July 2009 at 09:49)  

You said it perfected it is exactly the way it happen. We did have a great time. So glad I went.

Anonymous –   – (11 July 2009 at 09:31)  

I don't know you personally (just stumbled on your blog & enjoy your writing) but had to laugh out loud at your telling of "THE IKEA FIASCO". Your responses to JCSD, MG & RG (& your unsaid thoughts!) were exactly what mine would have been. Glad that you have found some fun friends!

Jen  – (30 July 2009 at 06:39)  

Anne told me to come here and catch up on some well told stories...
On to the next one!

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