I haven’t really ever been a huge fan of Ikea. Their huge warehouses of stores and crazy modern decor are just not my style. While we have been able to find a couple items there in the past I doubt that we will be shopping there much more in the future.
My first experience with Ikea was when they opened their store in Draper, UT sometime in 2007. It reminded me of Disneyland, but without the rides and characters. (Although the employees in their bright yellow shirts might have been able to pass as some type of cartoon character.) On our first trip we parked the car in section D98 and began our half mile trek to the store. Upon entering we were herded like cattle to the second floor and began our slow windy course through the upper floor and then to the main floor. We happened to fall upon a semi-classical night stand which we decided to purchase. We jotted down the product location and continued on. After wandering through the store for what felt like hours we were finally ready to pickup our beloved night stand and checkout.
Enter the warehouse. You already feel like you’re in a warehouse as you shop, the unfinished ceiling shows off its steel support beams and ventilation systems and product is placed almost haphazardly throughout the store still on their original shipping crates. Do not be misguided this is not the warehouse. The warehouse is where you have to go to actually find your product to take home with you and is devoid of all color and filled with boxes. We fearfully sidestepped leaning towers of boxes and made our way to where our nightstand was waiting for us.
Once in our arms we continued to checkout. In traditional Walmart style Ikea has mastered the art of always not having enough cashiers available. Once they see that a cashier has less than a half dozen customers in line, they promptly send that cashier home and send the waiting customers to wait in longer lines. It is all part of the experience they say. To make it worse, there are no clearly defined lines and when the density of people in front of a cashier lightens up customers are forced to make a mad dash to the open space with vain hopes of being able to checkout. You may say, but they have self checkout! Don’t get me started on self checkout. Self checkout fails to greet me with a smile and leaves you wondering why it won’t let you continue until you realize your wife mistakenly placed the last object on the scale in such a way that it leans slightly on the side wall so it won’t weight properly.
Once checked out you are free to leave, except you cannot take your cart more than 10 feet outside of the store. Alone? Tough luck. You better find someone to watch your cart full of items for you while you trek out to B98 to get your car. Or if you have the strength and perseverance you can carry the product out to your car.
Our trip to the Chicago Ikea was no different than my first experience, except instead of two floors, there were three.
Our purpose in going there was to find the missing partner of our nightstand and perhaps see what baby furniture they had (Babies R Us had much better stuff for nearly the same prices). So after what seemed like hours of searching we finally found the displays of nightstands and located the one we wanted. We carefully wrote down its warehouse location and we were on our way. Once again we walked precariously through the death trap warehouse, located our nightstand and were on our way to checkout. We quickly located an opening in the crowd and squeezed in and miraculously made it to checkout quite quickly. The checkout guy taught me how to use the credit card reader (my credit card’s magnetic strip is worn out and rarely swipes) and we were ready for the long trek out to our car.
So, really it wasn’t that horrible, I guess.
Fast forward six hours.
After the three plus hour drive home (bad traffic) I lugged the new night stand upstairs so that I could assemble it. I pulled out my knife to cut the tape and noticed that it didn’t look quite right. It looked like someone had taped over the original tape. I thought nothing of it and continued to open the box. Once open I began to pull out the various parts, a few blocks of wood, an opened bag of screws, and an instruction book. Now I was suspicious. Why was the bag of screws open? I decided that I should probably make sure all of the screws were there so I flipped open the instruction book (which I normally wouldn’t do) and made sure that all of the screws were there, and they were.
Slightly annoyed that the bag of screws was already opened I started looking for the first pieces of the puzzle. I located the first side and noticed that the holes looked like they had already had screws in them!
Now I was bugged, but whatever. Someone had gotten it home, started assembling it, and then decided they didn’t want it. So they meticulously repackaged the night stand and returned it as new (or they returned it open and the Ikea employee repackaged it for resale as new). Not a huge deal. Ethically shady, but not the end of the world.
So I pulled out the first screw and noticed that the head was stripped out a little bit. Ugh. I grabbed the next screw, and the same thing. The next one was even worse, it was defective.
Here I was on the first step and I was already stuck. The first three screws were still usable, but the last one was going nowhere. So here I am 3 hours away from the nearest Ikea with a night stand that I can’t put together. I’ve heard their customer service is horrible so instead of wasting the time to try calling them I’ll probably goto the hardware store and grab some screws.
So thank you Ikea for selling us a used item. I hope to never shop there again.