August 2, 2015
I’m going to tell you a tiny story about a not so tiny Swedish furniture manufacturer. It’s a story that has unfortunately been going on for over a year now, slowly eating away at my sanity. It’s possible I’m overreacting to this. It’s possible that I’m so tired from solving problems on my tiny house that little things are upsetting me more than they should. But I don’t think so. I’m hoping you will read the story and let me know what you think and what you would do. Am I off-base being as upset as I am about this?
I’m a little but miffed because I have been trying for a year now to buy toe kick plates for the kitchen cabinets I purchased at IKEA. I and having real difficulty understanding why a company would make it so difficult to buy the pieces you need to assemble the kitchen cabinets they sell. It feels to me like IKEA is constantly going out of their way to find new and creative ways to torture their customers, but maybe I’m the only one that feels like this. After all, every time I go in there, the place is packed. I wonder if other people just don’t notice or if they just don’t mind being regularly abused by the retail establishments they visit. Maybe it’s all the same people who like to hang out in the crowds at Costco.
When my wife and I visited IKEA for the first time to look at kitchen cabinets, we found some that we liked We worked with a seemingly helpful associate to assemble a whole list of all the various pieces that we needed and at the end of the process, I was actually kind of excited. I was really looking forward to having at least one thing inside the tiny house that I didn’t have to design and build myself, something that actually came with instructions.
Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived. It was only at the very end of the hour-long process of assembling our kitchen cabinet shopping list that we were informed that it was impossible for us to order any of what we had just added to our list. We had made the poor decision of being environmentally conscious by visiting IKEA for the first time on our bikes instead of in our car and it turns out that you cannot purchase a single thing from IKEA unless you can take it away from the store the very same day. You cannot put it on hold. You cannot order it in advance. You cannot have it waiting at the store when you arrive some other day. There is absolutely nothing you can do other than to come back and start the whole process over again. It seems like kind of an inefficient way to run a store, but whatever. That’s their policy. It was our first time to the store and we didn’t know any better so I guess you can argue that was our mistake.
So the next day, armed with new hope that I could actually go home some kitchen cabinets, I went back to IKEA with the car to try again to get them. Of course, even though I knew exactly what I wanted, I still had to walk through the entire store to the kitchen department, sign in on a list and wait 30 minutes for an associate to help me order the stuff that they already had saved on their computer the day before. The only problem was that in the 24 hours since I had first visited, they had run out of toe kick plates. I was a bit annoyed by this, but also naively thought that I was close to the end of the process. I mean, how hard could it be to order a few toe kick plates and pick them up sometime in the future?
It turns out it’s impossible. You cannot order anything at IKEA and have it reasonably delivered anywhere. I was told by the associate that the only way that I could get my toe kick plates was either to have them delivered to the Hayward warehouse an hour from my house, pay them 60 bucks for home delivery or just keep coming back to the store over and over again until they happened to have them in stock. At this point, I probably should have left the store and found kitchen cabinets somewhere else. However, I am a pretty good problem solver and for some reason, I still had hope that I could solve this problem.
I can’t believe how wrong I was. Not only would I not be able to solve the toe kick problem – ever – I could barely even get out of the store with the stuff I had already purchased. I was soon to discover that once you order your cabinets, you have to go downstairs and wait for them to assemble the order. This makes very little sense to me. Before I even arrived at the store, I knew what I wanted and IKEA knew what I wanted. Was there really no possible way to have my cabinets waiting for me when I arrived? After 45 minutes of twiddling my thumbs, I was so upset that I asked if I could cancel my order and get my money back. Unfortunately, I was told that was also impossible. The only way I could return my order was to wait until my order was ready, pick it up and then wait in a different line to return it. After 15 more minutes of agony, I finally went to the counter to inquire about my order only to find out that they had finished assembling it 40 minutes ago and simply forgotten to put my name on the board.
Over the next 12 months (yes, 12 months), whenever I felt like I had the energy and time to have my soul crushed a little bit, I would return to IKEA looking for my toe kick plates. Someone might as well have posted a sign out front saying, “Abandon hope all he who enter here,” because every single time, I had to walk through the entire store, go to the kitchen department, sign in and wait 30 minutes for somebody to finally tell me that they still did not have my toe kick plates.
This depressing process continued until last night when I went to IKEA for what I think will be the last time in my entire life. Last night I heard something new, something I had never heard before. Unfortunately, it was not a good news. Last night, they told me that not only were my toe kick plates not available, but they had discontinued my line of kitchen cabinets and they would never, ever be getting more of those toe kick plates. Yes, I have actually been looking for my toe kick plates for so long that IKEA discontinued my cabinets while I was looking. The associate I talked to said that IKEA would continue to stock replacement parts for my cabinets until October, 2015. However, in order to get them I would still either have to drive to Hayward or pay them $60 for delivery. And of course, the only way to even start that process would be to go back to IKEA, walk through the entire store, put my name on a list and wait 30 minutes for an associate to help me.
I feel kind of like I have swallowed a bottle of crazy pills. I now have $1000 of kitchen cabinets in my tiny house that look ridiculous because they have no toe kick plate and as far as I can tell, never will. I can’t believe my only options at this point are to go without toe kick plates, spend hours designing and building my own toe kick plates which I’m sure will never match my cabinets, waste another three hours driving to Hayward and back (plus probably another hour waiting for them to fill my order), or pay IKEA $60 to have $45 in parts delivered to my house. Again, maybe it’s just me, but none of those options seem acceptable. None of them.
Which one of the terrible of the options above would you pick? Am I overreacting or does all of this seem crazy to you also? Is there some other option I am not seeing? Should I send this blog entry to IKEA customer support and see if they will do anything about this? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would do.