If I don’t step foot in another IKEA again for a long time, it still probably will not have been long enough. And that hurts, because I really did like poking around inside their gigantic showrooms. Although I stopped buying furniture there a while ago (because it tends to not last too long), it was a good place to pick up all sorts of knick-knacks for the house.
But no more, not if I can help it.
Last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a trip to IKEA. The reason? We had a gift card to the store and we needed a few things for our kitchen. We do not have an IKEA in our neighborhood and it takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the closest one. So we headed out, found a parking spot eventually (I thought people stopped shopping after Christmas!) and spent the next 2.5 hours walking through the store. We picked up a new dish drainer, a few glass storage jars for rice and pasta, a picture frame for an oversize print I am having made, and a few other odds and ends. The reason it took so long just to get these couple of items was because the store is so big and there is so much to go through. OK, so now we are done shopping.
Heading down to the register, we seemingly encounter every resident of Los Angeles standing in line. I am not kidding – there were at least 15 people in each line ahead of us, but whatever – we had already spent 2.5 hours shopping, so might as well stand in line and buy the stuff we came for. After being in line for a little while, I calculated that we had been gone from our house for about 3.5 hours just to go to IKEA. Insanity, I tell you. But then came the kicker…after ringing up my purchases, I hand the girl my gift card, and she says:
“Sorry, we are not taking gift cards right now, our system is down.” Um, what?
She proceeded to tell me that she could take cash, check or credit card, but that they could not process my gift card. So I asked for the manager, and she sent me over to this guy sitting behind what looked like bullet-proof glass (do they have that many problems with customers?). He told me the same thing – the system is down, nothing he can do, sorry. I told him it would have been nice if they had put a sign on the front door and told people that, but he said nothing. So I asked to speak to the “real” manager of the store, and some woman came out with the same story – “sorry, that system is down, we cannot process it”. At this point I was fuming because I had left my house almost 4 hours earlier just to pick up some random stuff, only to find out I had to pay for it with my own money instead of using the gift card. Wait, isn’t a gift card the same as cash? So aren’t they, in fact, not giving me the money that someone else gave to them, for me to use? There has to be a law against this somewhere… Anyway, I then proceeded to do her job for her, by coming up with a few ways to make this customer happy:
1. Exchange my gift card for a store credit worth the difference between what I was buying and what was left on the card. They called the phone number, they know how much the card was worth. Nope, no dice. Sorry sir.
2. Take my gift card, deduct the value of what I was buying, and issue a new gift card back to me with the balance. If people can buy stuff, then they can buy gift cards, which means they can issue one. Nope, no dice. Sorry sir.
3. Let me take the stuff home, and they can figure it out later. I offered to let them keep the card and have them figure it out when their system is “up”, and mail me back the card. Nope, no dice. Sorry sir.
So after hours in this IKEA store and dealing with such an incompetent manager, my wife and I walked out without buying anything. The stuff we were buying was not that expensive but it was the principal of the matter – in effect, they were holding money that someone had given them for the gift card, and they were not allowing (or accommodating) a customer to use said money. And I would understand if the store was closed, or all their phones were dead, or they were not taking credit cards…but those scenarios were not the case. It was just that they were not processing gift cards for some reason, and they did not bother telling a single patron of this before they got to the front of the line. The girls behind me in line were going to use a gift card, and the guy in the line next to me said “They are not accepting gift cards? What a load of crap”. I imagine that there were a lot of unhappy customers that day, seeing as how people probably got gift cards for Christmas and were looking to use them that day.
I plan on selling my gift card and letting someone else deal with the store because I have zero interest in going back anytime soon…especially with any of my own money Let that be a warning to anyone – some days, IKEA does not take gift cards and will not make any adjustments to try to make the customer happy – so you might want to ask at the front before spending hours wandering through the store. Can you tell I am peeved?
Ahh, I can let it go now…