Plain Speaking

Alternatives to IKEA?

I’m really ticked. Exasperated. Irked. Put out. Annoyed. Peeved. Miffed. Nettled. Narked. A Bit Cross.

That’s it! I’m “A Bit Cross.” To recapitulate:

The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. —attributed to John Cleese

am A Bit Cross. The British equivalent of DEFCON 2: “Armed forces ready to deploy and engage in less than six hours.” Better take cover, or at least, stand aside.

This morning I climbed into my new Nissan Rogue Sport (nice car), and drove myself to the IKEA in Robinson Township, just outside Pittsburgh. A carefully-timed expedition. (It’s not all that far–about 45 minutes, if you plan ahead–but it’s on the way to the airport, and if you travel at peak times, it can take two or three times as long.) My goal was to find a particular bookcase (some variant of Billy, the world’s most popular bookshelf), with a name which makes me go all funny, like Rowan Atkinson trying to enunciate the name of the groom in Four Weddings and a Funeral:

I know! It’s Plånkäpvöbbåklöpsedel. Or something like that. Please forgive me. My brother was born in 1968, and was part of the first Sesame Street Generation. As a young woman, I was frightened by the Swedish Chef, and it’s taken me half-a century to own up and face it. #JagOckså.

Anyhoo, they didn’t have the thing I was looking for, whatever it’s called, in stock. (I was thrilled to discover that there’s a thread on the Internet dedicated to fake IKEA names. My favorite so far might be PARTIKKALBØRD.)

No worries, I thought. I’ll just order it online, and have it delivered.

So I drove home, and tried that.

Never mind the fact that, three months ago, IKEA took my order for two Billy bookshelves with glass doors (they’re quite nice) and happily delivered them to my address–today they tell me they can’t possibly deliver all the way out here, because–you guessed it–COVID! Instead, they invite me to order using something they call “Click and Collect.”

“Right.” I say to myself. “This must be like what Boutique Tarjay, and Lowes, and Home Depot, and everyone else I buy from online does. I can order online, and they’ll ship the item to my closest store, and I can pick it up there. I can live with that.” Because I am a rational, reasonable person.

So I try to order my bookshelf using “Click and Collect.” Except it tells me that the only places I can pick the damn thing up are in Columbus, OH (156 miles) or Philadelphia, PA (311 miles).

So I call IKEA customer service. Wherein, I find that 1) If it’s not in stock, I can’t go to the store and get it. (Duh.) 2) They don’t deliver to my area because, COVID (😱😱😱). 3) To use “Click and Collect,” the item must be at the store. So if I try to order something that isn’t currently in stock at the Robinson Twp. IKEA, they won’t find it somewhere else and ship it there for me so I can pick it up–I actually have to drive to the store that has it, in this case, either Columbus or Philadelphia. Apparently, that’s IKEA policy. They won’t ship items between their stores for customer convenience.

“Well,” I say to the nice lady on the phone, “This is great. Sounds like I am trying to spend $600 with IKEA, and you don’t want my money, and you don’t want me as a customer.” She really had nothing to say in response.

Not her fault. No sense beating her up. So we parted on friendly terms, and I went online to Target.

They had something, not exactly what I wanted, but close enough. I ordered two from the Washington store. They had one in stock. I’ve picked it up already. The second one is being shipped, free of charge, from I don’t know where, and should be deposited in my driveway sometime on Tuesday of next week.

Now I’m not super-thrilled about Target, although my local iteration of it doesn’t mind saying “Merry Christmas,” and still has “Men” and “Women” signs on the restrooms (I do proudly live among Les Deplorables, after all). But at least Target seems to have a notion of what used to be called “customer service.,” but which seems to be transitioning (carefully chosen word) to an “I’m not here to cater to your [insert name of particular] fragility,” attitude.  IKEA just seems to have gotten there sooner.

So I’m asking: Are there useful alternatives to IKEA, and if so, what are they?

1 thought on “Alternatives to IKEA?”

  1. I just find it incredible that a company which can successfully deploy and distribute product to its stores in 52 countries, and which has almost $50B in annual revenues, a company which (according to Wikipedia, anyway) is responsible for one-percent of the wood consumption in the world, should find it impossible to ship product between its own stores (like all the other boys and girls) for customer convenience, and should suggest, with a straight face, that I might take a 300-mile, or a 600-mile, round trip just to pick it up.

Leave a Reply