Customer Service Screw-ups by Ikea, Sleep Country & Canadian Tire

IKEA hasn't figured everything out

IKEA is more customer friendly than when I was her age, but it still has a way to go.

My credit card was burning this September, as I helped my daughter move into her first apartment.

Sadly, it wasn’t just my credit card that got burned. Right when I think Canadian retailers are finally starting to care about customer service I get fresh reminders that they still haven’t figured it out.

Strike 1: IKEA

Before leaving Edmonton we’d spent hours on the IKEA website and hours more at the store deciding what furnishings to buy. We tried to place an order for delivery to her apartment in Toronto.

The first time we called we were too early; nobody would be in Toronto yet to receive it. So we tried a few days later and were told that it could not be delivered until September 10. This was a problem, since I had booked off September 2-5 to go to Toronto and help her set up the apartment (including teaching her how to build IKEA furniture).

So we hunted around online to see if we could hire somebody to pick the furniture up for us and deliver it on September 2. Called IKEA back and discovered that even though their stores are warehouses, they do not allow customers to order online and pick up in store.

No In-Store Pickup at IKEA???

Personally I would think that  if little retailers with limited space can cope with in-store pickup, surely a place like IKEA could.

So we were going to have to find a way to get ourselves to IKEA, somehow predict the timing right so that we could buy all the stuff and then meet the moving man. And since he wouldn’t have room in his van to drive both of us back into town, one of us would have to go back on transit while the other took a ride in a cargo van with a stranger.

Life got a little more complicated when the guy we thought we had hired stopped answering his phone and his emails. When we landed in Toronto there was still no word from him, so we spent the cab ride into town furiously trying to rent a truck or van.

No dice. Every truck or van in town had already been rented.

So my cousin volunteered her husband to meet us at IKEA and fit what he could into the car, and we’d simply have to wait for IKEA to be able to deliver the rest (including my daughter’s bed).

A Happy Surprise

When we got to the checkout counter we asked if it would be possible, after we had paid for things, to arrange for those that didn’t fit in the car to be shipped. “Sure thing,” said the friendly checkout clerk. “We can get that out to you tonight if you’d like.” Really??

Turns out that the reason we couldn’t rent a truck was because IKEA had quite sensibly rented a bunch of them knowing that there would be many people during that first week of September needing deliveries. So kudos to IKEA for having done that, but why the heck couldn’t they have told us that on the telephone?

Process Problems

This is a classic example of where internal processes have let them down on the customer experience side. Yes, of course we were thrilled to be able to get the stuff delivered that night (apart from the beds which had sold out by the day we got there). But when I think of all the stress and hours we spent trying to arrange for pickup or rental beforehand, and the multiple conversations we’d had with customer support at IKEA to try to get something arranged, we ended up with very mixed feelings about the company instead of being the raving ecstatic fans we could have been if they’d got it right all through the system.

Turns out this is not the only area where IKEA has process problems.

I had a couple of questions when we were first hunting online, but when I tried their customer service line, it wasn’t working. I tried a few times, then tried Tweeting. (The times in the screenshots below look a little odd because of a time zone difference.)
Twitter exchange w IKEASadly, that great initial speed of response didn’t continue. I sent them my contact info and never heard back.

A couple of hours later later I decided to post the questions I wanted to ask customer service, since their phone still wasn’t working. We were ordering many items, and I wanted to make sure the delivery fees weren’t per item.

questions for IKEA customer service

I would have asked privately if their phone worked.

These questions were never acknowledged or answered. Major #fail.

Oddly, three days later I got this message from IKEA:

Ikea aug25

New customer service / social media person on shift today?

And then, another 4 days later, yet another one:

ikea aug29

Another new person on staff today?

Never did get an answer to my questions though. Nor did anyone ever get in direct contact with me. Clearly there is a disconnect between their social media staff and their customer service staff. And possibly a communication problem within the social media team too.

Strike 2: Sleep Country

Since IKEA had sold out of beds, we ended up at Sleep Country. Surely, we thought, Sleep Country is set up for deliveries.

Well, it turns out that it would be 10 days or so before they could deliver as well. By this point we felt we had few options, so my daughter realized she’d simply have to sleep on the couch until the bed could get there. While we were in the store we ordered a contoured pillow. It was far from their fanciest or most expensive pillow, and apparently was the last one they had in stock, but the salesman ensured us that it would be delivered together with the bed.

When the bed was finally delivered, surprise, surprise, there was no pillow. She asked the delivery people but they knew nothing about it. She called the store, and eventually they acknowledged that we had bought and paid for the pillow, and said someone would call her back to arrange for delivery. She never got a call back and never got the pillow. (And I never got a refund of my credit card.)

UPDATE (November 10, 2014): I got a call and email from Sleep Country today, saying they want to “make it right”. Took a while, but at least they’ve finally followed up! The others have not.

Strike Three: Canadian Tire

With the furniture dealt with, the next stop was Canadian Tire to pick up dishes, household cleaning accessories, etc.

It was a madhouse. To their credit, the staff on the floors were working very hard trying to answer questions and help the throng. I hope they got extra pay for their hard work that day!

We bought dozens of items, and spent about $500. It took a few days before we realized that they had not bagged the toaster oven we had bought. So my daughter (who is finally learning to keep receipts) went back to the store to ask about it. They checked their security tapes, and sure enough the checkout clerk had put it on the floor instead of into the bag.

But rather than letting her simply take the toaster oven she had purchased (or an equivalent one) they were only willing to give her in-store credit for the 50% off sale price and, of course, now the sale was over.

I would understand that if they were simply taking her word for the fact that the item hadn’t been put in her bag, but they had the proof! They acknowledged that it was their screw-up! And yet they still wouldn’t do the right thing. 

Are We Being Unreasonable?

I don’t think so. Sure I could (and probably will) call Sleep Country and hassle them for the refund. But, honestly, I shouldn’t have to waste my time this way! And I have a sneaky suspicion that if I had been there at Canadian Tire when she tried to get her toaster oven, they would have been persuaded to do the right thing. Sometimes being as old as the clerk’s mom can be an advantage.

What do you think?

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