Saturday, March 30, 2013

30:31 -- Return debate...

Pulling up to a loading bay full of pickup trucks, we arrived at the blue and yellow Swedish megastore this afternoon. Finally. After a month of trepidation.

And sweat.
And nervousness
And confidence.
And then regret.

The four mixed in a unattractive recipe. One that always left me feeling unsettled, unsatisfied.

$300.  The dresser, although handsome and spacious, was nothing more than a glorified piece of cardboard.  And, better yet, it collected more scratches and dents than an appliance warehouse sale. This is the dresser we bought to stand up to Reid's growing up years.  But, somewhere in the middle of the whole assembly process he didn't even get the chance to test its durability -- because we couldn't make each and every component part (and there were hundreds) fit flush and plumb and...

Disaster.  Drilled holes in backward position does not a pretty dresser make.

Which is why we made the trip to the store again today.  To return it.  

Anticipating an unpleasant conversation with sales staff at the return counter, I folded and unfolded my receipt on my way through the gigantic glass doors that led toward Ikea's inner workings.  I shifted my stance and rocked in place (phantom baby syndrome, I guess) while waiting in line.  I watched other transactions.  I saw an opening with a new clerk...

Politely explaining the defective dresser piece, I felt like a human pin cushion.  She listened...and let me know that she'd seen the same problem this morning but the company doesn't offer cash refunds on products already in the assembly phase.  "Do you want to talk with a manager?"  

Nooooo, but yes.  "Yes, please."

She arrived; I issued my complaint, again.  Nonplussed, she stated that what is returned for cash is the store's jurisdiction and that my research call to corporate for preliminary answers was a waste of time:  "They just tell you what you want to hear to get you off the phone.  We have to check the piece out here to determine the real problem before we can do anything else.  It may be as simple as providing a replacement part or offering store credit."  Stunned at her candor toward corporate policy, I watched them wheel the dresser back to their makeshift repair lab.  Yellow shirts encircled it. Hushed voiced discussed it.  Workers laid on the floor around it. Out popped a drill.

I peeked back from time to time, which seemed to stretch out like a country highway with no real scenery to get excited about except the occasional old farmhouse.  They moved, I jumped.  They stepped closer to the return register, I jumped.  Yet, our destination...our verdict...remained out of sight.

Finally, she returned.  Her unnaturally bright pink lipstick spit out the words that had paved our 100-plus mile trip: "We'll just issue you the refund this time."

The first clerk, the empathetic one, stepped in to finish the transaction.  We glibly chatted while I signed the receipt. 

The sweat, nervousness, confidence, and regret separated and left.  I left too, learning a valuable lesson.

You get what you pay for.
(And, luckily this time, I wasn't stuck with what I paid for.)

Write on,


  1. You are an inspiration! Not only with the way you lay the story out (which is exquisite in every words you penned) but also facing the demons and standing up for your rights. I just wish I had a highlighter to mark all my favorite passages, but then it would have colored the whole page. Beautiful! I love this!

    1. You are so sweet, Elsie! I've loved talking writing with you this month -- I value your feedback. Seeing your name in my inbox always brings a smile to my face. Thank you...

      Happy Easter!

  2. Ikea has inspired some really funny blog posts. You did a great job with this small moment from the build-up to the message. Love that! If you haven't already read, you should check it out! Very, very funny post about Ikea and the Common Core.

    1. I did read that one! In fact, it came out shortly after we purchased our faulty dresser and I chuckled at their descriptions of Ikea products and directions, etc. I completely got it. Thanks for your kind words :).

  3. This is terrific, b. You made me fearful of the outcome! I want to tell you that one of the first things the movers asked me when we were discussing what would be moved is if I had any furniture from Ikea. They said they wouldn't cover it for damage, that it was too flimsy & fell apart too easily. Interesting, huh? We just got one of the stores about a year ago, & my daughter & I did spend some time there-amazing place. I literally got lost from her trying to go to the bathroom. I guess I'll stick with my old pieces and some small other purchases. Try estate sales sometimes. I just sold a lot of good pieces in my sale this past January.

  4. I've had great - and less than great - experiences at that store. I love how you took us on the trip of returning - and kept us wondering about the outcome - to the end. In some ways, it was just like IKEA - an experience!

  5. IKEA is a scary, scary place! I have a life policy- never buy anything where the finished product is a different shape than the box it comes in! YIKES!


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