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March 02, 2009

IKEA receipt? And fix my umbrella?

March 2. Day 245.

I'm behind on the updates, which is actually a good thing -- means I've been working on my diss all week and it's coming together!

Monday night, I headed to IKEA to return a dish rack, and I bought a few items (a different dish rack, a mini shelf and a magnetic knife bar). I went to auto-checkout, since the lines were endless everywhere else. The attendant there seemed ill. She was dazed, slouching, watery eyes, unresponsive... I hope it wasn't contagious. A few times I asked for help (since those machines are slow, they get blocked, need an authorization code), and finally I finished and left.

Ten minutes later, I realized the machine never spit out a receipt -- or if it did, that happened after I left. So I called IKEA to see what we could do. "Could I come by tomorrow to get a receipt?"

"I'm sorry, but we can't give a duplicate receipt."

"Well, there isn't an initial receipt."

"I'm sorry that happened."

"What about my credit card-- could you use that in case I need to return them?"

"No. Only the original receipt."

"Do you mean to tell me that when IKEAS's machine delays emitting a receipt, and IKEA's attendant is too sick or high to attend to her customers, then the customer is stuck with IKEA's faulty or unwanted merchandise?"

"Yes. That's our policy."

"Can I quote you on that? Even when I asked your employee for help twice, and the third time I called her over she completely ignored me and I gave up? Should I talk to her manager? Get her in trouble or fired? I don't want to do that. We all have bad days. But I want a receipt."

"I'm sorry that happened to you." Stone cold.

"Well," I said, slowly and calmly. "Let me tell you my policy. My policy is that I don't go to the media when I have a problem. But I happen to be a consumer blogger with a very wide reaching audience, and contacts who work for a mix of papers, and if you don't reconsider your policy, then I will reconsider mine. I will write about you, I will talk to CNN, I will tap into consumer advocacy groups, and go as far up the IKEA echelons as necessary... Maybe we'll get lucky and I won't want to return anything. But what if I'm not satisfied? How will we resolve this?"

Her voice changed. She gave me the number of her manager, gave me her full name, and told me to call back in the morning.

"I can't do anything for you here, but if you talk to them, I don't know, maybe they can help."

(Yes, I played the blogger card, but it was more of an experiment -- I've never done it before and I'll never do it again, but I was curious: would I have the guts to make a threat? and would it open doors? Apparently, I did -- and it did. If I was just Average Jane calling with a complaint, I probably would have been kicked to the curb. Yuck.)

Gained: Contact info.... and rising disgust with IKEA. Meanwhile, I see a slew of complaints here and here. Until today, I thought they were the good guy. Rather overpriced given they sell particle board, but cute designs and a good mission -- bring style to every day homes. Not anymore.

Yes. They have the right to institute whatever policy they want, as long as it's legal. And I have the right to make a big fuss about it. Yay, First amendment!

My second asking (which came earlier in the day, but I want to end on a high note):

Months ago, when La Divina was visiting, I took her to a great Asian overstock store -- a total hole in the wall -- and we spotted two paper umbrellas. We both wanted to affix them to our ceiling lights somehow, ideally by cutting the handles and hanging the open umbrellas from the screws where the bulb goes.

She took an umbrella with her to Milano, and I've been here, trying to find a saw, or buy one, or borrow one. Since January.

"Why don't you go to Home Depot ask? 'Oh, Mister hardware expert, could you help me out?' " Mr. A asked, batting his eyelashes. He has a point. Using womanly wiles to get what I want? Why not?!

But before I made it to Home Depot, a better opportunity presented itself... for a contractor from Maintenance Magic came by to fix those outlets and screens at long last.

I asked if he had a saw I could borrow, and he said yes. Then, he ended up helping me saw it, since it was too unstable for one person to hold onto.

Gained II: A spiffy new lampshade! It looks kind of like this, but not so ornate, and it has cherry blossoms and a birdie painted on it.
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