Since I had heard so many horrific stories about dealing with Ikea over the phone, I decided – as I do with companies that are too successful to care (usually airlines, Windows “Help” centers, and – to make a multi-phone approach to calling.
I called their main line with the house phone, I called an alternative “online ordering only” call-center with The Wife’s phone, and I used a sweet app on my phone (it’s called Fast Customer: it basically calls the company for you, waits on hold for you, and then calls you back as soon as a real person picks up the phone).
After about 15 minutes on hold I made a sandwich. Blueberry jam (not jelly; jelly is for kids).
After about 30 minutes I wrestled with the kids. My crotch was only stepped on once.
After about 45 minutes I started to think: why would a company still do business like this? Back when I was younger, like when I had a recall on my first car and had to call the “Recall Center” to find a repairshop near me, this was business-as-usual. That was before places like eBay made it possible to buy anything anywhere and before FedEx made is possible to ship it. That was before every major company had a mathematician on its payroll. “Queuing theory” used to be gay slang for glory holes in a rest area, now it’s the reason you only wait 45 minutes for any ride at Universal Studios.
Is it because they know their product is so good and their customer base is so loyal that they can get away with this (call Apple sometime without an AppleCare account and see how long it takes)? Or is it the opposite; is it because they know their product is so bad they know most people will hang up after an hour? Or maybe it’s because their a furniture store and shipping one replacement item costs just as much as shipping an entire kitchen –
Just then, The Wife’s phone stopped playing smooth jazz.
Acladia, the head of Online Kitchen Service picked up. That’s right: the HEAD. She explained to me that there was “a big snow storm in Maryland so there aren’t a lot of people working right now” and that this wait time was isolated. I was going to point her to Google where she could look up “Ikea” and “costumer service” and possibly “phone” to disprove her, but that wouldn’t help me get my two drawers, two doors, and trim.
Once the wait time was over, it was pretty quick. I explained that I bought 184 items, five were damaged and needed to be replaced but that the company no longer makes these products, so I needed them quickly before the stock is depleted (it was the only time I’ve ever used the word “depleted”). I heard a lot of typing. She said, “Ok. I’ve sent this to the store manager. You should hear from us in a few days.”
After about 70 minutes of phone time, it took about 9 minutes of conversation.
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