My experience in a Great Big Shop

Right.  Let’s get back to power tools.

My new house is small and rather poorly equipped and in order to accommodate my books and all the other stuff with which I surround myself, I am obliged to put up shelves, perform some necessary repairs and put up a new kitchen cabinet.  To this end, and with the help of  ‘Sean’ the rather scrumptious Southern Irish manifestation of my SatNav, The Boys and I set sail for Ikea in Coventry.

When we arrived, we thought we’d start by finding the cafe and having a drink and a biscuit to fortify us on our quest for cheap, mass-produced, flat-packed items.  We were herded into a fenced off queueing area such as one might see at a livestock market at the end of which was a long counter with food of various kinds.  We were instructed to take a tray and a mug or glass for our drink and make our choices. 

This should have been simple but it just wasn’t; where would I get tea?  At what point should I pay for it?  How much was anything?  It turned out we had to pay for our drink before we actually got it, then go to another shelf where we picked the tea from a bush on the next floor, milked a cow then proceeded to the nearest steel plant to press out our own spoons.  Then, and only then, could we have the longed for cup of tea and an, admittedly tasty, slice of apple cake.

Just be aware that at this point we have not even ventured onto the shop floor.    I decided to try to get my kitchen cabinet before I did any browsing in the Market Place – always do the Work first – and found a pleasant looking man to help me.  I described exactly what I wanted, showed him the dimensions by stretching my arms out to the required width, picked my cupboard door and prepared to get my stuff.  But oh no, it couldn’t possibly be that simple.  First I had to go to some enormous shelves to find the cabinet and load it onto my trolley.  Then I had to go back to the man at the service desk and get a chitty for the door that I could take to the till and pay for and thence to the Customer Collection Area to collect the door.

This was a complete pain but about 20 minutes later I was at the Customer Collection desk with ……  the wrong door.  This meant, of course, that I also had the wrong cupboard.  A terse conversation with the retard behind the desk revealed how I was going to spend the next hour of my life.

I put the children into the Play Area after managing to convince the woman behind the desk that Boy the Elder was only ten (when he is well on the way to being 13 – “mmmm – very tall for his age”) and proceeded in the general direction of Customer Services.  Here I had to explain my problem to another half-wit who eventually refunded my money and sent me back to the shop floor to select the proper cabinet.  Except that I suddenly realised that in order to do this I would have to go back to the main entrance and go right round the entire shop to get back to the department which was a tantalising 20 yards away behind a row of tills that was protected by gun emplacements and searchlights.

I went into Mad Woman Mode.  I put my arms in the the air and said in a very loud voice to the many, many lines of people, “I have lost the will to live and I can feel my life force ebbing away .  I have been in this shop for over three months now and I cannot face going right the way round this massive store just to get to those shelves 20 yards away.  Please let me through before I start crying!”.

It was like tha parting of the Red Sea – some people laughing, others backing away nervously – and I pushed my trolley straight through to the kitchen cabinet district (left bank).  I collected the cabinet, paid for it, queued to collect the door, picked up the children and left.  We were the last out.

If anyone from Ikea is reading this, may I make a suggestion?  When customers come in through the door, ask them if they’ve ever visited an Ikea before.  If the answer is no, whisk them off to a training area where they are given a short induction course in The Way of the Swede.  If they refuse, hand them a leaflet which has a map of the store and instructions on how to use the cafe and how to purchase tricky items.  Failing this, a meditation room with soft lights and pan pipes might be in order.  And perhaps a punch bag.  Or better still, the presentation of a GCSE in Retail Exploration.  Only a matter of time……


Filed under Community and shopping, General DIY

17 responses to “My experience in a Great Big Shop

  1. Oh dear – best thing if at all possible is to make your first trip with someone who has been through it all before. And go early on Saturday morning – certainly for the London Brent Park outlet. (Everyone is having a lie-in, so it’s relatively quiet).

    But my very worst retail experiences have been in Ikea. You have my heart-felt sympathy…

  2. E J Moore

    I love Ikea myself. Think of it like joining the army – going from place to place picking up bits of kit – shirt, khaki pants, boots, helmet – haven’t you seen ‘The Gentle Sex’?

  3. Sue

    I have a love-hate relationship with Ikea (Wednesbury branch). I find negotiating my way round the store fairly straightforward but our last big purchase there was for a sofa and armchairs which had to be delivered. Now that was a Nordic saga involving a five month wait, incorrect sofa legs, missing armchair legs, discontinued fabric covers, a cover that ripped when I attempted to fit it, numerous phonecalls and much gnashing of teeth.

  4. grooverider

    “I had to explain my problem to another half-wit” … ditto PC World, Comet, B&Q, Asda, and so on. But Ikea?.. never again.

  5. Did you have some Swedish meatballs at least?

  6. I, too have that love-hate relationship with the place that Sue describes. The biggest I order I ever made was for an entire kitchen, which had to be delivered before being installed by our favourite local builder. The latter was full of words of warning when I announced the plan for an Ikea kitchen – ‘There’ll be all kinds of bits missing from the flatpacks, but don’t worry, we’ll go down to Bristol and sort them out, we’ve done it often enough before.’ So we were prepared for the worst. But the delivery came when it was meant to, the delivery men coped admirably with our narrow but busy street, everything arrived, down to a specially cut piece of worktop, and when Dave the builder put it all together there were no missing bits, just a few extra ones. The assault-course shopping and all is a pain, but it could be worse. Pass the pickled herrings and apple cake.

  7. You didn’t even mention the car park pick up point. Nobody told me the trolleys didn’t fit through those post things……..poor trolley! My best trip was when a friend and I thought we were clever buying a ready made ex-display wardrobe from the bargain basement bit (this is a secret hidden world in amongst the big shelve things – you need to go at least another 5 times before you’ll find it). Excellent we thought as two burly men helped us load it on to an oversized trolley. Bargain price we thought as we paid at the till. Now, call us dim wits if you wish but how we were going to get it home hadn’t occured to us. 3 hours later we left with a slightly smaller and very much battered wardrobe bungied to the top of our car. I love Ikea…always an adventure!

  8. You are very lucky indeed to even find the Coventry IKEA in the first place. After negotiating the city centre one way system five times (this after some fool told us it was by the football ground) we only got in by ram-raiding the loading dock round the back. Nottingham’s the one round here, but only if you really do want six pairs of scissors for a kroner.

  9. Andy and Teddy

    Its a plot!

    As many of you may be aware, depression is endemic in Sweden…. now you know why!

    • wartimehousewife

      Ah, Andy and Teddy! I was only thinking about you two this morning. How jolly nice to hear from you. And you’re absolutely right of course. It is a plot and I believe that Ikea furniture is karmic payback for the shocking price of Scandinavian alcohol.

  10. LOL My sister had a rather bad experience with Ikea!

  11. Pingback: Garden Update « Wartime Housewife

  12. I went to an Ikea in Kazan, Russia in 2005. A mate of mine was the manager of the shopping mall that it was attached to, which was also under construction.

    In order to leave Ikea with your purchases you could either go along a pathway to your car or you could take a shortcut across a full-on building site complete with trenches, ankle-deep mud, pipes and live electrical cables lying about, cranes performing overhead lifts, and dump trucks whizzing about. Unsurprisingly, the Russians, even if leaving the shop carrying a huge sofa between two of them, or a huge chest of drawers on their own, preferred to cross the building site. I wish I’d taken some photos.

    Oh, and during my guided tour a Turkish electrician fell through the roof.

  13. Ronnie

    Marvellous stuff WH, you have such fortitude. I sometimes have to go to Ikea in Genoa whilst Mrs Combo goes to buy ten items of furniture and ends up with just two catering packs of tea lights. I spend the time eating Ikea hot dogs with lashings of mustard and tommy sauce.

    • wartimehousewife

      Good to hear from you Ronnie. One does, of course, try to keep a stiff upper lip in these situations. I like the Ikea puddings, they do a fantastic raspberry mousse thing, oh joy.

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