Product Reviews: Ikea

David Davis

Being Swedish, and remember how much Iron ore they sold to Hitler (and probably also Stalin) when they need not have done, IKEA to me represents in its customer-handling policies all the wrong things about retailing and not too many that correspond with a right strategy.

In IKEA Warrington for example, you have to park on an airfield, the walk is miles, you are processed up an escalator with a giant yellow plastic bag, and you have to follow arrows on the floor for some hundreds of miles round stuff called HAVROTH, SCUM, VATFUN, FILZTH, BOOBUMM, GOBWIT, SKULL, BOGG, ILLTUP, DUMPBIN, SHATDIG and so forth, until you are collapsing with exhaustion, and you simply by something like light bulbs in desperation, or a plant that you didn’t really want, in order simply to be let out of the exit-door.

THEN (worse) _you have to have noted it all down_ (at least you can thieve the pencils) and go to each physical location in a warehouse the size of The Mines Of Moria, to physically manhandle your wardrobe, radar station or whatever it could be, onto your trolley. It looks like one of Stonehenge’s larger Sarsen Stones, and weighs about the same number of tons.

Then you have to get it into your car and get it home, and then you have to build it….


  1. I remember a visit to Ikea in Croydon in the late nineties.

    Your observations tally quite accurately with my memory of this rather unpleasant experience. I was attempting to wrestle 2 large bookcases (each called BILLY, if memory serves) through the checkout, only to find after queuing for 15 minutes, that the exit selected was not physically large enough to cope with my purchases. After a further 15-30 minutes queuing, (in a checkout as wide as the M25) I vowed never to return. In fairness to Ikea, one of the bookcases survives to his day.

  2. Ah! WE have two book-cases called BILLY. They are in my Main Lower Library, are used free-standing, and contain a number of rather heavy Japanese post-War radio transmitters and assorted associated metal gear like cabling, power supplies and so forth. They do stand up well still, under weight-stresses far larger than the small rows of CDs and wooden African bird-effigies and books about David Beckham (all two) that would normally be placed on these things.

  3. My sofa is TOMELLILA in DELSBO blue. I will never forget when I bought it, because I bought it in Croydon Ikea at the very same moment as the World Trade Centre was destroyed by Islamic terrorists.

    It was the one time I significantly bunked off my employer (I was agency for a maintenance firm covering the West End). We had one site in Kew. I’d been out to Kew and having a new technology called a “mobile phone” decided to call my girlfriend and say, nobody knew where I was, I could nip down to Ikea in Croydon to get the sofa which we’d failed to get twice in the North London Ikea after fruitless trips when they’d claimed it was in stock and it wasn’t.

    The journey to Croydon, including on that dismal tram system, took way longer than I had anticipated. I then found that unlike most Ikeas, you don’t (or didn’t then anyway) get your TOMELILLA in DELSBO blue off a rack in the Mines Of Moria, but had to go to a delicatessen type counter, take a ticket, and wait for it to be given to you so you could push it round a corner on a trolley to the deliveries department and give it back to them to deliver.

    I waited, and waited and waited. My mum phoned on my mobile, I talked to her. Then the TV over the deli counter got switched on and eventually we all realised we weren’t watching a disaster movie, but live news. By the time I’d got the sofa, given it back to Ikea and got back to the West End, I walked into the reception of our home building and the security guard looked up from his radio and said sadly, “they’re both down now”.

    The girlfriend is long gone. I still have the TOMELILLA in DELSBO blue. To be honest it’s not a bad sofa, but I can never disconnect it in my mind from disaster.

  4. I love Ikea! But then I live some of the time in Sweden where the stores are relatively unpopulated, except at the weekend. The staff are pleasant, well trained and helpful and the whole experience great fun. Car parking is laid out so that it is within a few feet of the store or perhaps thirty yards at the most. It is easy to arrange delivery as well. The whole experience is a pleasant breeze. I have also been to the IKEA in Athens which was, if anything, even easier to use. But in London it was hell, even on a week day. The store was arranged and looked exactly like a Swedish Ikea but the experience was anything but the calm and space of Sweden. It just seemed like pandemonium. I would never use a London IKEA again willingly and I am afraid to say that I can only put that down to the bustle and overcrowding combined with, what seemed like a poorly motivated and overwhelmed staff. On that note, I really don’t think English people realise generally just how massively overcrowded parts of England are now and IKEA really resonates that. IKEA names, by the way, are all generally Swedish town or place names, except perhaps Billy, which sort of means cheap in Swedish.

  5. IKEA Update

    Despite my earlier resolve to never again darken the doors of an Ikea store, I went to Ikea, Leeds on Saturday. If anything, it was even more hateful than before, but part of the reason for that perception could be that I now live in rural Lincolnshire, rather than the crowded Sussex/Surrey area.

    I was going to claim that if “Valhalla” is the Nordic word for Heaven, then the corresponding Nordic word for Hell must be “Ikea”. However, having only a passing familiarity with all things Nordic, I thought I’d better google the word “Valhalla”. This is the Wikipedia definition:

    “In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”[1]) is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s field Fólkvangr. In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök. Before the hall stands the golden tree Glasir, and the hall’s ceiling is thatched with golden shields. Various creatures live around Valhalla, such as the stag Eikþyrnir and the goat Heiðrún, both described as standing atop Valhalla and consuming the foliage of the tree Læraðr.”

    I don’t know about you, but to me THAT sounds a bit like Ikea.

    BTW, they deliver, and you can order online – the £35 delivery charge is in my opinion, an absolute bargain! This time I mean it – never again!

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