Ikea - bad customer service and potentially unlawful use of personal information
Over the past couple of weeks I purchased multiple items at Ikea stores and I placed a big order for kitchen cabinets from their website Ikea.com. I experienced multiple serious issues with Ikea customer service.
Issue 1 - a refund I was supposed to get was not issued.
I placed an order online on July 31st 2018. After placing the order, I wanted to modify it and cancel a few items before they are being shipped out. After an ordeal of almost two hours (see below), I was able to talk to a representative who canceled the items, and promised a refund will be processed within 7-10 business days. It has been four weeks, and it still has not been processed!
It's practically impossible to follow-up as customer service is barely existent. On August 1st, when I made the call to modify the order, I had to call more than 20 times (figures 1 and 2), only to hear again and again that the call cannot be connected (video 1). Eventually when I was able to get through, I had to wait for more than an hour to be helped. Overall that call lasted almost two hours! (figure 2). Another hour was wasted just trying to get through to customer service. Clearly, this is unacceptable on a level that I have never experienced with any other major chain store in the US, and I wouldn't consider calling customer service again and waste hours of my time. It is simply unacceptable.
I tried to follow up by email, using the email address eCommerce159@ikea.com that is provided in their website at: https://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/homeshopping/home_shopping_contact_us_email.html (see figure 3) But that email doesn't work!!! The email bounced back with an error message saying that the email address can't be found (figure 4). The webform at https://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/contact-us/ takes only very specific types of questions (figures 5 and 6), so yet another dead end. This feels like an operation that runs from the garage of an individual - not a major US chain.
Issue 2 - unnecessary and potentially unlawful use of personal information.
On August 2nd I went to the East Palo Alto store to buy a few items I needed to complete my kitchen. I waited in line twice, once to pay for the order, and once for the items to be picked up. After waiting for a total of half an hour, an associate informed me that one of the two items is no longer in stock (although when I placed the order with an associate in the kitchen department, she confirmed that the item was in stock and was able to place the order). I was then told that I will get a refund for the item that is out of stock (figure 7). However, I was asked to provide my ID to process a "return". I told the representative that I'm not returning anything, so I don't see any reason why Ikea would ask for my ID. He said that technically (using air quotes) I'm returning an item, and insisted on demanding my ID. Well, in reality I wasn't returning anything, and it's not my problem that Ikea messed up. Personal information shouldn't be used and abused like that. These days personal information is perhaps the most valuable currency we have, and collecting it without a justifiable reason jeopardizes our privacy. Data collected by companies is often monetized by these companies, and is also targeted by hackers, with potentially grave consequences. Personal information is stored these days by way too many companies, often unnecessarily so, increasing the risk of security breaches, abuse of information and other privacy issues.
Adding insult to injury, the whole experience was again characterized by very poor customer service. I was told by the customer service representative who was supposed to issue the refund to wait again (after I already waited for half an hour) before my refund will be processed, so he can help other customers who were waiting to return items. Only difference is that I wasn't trying to return anything, and the only reason I had to wait there again is because Ikea messed up, and charged me for an item they actually didn't have in stock. Overall, a terrible experience that follows the same pattern like the other incidents.
From my experience, customer service in general in Ikea is the most horrific of all the major US chain stores. Yet another example that adds to the recent online and in-store experiences: I placed an order online a couple of years ago, and the items arrived damaged. I sent an email and nobody ever responded! Phone support was not existent.
Not being able to contact customer support by email, and insane and unreasonable wait times over the phone send a very clear message: It seems like Ikea's attitude in general is - "we are so big and successful, so we don't need to invest in customer service". This is also evident in the attitude of many of their employees, who often give you a feeling that they are doing you a favor when they are doing the job they are supposed to do - help customers. This is not a single instant I'm talking about, but rather a clear pattern that is the result of a policy that reflects disregard of the basic standards of customer service, to the point of using unlawful practices (i.e. uncalled for demand of personal information in situations that do not justify it)
Video 1: calls to Ikea customer service often cannot be connected, because they limit the number of callers they take, and many attempts are required to get through
Figure 1: Fourteen attempts to call Ikea Customer Service center from my cell phone - all failed (rejected), because their call center can only take a limited number of callers
Figure 2: Nine more calls from my landline (for a total of 23 calls), the last one finally got through. That call took almost two hours, after waiting more than an hour for a representative to answer.
Figure 3: Theoretically you can contact Ikea by email. In reality, it is not possible (see figure 4)
Figure 4: Attempts to contact by email fail as well, since the address provided in the Ikea.com website is Not found!!
Figure 5: Trying to use the web-form is another dead-end, since it is limited to very specific questions. For example, if you click on 'My Ikea order' you will get the screen shown in Figure 6
Figure 6: Only two options are available when you click on 'My Ikea order': either a 'business order', or 'cancel your order'. No other options.
Figure 7: I placed an order in the store and paid for an item that turned out to be out of stock, as this document shows. I was told I will get a refund, but to process the refund I was demanded to present an ID. The Ikea associate told me that the reason I need to present an ID is because technically (using air quotes) I'm returning an item. Well, in reality I wasn't returning anything. ..