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You say IKEA; I say Ickier. « MikeFitz with overflow bit set…

You say IKEA; I say Ickier.

Fri 17 Aug 2007

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A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to accompany #2 Son on my first expedition into our local IKEA store.  It’s big… really big.  I remember the construction effort disrupting local traffic for nearly all last year.

The Ickier experience starts when you negotiate the Rwanda-sized carpark.*  One discovers that the set of stairs closest to where you eventually find a parking space brings you up into a whole ‘nother building**.  Not to worry; we had our running shoes on.

We were also aware of Ickier’s devilish floor plans that ensure that every customer has to walk past every item in the whole store.  But the nice lady who gave us the map at the front door let us in on the secret, “There are SHORTCUTS”  Yay!  But you have to keep your wits about you; they’re deceptively signposted.

Have a look at the simplified plan below.  Our store is actually about 8 times bigger than this and on TWO levels.  And, yes, you must traverse both levels to get to the checkouts.

Simplified IKEA plan
Simplified IKEA floor plan.  To get from A to B:
If you use a “Shortcut”, you have to swim upstream to find the next one.

Here’s the really evil part…

The merchandising maniacs ensure that if you successfully negotiate one shortcut, you must then swim upstream to find the next one.  Fiends!  How do little old ladies cope?  In fact, we did encounter a group of little old ladies wandering around, dog-tired, convinced that someone had cut the end off the last shortcut they took and almost resigned to dying in the store.

The horror is even worse after viewing the offerings and deciding to purchase elsewhere.  There is no quick way out!  You are trapped!  You might as well buy something.  Aaargh!

———————
* I stole this term from GBE.  She and her beau went to Ickier between Christmas & New Year.  It must have been horrible; their relationship hasn’t worked out.  If only they had seen this warning from Jon at PantsOfDeath.com

Cartoon by Jon at pantsofdeath.com.
Bob's Chart of Fun

Did you see GBE’s map of Noosa Beach?  Hilarious.

** Actually, this turned out to be a good thing.  In that other building was a real furniture store where #2 Son successfully purchased the item he needed.

18 Responses to “You say IKEA; I say Ickier.”

  1. Stuart Fenech Says:

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    Ha, if you go to the less popular Noosa area beaches, you don’t get that mapping problem :)

    I still have not made it to the new Ikea. I went to the old one at Rochdale and it pissed me off with the forced traffic flow. I just knew I could climb my way out of the jam, but social norms ruthlessly enforced mediocrity.

    Now, thanks to Bob, I shall be comparing birth of son/daughter to a nice plate of spaghetti. Though I think Bob’s a bit soft, I’ve always preferred a gnocci or fettucini masterpiece. The fact Bob weighs less than me may potentially not be a coincidence, though.

    Be true and fear not, Mike! :)

  2. MikeFitz Says:

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    Hi Stuart,

    Yeah, you are right. “Birth of son/daughter” could probably go up Bob’s Fun-O-Meter scale a couple of notches, perhaps even surpassing “New Car” but no further than that.

  3. Archie Says:

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    While store planners may say that stores simply uses the science of flow, I prefer to think of it as one of the dark arts.

  4. MikeFitz Says:

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    Hi Archie,

    Flow! #2 Son was nearly ready to test how well the “flow” worked out their fire escapes.

  5. Aurelius Says:

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    When the new store was being built, my anti-capitalist housemate got a job there. And by the time it opened, she’d become an evangelical for Ikea, and it was nauseating to watch. But the place is a fascinating study in the science of retail. And scary at the same time.
    - Aurelius

  6. ashleigh Says:

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    Oh yes.

    One visit to Ikier was all I could manage.

    A quick walk through the maze and I was done. Nothing appealing.

    When I slowed down I had two sons pushing me from behind: Faster Dad, faster!

    She Who Must Be Obeyed (aka Mrs Dump) walked slower, so me and the chaps had to wait.

    She came out with her purchases in the end, a couple of door mats. AND CRAP THEY ARE TOO. Damn things curl at the edges. Get better value and long lasting useful stuff in Target.

    Ikier. Arrgghhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. azahar Says:

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    I’ve got a love-hate relationship going with IKEA. I was really pleased when they finally opened one here, just outside Sevilla (and they always have to be ‘outside’ of anywhere cos they’re so damn huge). As I don’t have a car this means a bus ride out to the suburbs (which is actually a collection of villages here) and if I want to buy anything bigger than can be dragged home on the bus I have to PAY A LOT … though at least they do offer a delivery service. And at least I’ve never had to schlep sofas and heavy table tops up three long flights of stairs (no lifts at casa az).

    In terms of marketing, I think if they did have stores in more easily accessible places they probably wouldn’t sell as much. It’s kind of like, once you’ve gone all that way to get to the bloody place, and for many, also dealt with the parking nightmare, you almost feel you HAVE to buy something to have made the whole ordeal worthwhile.

    There’s no doubt they have some good merchandise. I love their kitchen section. And the recent sofa bed Nog & I bought is quite comfy and practical.

    Meanwhile, the only time to go to IKEA is on a Wednesday morning around 10.30. Otherwise, it’s total HELL. We once went on a Saturday … gaaaaa!

    Bottom line … some good stuff there but the whole place is sooooo customer unfriendly it’s surprising they are so successful.

  8. MikeFitz Says:

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    Hi Aurelius,

    Yep, you step into IKEA and you just *know* you are being merchandised at by experts. It’s like receiving the envelope from Reader’s Digest emblazoned with the words “You could already be a winner!” You just *know* that only losers open such paper-based spam. I went to IKEA; I lost. Not money, but time.

    G’day Ashleigh,

    “two sons pushing me from behind” I can relate to that. I can say that, now that my three sons are all adults, they will now generally caution me against getting stuck in such a scheme in the first place.

    Welcome Azahar!

    Yep I can imagine with three flights of stairs that disassembled furniture from Ickier might be a useful thing.

    BTW, I’m going to be near your part of the planet in a few weeks.

  9. Miff Says:

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    I love IKEA for all the reasons you hate it! I always set aside at least two or three hours for a trip. I think husband would heartily agree with you and has threatened to scratch out his own eyes rather that come shopping with me. heh heh

  10. MikeFitz Says:

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    Hi Miff,

    two or three hours … Luxury! A luxury we didn’t have. It was our lunch break. Clearly a mistake.

  11. Dannie Says:

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    I recently went to Ikea Richmond - wow, what a mind blower, I felt like a salmon swimming up stream when I refused to walk the “scenic” route. In the end I was looking to tunnel my way out with an alun key!!

  12. Maria Says:

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    IKEA (aka as ickier, inconvenient, intractable, illogical and irrelevant) is the MOST customer unfriendly place there is. The quality is below mediocre, customer service is non existent, it is stressful, crowded with people and the layout designed for maximum exploitation of customers.

    Once you are in there you are trapped. It is a poor, dystopian, exploitative parallel universe designed to wear you down. It really is a reflection on individualist consumerist ideology, an anonymous place with numberless, faceless hordes buying up their standardised one size fits all dumbed down household items.

    The illusion of cheapness is sustained as logic dictates that cost cutting on staff and implementing a DIY “philosophy” means passing on a lower to price to custmers.

    The reality is that IKEA maximise profits whilst providing no service and very often shoddy products so the bottom line is you end up paying one way or another.

    Don’t go to ikea save your money and go somewhere where the customer and their hard earned dollars is respected.

    Highly dissatisfies and exasperated ex customer.

  13. Jon from Pantsofdeath Says:

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    Oddly enough Ikea almost prevented the birth of my daughter… In a nesting frenzy my wife, who was six months pregnant at the time, insisted that we go to the evil store and buy about half a ton of inexpensive office furniture (actually pretty expensive once you realize that cupboard doors/legs/shelves etc are all extra). While wrestling a 200 kilo box of laminated tat from the back of our car I managed to bash the corner right on her bump. Screaming, crying and accusations of infanticide followed…. two years on, and daughter save and sound, I think I am forgiven.

    I did that cartoon before I had kids. I remain unrepentant - a good plate of spaghetti wins hands down!

  14. Greg Armstrong Says:

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    I’ve been to planet Ikea Richmond once. It took forever to get through. It took forever to find the car in the car park. I vowed never to return.
    Now I find that the only place I can find the item I now require is……………planet Ikea.
    I’d rather bang my head against the wall & watch my nose bleed.
    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

  15. MikeFitz Says:

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    G’day Greg,

    Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

  16. G Says:

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    This is soo true - I am hoping to spend around 5-10k on their stuff… got a new widescreen television.

    We live 400km outside of Sydney and when I called their “customer service operator” they seemed both resigned and pleased that I was considering not giving them this money as they were unable to guarantee stock levels for the 4-5 hours it would take me to drive to their store. I was regularly invited to use the website to check stock levels, or call them to verify the levels as I got closer… !!! (I’m not too sure why this would have been seen as helpful)

    I am a customer service director, and this is incredible - if any of my staff did this I’d have their A**e.

    I guess Sweden don’t know of this, or even Mr David Hood, the country manager for IKEA Australia that greets us inside the front cover of their 2009 catalogue…

    I guess all that is left for me to do with their environmental policy is feed this catalogue to the worms :-), and note another limitation of living in regional Australia

  17. Robbie Says:

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    I now work at the subway across from ikea. Every now and then i have to explain to a poor husband or boyfriend that his wife might not return for quite some while. I like to take the opportunity to try and up-sell to a foot-long, and refer them afterwards to the coffeeclub next door. i come across about 2 of them every weekend. poor souls.

  18. Ashleighs Dump » Blog Archive » Recession, what recession? Says:

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    […] a feather.  I thought we were supposed to be in recession.  Somebody forget to tell Mr Hardly.  The place was as packed as an Ikea store on a long weekend, but thankfully without the evil floorplan.  We had to stand around for 20 minutes just to catch a […]